It has been a year since Roger died. People ask me how I am. I say, “I’m okay,” not really knowing what that means anymore. Is my hair on fire? No. Am I wearing a snowsuit made of honey while a bear chases me? Nope. I am healthy. My daughter is healthy. The bills are paid. There is food on the table and a roof over our heads. We get through the day. Is that the definition of “okay?” Okay lives in a whole new neighborhood now. If I compare the old neighborhood, the one where Roger is alive, to this new one, things are most certainly not okay. They will never be okay again. Roger is gone and he is not coming back. I miss him more everyday.
I still can’t wrap my head around how to get rid of his ‘things.’ His drawer full of gold toe sports socks and white undershirts? The suit he wore when we married? His shirts that hang spooning each other in his closet? The first date shirt, the second date shirt, the shirt he wore when he rushed to the ER when I was in early labor? …And his shoes! Those shoes that ran, played, hiked, and walked beside me. That stood firm when I fell, allowing him to open his arms with confidence and catch me as the ground drew near. I keep hearing things like, “You hold him in your heart now.” Ack. Give them to charity. Bla. Give them to family members; okay that is the best one but, phooey anyway. I doubt they want his used toothbrush and Old Spice deodorant or the pair of shorts that I bought him that are worn thin with holes and splattered in paint. These feel like the most intimate of things and I just can’t face tossing them.
And what, what do I do with the green plastic bag the hospital gave me that contains the clothes he wore in but never wore out. I can’t bring myself to wash them, discard them or give them away. Even now I hope there is a whisper of him caught somewhere deep in the weave of cotton that might still mine.
So, am I okay? In the ‘hair on fire, bear chasing me in a honey snowsuit way,’ yup, I am. It’s just that ‘okay’ is no longer the flat, innocuous word it once was. It is complicated and multidimensional and conflicted. Will I physically survive Roger’s illness and death? I’m assuming, yes. I haven’t turned to drugs or alcohol (much.) I am not engaging in reckless, high-risk behavior (drat). I am most definitely seriously, acutely, spectacularly pissed off!!!! In a Shakespearian, King Learian:
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ th’ world,
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!
…kind of way. THAT kind of pissed!!
…having said all that, um, please do keep asking me how I am.
After all I am a lot like my 99 year old Grandmother. Who has been known to say things like “Huggin’ makes me high!” Even though that’s a metaphor, (no hugs necessary,) and she also said in reference to box picnic parties of her youth, “Oh, all the boys they were just dying to get into my box,” it really îs connecting with others that brings me the most joy. And as much as I have come to hate it when people look at me knowingly shake their head and say, “Time. It takes time.”, I know they are right.
…I just need a little more, ‘oak-cleaving’ and ‘nature’s molds cracking’ first.