I’m a “glass half full” person. I always have been – it’s just my nature. I choose to see the good in most people and most situations.
This is new territory for me. It’s hard to see life as a beautiful meadow of wild flowers, when right now I envision life as a huge field full of land mines. Family traditions and holidays. Good things that make up life, but land mines nonetheless. Some are buried deep underground, have been there for years, and are marked with flags that say “Valentines Day”, “Carrie’s College Graduation”, or “Our 30th Wedding Anniversary”. And although I know they are there, I can’t avoid them. I step on one and immediately I fall in the hole. “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt”, from “The Fault in Our Stars”. How true that is. And as hard as it is, there is a need in me to feel the acuity of the pain, the sharpness of it.
On Valentine’s Day, I woke up to Andrew in the kitchen fixing me breakfast in bed – he learned well from his dad. (Or maybe he’s been watching too much Downton Abbey – I’m not really sure which.) It felt like a handful of dirt being thrown into the hole – a kindness – in an attempt to fill up the cavity, to lessen the pain just a little bit. The kids (I’m sure Molly and Scarlett were the ringleaders) bought me a lovely Tiffany bracelet with the infinity/eternity symbol on it. Another handful of dirt tossed in the hole. In the evening we went to the home of some friends for dinner. Besides the fact that Jim’s meal would rival some of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in – it provided a relaxing and enjoyable evening with friends and family. I felt cared for and loved. The hole was a little fuller by the time we got home.
Sometimes the land mines are just under the surface; they don’t have flags or markers. The blast from these is often stronger, because I don’t see it coming. I go to the coat closet to get a raincoat and see Don’s Dodger jacket. I fall in the hole. I am leaving Trader Joe’s and the song “Oh How Happy You Have Made Me” is playing as I go out the door. I have to run to my car. I am putting laundry away and end up lying on the floor of Don’s closet. I’m startled by how quickly I can become undone.
Carrie’s 22nd and Don’s 52 birthdays are this weekend. She was born on his 30th birthday, and was always his favorite birthday present. There will be no avoiding this bittersweet occasion, nor will we even try. Don loved birthdays. He was the one who started the “birthday tree” tradition at our house – all the presents go under the ficus tree by the front door. Carrie will be in Boston, and I’m not yet sure how she’ll choose to spend her day. On this coast maybe we will go to the beach, one of Don’s favorite places. When Carrie comes home for spring break in a few weeks, we’ll all go out to dinner and raise a glass to Don. We’ll even have dessert and cappuccino after, assuring a long, leisurely evening, just like Don loved. Hopefully the hole won’t feel quite so deep.
I miss him more than I ever imagined would be possible. There will always be land mines, and holes to fall in to. Maybe someday I’ll learn to walk around them. But for now, a little handful of dirt sure goes a long way.