It’s been almost nine months since Kevin died.
I look at the calendar but it’s not keeping the same time as my heart, and I don’t know which one to believe. Where did all the days go? How can it be so long? Sometimes it feels like he just stepped out to the grocery store, and some days I panic because I can’t remember the deep timbre of his voice.
I’m getting better at controlling my life, at “managing my grief”, as the counselor would say. I remember to pay bills and feed my daughter. I can rouse myself enough to care if the carpet is vacuumed and the litter box emptied. I make to-do lists and dutifully check off little tick marks just to prove that I can keep going, that I can function. I visit with friends and take vacation and celebrate holidays and birthdays.
I am doing the impossible: waking up each day, loving my little girl, living without Kevin.
But it’s so much harder than I ever imagined. In those first dark days after he was first diagnosed, I was so scared. It all sounded overwhelming: Cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy and doctor visits and CT scans. But I had a toddler at home and appointments to arrange and there was no time for fear. I allowed myself five minutes every day. Five minutes to let my mind go to its scariest recesses and imagine the worst. Five minutes to imagine living without Kevin.
And the images I conjured paled in comparison to the reality of life without my husband.
I am surrounded by his books and his clothes and the rings he gave me are still on my finger. But he’s not here. I frame photos of him and our Bear, knowing there will be no more. She is frozen at seven, and he will always be 43 and smiling. A box of ice cream drumsticks sits uneaten in the freezer, past its expiration date but I can’t throw it out because Kevin bought it and he’ll never stock our freezer with ice cream treats again. My throat is choked with unspoken words because my best friend is gone and I don’t have anyone to share my secrets with. I don’t know if it’s right to keep all the bits of him I can find, the handkerchiefs and hand-written notes, but I know I have to because I can’t let him go. He was the best part of me.
I am fortunate to have a couple of people who want to talk about Kevin as much as I do. We share stories and laugh and for a few minutes, Kevin’s alive again and right in the middle of us, his hearty chuckle echoing through space. And I have some close friends who, though they didn’t know Kevin well, let me talk and cry and remember as much as I want. They don’t judge or put my grieving on their timetable, expecting me to follow some pattern society dictates. They see me laugh and they see me cry and they understand both, and don’t care if it’s bizarre and complicated. And when they see me teetering on the edge, unsure of my footing around this abyss of grief, they hold my hand and keep me steady and for that I am so grateful.
I miss him so much.