As I sit down to write this, a commercial for St. Jude Children’s Hospital is playing in the background. I never knew until she was gone just how generous she was, giving so much to those children without fail. She went without before children she never even met did.
Dammit. Not even two paragraphs into this and I’m already getting weepy. It’s been a year since the last normal day of my life, the last day before After, that new reality that I still can’t say I’m used to. But, in the course of this last year, I have learned that grief is not something I will “get over.” It is something I will learn to carry. Though I have realized it, it is still something I admit I am working on accepting.
A year ago today, I sat down to write a blog and it started to the effect of, “today feels like the first day of a great new life.” I began my community restoration project, Back to the Bay (www.backtothebaymi.org) and I was so excited to tell her about it. I was going to see her after work, going to tell her how people were already responding, going to tell her how nice it looked, how much I looked forward to seeing it grow, sharing that with her, telling her about my day… I looked forward to replacing her old flowers with new ones. I looked forward to watching Mark Harmon in whatever he was in that day on the few channels she liked. I looked forward to hearing her voice and hugging her goodbye and telling her goodnight. I looked forward to hearing her say “love you, too.”
I miss her.
It was hard to stay here. She’s everywhere. At first I sought her out, I lived in the memory of everything that drew me back here. Then it became unbearable, like a fist gripping my throat tighter and tighter as I drove down streets we used to walk on the way to some adventure that would inevitably end up with candies.
Last summer was awful. The literal worst. The longest, darkest, most unbearable summer of my life. I hope to never relive another like it.
This summer has been… what’s the word?
I have chased the stars looking for the twinkle in her eye. I have cried into the same waters I can only guess thousands of other sad girls just like me have cried into, as waves washed the sand off my feet and the sun shone on my face. I have turned up the songs that tear my heart to pieces and driven through the pain. I will never not miss her and it will never not hurt. I will never be the same person I was, but I don’t doubt that I’ll be all she knew I could be.
The other night FGL and I went meteor-hunting. We drove up and down the roads through the backyard of the city, in search of the perfect viewing spot. The moon hung in the sky perfect center, a strange oblong orb of orange. Even as I grew frustrated with the mistrustful and inconvenient lights, even in the cornfields, I still had room in my heart to remember to look. I thought, “that is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen – and I’m with him. This is fucking special.”
Those moments were hard to recognize for a while. Laughing from my gut, breathing. I can lay my head on his chest without mine stopping.
But I miss her. I guess I’m not sure how to end this, but for now, I’m okay. Even if just for today. Tomorrow might hurt a little more. Eight days from today, I may hurt a lot more. But today, I am okay.