Today I am depleted.
The week rounded out with two tantrums- one at the dentist on the day of the Nor’easter (we left the office without having her teeth cleaned after two hours there) – the other, today while I was driving.
Each night this week I’ve dreamt of you. Last night I am calling you on the phone trying to make amends- another estrangement dream. Even though there is all the tension of the many fights we used to have- there is also the passion and the immediate forgiveness as soon as I call you. Beneath the narrative in all of these dreams is always this running inner-dialogue with myself: “Of course we’ll always be together..of course we always get back together. We could never stay apart.” Just like all those times we broke up during our five years of dating…I always knew it wasn’t for good.
And yet now.
At night I cry myself to sleep but not the way they do in the movies. The tears fall as if there’s something caught in my eye, or as if the result of a wintry sting. They just slowly fall- I wipe one- another falls- with no real connection to any thoughts I am having. They just come. Sometimes I am watching something or writing an email and I notice them on my cheeks.
I find myself yesterday going through my old laptop, old hard drives, and old cameras that I have not organized in almost three years. After the beautiful album I made for Audrey’s first year of life- there were no more. On our old camera are still the last round of shots we took before including the last photo taken of you and I- just our shadows.
Looking through photo after photo of before and after- I understand in a new way how the date of your death changed all of time and life for me. I instantly on that very day saw into the future with horror- “Audrey will turn two soon, and then three, and four. This will keep going without you- with you dead.” There it all was. I saw her- me, now. And it’s as if now- I cast a long glance back to that girl- and give a slow nod- the one she somehow already received then- “Yes, yes, this is how it is. You will come along this way.” Everything even now though- is from that moment in time rather than my own birth, or coming of age, or college years, or even when we met or married. Everything is Audrey at 21 months, me at 34, all of this future like an uninvited guest glimpsed through a foggy peep hole.
I am expecting your parents in a few days from Korea for the second time since your death. I wonder if your mother and I will cry again when we see each other.
A good friend of yours writes me today from England and tells me that his wife has just had a boy this afternoon. They decided to name him Daniel in remembrance of you (and because it’s a “bloody good name,” according to him). He hopes it doesn’t upset me. I am honored. I feel it deeply. It’s another excerpt from a novel or a film- but it’s about us. Someone has named their child after you because you died. That is why. I hear you, alive, saying jokingly like you often did to expecting couples, “Dan’s a good name…”
I read in another NDE book by a woman Dr. an interesting fact about how a study proved that cursing actually lessens the amount of physical pain you feel if, for example, you stub your toe. I finally understand why I have not stopped cursing since you died when I’m alone- something I never did before. It’s a lot like that sharp, jabbing physical pain and like I’m saying, “lessen…lessen…please, please lessen…”
In another memoir I just finished by Diane Ackerman on her husband’s stroke and resulting aphasia – I learned that the afternoon hours for people with aphasia are the most difficult – they are drained from the mental exercise it takes to find the right words by then and cannot make much more progress. They call it sundowning.
I feel this too. In late afternoon, at two years and four months, now 36 years old standing on the other side of the peep hole to the future.