It’s funny, the things that can trigger you when you are on this trip. Today it was a Turnpike exit. I was on my way to a gathering with her family, which was nice. Got to see my grandkids playing with their second cousins, cuteness all around. Had some nice talks with her sisters both about her loss and her life. I was really glad I went.
But the thing that stuck at the end of the day was that stupid exit. It was the one I used to take thirty years ago when I was visiting her at college. When I drove past it on the way out I teared up, not so bad I couldn’t drive, but it was pretty jarring. And all day long the memories of feelings from thirty years ago were there, and somehow for a bit I felt like all that progress in making myself who I am became while we were together had been undone.
When you’ve spent so much time so close to someone, the lines between you become blurred. Now, with her gone, there is a huge hole in your life. I thought I understood that part, but the thing that hit me today is that hole is like a torn seam, and it runs through the entire length of your life together, it’s not just missing her now. Everywhere the two of you came together is torn open now, a raw wound.
When I pull out the photo albums, when I start to tell a story, when I make a conscious effort to remember, all those times I can smile at the memory. But the unbidden memories, when I’m not prepared to think of her in the past tense, those bleed at the unexpected contact. Huge parts of my memory still don’t know she’s dead yet, and they cry at the terrible news.