I’m half Everything Sucks and half I’m The Luckiest Girl. No, I’m 70/30. And my Luckiest Girl moments irritate me. I’m sick of being grateful—grateful for the people that love me and care for me and think of me, grateful that I had Jim in the first place, grateful for the kids. The gratitude is exhausting, and I’m already physically debilitated by way of emotional trauma. Gosh Jim, where you at? I’ve turned into a total catch. You thought I was hot stuff before. You should see me now. When not sulking in public, I’m hiding in the house on the couch watching Star Trek special features on repeat.
I am in Monterey, California, for Jim’s hot cousin, Captain Amy’s, wedding. (Yes, I cried a lot and had to go take breather breaks in the bathroom, but my beautiful in-laws held my hand and supported me. We Ellikers, a sad, sad but steady group.) I came solo because my date died. He and I were looking forward to this trip. We looked forward to any trip together. “Want to go to—“ “Will you be there?” “Yes.” “Then I’m in. Duh.” We loved to just get in the car without a timeline and go explore. Ever taken that exit before? See that lake over there? Let’s find out how we can get there. But this I drove alone. I don’t mind driving alone. I mind going places alone where we were going to go together. On my drive I listened to the recording of Jim's talk at Brandon’s funeral four months before he himself bit it.
I’m not afraid to fly. You want freedom and experiences living when we do, you fly. I’ll fly to Denmark next month, Bahamas the following, and Thailand two months after that. I can’t let the manner of my husband’s death stop me from doing things he’d want me to. Hell, things we planned together. But man it’s effed up. He died in a plane crash. I hear the word plane in any context and think, “Plane? Oh that thing that spiraled down in flames to kill my husband? That kind of plane?” I watched some yoga teaching video and the example teacher told students to stretch their arms out and lean forward and down like a toppling airplane. Double take. Hope I heard wrong. Option for Toppling Airplane. Probably try to avoid saying that in class, teachers. It’s kinda tacky.
But here’s the thing. People don’t know my husband died. Or that he died in a plane crash. They don’t know that offhandedly saying things like, “Go slowly. You don’t know how much time you have,” and “toppling airplane” are going to set me off. They’re just words. Too bad they have meaning and I give them brutal context.
On my drive over yesterday I passed a private airport packed with planes. I couldn't tell if any were Beechcraft Bonanzas, the plane that crashed and offed my everything, but there were probably some. Would I go up in one? Yeah, especially if Dustin was flying. It’s getting back on the horse. Jim would want me on the horse.
There’s a lot of those assumptions flying around lately. Jim would be so proud . . . Jim would want . . . Jim wishes . . . I make the bulk of them. Jim would want to be here. Jim would want us to remember him by way of funny stories. And, if it brings us any measure of relief, Jim would want us to use his death to make jokes that make people uncomfortable. I’m quite confident on that last one.
I love how my boy said measure. mayz-jhurr. The bits of Nevada that fell out of his mouth from time to time helped complete a picture of this man I loved top-to-bottom. Sumbitch. Horse shit. I loved it all.
It’s a good thing I don’t drink, because if ever there was time the world at large would forgive me for becoming a drunk, it’d be now. I wouldn’t just drink a little. I don't have a stop button. I’d get head-over-the-toilet hammered in daylight.
Instead: Ambien for the nights. Ambien is like a sorta-friend that lives next door and you hang out because it’s convenient. She talks shit behind your back though—and you know it—but since she lives close, you get together anyhow. It’s not legitimate sleep you get with Ambien; it’s a chemical conk on the head that just lets you pass out for eight hours until you open your eyes, totally tired, and think, “It’s still real, isn’t it? I’m still a widow.” I may not know what day of the week it is, but I know that I’ll be spending it without my person. Oh my gosh, you guys, life freaking sucks. Still.
My husband was a man who one night sent my mother walking through the house in a human-sized hamster ball. Fellas like that are one of a kind.