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.
Sophia, thanks for all your comments and support over the last year. I appreciate it. Hope you are well and happy!
still sending you hugs! i know that pissed off feeling…. when my mom passed i’d look at old people and think “why are you alive?” “who loves You?” It is the saddest most maddeningly unfair thing ever! keep those things you love, hold them close as long as you need to. time does heal, but it takes a hell of a long time! know you are loved….. and you have every right to feel. just feel, and heal and live on to love…
You know it is also being angry of on behalf of Audrey. She will grow up without a father. It is unfathomable to me but love is everything, isn’t it. When everything else falls away it is what is left if you are lucky. I have been lucky. He was an amazing man.
Just watched your film. It is beautiful. Think about you and Audrey often and hope that you are getting through it ok. It was lovely to see the three of you eating at the table together if only for a moment in the film. I hope that after the anger fades or subsides that you will find joy and love again. It’s not fair, for all of you. It makes me angry to think about it.
These posts take my breath away – my mom has been on the same journey as you since my dad’s sudden and unexpected death in 2005. While it wasnt my partner that i lost, i can relate to a lot of what you have written. I live in Ottawa and my parents were still in Brockville – i was so close to my parents. They were still an every day part of my life. I remember when my mom and dealt with “”what do we do with his clothes” and all of his other things. 7.5 years later the clothes are dealt with but many other things are not. I too would pick up my dad’s sweaters and smell his smell, knowing that someday it would fade, that someday that part of his presence would be gone too. I also remember feeling so angry I thought I was crazy — my dad died six weeks before Xmas 2005 and i had what felt like a psychotic break in a Home Depot — i saw all the activity, heard the music, and realized i would never again be able to ask my dad’s wisdom about life, people, car repairs, home maintenance (we had just bought our first house, a semi fixer upper with the intention of his helping and guiding us). I was so angry i felt like throwing power tools around the store.. Instead i dashed to the car and sobbed uncontrollably for an hour. Not much Xmas shopping was done that year. We all felt crazy.
Thinking of you today. What a beautiful gifted person you are. I’m sorry for your pain, for the unfairness of blows, the shortness of life. Your writing brings people up-close into your emotions. I love your command of words, your pull on the soul. Sister poet, I hope our paths cross some day… just like they did way back in Anne of Green Gables. Saying this somehow summons the song. Great, I’ll probably never get it out of my head now! Oh well–guess I’ll just go with it, savoring the sweeping changes for shaping us all the better… deeper… “Anne of Green Gables, never change… We like you just this way. Anne of Green Gables, sweet and strange, stay as you are today… Those blossoms fade and friends must part. Old grow the songs we’ve sung. Anne of Green Gables, in our hearts… you are forever young…”