I might not get visits from his actual ghostly spirit, but I see reminders of him everywhere. Every single one stabs at my heart. That's a cliche way to say it, but it feels like a blow to my actual, physical heart. It knocks the wind out of me for just a second and I wince from the impact.
The worst is reminders of our "things". Shows we used to watch, foods we used to make into rituals, our nightly "feed the cats their special treats" routine that I do alone now, moments I can't BELIEVE he's missing.
Today I discovered that I'd have a chance to accompany wildlife biologists on some field work for which I'd need waders and boots. I realized I'd have to borrow a pair from some friends.
Dave was a fisherman extraordinaire. We had 2 fishing boats, multiples pairs of waders, both chest and hip, boots, several tackle boxes, countless fishing rods and reels, nets, float tubes...
I sold it all.
And now I need a pair of waders and boots. I wanted to tell him how ridiculous that was. It was easy to imagine him teasing me for selling all his things. I couldn't believe, even after 19 months of living with the fact of his death, that I couldn't tell him that I'd be experiencing this now. I couldn't believe that he wouldn't get a chance to do it with me.
At some point this will finally stop surprising me, right? One day I won't shake my head in stunned disbelief when I see the box his ashes are in, sitting next to my jeans in my closet. One day I won't hear the words "my husband died" come out of my mouth and feel so surreal that I almost split into two - one me who goes numb and carries on and another inner me who crumples to the ground screaming a frustrated silent scream. I can't remain surprised by this forever. Right?
The other day I organized and cleaned out my closet. As I was pulling a messy pile of jeans off a high shelf to refold, a social security card drifted out of the folds of denim and fluttered to the floor. Before it landed, I knew it was Dave's. I reached down and flipped it over and looked at it.
His sweet, young boy, left-handed scrawl of a signature.
The stab to the heart, the woosh of my breath as I gasped, the shock that even though the feeling is now familiar, it doesn't seem to lessen. The disturbing way I have to just continue with my silly daily activities while carrying this giant gaping absence around with me.
I don't have a good explanation for how his social security card ended up in my jeans. I don't understand it all. I also don't understand how it can take the human brain so long to fully grasp a fact as blindingly obvious as "he's gone". I don't understand how I just keep going on with things as though I'm not breaking apart.
But, the thing is, I do keep going on. Sometimes it feels like I'm swimming smoothly through the seas, with an awareness of which direction to head. Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning. Sometimes I just tread water, completely lost. For some reason, though, I'm here now. I'm supposed to be, though I don't know why.
I can't see the bigger picture because I'm too close to it. I'll only see it when I can look at it from the distance of time passed. Which is annoying, but unavoidably true.
I think a part of me has been waiting for his approval of how I'm living my life now. I keep asking him if I'm doing okay. AND HE DOESN'T ANSWER. I don't see him or hear him. Which means that I have only myself to answer to and that might be the hardest thing to come to terms with. I think I've been lost from time to time because I've been waiting for his guidance. If I'm going to sail off into my own life, I'm going to have to stop waiting for that, as much as it breaks my heart.
My own guidance is worthy. Whew, it was hard to admit that, but now that it's out there, I can feel it.
I can handle this. I have been and I will continue to. I will make mistakes but I will handle this, even if I can't see Dave.