Tuesday, November 10, 2009

21 months and 5 years

Last Thursday I was skimming a post on the widow/er board and in the post it said something about it being the 6th. My heart skipped a beat-had I actually gone through my first 6th of the month without realizing it? No, I had not. It was the 5th and as I was only skimming, I wasn't absorbing the details of the post correctly. And then I had a moment of panic when I couldn't remember how many months it has been. I thought it was 22 but that didn't seem right so I calculated it and realized it was only 21. As it had been getting closer, I had already been using 21 months, hence my confusion. It snuck up on me though. I wished my cousin a happy birthday on the 3rd and then just lost track of time.

I woke up at 4:32 on Friday. More accurately, I was rudely awaken by Charlie at 4:32 on Friday morning. I shouldn't get angry-at least he gets me up now instead of just going and standing quietly by the door and then peeing on the floor when I don't get up. I just wish I could adjust his internal clock. When I woke up, my first thought was "it's the 6th. 21 months. I wonder if I will ever stop counting?" After I let the dog out, he was kind enough to let me go back to sleep. I was dreaming that I was reading an e-mail from a very cute guy (a different cute guy than the one from yesterday's dream post) and it ended with "I love you. Plz respond." It was actually voice activated e-mail, meaning that when I opened it, it was read aloud to me. My response was a moment of panic cut short by the alarm clock going off. Seriously, why can't these cute boys act like this in real life? And why in the world am I listening to Barry Manilow? (James'-not mine. We combined all our music onto an external hard drive at one point). I got out of bed with Tommy Page's "Don't Give up on Love" going through my head-specifically, the line that goes "one in a million, gift from above, don't give up on love." Tommy Page was a pop star with one hit in 1990. And because he was so cute and I was, of course, going to marry him, I had to by his tape because that is what supportive future wives do. I'm such a good, supportive future wife, I now have the CD. Sadly, that is not my most embarassing CD. My friend would say there is definitely a message in the dream and that song lyric that James wants me to be happy. Now I am tempted to tell her just so I can see what she says.

The rest of the 6th was fine. It was Friday after a long and crazy week and I was glad it was over. The day was a lot like last month in that I felt myself feeling I should be sadder than I was. And I have found that a sadness has settled in over the past few days. But it isn't about James.

Tomorrow is November 11th. It is Veteran's Day. Five years ago, at 6:08 pm, Veteran's Day took on an entirely different meaning for me: that is when my father died. He wasn't the first relative I lost, but he was the one that impacted me the most, up until James died. My dad and I had our issues, but we got the chance to resolve them. I knew he was sick. I knew he was dying. I knew when the doctor said 4 months, it would not be that long. And it wasn't. It was just less than one month. He held on long enough for his sister to fly to Idaho from Florida and I from Arizona. He held on long enough to say good-bye to us. And then he slowly let go.

I called every day. Sometimes we would talk for several minutes; sometimes he was too tired for anything more than "I love you." I called on the 11th. I heard the "death rattle" though I didn't know what it was. His caregiver held the phone up to him and I said "Hi Dad. It's Heather. I just called to say hi and I love you." That was the last thing I ever said to him and quite possibly the last thing he ever heard. Less than 10 minutes later, my brother called to tell me he was gone.

"No, he's not. I just talked to him and he's fine. Well, not fine, but he is still alive." I argued. According to his caregiver, he died right after she hung up the phone. She said it was like he was just waiting for me.

I can't believe it has been 5 years. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can't believe how much I still miss him. I don't feel that I miss him any less than when he first died. He is never far from my thoughts-I don't think a day has gone by in the last 5 years when I haven't thought about him. Mostly, I wonder if he would be proud of me. Or would he wonder if his loser daughter will ever be able to attract another man since it was so hard for her the first time around?

And then it makes me think of James. Three years and three months from now, when it is the 5th anniversary of his death, am I going to miss him with the same intensity that I miss him now? Is this never going to subside? And does that mean I am not really getting through this? Because that is how I feel. I feel trapped. I feel like there has been too much loss and too much damage and I am never going to feel anything but sad.

I was laying in bed Sunday night thinking about Dad and how much I still miss him. I was thinking about how he was fine when he was my age. He didn't get sick until he was in his 40's. He died at 53. It occurred to me that I have always been so terrified of growing old alone like my mom and grandmother that it never dawned on me I could get sick and die young like my dad. I don't want to die young. I want a long and happy life, but right now that just feels so out of reach. My dad didn't have to die so young. He could have taken better care of himself. He could probably still be alive today. So, I know that if I did get sick, I could take care of myself and live with diabetes for a very long time. But taking care of myself and managing and illness so I can just grow old and die alone is really not much of an incentive.

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