During the day I'm a little machine. The list of things you have to get done when your husband dies is long and grows by the day. Stupid stuff like changing the email address on the Hulu account and canceling the weekly milk order. Important stuff like dealing with the will and getting the death certificates. And stuff that falls somewhere in between there, like canceling his ticket to Copenhagen and repairing the watch he had on when he died so Dustin can wear it.
Yes, while I'm plowing though the massive list of to-dos, time sensitive and necessary by self-imposition, I crack. I cry. My voice breaks. I stop. But I put myself back together and get back to work, hopping from task to task, owning crisis management like my mom trained me, like a champ.
I lose my shit over things around the house and things with the kids that Jim always took care of. A torn trampoline net. A confusing remote. A creaky cabinet door. How to get the lid on the Camelback to close because Ben wants to play with it. My people step in and calm me down and fix things. But they won't always be here. I'm going to need a new map for how to navigate the stuff that Jim did that I didn't even know about because he was quiet about that stuff. Because it wasn't a big deal. Because he knew how to do everything
There are must-dos. But I try to remember that there are also things that I don't have to do. I have to do laundry, wash my hair, feed the dogs, and take out the trash. But I don't have to answer every text and message even though I'm grateful, go to the door, leave the house, answer personal emails, and clean out the yoga clothes in my bureau like I've been meaning to do for three months.
There are things I wish I wanted to do because I used to enjoy them, like walk Gus, turn on Netflix, listen to music in the car, drive fast, laugh. That stuff doesn't make sense anymore. My person is gone. What else is there? We walked Gus together in the evenings. We watched shows together on the weekends. We were in the car together where constant conversation eliminated the need for music to fill silence. We drove fast in the best car ever. We laughed every single day. It was all We. Now it's only I. For always really. Because try to top what we had. You can't. What we had was annoying, only-in-the-movies, must-be-made-up perfection. If my sadness is going to be proportionate to my happiness, then I'll drown trying to find its bottom.
Nights are the worst. It starts when I get on my computer to do one thing and end up instead clicking through photos and crying. That's when the crying isn't just a catch in my throat and sudden inability to speak. That's the crying that makes my insides seize and vibrate and breathing so difficult. I want to touch his perfectly shaped head and feel his hands where they're rough on the right knuckle and feel his arms wrapping me close. I want to have to scoot back to my side of the bed in the middle of the night because his body heat is making me sweaty.
I keep my people up way past what's polite so I don't have to go to bed. Around 2am I get the dogs and we trudge upstairs. Here comes the hard part. But instead of crying myself to sleep anymore I lean on pharmaceutical intervention and pass out, not to get rest—Ambien doesn't leave you rested—but to pass the time unconscious.
My body needs a yoga class. It hurts and I don't think I'm in a place to direct a self practice. But I can't go to class here and I don't want to drive far. Because the yoga community in Reno is tight, basically all the yogis know that the small, flexible girl with the substantial thighs is a widow now. And because the yoga community in Reno is kind, they want to offer whatever they've got and hold me. But I just want to slip into class as discretely as I can, set up in the back, try to move my body and not to cry, and slip out without accepting condolences. Even though I am bowled over by the kindness aimed at me, and I know that there's more than I'm aware of because people have been giving me space, being a distraction from what we do in those studios—self care—is so not what I need right now
Though—thanks to my extreme and potentially detrimental independence—the odds of me asking for help from anyone are about zero, I know that all the people who offer are serious. I believe that they want to—and they would—do whatever I ask. It overwhelms me. I hold the stacks of cards and the notes off of flowers and stall, just defeated. There are so many. How do I get started thanking them all? Don't tell me I don't have to. I'm not that guy. I do have to. It's how I function. Or used to, rather, when my heart wasn't underground in the most beautiful casket ever built.