It started two nights ago when Tracy and I were out for dinner. I left the restaurant feeling a little discomfort. I told her, “My gall bladder hurts.” It reminded me of the sort of thing my dad used to say: “Did your bladder splatter? Did your liver quiver?” He was full of ready-made goofy Dad-isms. For whatever reason I thought about him on Tuesday night and it made me sad.
After dinner we went to Burlington Coat Factory and bought some clothes for our youngest. He went off to graduate school and, for the first time in twenty-four years, his momma wasn’t able to do any school shopping for him. She made up for it by buying some new clothes for his first day of school. (Do other grad students’ moms do that?).
I bought a new pair of jeans to replace some of the loose-fitting jeans I haven’t worn since I began focusing a bit more on my health. For the next two days all I wanted to do was buy things. I looked at classified ads for a new truck. I put shoe cleaner in my Amazon shopping cart and hovered over the purchase button before deleting it. I researched updating my Apple Watch, and nearly bought a new pair of running shoes.
Was I trying to numb the grief I was feeling? I’m not sure.
Earth Wind and Fire’s Live in Velfarre. We ate pork chops and corn on the cob. She made blueberry muffins for dessert. When I woke up this morning I made us bacon sandwiches and then we went our separate ways. She had to work; so did I.
As I left the house I couldn’t stop thinking about my parents. They died ten days apart earlier this year. They were in their early seventies and were married for fifty-four years. The thought hovering just beneath the surface of the lump in my throat and the eyes threatening to erupt in tears is this: if my parents are an indication of what’s in store for us, then Tracy and I only have twenty-two more years together.
That’s not enough time.
I can’t imagine life without this woman.
The thought is made bearable only by the fact that I have no choice but to bear it.
I wonder how many more times grief will assault an otherwise perfectly fine day. How many more times will I be driven to tears on days I should celebrate. Birthdays. Christmases. Weddings. Anniversaries. The pain of losing mom and dad will get better. I believe that. Others have confirmed it.
I just hope that, as the years pass and we see our children get married, have children of their own, and build lives that validate the sacrifices we made when we were their age, that I don’t continue to be plagued by the dread that the love of my life and I are one year closer to our last.
Because I love her.