Then, as it was, then again it will be . . .

\”Ten Years Gone\”, by Led Zeppelin from the LP \”Physical Grafitti\”

I made the mistake of actually starting to sift through the phone that Andrea left behind.  Since the account was in her name, I didn’t want to disconnect the number.  On top of that, I still have one of those wonderful unlimited data plans that AT&T offered before they realized how little money they were making off it.  So I’ve kept both my phone, the contract and the account in her name so that it stays.

Before you accuse me of anything, I checked.  There’s nothing wrong with it, the way I’m doing things is perfectly legal, and the phone company doesn’t care as long as I keep paying the bill.  Which I do.  The only changes I’ve made are to eliminate the in-laws’ phone so that I’m not paying for it anymore.  I just can’t afford five phones.

You probably are expecting me to say I saw some video or heard her voice and it just tore me up, leaving me in a puddle in the corner.

But it’s actually the fact that I didn’t find those things that has me so upset.

I sifted through the phone, being as thorough as I could.  I went through the pictures and found some amazing, fun, beautiful pictures of my kids.  There was Abbi at her first dance, her hair made up and flowing behind her, the highlights giving her just enough blonde and curl that she looked like she had this thick mane of hair.  Her mother helped put on the makeup so she looked gorgeous.  It filled me with pride and scared the hell out of me simultaneously.  There was a picture of the boys soaking wet, at a water park, the smiles plastered on their faces so wide it’s like their cheeks are going to burst.

It’s what is not there that bothers me.

There were no pictures of Andrea.  I didn’t hear a single voicemail or recording that had her voice.  I was dreading it, but part of me was hoping that the audio was there or a picture of her with the kids.  It is a strange set of emotions I sift through in dealing with Andrea being gone.  I simultaneously hate seeing and hearing things with her in them and yet I revel in the pain and let it wash over me.  I know it makes no sense, but the fact that I hurt that badly – that I feel that much makes me realize I’m feeling something.  It’s like if the pain starts to fade, there are pieces of Andrea that go with it.  I hate how I feel but I grasp at those pinpricks so I can remember her and not watch her fade from our lives.

Then I looked through the text messages.  The messages were full of the mundane: we need decongestant; can you pick up some cheddar for enchiladas on the way home?; how did your hearing go?  The messages were a snapshot of the last few weeks of her life and there was something major missing in every single one of them.  I never ended any of the text messages saying “I love you.”  It’s three simple words.  They are easy to type, they’re not something you can easily forget, but somehow, to a message, those three words were missing from every single one.

We get in such a hurry.  Hell, even text speak . . . even “luv u” would have been better.  But to see that I forgot to put it in words?  The mundane shouldn’t overtake reality.  We were past ten years gone.  We held on, we were so proud of the fact that we’d made it and were turning back around.  So why, in every single text, did I forget to say it?

After my father had a heart attack I told myself that there was no way I’d leave a conversation with him, my Mom, none of them without saying I loved them.

So how can I have forgotten that?  What the hell was wrong with me?

Look, I did say it at the end of every conversation with her.  I did tell her I loved her, but I also don’t want her to spend the rest of eternity wondering if I’d said it simply as a throwaway statement.  It’s really hard for me to grasp the fact that she may have been gone before I told her that last time.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the plan and path we wanted to travel have to be completely re-mapped.  The direction was completely different with her helping to navigate.

But now I have to navigate again, alone, while driving.  Sure, I have the kids, but as the line above, when another ten years have gone, it’s back to me.  The kids should live their lives knowing they have divergent paths.  Tangential stories.  They are staring at the empty pages, but have ideas and thoughts to fill them with.  Mine is like I started the novel and couldn’t find a way to end it.  At least right now.

I know that eventually I’ll realize that the story ended and another began.  The problem is, it’s hard to let that plot go.  I was engaged, I was invested in the direction and the story.  It’s like the movie with an unsatisfactory ending.

I wish I could say I have comfort in thinking I might see her again, but I am left to write the story without her.  Like a kid complaining about having to do their homework, I’m having a really hard time pulling away from it.  I know I have to do this alone, but there’s still part of me – the part that revels in the pain of seeing and hearing Andrea – that won’t let go.  I know it’s the reality, and the daily routine moves on without her and I appreciate how amazing my kids are in dealing with life without their Mom.

We’re slowly moving forward on the road – positive momentum.

I wish it wasn’t the case, that there was some miraculous way we could see the story keep going, but then as it was, then again it will be.  All I can do is feel the pangs in her beautiful smile where my heart used to skip a beat.  I did it before, I just wish I didn’t have to again.

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