Tonight is opening night of the theater show at Adelphi University that I have been directing and writing for the past month. I am unbelievably proud of this show, it is hilarious and even poignant in parts, and of course I am missing my husband like mad right now. I want him here for this. I want him to be standing there after the first show ends, and the second one, and the third and the fourth -with that proud and happy look on his face - that look that said: That's my wife, and she created this. I want to feel his arms wrap around me as I go out into the lobby area where people's friends and family wait to greet them after the show is done, and take the flowers in my hand that he got for me, and talk about the show all night long with him like we used to. I want to have my somebody, my person, waiting for me in that lobby like everybody else. I want all of that and more. Yes.
But there is something even more painful going on here right now. Something that has baffled me since the day he died in July 2011, and has reached the height of it's hold over me. My memory loss.
On this same exact day, exactly 4 years ago, I was directing and writing another Adelphi show about modern technology that I was extremely proud of, and tonight was our opening night. My parents were set to come up on Saturday from Massachusetts and stay overnight with us at our New Jersey apartment, and then Don and me would take them to Ruth Chris Steakhouse for Mothers Day that Sunday (which was that day, just like it is this weekend), and an early Fathers Day. How do I know this? Because I have a few pictures of Don and my parents at my show, and us at the restaurant, and because my "TimeHop" app that I have a love/hate relationship with, told me that this happened exactly 4 years ago today. But you know what? I don't remember any of it.
Two months and one week later, on July 13th, my husband would leave for work and never come home again. My husband would collapse and die and I would wake up to a ringing phone and a new life I never asked for or wanted. This weekend, exactly 4 years ago, is one of the last things I can remember happening before his death. And honestly, I dont actually remember much about it, other than knowing that it happened. I remember he had flowers for me. I remember him loving the show as he always did. I don't remember taking my parents for lunch on Mothers Day, I dont recall ANY conversation or specifics about us being together, and I don't even know if that was the last time that my parents saw Don in person before he died. My mom seems to think it was, but Im not sure. We drove to Massachusetts quite a bit in those days, because we loved hanging out with my family, and it was a pretty easy 4 hour drive for a nice relaxing weekend getaway. But during the last 6 months or so of my husbands life, he was working 2 jobs. He was a paramedic working the overnight shift, and then he had picked up a second job at Pet Smart, helping with stocking and inventory. This was in addition to his volenteer job there taking care of the kitties and helping with pet adoptions. He would have his heart attack while working there, only an hour or so after arriving at about 5 am in the morning.
I remember everything about "that day", even when I don't want to. It's just there inside of me, taunting me whenever it feels the need. But the days and weeks and month or two leading up to the day my husband suddenly left earth - are one big blank canvas. I don't know if it's because he was just so busy and tired and working so much, that maybe there isnt much to remember? Or is this one of the results of what sudden death does to your brain? I don't know, but I hate it. For almost 4 years now, I have been trying like crazy to conjure up something - some tiny semblance of a memory about my husband and me in the weeks and months before he died, and I can't come up with anything. The only thing I remember clearly is choosing NOT to hang out with him on July 4th , and going to my best friends barbeque alone instead. The one memory I can conjure up is a bad one, and one that leaves me feeling guilty and sad that I didnt spend that time with him. It drives me crazy that I cannot recall ANYTHING about the night before he died. Nothing. Not one thing. I do not have a "last words" with him. I do not have a memory of our last moments together. All I know is that, at some point that night, he went to sleep, and I went to sleep. Maybe at seperate times. Maybe we fell asleep early. I don't know. But there was no goodnight, no I love you, no anything. Just blank canvas, and then I wake up to a ringing phone.
This hurts. It hurts that I cant recall one memory or conversation or moment or piece of my life with my husband, in the months leading up to his death. Why? Why cant I remember? Was that day and the days and weeks and months after his sudden death so traumatic , that my brain literally cannot recall anything before it? Is my brain blocking my thoughts for some reason? I honestly dont know. But it hurts to have no last anything in my heart. I get jealous when I hear other people talk about their last words or moments. It seems like even those of my widowed friends who lost their partners suddenly like I did - have some sort of "last" something. The moment he walked out the door. What she said. A last phone call or text message. Something. Anything. I have nothing. There weren't even any text messages sent between us those last few weeks. We werent huge texters, but we did text each other. Apparently not in the weeks leading up to his death though. It's baffling to me. I want to remember. I need to. I need something beautiful to hold onto, instead of always recalling the one day I chose not to hang out with him, and then going from that right into "that morning." My brain skips entire days and weeks and months. How does time just disappear like that? Can I get it back? Will it ever come back? It's been 4 years, and it's still no clearer now than it was back then. I want the pieces of our last time together back again. It's all I have now. I don't want to forget the pieces.