I know the last couple weeks have been an extravaganza of memories and depression and just plain loneliness, I suppose. I’m not alone, far from that. I have the four kids and they are amazing and keep me inordinately busy. But you have to realize that I am sitting just over two weeks from the day my wife, Andrea, passed away. 350 days into our new life, 350 pages of our new story, so to speak. When the last story had around 6,570 pages . . . just of the marriage alone . . . you begin to see why the closer I get to the day she died the more I begin to dwell on that last story.
I’ll be honest, we’d done really well up until now. I mean, we had our speed bumps, the strange plot twists that we didn’t see coming, sure. But lately it seems like our lives have been going in slow motion, the days crawling, the problems increasing in perceived complexity day by day. One thing that I notice is how some people don’t really understand how I can look at the last twenty-odd years with the love of my life and I miss little things, not the big, exponential stuff.
Let’s just let the elephant in the room go through the door here . . . yes, Andrea and I had a sex life – we have 4 children, that should tell you something. But as wonderful and amazing as that action, those tender nights (OK, not all were nights) were, it’s not what throws me for a loop. It’s easy to look at my bed and see her there, think about the first night and how we were awkward and giggled instead of passionate . . . or that particular Valentine’s Day or anniversary. But those are memories that I harken back to, things I work at seeing in my mind’s eye. They don’t come without warning, or at least, not without some indication that I might see them.
What I’m talking about are the things that nobody can really tangibly describe until they’re gone. Yesterday I explained her smile. That smile made my day better. No matter how much bullshit I dealt with; no matter how awful my boss might have been; no matter how frustrated or stressed out I was, when I got home and she smiled at me, that all melted. It was like walking on a warm beach and feeling the rays hit your skin and melting all that worry off of you. She could tell me it was going to be alright and I’d believe it.
But there are also the small things that don’t cross your mind until they’re right there. I took my kids to the movies over the weekend. I found myself reaching over, like I normally would when we had the chance to go to the movies alone, and reaching for Andrea’s knee and hand. They weren’t there. I missed a major plot point because I was staring at my hand and it almost hurt because it was like I could feel her there, nearly tangible, but out of reach.
I miss the touch of her hand on the back of my head. I know that sounds odd, but she used to just reach over and put her hand there, and caress me and it wasn’t lascivious, it was loving. It was caring and delicate and it told me she was there with no words whatsoever.
I miss her kiss. She had the most gentle, delicate, touch. People used to think because she was tall, beautiful and somewhat aggresive that her whole being was that way. But she had the most delicate and sweet of manners and she could kiss me the right way and I’d shiver, or kiss again and I’d just feel warm and loved.
On days like today, the rain and cold surrounding and enveloping us, I miss having her there on the couch next to me, telling me she’s cold and sidling up next to me wearing a big, fuzzy sweater and she’d just . . . fit. Her curves, her body, they just met me in all the right places and she was like the perfect final puzzle piece, just lying there with her head on my shoulder. It was like seeing myself complete but never knowing I was incomplete before then.
I miss her laugh. The one consolation here is that each of my kids has a small piece of it. When we start to laugh and giggle together I can hear her – the timbre and harmony of their laugh combining in just the right way – I can hear her laugh hanging above us and there’s nothing better. Andrea also had this nervous, giggling laugh when she did something she knew she shouldn’t but did it anyway. It should have made me mad but it never did, it always disarmed me.
I miss the adventure! She had a mind and a spirit that said we should just drop it all and go do what we thought was right in the moment. I was always the conservative, shy, staid individual. She made me see it was OK to be just a little wild, not just when I put on a guitar and played on a stage. She always said I showed her how to reel in that wild heart, to make sure that she didn’t go too far. She told me on more than one occasion that she would get too wild, party too hard, or do too much. She said I’d saved her life, that she wasn’t sure she’d have made it to being a Mom without me. I told her I got more than she did, and I worried I’d corralled a woman who should have been able to do more.
As I get through the next 15 days, the missing pieces of our life, the part of me that sits on the couch and looks to the right only to notice that the turns and bends in my body don’t have hers matching them anymore seems to dwell more than I even did in those first days after she left. One year ago I just hurt, the pain radiating through everything making it hard to see or sense or function. Now, it’s like I take inventory of what’s no longer there, like a homeowner looking at all their posessions to see what a burglar took. There’s no report to be made, no investigation to be had, though. My losses are still coming to the fore, even 350 days later.
Now that I’m in a position to see what I’ve lost, I can come to the realization: the little things are still big. The biggest, in fact. Like that victim of a crime, I have to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be getting those things back.