The tears stung my eyes before the guy on the television movie even started his speech, because I knew what he was going to say:
“I will forget you every night.”
The character had a condition that caused him to lose all short-term memory when he slept, the result of a traumatic brain injury. He was trying to move forward with his life, to absorb this new way of living, making notes about everything each day so he could learn it all again the next day – but he struggled. Because he couldn’t figure out how to step out into the new life, create a new way of living, not when he had to start all over again every single day.
Because each morning I have to start all over.
I’m finally figuring out how to sleep without Kevin beside me. Sometimes I crash as soon as I put the Bear to bed, and sometimes I listen to the clock chime deep into the night before I can close my eyes. Sometimes I can watch a show or read a book and get to bed by ten o’clock. It’s still a mixed-bag, but I’m getting there, and my sleep is getting better.
Until I wake up.
Lately, when I sleep, Kevin weaves in and out of my dreams, and he’s always cracking up about something, or watching a football game, or we’re driving around at night with Bear in the backseat like we did those five weeks she was so colicky. Sometimes, he just holds me and I feel like everything is okay again.
Sometimes at night, I forget he died.
But morning always comes and when the early rays of sun slip through the slats of the blinds and slant across the bed, I’m confused. The room is unfamiliar, because I moved the furniture one day in a fit of sleep deprivation, desperate to find some peace at night. The blanketed lump beside me is too small to be Kevin, and instead of his flat lumpish pillow, I see the long tendrils of my Bear’s hair sweep across her Dora pillow. I don’t know where I am.
Then I remember.
And the ache is as sharp each morning as it was the day he slipped away.
I understood the shattered look in the character’s eyes when he said, “I will forget you every night.” Because every morning, when I wake up, I’m back at the beginning, back at the searing pain of first day I woke up without him. I’m back to clumsily gathering the broken bits of my heart and trying to figure out how someone I love so very much is just…gone. I’m back to tears streaming down my face, knowing he’ll never call me Baby Doll again, I’ll never be cuddled in his hug again. He won’t kiss me, or guard my secrets, or call me at two o’clock to check on my day.
Every single morning, I have to start all over.