Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vanished Into the Dark

Tomorrow will be the 29th. Seven years ago tomorrow my whole world turned upside down. Every day I stare at this tableau there is a stab of pain and a flood of memories.

This morning I was wondering this morning how I was going to address tomorrow. Since 2009 I can't approach January 29 as if it were any other day. I remember the first few years the number 29 drove me crazy. Every time the number came up in any context I experienced anxiety.  That faded eventually but the day is still a difficult day to approach.

In fact, beginning January 29, 2009, every major holiday and special occasion has been painful. Starting in August, with Jerry's birthday, until February there are six days that have nearly wrecked me: his birthday on August 6th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our wedding anniversary on January 11th, his death on the 29th, and Valentine's Day. For nearly half the year, since 2009, I've clinched my teeth, straightened my spine, and struggled not to think about Jerry not being here. I rarely succeeded in being stoic. Each month I'd have at least one day where I just fell apart.

This year, I totally forgot Jerry's birthday. I was stunned and upset with myself the day after when I realized it. Sarah and I were sick. I always take flowers but I forgot him. In November, I was away from home for the holiday and things were very busy and filled with people I love so I didn't brood over Thanksgivings Past. Christmas the house was bulging for three weeks. More people I love, my family and some friends, filled the house up and there was no time to really brood over anything but the lack of time alone, which they gave me at intervals. It is probably the first time since he died that I didn't feel bereft or make myself sick crying. With so much coming and going, there were few opportunities to wallow in self-pity. You know there's folks who think that way after 7 years. There were people who thought that way after the first 6 months.

But tomorrow is the 29th. Today there is a pressure in my chest and a sadness hangs over me. I'm not distraught. I'm not prostrate. I don't feel like crying. There is this heaviness in my gut and I feel as if I have lost something, and I need to get up and look for it. Maybe tomorrow I'll find it?

I should go to the cemetery. I should take flowers. I should tell him I haven't really forgotten, that every day, at some point, I see him, hear him, and feel him. Sometimes only for a moment, sometimes for hours. I should remind him that when I see his picture, sitting there on that shelf, a flood of memories rushes over me. They're funny, happy, silly, angry, and sad all at once.

And sometimes, I get angry because he's not here. He left me with an upside down world and no one to help me clean up the mess. I have to figure out everything myself. I have to take care of every problem alone. If I get afraid, there is no one to hold my hand or wrap me in strong arms. No one to tell me everything is going to be fine. No one to fix the car, the toilet leak, the floor, or take out the trash.

Tomorrow is the 29th. Perhaps, the wheels will begin to turn again and the world will right itself. No. No, it won't. Because it is the 29th and on that day, I died, too. I won't find the things I've lost. Who I am now is not who I was on January 29, 2009. Everything I was and was supposed to be was gone in a moment. I watched it vanish into the dark. Maybe that is why it still feels like I've lost something. I didn't lose Jerry. I lost me.

I love you, Jerry Maddox. I'll always love you.

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