He leaned into my left ear and whispered “Buy it.”
When I woke up today I had two choices. Stay in bed and be sad, again. Or get up, throw my hair into a greasy wad on top of my head, wear my best pair of pajamas to the Goodwill store downtown, and drop off the last box of his shirts.
It’s been two years that I’ve struggled to part with this damn box. It’s full of his favorite shirts. One of them still smelled of his cologne. I chose to keep it and hung it back up since he only wore it briefly.
God I miss him. I miss him so much. I can’t fathom walking into my closet and not seeing that box. What’s left of rational me knows what to do. But the grieving me is trying to pack rational me into a box like his shirts are in.
I agreed to start with the box first. My sister is a grief counselor in New York City. She says there’s no timeline for grieving and that only a basic graph of the grieving process exists. She also says not to be so hard on myself. The graph is based on experiences and research. She’s been comforting and annoying at the same time. I often just want to let the phone ring instead of answering it. I don’t want to talk about him like he’s gone. Why can’t they understand that?
I’ve not been ready to move out of mere existing. I faked my way through a date last week just to appease my concerned friends and family.
Today didn’t feel fake at all. Today I felt him beside me from the moment I woke up and stretched my way to the bathroom. I’ve been arguing with a ghost for 2 years now. I pee and he points his finger at me. I argue and shut him down. “No.” “I’m not ready to let you go.” I say loudly.
Every morning we have this same conversation. Day after day.
Please no. I’m not ready.
I stood in the mirror looking at this woman I’ve become. Barely a shell of what use to be. I usually see him reflecting back at me. “Where are you?” I chant. This isn’t what you promised me. You don’t get to just leave me here. You promised me coffee dates in bed every morning for the rest of my life. I’m here. You’re not. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m afraid of my own shadow now because you were my backbone.
Usually I march to the kitchen and start a cup of coffee. Not today. Today I stood and stared at the laugh lines around my eyes. He added to them with his sense of humor. The black circles under my eyes reminding me he’s gone. He is fading more and more with each day that passes.
I feel like I have forgotten all my basic life skills. I see no point in a toothbrush if he isn’t here to kiss me. Who needs shampoo? Not me. Now that he isn’t here to remind me how sweet my hair smells, whats the point? I might as well donate all this body lotion and perfume with his shirts. Why do I need soft skin if he isn’t here to touch me anymore?
The people in my life keep trying to sell me things I refuse to buy. I understand they genuinely care and want what’s best for me but I’m not ready to buy any of it. I just want him back. He’s the only thing that ever made sense in my entire life.
I feel the water filling up my tear pails. Heavy and painful. I squint to release some of the pressure.
Out of nowhere he shows up and leans into my left ear and whispers, “Buy it.”
“Lou, please buy it.” “Buy it, he begs of me.” Buy everything they are selling you; I can’t stand to watch you hurting.” I feel a gentle pressure on top of my shoulders. As if he has laid his hands on top of them. I close my eyes and watch this scene unfold so I can memorize it.
He reaches his right hand up and strokes my hair out of my face. He leans down to kiss the corner of my forehead. I can’t quit sobbing. I feel like this is goodbye. How do I breathe without you?
I love you Lou. I’ll live forever in the laugh lines by your eyes. Now take the box. I don’t live there anymore.
2020 Smith, Lynn Rilean