My sweetie died 5 years ago today. But 5 years ago today, I didn’t know that. I didn’t even start to worry until 5 years ago tonight, didn’t panic until 5 years ago tomorrow, and didn’t know for sure that he was gone until the day after that. In the aftermath of A’s death, and all these years later, there are 2 things I still have anger about, when I let myself think about them: 1) the stupid apartment manager who wouldn’t be the least bit helpful in finding out whether A was home, or if his truck was in the lot, when I called 5 years ago tomorrow, and 2) his family’s seemingly cold dismissal of my feelings, needs, and their own promises, in the end. I can almost forgive his family; they probably did as well as they could under the circumstances, even if it wasn’t nearly as good as it should’ve been. The apartment manager I can’t forgive. The combination of stupidity and laziness (she said that despite my concerns that he might actually be hurt or dead, she couldn’t tell me anything because of policy, and she said she couldn’t check for awhile because she was going to lunch) added up to a cruelness that meant my sweetie lay dead in his apartment for 3 days. If she could’ve been a thinking human being for five minutes, she could’ve helped me spare him 2 of those days. It’s unkind, but I hope it haunted her after the fact, because it haunts me. I hope she realized her mistake and vowed never to be so stupid, thoughtless, and lazy again in an emergency; however, my faith in humanity is not so robust as to believe that happened.
But I try not to think about it.
I’ve spent the entire week waiting to fall apart, and it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve been in considerable physical pain since last weekend because of my stupid back, and I suppose that has been a pretty significant distraction. Any whimpering and whining this past week (and there hasn’t been much) has been about that. My back is worse than usual due to some random mechanical factor I can’t put my finger on (as usual), but it also gets worse in the damp and when I’m PMSing, and I’m doing the latter while we’re full into monsoon season; it also occurs to me that while I’m not feeling consciously stressed about this impending milestone, perhaps it is subconscious, and contributing to my back problems. My body fell apart completely in the year after A died, and I’ve never really gotten it all back together. It’s not impossible that I’m revisiting the physical as well as the emotional this week.
I have plans for every day of this ugly weekend. The usual Friday night hang-out with the girls. Concert of a favorite artist Saturday night with a pal. Usual Sunday night dinner with the girls and E. And my back is what I’m most worried about ruining my good time Saturday night; it’s general admission. A would like it that I’m at a concert, rather than home moping.
It’s trite, but “it is what it is” is mostly my feeling regarding this stage of my widowhood. I accept that missing him is what I do now. It isn’t at the forefront of my thoughts most of the time, but it is never entirely gone, either. Nothing I can do about it but shrug, in any case. Not because I don't care; not because I don't miss him. But because I can't do a thing to fix it, or feel differently about it, and this is my new normal.
You can get used to anything. Anything at all.
Then again, there's also the possibility that it's all just roiling under the surface. I found myself particularly easy to enrage after work today; that kind of irritability is usually a subtle sign that grief is at work on me, even if I think otherwise.
There are 2 As now: the one in my head, and the one he really was. Sometimes I get a clear memory, or reread an e-mail he sent me, or a chat transcript, and I remember exactly who he was when he was alive, in astonishing, unadulterated vibrancy. But a lot of the time, it’s the construct of him that sticks with me, one that is necessarily informed in every part by my perceptions, my loss of him, my grief, my feelings about his absence. There's a bit of distance to that one, too, and perhaps that's why it's my more constant companion: it's safer. They are similar, of course, but the real one is better; and it's the real stuff that, in remembering, that makes my mouth smile, my eyes tear up, and my heart ache. The real man provokes the real feelings that I can't afford to feel constantly every day.
I often feel like I want to tell people all about him, because he was such an awesome, amazing person, but every time I try to sketch his character in words, I fail, because there was so much to him, and I can’t convey that totality with any justice. And even if I tried, it wouldn't matter to them because they didn't know him. They didn't love him, like I do. In the end, I fall silent, because in remembering who he was, all of it, I am forced again to reckon with how much I go without because he’s not here.