Sometimes I feel guilty that I still miss you. Sometimes I feel like enough time has passed, and I should just be over it by now. See, it’s not the early days in my grieving process anymore. It’s been four years. Today has been four years. How is it that four years can seem like so long ago—long enough for so much to have changed? And at the same time, it feels like it was just yesterday.
I remember every detail about that day so vividly. I remember the thunderstorm that happened and the beautiful sky after it passed. I remember reading you a passage from a book. And my sister working on her laptop. And my brother watching Animal Planet. I remember going to grab food with them because we hadn’t eaten in what seemed liked days. We were only gone for an hour, but when we returned, the hospice nurse was there, washing your hair. I remember my heart beating in my chest, and hysterically demanding to know what was going on—why was she doing that? And how she calmly took my hand and looked into my eyes and said, “It’s time.”
I remember being ravaged with guilt that we had just wasted that last hour away from you when we should’ve been there with you. Even though you were unconscious. Even though we’d been sitting there for the last five days, knowing death was imminent and could arrive at any moment. I remember looking at the clock that read 8:30 p.m. and thinking, Well, we are here now. We still have time. And sitting down beside you. And holding your hand. And telling you it was OK. We were OK. It was all going to be OK.
Turns out we didn’t have that much time.
I remember with painstaking clarity watching you take your last breath, and the way it felt like my heart was literally shattering inside my chest. And then looking at the clock. 9:20 p.m. And thinking to myself, She waited for us to get back.
I remember not knowing what to do next. What were we supposed to do? Do we go get the nurse? Do we need to leave? Do we need to clean out your room? And then I remember my sister driving home. And that we drank a glass of wine together. And then said good night. I remember standing alone at the kitchen sink rinsing out my glass when the light flickered, and thinking to myself, Was that you? Are you here?
And I remember falling to my knees and sobbing uncontrollably. As if I were ridding my body of every tear I’d kept pent up inside for the last five days. I can remember each detail of that excruciating night, and yet it’s getting harder to conjure up the details of your face.
I can hear your muffled voice in my dreams, but it’s not as clear anymore. How is it that time can be like that?
That some moments are etched into the very fiber of our being forever, and other moments—the ones we want to remember—are harder to recall?
How is it that four years seems like it should be enough time to have forgotten the pain, but it’s still as fresh and real as if it all happened last night? And yet it has been enough time to allow so many things to have happened. So much has changed. The boys graduated from high school. And college. Alex got married. My Charlie crossed over the rainbow bridge, but I just took a walk with your Daisy in the park last month.
What I’m slowly beginning to realize is that grief doesn’t make sense. Time doesn’t make sense. Memories don’t make sense. The things we remember, the way we feel when we remember them—none of it makes any sense. It just is. They just are.
And we are still just here. In this life. Living. Trying to make it through. And trying to forget the pain but to not forget the details of your face. Or your voice. Or your love. And trying to remember the happy times. And all the good that was you. Because I’m still here. And I still have time. To be happy, to be sad. And to remember it all. I still have time.