On the flight down Ben sat between me and Josie. He leaned over after takeoff and told me, “It's awkward sitting between two crying people.” I cried during check-in at the hotel. On dark rides or slow lines I lost my place in time, fell into my head, and became some lady crying at Disneyland. In the evenings I curled up at the head of the bed and left mascara smears on the white linens. The kids get to a place where they have to just look away. Gonna go get ice cream, okay, Megan? Okay? I suppose it’s, uh, nice? not to have to explain why I’m crying. Again.
As we were landing at LAX Ben put his arm around Jo, pulled her to him, and put his head on her shoulder. It made me smile and then cry because whenever stuff like that happened Jim would try to take a picture real fast in case the sibling affection was a long time in returning. Blurry and dark though it was, I took the picture for him. I do that a lot and then cry because I don’t have anywhere to send the photos and videos.
A couple weeks ago I took pictures of Katelynn’s little guy kneeling at our glass door and banging on the windows. I wanted Jim to see that he has such big hands. While waiting for the kids to do some rollercoaster I hung out with our grandboy. He pulled his foot to his face—my yoga baby—and giggled. I took video and cried more, telling him, “Your grandpa would have enjoyed you so much.” I sent the video to my mom and sisters and they cooed like they’re supposed to, but it’s not good enough. I want Jim to be delighted. Please don't tell me that he is, that he is delighted watching us from heaven. He’s pissed. He wants to be here. And don’t tell me to text the photos and videos to him anyhow, that it will be therapeutic for me. I have access to those messages. I know he’s not on the other end. It’s not good enough. Nothing is.
I’m waiting for when this will all be less shitty. But at the same time I don’t want it to be less shitty. Less-bad days scare me. I want to be this sad forever because I don’t want to forget or get past or comprehend. I lost my person. Guys, I lost our future.
Every time I pick up my phone to check for messages I remember that it’s pointless. The name I want to see won’t be there ever again. I have people I care about who love me and are checking in, and when I look at my phone I see names—Margaret or Traci or Amy or Cameron or Kyle or Mom or or or—waiting for me and I feel this flash of gratitude or comfort, but the one name I wish to pop up never will.
Traci and I should probably get together and write a widows’ handbook for what to do with kith experiencing significant loss. A thing I’d include is to never hesitate to reach out despite suspecting that it might be useless or even an inconvenience. A text, an email—if you want to send something to say you’re thinking of the grieving, do it. That stuff softens the hurt for a second. Even if you don’t get a fast reply or a reply at all, trust that your note or your flowers made a good impact. Think of it like this: the person who relished caring for me is gone. When someone else does, no matter how few the words or small the gesture, it has the potential to make a moment less awful. That ain’t nothin’. I'm lucky to have scads of quality humans thinking of me and telling me so. It doesn’t get old. It’s never useless. I’m grateful. My guy would be too.
He wanted to be at stupid Disneyland. Where we all are, wherever that is, that’s where he wanted to be. We did our best with this trip. We kept track of each other. We cared for us. We were together all at once. And that’s really all I can consistently pull off right now—just showing up.