Today I grabbed the mail from the mailbox, saw it was mostly junk, and tossed it on the floor of my car as I sped off downtown for a few errands. Stopped at a stoplight I looked down and noticed a flyer from our local vision center which said brightly, we miss seeing you! Specials now...etc, etc.
I thought for a moment...huh. They miss me? I just got new glasses a couple of months ago. Then with a pang I realized they meant Mike. I reached down to pick it up, my suspicions confirmed. Another piece of mail for him. Another business still unaware. Yeah. I miss seeing him too.
After someone dies, we are faced with the horrible chore of dealing with estates, banking, property, etc; transferring of names, canceling credit cards, sending death certificates and whatever else. Once the important pieces are taken care of there is a sense of relief, if we are so lucky. Sometimes, there are bits and pieces that still come up down the line that we hadn't realized we needed to deal with, and I know some people are faced with even more difficult circumstances. But I imagine nearly all of us are continually faced with the junk mail that still comes for our missing spouse. And it always comes with a little pang, a deep sigh, or maybe a few tears.
I could call the store and let them know I suppose. Maybe I will. Or maybe not. Because the other side of the coin is the thought that someday, I may never see anything else addressed to him. That is horrible in its own way too.
The same mixed emotions emerge when I'm faced with meeting people who are new to me, but knew Mike. It is a small town and for several years we ran a business together here and I just don't remember, or didn't know, everyone who came through our doors. This past week I've met two such people. It is, again, a small stinging pang when the connection is made and he enters a conversation with someone when I wasn't expecting it. (Well, he always did take over a conversation anyway...ha.)
The other side of that sting is that I am grateful that people remember him and want to talk about him. It would be worse, I think, if they avoided saying something because they felt uncomfortable (which grief often tends to do.) But when it's an unexpected connection - a random, how weird is that thing? ...I don't know. It's hard...and also somehow comforting. They're not here anymore...but they did touch people while they were.
One of the worst things is when you meet someone who doesn't know he's dead. The other day, someone who didn't know either of us personally asked a question in reference to some business matters that still bore his name. They asked, oh so what does he do now, is he retired?
No. He died.
I gave a small, sad smile and waited to see how they would fumble around, because what am I supposed to say? He's dead. Yeah, he's dead. I kinda feel bad for the awkwardness of that moment but I also kinda don't. In the last situation it was pretty obvious from the word "estate" on the documents in question that he was passed...I'm betting that person won't make that mistake again with anyone else.
Another friend of mine, a widower whose wife has been gone several years, told me the other day he had a similar experience recently. Someone he hadn't seen for awhile came into his place of work and asked about his wife. My friend just shook his head slowly into his beer, and I sighed and put my hand on his arm knowingly. Because...that sucks and we all know it
About two months after Mike died, some clients of his came up our driveway. I was downstairs doing laundry and I came out wondering who that could be. They were clearly upset because they'd been trying to get in touch with him but his phone was cut off. When I told them, they were shocked and then quite embarrassed about the way they'd acted at first.
We can put obituaries in the paper, we can take care of all the details of a death we possibly can, we can make every effort to continue on with the business of living without them...and yet, their presence may always continue to linger in these strange and unexpected ways. The pangs are hard, when they come. And yet...somehow there would be a sad finality to it all if it stopped happening. Which, one day, I suppose it will.