Audrey seemed especially aware of the anniversary. She sat looking at albums by herself while I cleaned the kitchen this morning. I came out and stood behind her just in time to hear her say aloud to no one in particular- probably herself, "Appa used to be alive...but then he died. I'm really sad. I'm really, really sad...I wish he could live forever." She did not say it matter of factly this time. This was the worst part. There are no words to explain the crushing emotion I experienced as I listened.
A lot of people told me they were sorry and occasionally still do, "I'm so sorry Julia..." But, I realize one day- I am the only one who tells this to our daughter. I come up beside her and hold her...she lets me. "I know...mommy understands...I'm so sorry Audrey." I alone say these words.
I try to plan out a few details for the next two days. Audrey wants to sprinkle rose petals at the cemetery because she remembers doing that last year...so I order six bags. "What color?" I ask her. "Pink! Pink! Pink!" she replies- a line from "Pinkalicious"- a popular book around here.
I make a list...list of things for tomorrow...a list for the next day when I plan on having a small open house. I hear back from a few more people saying they can't make it. It's funny because sometimes I feel like people think this is for me- they're always saying, "You do what you feel comfortable doing..." which is good advice, but in the end, what I feel comfortable doing is giving other people an opportunity to remember you and pay their respects to you. I really live this every day, but I feel like it's my role to offer that chance to others. Next year, I decide- I will go away with Audrey maybe- do something relaxing. It's funny- all week I've felt too that maybe I should get my hair cut, do something nice for myself. It's a tribute to you that I knew this is what you would be telling me to do...not to plan more for you- but to go out and do something for myself. You were always telling me, "Buy something for yourself...go to the spa...go out with your friends..." Now I wonder how common that is among husbands. Thank you for your kindness.
I know that your family is already awake on the day of your death now as I write. It stretches it out that we're on two different continents. I feel it coming early this afternoon...and now it's here for them. I am well aware of that. We pray for them before Audrey goes to sleep. My heart hurts. In the morning, when I wake up...the time will have passed. The actual time of it. Because you were on yet another, a third continent.
I think the other day about how I got your iphone in the mail along with your wallet and wedding ring in a small envelope a couple of weeks after. I think about how I couldn't find your wedding ring at first- I think it was tucked in your wallet...I panicked. Then I remember thinking..."What does it matter? Why shouldn't I lose another thing...I've lost it all." And then I found it. And on your iphone all of the photos you'd taken on the tour since you left. I wonder to myself when I recall looking at those for the first time- how many people leave behind a record of photos as they were literally walking to their death? Each one...took me to that final one. A shadow.
"He will not die again...he doesn't die again," I remind myself because this concept really helped me last year. And yet. A novel I just finished uses this phrase repeatedly- effectively...and yet. It seems suitable for anything I or others use to try to comfort myself at this time. On this date. He will not die again. I've survived. I have all my memories. I have Audrey. "You're so young." And yet. And yet.