You see it in the news all the time, people getting blown up by landmines that have been lying in wait for years and years, long after the conflict has supposedly ended. Stepped on one myself today.
I was sitting in the waiting room at my chiropractor's. He shares space with a massage therapist and a naturopath nurse practitioner, and the secretary for the latter was on the phone. I heard her in the middle of an initial call that didn't make much sense, and I wasn't really paying attention because Redbook had an article on Melissa McCarthy I was trying to speed-read before my chiropractor finished with the client before me. But then the secretary must have buzzed her boss, because then the conversation went like this:
"So-and-so passed away. Yeah, the neighbor hadn't seen her in a while, so they had the police do a welfare check. It look like she fell, I guess. She's probably been gone 2-3 days."
Of course the secretary could not know that I was quietly freaking out over on the couch as she told basically my story, about someone else, to someone else. All I can recall feeling is my eyes getting bigger as I listened, and part of me saying "no...no...no...no..." in my head because I didn't want to be hearing this. Of all the legion shitty parts of widowhood, the 2 days I didn't hear from him, growing more and more terrified, and the third day when I was the one who called the apartment manager, and then the cops, and ultimately had my worst fears confirmed is the part I try not to revisit. At all. Even when my thoughts wander there, I make a mental U-turn as quickly as possible. Because it's so horrible, thinking about him lying there, waiting to be found...
No. Stop it. Can't think about it.
I've gotten pretty good about not thinking about it after 8 years. (I almost wrote 6 years, redid the math and my head, and wanted to cry when I realized it was 8; it's been so long.) And yet, because I happened to go to the chiropractor today instead of tomorrow, as I usually do, I got blindsided. If I'd gone tomorrow, I would've missed it.
Why? If there's a reason for everything (a philosophy I don't necessarily buy into), why did I have to confront this today? If learning to live your life without your loved one who died is a spiritual education, then what the hell am I supposed to get from running into these mines, other than a freshly broken heart, or if not broken, oozing a little at the scar? I take it personally. I know I probably shouldn't, but I do. It's like, "Goddammit, when do I get a break? Haven't I done enough to heal? Why does shit still crop up? If my chiropractor had been on time, if I'd gone tomorrow, if the rain had kept us both home, it wouldn't have. Why did everything align perfectly so that the one client my chiropractor has who would be hurt by overhearing that exact conversation was the only one sitting in the waiting room when it took place?
I know it's not all about me. Some other family now knows exactly how I've felt, and I know I wasn't the first, either. Still, I don't believe in coincidences. It's weird. It made me sad. And it makes me wonder why feeling loss is a life sentence. Perhaps not every day of that life, but dammit, too often.