Among the many things I didn't receive when A died were a bunch of things of my own, including several books. We had swapped a bunch of our favorites that we thought the other would like, and I'm glad we did, because if I hadn't had the books he brought me all the way from California ten months before he died, I would've had nothing of his. I haven't read a single one of those books yet. I don't know what I'm saving them for. But it brings me some comfort to know his fingers touched every single page of them.
But this isn't about his books; it's about mine. Particularly the first two books of a series I love that were among his belongings that no doubt ended up at the charity thrift store, it never occurring to anyone to ask me if there was anything of mine, or anything I wanted, at the home of my lover of two years. But I'm not bitter.
(Hell yes, I am.)
I recently checked up on that author, and downloaded her latest book to my Kindle, and along with it, a short story that told of the meeting of the two main characters through the eyes of the man (who happens to be Sherlock Holmes); the original novel told it from the girl's (she was a girl when the books started, anyway) perspective. And that made me want to go back and reread the whole series, which I haven't done since the Little House books a million years ago. But of course, I couldn't, because I don't have the books. The completist in me had often thought about replacing them, but somehow, I couldn't, or didn't. I can't even tell you why I never did. Maybe it was a tiny cross I was hanging myself upon, a reminder of how I'd been wronged by his family, and worse, his ex who evidently took charge of the disposition of his things--she had the legal right, if not the ethical right; I think it may be worse that I don't think it was malicious; I don't think they gave me a thought one way or the other.
In any case, tonight, 5 years, 4 months, and 2 weeks after his death, I bought the books again and downloaded them to my Kindle as well. My main impulse was that I wanted to read those books again, but it brings up a whole bunch of other stuff, of course. If he hadn't died, I'd have them, or know who did. If his family could've found it within themselves to care a little more about my feelings, I might have them. I am looking forward to rereading the books (and the story of their May-December romance between people of uncannily like minds), and resentful that I had to buy them twice, and sad because they were the least of what I lost, but they are the tip of that whole iceberg and it all comes back. They just can't be two books that went missing. I'm a widow, and too many damn things in my life are fraught with subtext that only I see and can read.
On the surface, it's no big deal. I had to replace two paperbacks. But there's an emotional kick that I can't avoid. I can anticipate it, and I can survive it, but I cannot avoid it. And frankly, I think that's a bitch. Even when you're mostly free of the pain, and the heartache, you're never free and clear. There's always something that can pull it front and center, where it mocks you in your helplessness. You can't fix it any more now than you ever could. And you know that only too well, with more clarity then you had way back in the beginning. Grief and loss? They're emotional herpes: something that won't kill you, but certainly has the power to cause you pain, inconvenience, and to cramp your style. It just pisses me off sometimes.