Almost two years have passed. Actually, 23 months and 17 days. I thought that every minute that ticked by, every day I put pants on one leg at a time and buttoned them (they became stretchy pants instead of jeans after a while), every grocery trip to the store where I made it through the aisles of over-priced organic products, I was healing. I was healing one stoplight, one alarm clock that I didn’t snooze, one chocolate chip cookie at a time.
It is complete and utter bullshit. I am not healing. I am ignoring. I am distracting myself. I am lying to myself more convincingly than Paul Ryan lied to his constituents or OJ Simpson lied to the world. So today is the first day – 11:08 PM on June 11, 2018 – that I will face my new reality. I will do it from my couch. In my pajamas. With unbrushed teeth and an overly full stomach.
So what did I do today? Well, I took my dog to the vet and found out that all 5.4 pounds of her are perfectly healthy, except for her teeth, which have to come out. And just like that, at six years old, my adorable, beautiful companion will sit with her tongue hanging out, drooling uncontrollably onto my Goodwill couch.
What else? I applied for jobs. And got rejected. Isn’t rejection just the swift kick in the pants you never need? Then someone reached out to me about a job, and I got excited by the possibility, and then discovered that he wanted to pay me $8 to buy his sunglasses off Amazon and leave him a glowing review in their place – as long as I have Amazon Prime and he won’t have to refund me for shipping. I didn’t even bother to turn that one down. I might need $8 tomorrow. I haven’t checked my account yet (too afraid).
I also moved my friend’s car to the correct side of the street for street sweeping tomorrow. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, neither does anyone else. It’s some lie where they drive giant brooms around and pretend to “clean up the street” (on the second and fourth Mondays of the month – I never know what number Monday it is, to which my parking tickets will attest), though it’s rarely dirty before and never any cleaner after. For the record, I’ve never seen a street sweeper in action. They’re like the male protagonist in a romance novel: good in theory, but doesn’t actually exist.
I ate a banana for lunch. I told myself I was going to go work out and then took a nap. I applied to a few more jobs before giving up and driving around aimlessly. I took a walk around a lake in a maxi dress (long, maidenly dress that’s only appealing on Heidi Klum) and promptly got it covered in dirt and algae (I got too close to the water – “slippery slope” signs with their image of a person sliding down the hill into the water, be damned). I downloaded Abode onto my computer when I realized I couldn’t convert my old resume (that I’d been sending out all day) from Word into a PDF.
What makes today unlike any other day? I discovered that I am disappointing the only person who has truly supported and understood me. He’s stood by me for 19 months and hasn’t said anything the whole time about my obvious (to him) struggles. When I tell him over a chicken burger he bought me that I need him to sacrifice more for me, a sadness rolls over his face like a cloud blocking out the sun. Try as I might, I can’t ignore the pained look he’s giving me (I’m REALLY, EXTRAORDINARILY good at ignoring reality).
By bedtime I manage to get past my own hurt and selfishness and really ask him what he sees in me (he doesn’t answer) and what I’ve done to bring this on (he doesn’t answer) and how I can solve it. He says, “Grieve. Just let yourself grieve. You’ve never grieved and I think it’s time. Take a year. Let yourself grieve.”
Take a year… I cry unrestrained at the idea that I haven’t grieved yet and it’s been almost two years. I cry those really unattractive, hiccuping sobs onto his green Bucks and Trucks t-shirt. I wipe my eyes on a pair of pajama shorts I find on the floor that I apparently never put away. Tears fall again immediately onto his bedspread, t-shirt, legs, anywhere and everywhere they can find a surface to land on. I don’t know who the pretty, contained, big green-eyed criers who look sexy when they’re sad are, but fuck them because I look like I got rained on and simultaneously melted on a hot and humid summer day. He takes all this in stride, rubbing my hair the wrong way while he comforts me and creating a tangled mess. I resist the urge to correct him.
I leave the room because I need to process this. He follows me. He hugs me.
“Okay,” I breathe out into his chest.
This is the start of that year. One year. To see if I can survive the grieving process.
Just as I am about to post this, I cough so hard I pee my pants.