Listen

It's just one of those nights.

I have 40 billion things inside my head all at once, and every single one of them has to do with his death.
I'm not upset or crying or even particularly emotional tonight. Not really. But it's just one of those nights where my brain won't shut off and I can't stop thinking ....

40 billion things.
But one thing more than the other things ...

Things like - why the hell didn't I ever ask him, or actually pay attention when he told me about the very first concert he ever went to in his life? This topic was brought up tonight with a couple friends - naming our very first concert. Mine was Culture Club. Other friends were posting their own, everything from Nirvana to Cyndi Lauper to Menudo to Van Halen. And then there was my husband - the man who lived and breathed music. The man I met in a music chat room online. The man who strummed on one of his eight guitars in our apartment, daily. The man who shared every music-related memory with me, on a very regular basis. And yet, I cannot for the life of me, remember what band he saw as his first concert. And whenever I can't remember a specific memory or fact about him, it makes me incredibly sad and makes me so desperate to remember that one thing

Then from there, I started thinking how there really isn't anyone I can ASK about what his first concert might have been, because I don't think anyone else but me would know. Can't ask his parents. They're dead too. Can't ask his sisters, since one of them rarely speaks to me, the other one is nowhere to be found in life, and the other one never even KNEW Don until a couple years before he died. (Yeah - major dysfunctional family. Don't ask, unless you have about 6 hours of free time and don't get confused easily.) Can't ask our kids - BECAUSE WE NEVER GOT TO HAVE ANY KIDS!!! So, there's that heartbreak reminder all over again. Oh, and I can't really ask his friends, because none of them live near me and it's late at night and calling or texting them at this hour with that question is just weird. They wouldn't know the answer anyway. I am supposed to know this. He TOLD me this, probably a thousand times. Why didn't I listen?

So many memories and stories and details - just missing and gone - because I didn't listen. And then I start to think about how many times I didn't listen. Really listen. I think about how many other things were lost and just wiped away from existence, because my husband was talking to me and I wasn't paying attention. How many times did I do that? How many times do we all do that to each other? We only half-listen to what someone we love is saying. We are too busy typing or texting to someone else or staring into space or into our phones or telling ourselves that what they are saying isn't really that important anyway, and we will be sure to listen more tomorrow. But it isimportant. It is important because that person chose YOU to share their boring stories with. They chose YOU to hold those stories and thoughts close, and keep them in your heart or mind. So when you don't really hear their words, you are , in a sense, throwing away their very history. You are sending the message that maybe it doesn't really matter anyway. But it does. Because sometimes tomorrow turns out to be right this very second - because tomorrow never comes at all.

I know I sound silly. But it upsets me whenever I lose another piece of him, a piece of us. It upsets me greatly when I cannot recall something that I feel like I should be able to recall. It is troubling to me that his voice now feels miles and miles away, and his essence only visits on rare occasions. I wish I could hold onto every concert, every movie, every favorite food, every phrase he used to say, every everything - collect it all and place it in a jar, where it would never be forgotten again, forever.

But it doesn't work like that. My mind, instead, does backflips, attempting to recall and visualize the fragments of our life together. My head feels like it's on fire, as it tries to bring up a specific sound or event or thing that we did. I ask someone, in a begging last-ditch effort to magically make it appear: "Do you remember? It was that place ... that thing ... that day ... you know, that place Don and I used to go to ... what was it called again?" But nobody knows. And I didn't listen.

Isn't it amazing the tiny but significant reasons we can find to hate ourselves for? The things that we beat ourselves up about? I would give just about anything - I would probably give a million dollars if I had it - to hear him telling me that story about the time he went to see his very first rock concert as a kid ........

I would sit. I would stop. And I would listen.

(By the way, thank you so much to Michele Neff Hernandez, who covered for me last Friday with her beautiful post. I was away on a mini-vacation, actually staying with a widow friend in Virginia, and the Wi-fi service in the tiny remote town was spotty at best, and at times, non-existent. Therefore, no blog post from me last week. I missed you all though, and I am back. Thanks as always for reading.)


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