The last couple days have been a bit strange for me emotionally. I write this, knowing full well it’s a sentence I’d likely never utter out loud to others, but it’s true nonetheless. That is, after all, why I started writing in the beginning, to figure out what I was going through and find a way to process it and maybe get a little help in the process.
But this week has been particualrly odd. My oldest daughter, on whom I rely almost too much sometimes, has had so much decompression from her finals week at school that she’s had a few moments that even her Mom, a drop-dead gorgeous but brilliant blonde woman would call “blonde moments”. I won’t detail them because they’re silly and a little embarrassing, but more than that it’s just not the crux of things. Her flaky moments really just added to the mayhem and confusion.
Life without the one you love isn’t hard because of the gaping hole in your life, not at this point really. I mean sure, that will always be there. You can get a good indication of how I feel about the loss and where I am by reading the debate I had (a healthy one, not a nasty one) with a reader in yesterday’s post. (She’s also a friend, so I felt comfortable having the discussion with her. If you read, too, you’ll see I use the word “friend” very sparingly, reserved for people I trust and care about, so I wouldn’t use it or talk with her publicly if I didn’t think of her that way)
The wound from losing someone that deeply tied to your existence, as I described it yesterday, is like having someone reach into your chest and just rip out one of your ribs. You can certainly live without it, I know, but it will never recover. The gap is always there. The wound may start to heal, but the scar will remain. The area will be delicate. Movement has to be careful and thoughtful from that point on because even small movements could be painful. You have to be careful because that spot is now the most vulnerable of all your body. It could be covered and protected, but it could also get you hurt more than anything else. That will never change.
I started writing for Rene Syler’s website, Good Enough Mother when I commented on a post about the idea of a crystal ball telling you the future. There was also something about going back and talking to your past self. Would I look? Would I want to go ahead and see what my kids would end up like – see the future? Would I go back and change the mistakes, maybe end the pain by making sure I never met or married my wife?
Let me start with the future. My kids are going to move toward their own stories. I’ll end up being the prequel, the Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings. Bilbo to their Frodo. Anakin to their Luke. They have their own story to write, with so many amazing blank pages waiting for the tip of the pen to touch the rough surface of the page and begin to move. For now they’re part of my story and I love that. Would I like to think they would be OK and not get hurt or fail? Well, sure, but failure is the surest way to success. Without making those mistakes they won’t see where they need to improve. I want to embrace the joy and comfort the pain when they need me. That’s what makes the future worthwhile. As I’ve said before, in cheesy fashion this time, it’s truly the journey. The destination isn’t really what matters.
But the past. Could or would I change a lot? I can’t really see myself being that person who says “I wouldn’t change a single thing!” That would be so damn hypocritical it’s not even funny. Sure I would. I have so many stupid and embarrassing things. But would I change them or prod myself? Would I just tell my younger self to be more confident that he has this amazing future in front of him? Sure. Would I display more happiness initially that we were pregnant again in Texas so Andrea didn’t hold that against me for so long? Absolutely. But the question posed to me once was whether I’d go back and stop myself from marrying or dating or what have you?
No, though the temptation to make changes would be hard to fight. Andrea had some very low moments, so did I. But we had so many amazing ones . . . I couldn’t. Even today I look at so many of the chapters in our lives and they make me smile. The day Andrea died, when her sister and her husband arrived . . . when Andrea’s best friend arrived . . . I didn’t sit and wallow all day. I cried. A lot. For me that’s unusual. For me, that’s a very hard thing and when it hit it came with tidal force. But I shared myself with her. I told that same friend mentioned above that real, true love is not just love. Andrea and I were really good friends when we crossed over the line from friendship to . . . well, more. I knew that very first week, the moment I kissed her, that it was so different from everything else. By the end we were the proverbial circle the wedding ring symbolized. It isn’t just the togetherness. I truly saw her with me in all things, physically, emotionally, spiritually, sexually . . . we just, well, fit. If you have that even for a little while, you keep it.
On top of that, getting the help and care from unexpected places – places I would never have seen coming – is even more amazing. I worked with Rene – whose website I mention up there – when I lived in Dallas. I say worked with her, but I think I may have only worked with her a handful of times. I spoke with her more when she was at the network, but more because of sharing stories and a mutual friend. When I made the comments on that very post, though, my life changed drastically. She swept into my life in the most amazing and pleasant way. I, again, have a friend. Where many people use that term at the drop of a hat, my Dad and I . . . our whole family, really . . . use it very, very sparingly. It’s reserved for a small circle of people.
So my main point I’ve so far meandered away from. The week has been strange and hard because of the very same tug. But it’s not the hole or the gap in my chest from where she was. The grief or the missing person, the physicality isn’t the thing that catches you. It’s the things around you that grab you without your realizing it until it’s too late. A random picture. A smell. A taste.
Today my kids and I had a discussion about each others’ traits. It started with eye color, hair, what came from your Mom, what your Dad. I can see the pieces of Andrea in every little face. Abbi, who as a baby fought every single person that tried to hold her moved into my arm, relaxed, and quieted down. She snuggled in to my arm and stayed there forever. But the quest for perfection, frustration at others’ misunderstanding of her . . . all that’s her Mom. She has Andrea’s hair. She got a beautiful combination of blue, gold and almost green for her eyes. Hannah looks like a Manoucheri. She has thick, brunette hair. But she’s tall and built just like her Mom. She has the obsessive traits her Mom did, to her own detriment . . . like her Mom. Noah people call a clone of Andrea. He’s blonde, pale, blue-eyed, obsessive, craves attention . . . very Andrea. But he’s also like my older brother. He’s not always obsessive, he’s observant. He’s calculating in a good way. He’s got the organizational skills of my Mom. He loves to cook like me. Then there’s Sam. He’s the love and fun traits of his Mom. He’s strong and tough, but very delicate inside.
So the pieces of her linger. She’s gone, but the pieces of her merge when they’re all together. I can see her eyes, her laugh, her smile . . . and we’ve spent a lot of time together. You might think I get sad or depressed about how she surrounds me when I am already down.
But it doesn’t.
She’s there. I can’t feel her, but if this is all I get I will take it. No matter where I go or what I do I know she succeeded.
I can see the pieces of you.