Yesterday was a rough day. I had a cancellation and a no-show at work, which left me with an unexpected 4 hour block of time. What had looked like a steady day in the morning, had turned into something else by noon. While I know that time will help me to heal, sometimes it weighs heavy on me. Seems like yesterday that Emerald was born, but any one given day can seem to stretch on forever.
When Jim died, the living room was cleared out and put back together within hours. He only spent 2 nights in that hospital bed, but his last hours were ugly. Even with all the meds, the bed, the sheets gone, I still had an anxiety event every time I opened that door. After a few weeks, a rearrangement of furniture and a ski tree later, the post traumatic stress response was fading. The next thing I tackled were work clothes. I simply wanted the closet space, but the smell of Jim hitting me in the face when I needed a pair of jeans held its own poignancy. As the memories of his last days faded, I cleared out his office, his command central. There were piles that had not been dusted in 2 years. I was not reclaiming and cleaning out space, I was again combatting that which caused me grief. Whenever I looked at his desk, I saw Jim in that final year, struggling, despite coating the walls with sticky notes. He had every username and password written down. Lists of bikers, hikers and boaters. How-to instructions for ordering a movie through Netflix. I did not want to remember Jim this way, I wanted to remember the articulate, sweet, funny guy that I had married. I put file folders in file drawers. Recycled a lot of teaching applications. Put slides and pictures and music books into envelopes and boxes and shipped them off for the holidays. Yesterday, with time heavy on my hands, I opened one drawer of the file cabinet. Jim’s journals. And in one folder, all the letters he had ever written to me.
I met Jim in 1984. I did not move to Corvallis until 1986. We met each other on the rebound of broken relationships, and neither one of us was ready to make any kind of sacrifice like that again. But we wrote….paper letters, letters on the back of menus, notes on flagging tape, cards given to us by others and re-used for their empty space. Jim was in grad school at OSU, living with his wacky roommate, Pe Pe. He dated other women. He went to the NW Frontier Province of Pakistan for his field work. I was working in Tahoe. Had boyfriends. My sister died. But we wrote, we sent each other music, and quotes. I sent silly questionnaires and once, a bill for services. He answered my questions, and sent me a letter back with advice from his lawyer, Pe Pe. We saw each other a few times in there as well….and it was always magic, and trouble. He was not confused, he was not sick, he was not rigid. He was funny, he was sweet, he was smart, and he was articulate. This was the Jim I married.
Yesterday, someone made an offhand comment about me being a single girl. I guess I am supposed to leave the couples world. But I don’t feel like a single girl. I still feel so married. And, I married the right guy.