Friday, September 11, 2009

I remember my arms tingling - from my fingertips up past my elbows. I had pins and needles, like I'd cut off circulation for a while, and it had finally returned. I felt lightheaded too, and my mouth was dry.

"He might be gone."

That's what Brad had said before he went in the house. I thought, "Gone. Sure, maybe B.J. came by, picked him up, and they are on the east side... Sure." I was hundreds of miles away, in a hotel in Chicago. I couldn't hear Bastian barking and whining. I couldn't sense the quietness - the wrongness of the house that night. I didn't think about another kind of "Gone."

He couldn't get in the front door. For some reason, Karl had locked the doorknob, and we'd only given out keys for the deadbolt. I told him all the doors were keyed the same - he could go around back.

"I'm in," he said. "I'll call ya back."

Even now, writing about it, it makes me dizzy. Dizzy like falling, like not eating for a week. Like looking through your own eyes, but from the wrong part of your head.

I waited for that call. I don't know if it was two minutes or ten. I thought of reasons it might take a while. I prayed. Yeah, I know, me. Praying. Kind of funny, but I did.

And the phone didn't ring.

My hands were already shaking a little when I called Brad back. Something wasn't right. When he picked up, I can't remember if he called me 'hon' or 'sweetie' or another endearment, but I know he said "He's gone."

I blinked. The tingling was only in my fingertips - surely I wasn't understanding. "I need to talk to Karl. Put him on the phone."

"Honey, you can't. I'm sorry. He passed. He's gone."

No. That isn't what you are telling me. That isn't possible. We were up all night last night with the baby - he couldn't sleep, and neither did we. He left for work early, and I got on the train for Chicago.

He's out with B.J.

He's asleep downstairs.

He's playing a terrible trick.

What made me accept it - what made it sink in, and made my arms shake so hard I could barely dial the phone, was the line "You need to hang up the phone right now and call your Mother."

Oh my God. My husband died.

Yes, now it's a year later. This is the first time I've even tried to record what i felt that day, at that moment. And writing it, even now, I feel it again. The tightness in my throat.

The difference is now I cry. I don't think I really cried for weeks after he died. I had to take care of Elliot, and I tried to take care of everybody else too. Everywhere I looked, I saw the hole in my heart mirrored in my friends' and families' eyes. I tried desperately to fill it, even a little.

Of course I cried at the funeral, and countless times, here an there, a little, when I had to say it out loud, tell somebody what happened. But I didn't let myself accept it and grieve. I'm not sure I do now, either. How can I accept it? It's just too awful.

It took a long time for me to go back to the house. I stayed at my mom's for a week. The first time I walked into our home, where we would never be together again, I caressed the walls. I hugged the doorways. I laid on the floor and closed my eyes and tried to breathe normally.

I know it sounds strange, but I asked my house if it still wanted me. Karl had been the one in love with it. I had loved it because I loved him. It was a pretty house, a solid house, but not the one I dreamed of.

But when I came home it embraced me, and supported me, and reminded me every day of the happiness Karl and I had shared. It told me I could still build a beautiful life.

And I can. And I am. And I will.


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