Half a Year, Trash Day Letter

Dear M,

I stopped counting trash days when I got to one month. You died on a Wednesday. Wednesday is trash day in our neighborhood. The first two months I counted the time by how many trash days it had been since your death. Now I count in months. Six months today. Half a year. Many days, most I don’t feel like getting up. I am waiting for someone to bring the tray with the pot of tea and croissants, to open the French doors to a balcony I don’t have, to set a table, lay out a newspaper. Until that happens I suppose I will continue to get up and go to work. I like to go on walks, be outdoors, see MK. It’s the school, grocery store, church, Target, CVS that I dread. The places where I might run into people who knew you. Some are sad, some avoidant, some sympathetic. The sympathy I detest. I am ready with a picture of Murphy on my phone. She helps me to deflect the ambush. An invisibility cloak would come in handy right now. I need rest, a lot of rest. I am not getting it so much. Tonight imac had a 3 hour driving lesson! You would be pleased. Murphy had her second puppy class. The boys grades are starting to come back up. I think they are sleeping again. My sleep comes and goes, as you well know. I started a new job. I am enjoying it, but stressed at the same time. Some days I am working with hemophilia, some days bone marrow transplant patients. It feels more meaningful than the repetition of my days in the allergy clinic. Another grief booklet arrived this week, just when I thought everyone had forgotten. Tomorrow iMac and I tour another college. Details to follow….

Love,

S

Half a Year, Trash Day Letter

Dear M,

I stopped counting trash days when I got to one month. You died on a Wednesday. Wednesday is trash day in our neighborhood. The first two months I counted the time by how many trash days it had been since your death. Now I count in months. Six months today. Half a year. Many days, most I don’t feel like getting up. I am waiting for someone to bring the tray with the pot of tea and croissants, to open the French doors to a balcony I don’t have, to set a table, lay out a newspaper. Until that happens I suppose I will continue to get up and go to work. I like to go on walks, be outdoors, see MK. It’s the school, grocery store, church, Target, CVS that I dread. The places where I might run into people who knew you. Some are sad, some avoidant, some sympathetic. The sympathy I detest. I am ready with a picture of Murphy on my phone. She helps me to deflect the ambush. An invisibility cloak would come in handy right now. I need rest, a lot of rest. I am not getting it so much. Tonight imac had a 3 hour driving lesson! You would be pleased. Murphy had her second puppy class. The boys grades are starting to come back up. I think they are sleeping again. My sleep comes and goes, as you well know. I started a new job. I am enjoying it, but stressed at the same time. Some days I am working with hemophilia, some days bone marrow transplant patients. It feels more meaningful than the repetition of my days in the allergy clinic. Another grief booklet arrived this week, just when I thought everyone had forgotten. Tomorrow iMac and I tour another college. Details to follow….

Love,

S

Letter of Leisure

Dear M,

Spring is turning into summer here. We had our first 80 degree day. Almost warm enough you would say, with 82 being your preferred temperature. 80 is about 5 degrees too warm for me. IMac and I had a leisurely day. I dropped Butter off at 9 with his backpack. He and his Philmont crew are doing a practice hike and camp out this weekend. You would be pleased that Butter is getting to do Philmont, just like his big brother. Then Murphy and I drove over to Petsmart for her first hair cut at 9:30. She didn’t stay because they had overbooked and I would have had to leave her there for 5 hours. So I  rescheduled her in the first slot for tomorrow. Murphy woke up at 2:30, 3:30 and 5. Cha kept waking her. Cat’s revenge I suppose. 

Did I tell you I got new bikes for the boys? The same bike shop you and I shopped for their first bikes. The one you took the CubScouts to for their biking patches.

Spring Break Letter

Dear M, 

I had a nice long chat with MK on the way home from work Friday. She was reassuring and encouraging as always. Molly and Bob have had some tough blows lately. Bob’s sister and her husband died tragically in a house fire. The first of the two funerals was today. Bad weather up north too, twenty degrees, a winter storm and funerals. So needless to say I kept imac and Butter here for spring break. They have been resourceful and actually I think this week is strengthening their bond. They have cooked dinner four times in the last two weeks. They are still laundry challenged. I think it is genetic. In college I slept under my sheet, comforter, a heap of clean clothes and some text books. Would you believe they now sell weighted blankets for people with anxiety. I was always ahead of my time, inventing my own weighted blanket of laundry and books. Let’s call it self medicating. Daylight savings time either ended or began last weekend. The minus-feeling like I am getting up at four in the morning. The plus-walking Murphy while it is still light out after work and dinner. We have all had a bit of a hard time this March. I haven’t mentioned the anniversaries of last March, but we all remember where we were and why. Will on a BoyScout trip, Ian at Rose and Bill’s, me at Moffitt with you. It’s hard to look back because I can see the parts I blocked out while we were experiencing them, like watching a movie and realizing it is my life and being a bit horrified by it. 

We watched our favorite show tonight, This is Us. It makes me think about our relationship. I regret how angry I was with you. You saw it for what it was, me being mad you were leaving. Me, choosing an emotion that would allow me to continue in action mode instead of experiencing the sorrow that would cripple me. Keep moving forward. Keep moving forward.
Much love,

S

Letter of Rememberies

Dear M,

I started a new job this week. I’m having some of my classic anxiety dreams. Some tacchycardia. Time to start yoga again. In my dreams my car gets stolen repeatedly. I can’t remember where I parked and I meander around parking lots with groceries, that sort of thing. I had some horrible horrible dreams right after you died. I don’t think they were too far off from the reality that we were living the last few months. Now for the amazing news. Good memories are floating back in. Memories from before we had kids, from when we had a nanny and got to spend time together every week without interruptions, memories of our travels, memories of Christmas shopping with you, of well baby check ups with you, memories of silly moments. I have so many new things I want to tell you each day. I’m mostly out of the habit of getting my phone out of my pocket to send you a text. I am still in the habit of checking for messages. I get my phone out of my pocket to check my texts and then wonder why I am holding it in my hand expectantly.

Love,

S

College

Dear M,
I lost count of how many letters I have written, so I will just name them from now on. IMac and I are on our first mother/son road trip to look at colleges. I let him decide which car we would take. He chose the van, your car. Traditionally we always took the van for trips and you always drove. So it’s like we are bringing you with us. You would be so excited if you were with us. I am in the hotel lobby drinking coffee and reading up on the three colleges we are visiting this month, two state schools and one private. I’m trying to keep my mouth shut and not push iMac in one direction or another. Of course I love the in state tuition, but I suspect the school that matchs with iMac the best will be the private school.

Hotels remind me of you and cancer. Our roadtrip reminded me of you and cancer, because in the last few years most of my road trips and hotel stays were with you to Tampa for appointments and surgeries at Moffitt. That reminds me that I have been meaning to write a letter to Dr. Etame, your neurosurgeon, to thank him. I will enclose a picture of Murphy with the boys. I can’t imagine having his job. The science and research portion has to be engaging enough to outweigh the losses. 

We will take US highways home instead of the interstate and I will give iMac some drive time. That’s another reminder of you, US Highways. Your map collections, your memories of driving from college in New Jersey to see your family in North Carolina or later your parents in Coconut Grove. You spoke of the road trips often and remembered the smallest details.

I talked to Uncool Wayne this week. He sounds good. He shared sweet memories of you. Sounds like he is being a great companion to ex-girlfriend/now friend T. T stopped chemo because it was killing her faster than the metastatic breast cancer. She is feeling good and enjoying walks with Uncool Wayne. When it warms up enough she will return to Canada. 

IMac picked a movie for us to watch together last night, Arrival. I’m not a sci-if fan, but it was more than sci-fi. Rarely do imac and I get uninterrupted time together. That’s all for now. More later after we visit with CMcC and see some colleges.

Love,

S

Valentine’s Letter

Dear M,

I’m sorry it has been so long since I have written. We have a puppy now. Her name is Murphy M. Her middle name is your first name. She came home on January 7. It is much like having a baby. Initially getting up in the night several times to take her out. At night she sometimes chews on my pillow. When I wake up she looks at me as if to say, “you’re up too?? Well since we are both up, let’s play.” She loves socks, dirty or clean. She doesn’t care. She is all love and joy and play. She has even captured imac’s heart. He carries her around the house and says he will still carry her even when she is full grown, which should be about 60 #.

I was so hoping they would cancel Valentine’s Day this year. We weren’t particularly gushing about Valentine’s Day as couples go. I am reminded of the little things. You would often write me a letter, which reminded me that you loved me. I would usually make something involving photos and words for you. You didn’t know that I needed those love letters every day and I had too much pride to ask for more. I got them twice a year, my birthday and Valentine’s Day. Maybe that should have been plenty. It was as if each night I fell asleep and forgot that I am lovable. I waited for Valentine’s Day and my birthday to be reminded. That’s my crazy. I heard Alain de Boton being interviewed by Krista Tippett on the topic of love.  There isn’t a right one, but instead the work of loving in the face of imperfection. He suggested that the first question on a first date should be “How are you crazy?” Imagine if we both knew ourselves well enough then to even answer that question. 

Speaking of love, I talked to CMcC this week. iMac and I are going to visit her tomorrow. iMac and I have built the trip around two college open houses near CMcC’s hometown. Now that we live in the same state I am vowing to visit at least three times a year. She and I were laughing about me picking unavailable men and about you being the ultimate in unavailable men. How I thought you had taken ill when you decided you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me. 

You would be happy that I brushed off my resume and applied for two jobs. The first position would have been a big change and a great commute, but I got a rejection letter five minutes after I submitted my application. I asked my current Director of Nursing to look over my resume. She mentioned a position that would be opening up with my current employer. I interviewed, was offered and have accepted the position. I start on March 6, my Dad’s birthday. The anniversary of Mom’s death, your first seizure and your back to back brain surgeries are coming up soon. Murphy helps keep me from drowning in memories. She pulls me out of the water again and again.

I’m sending the boys to my Molly’s for spring break. I purchased tickets today. So I can stay back and work and earn time off that I can use over the summer. I’m also going to try one of the grocery/dinner/recipe delivery services. So the kids may get some decent dinners a few times a week, instead of me preparing “breakfast for dinner” all the time. That’s all for now. I miss you, but don’t let it go to your head. You drove me bonkers as well.
Much love,

S