Sometimes I wonder if, on some level, deep in his body, he knew.
The tiredness, the headaches…?
I remember watching a show about dogs, and how they could sense when it was time for their owners to come home from work. They’d start getting themselves ready, pacing in excited preparation to make their big greeting. Probably, it was just the habit of it. We are creatures of habit, and dogs revolve around our routines. But I think dogs also have internal, intuitive clocks just like we do.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a “numbers person”. I haven’t been tallying up the days, the hours, the minutes, like some widows do. I guess I don’t really want the excruciating detail of how long he’s been gone.
But I couldn’t sleep last night. I felt that horrible creeping feeling all day yesterday. And I know why. It was around this time last year, that we found out he had a brain tumor. The exact date? It doesn’t matter. The ball dropped, and it was like Mousetrap. Everything started rolling, collapsing, building, contrapting, with an unpredictable, and sickening momentum, sucking our lives, our families, pulling the calendar and our futures right off the wall, everything, into its vortex.
That was when my first layer of protective armor went up. And, I believe, his too. And it kept getting thicker from there. His coat of arms lined with layers of pharmaceuticals and prognoses, a thick sticky web, woven by the meaningless language of doctors, their long intricate tales, a heavy coat from which he’d never get out. Treatments, drugs. Pain numbers. Not a lot of time to even understand what had hit. I’m still not sure what my armor is made of, I’m just glad my body knows how to protect me.
There is no timelime for grieving. Though you hear rumors. Things like, “the second year is harder”. What the hell?
But I’m starting to get it. Reality is definitely making it through my thick skull, the layers of armadillo gear that built up when the bomb dropped. We had about 4 months. We didn’t know it, exactly, at the time, but we knew it was coming. It was inevitable. As inevitable, and natural as the path of my grief, that neither heeds nor needs a calendar.
It’s not how they show it in the movies, where the big breakdown takes place at the funeral. Nope. You’re still wearing your armor at that point, and it’s layered on so thick you can barely walk. It’s when the armor starts to crack, and fall off, many months later, that’s when it all really begins.
I’m on the path that we forged last year, it is burned into my body memory. Some parts are hazy, but my body knows where and when to go. I just hit a sharp, nauseatingly familiar hairpin turn. Yes. This is the trail. My load isn’t as heavy as last year, but my armor isn’t as thick either.
And I hate that this year, I am on the path alone.
But I am so thankful that my man, my husband, my knight who was suffering and wounded, was able to leave fully decked out in his armor. Somehow protected from the raw, sickening truth that he got jipped. At least, that is what I hope. That is what I choose to believe. And my armor, cracking, shedding, it knows its time, to allow me, the soldier left standing, to carry this burden forward.