Last night I wrote Jason a letter in my private journal reserved for only him. I wanted to make sure he knew it was okay to visit me in my dreams or give me any kind of sign that some essence of him was still present. Unlike many other people left behind I rarely, if ever, feel his presence or dream of him. It makes me feel not only abandoned once, but twice. Then I start to worry that I did something wrong and maybe he’s just mad at me…and then I remind myself that I don’t necessarily believe in life after death either, or the ongoing existence of a bodiless soul. So why should I be upset that he’s not visiting me on a regular basis and sending me signs that he’s still part of my life, just in some other ethereal realm.
I did wake up this morning at 3:23am after a horrible dream involving the funeral home misplacing his ashes, and being unable to locate the thumbprint I had asked them to make so I could have jewelry with the impression made at a later date. Both of these concerns are baseless since I have his ashes and they have his thumbprint. I haven’t ordered the “thumbie” jewelry as they call it because of course the piece I want is a little expensive and not something I must have at the moment.
Then I sat up in bed and started thinking about how during the first couple weeks following his death I had tried to save anything and everything with his DNA on it. I had this weird Jurassic Park idea where maybe I could find a way to clone him. I neurotically put everything from his hairbrush to his toothbruch in Zip-loc bags just in case… I remember finding his stray hairs on the bathroom sink or in the bed, and saving those in the baggie too. And then I moved on to the laundry and pulled out everything he had worn that hadn’t yet been washed. I even have the once sweaty but now dried out socks he was wearing the day of the race that now resemble paper-mache. I have the last two “to-do” lists he had hand-written out still sitting on the counter where he left them the day we drove to Raleigh. I haven’t removed anything from his closet yet, I’ve only shifted things around so his shirts are not the very first thing I see in the morning. I did finally remove some of our photos because walking into every room in the house and seeing a reminder of my former life became overwhelming. It took me weeks to wipe off his computer screen and iPad because I wanted to see his oily fingerprints.
I’ve since washed his bath towels and got new sheets for the bed. I cleaned out his truck and tossed away all of his energy bars and hydration cubes. I even cleaned out his sock drawer because he had at least 40 pairs of running socks and I kind of needed the space. I’ve sorted through the 30+ 3-ring binders he kept from all of his Engineering and MBA courses. I tried to keep the papers he wrote and anything that had lots of his handwriting, but he saved EVERYTHING, including handouts given to the class by the professors which could easily be accessed again on the Internet. I was needing some bookshelf space for all of my newly purchased self-help and Zen meditation literature, and those binders always irritated me because they were unsightly.
I feel as though his existence is slowly disappearing and becoming faint, including some of my memories. The other day I was thinking about the HBO show Girls and I realized he never watched it with me because that was A.J.D (After Jason’s Death). I then moved on to the conversation I had with him about the spread of Ebola…and then realized that dialogue was with someone else too because Ebola wasn’t even news worthy last April. I have a hard time talking about him to the majority of my friends because they get uncomfortable, as if me saying the word husband or Jason is going to send me into some fit of hysteria they will have to save me from…so instead I don’t say his name very often.
Sometimes I wonder if I just dreamed him. Like he never existed anywhere other than inside my own head, except for the Zip-Loc bag under the sink containing his hairbrush, chap stick, and electric razor.
I was the fat kid in school from age 9-21 who had the occasional boyfriend but usually because the guy just needed an excuse to hang out with my best friend, who was the opposite of everything I had to offer. The only thing I had going for me was my sense of humor but I used that as my protective shell. I would make fun of myself before others had the chance. It knocked the fun out of it for them. I was never considered pretty and always dated whatever boys would date me back. I had very low self-esteem and figured I’d end up as the crazy cat lady. Side Note: I did still have 8 cats when Jason met me.
And then I finally get my act together around the age of 22 and decided I was tired of being the fat friend with a sense of humor who always went home alone. I graduated college weighing as much as I did in the 5th grade and for the first time in my life knew what self-esteem and confidence felt like. I met a guy, moved to Seattle from North Carolina, and felt like there was a happy ending waiting on the other side of this story. And then he dumped me after 5 years because he wasn’t in love with me anymore.
I was shocked and devastated. I moved out of our house and found an apartment in another city. I would go out with friends on weekends and drink myself into oblivion waking up in the front yard of their houses with a purse full of vodka tonic receipts, or I would spend the night in my car in a parking lot knowing that I couldn’t drive. My weeknights consisted of taking Tylenol PM or Benadryl at 6pm sharp and passing out until my alarm clock went off the next morning. I had managed to keep a job but I had found a new rock-bottom.
And then I met Jason. Within weeks my life completely turned around. I no longer wanted to drink every weekend and put myself to bed by 6pm. I wanted to spend as much sober time as possible with this new person who I had given up on ever finding. I always wondered what he saw in me and how on earth someone 5 years younger could be so much more responsible and wiser than I was, but I tried not to ask too many questions because I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that he could be doing better. I just enjoyed it and hoped it would never end.
My life was about as close to perfect as it could have been, minus the heavy work schedules, but I was holding out hope that would improve as well. And then I get a phone call at 9:58 am on April 13th and my entire life dissolved like a carefully constructed sand castle surprised by a rogue wave. I keep thinking how long I waited to find him and how quickly he disappeared.
I’ve been making it a point lately to cease becoming so attached because that only leads to suffering. And yes, I’ve been reading a lot of books on Buddhism, Zen and Meditation. I’ve always been drawn to Buddhism but now I think I can really put it to use. On one hand I keep asking myself does that mean I’ll forfeit any other meaningful relationships? On the other hand I don’t think I can live through this type of loss again…so really I’m just saving myself, right?