Sunday, December 5, 2010

Welcome Home

A short post because I'm tired after doing my freelance work.  It is taking me so much longer now because I just can't seem to focus on smaller things in life.  I want to hurry up and finish so that I can think about you and this...situation... I find myself in.

Audrey and I went across the street this morning to get bagels.  That was always your job.  She wore her fuzzy pajamas and the bright green rain boots you got her- at her request.  I wore the top I slept in with pants and my coat over it.  "Remember appa used to get us the bagels?"  "Now we're going to do it!"  As I walk outside into the cold morning air, I feel like I'm walking in your footsteps and wonder what it felt like to be you...truly.  I wish I had thought about this more when you were alive.  When we're walking back with the mission accomplished, I look up at our window where we would've been waving to you.  That was your view.

I feel nauseous a lot lately.  I think it's just my body's way of responding to the confusion and sadness.

I want to describe to others what this is like but I can't.  The closest I can get is to say it's total transportation- I am someplace else now- and the people I talk to - they're my link back to the old world I grew up in until July 6th.  But the link doesn't work really.  It's like when I was in labor - the worst physical pain of my life- and on my hands and knees on a hospital cart breathing and watching nurses calmly walking around in the triage unit.  I remember thinking about how vastly different their reality was right then than mine and comforting myself with the fact that after this was over, I too would be like they were then- freely walking around- without this painful struggle inside me.  I have no real hope of that now though- the widows I talk to who are much further down the road, give me no sense of that.

So I am transported.  And the other word, I am disoriented.  I see everything that looks familiar- and the biggest of these things is a little girl named Audrey who told me "You're a good singa mommy" today and when she saw the angel ornament blowing the trumpet on the tree in our lobby this afternoon, "dat's funny mommeee!"  I noticed the other day, because she's really into hanging upside down, when I was holding her that way in front of a mirror- she looks like you Dan.  Upside down, it turns out she looks strikingly like you did-  upside down...something about the eyes.  I held her there for a minute while she laughed, staring.  So I've got this little girl, and a cello, and some clothes but I am disoriented.  Playing in my mind all day are memories from the past eleven  years.  They all come back- not just the times right before you left.  In one book I read how life was moving like movie frames- so quickly that you can't see the individual frames, but then it stops- and you just see one frame at a time.

I think to myself today that maybe your death seemed more real in the early days- even though I felt insane using the past tense to speak of you a few days after you'd walked the earth so full of life, reality pointed to something huge.  I mostly sat in my bed in my room while many friends came and went- bringing food, watching Audrey, crying.  But now...now my days proceed almost normally as if you are just away.  I throw myself into creating a healthy routine and joyful childhood for Audrey- we do crafts and bake.  But things are different than when I strived to do those things before.  I spill a whole glass of milk all over the counter and under the microwave, but I don't mind at all.  It can be cleaned up.  Everything can change- except for one thing: death.  Amazing how that changes your perspective on every single thing.

I try to remember what it was like before all of this, but it's like a baby trying to remember what it was like before he was born.

I watered the cello today while Audrey was awake.  She was excited.  She is constantly saying that she's going to take lessons and "play appa's cello."  When I clumsily opened it up, she exclaimed, "I'm very happy!"  Then I watered it and played a few horrible sounding strokes because I have no idea how to play a cello and she said, "Mommy's playing da ceeelo!"  "

"Well, sort of," I say.

While she's in her crib before bed, Audrey takes out the photo of our family from her Hello Kitty doll and talks to you.  I hear her on the monitor and stop what I'm doing.  "Appa diiiiiiiiiiied."  "But mommy's still here.  And Audrey's still here."

So far, the holidays are not frightening me.  I am defiant to this whole rule that they must be dreadful.  I still maintain that every day is that way and because of the plans I've made (traveling), the holidays may actually provide more of a distraction than I've had so far.

But I do keep thinking about December 22nd of last year, because that was the day you came home from the first European tour.

While you were away, I'd gotten our first real Christmas tree and decorated it with simple red bows, and a few red fabric hearts I'd stuffed and sowed together from an old pair of red corduroy pants of mine.   I think there were two real ornaments- one gold heart someone gave us that said, "First Christmas" that has our wedding picture inside, and one plastic Hallmark ornament with Audrey's picture from her first Christmas.

I'd also strung up white lights around the windows, purchased a small wooden nativity set, and bought one of those cinnamon brooms from Trader Joe's.  It smelled quite "cinnamony" in here.  I was playing Charlie Brown's Christmas music and baking roast chicken, with carrots and potatoes in the oven.  I wanted you to come in and feel... ah, home.

It was snowing a lot that night, and I think when you came home, you actually went back out to shovel our parking space a little bit.   But by the time you came in, the apartment smelled strongly of the roasted chicken and veggies in the oven and we all sat down together as a family to eat dinner.

I keep thinking of that homey atmosphere on a snowy day on December 22nd, 2009, and the one thing that seemed to create it-
the expectation of your arrival...
of welcoming you home.

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