So, today is the 4th of July. I do not have any plans. In exactly 9 days from now, on July 13th, it will be the 3-year anniversary of Don's sudden death. I think that what happened is that I got so anxious and determined to make sure I had a plan for that day, that I completely forgot about the major holiday that comes the week before, and all the trauma and guilt and anxiety associated with it for me. So now, here I sit, wondering once again, just like last year, how to handle this very complicated day, which brings sadness and numbness to me, usually without even trying.
I am going to copy below, a portion of the blog that I wrote in here last year on this same day. Not because I am too lazy to write something else, (well, maybe that's part of it) but because what it says is EXACTLY the same thing I want to say again this year, because I still have not been able to figure this all out in my mind, and I still don't like "celebrating" on the 4th of July. It is sort of weird that, in this particular area, I feel like I have not had forward motion or any breakthroughs at ALL in my thought process. I had hoped I would feel differently about this day now, than I did a year ago. But I don't. So that is why the exact same words I wrote last year, are just as relevant today. Here is a part of what I wrote last year on this day:
"I have no last words with my husband. No goodbyes. No good morning. No goodnight. We both sort of fell asleep the night before, I think, and I cannot recall anything that was said to one another. The next day, I woke up, and he was gone from the apartment, and gone from this earth. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real. How can someone just disappear like that? And why the hell can't I remember anything about the days and weeks leading up to his death? Was our life really that dull in those weeks that I cant chalk up one happy memory?
I do remember one thing, and it haunts me. It feeds me with guilt and sorrow, and I hate it for having that hold on me. It was the 4th of July. We had two invitations to hang out with friends that night. Our neighbors down the street, a married couple, asked us to come to their apartment, have drinks, and hang out on their high-rise balcony and watch the fireworks. My best friend Sarah and her husband Julio also invited us over to their Long Island home for a night BBQ and fireworks from their neighborhood park. Or, we could just stay home, and walk across the street together and see the fireworks by ourselves.
Don did not want to do any of those things. On that night, he seemed really tired, kind of bored, and had a lack of energy to do much of anything. He was working his normal job as a paramedic, and had also picked up a second job stocking dog and cat food, as well as helping with pet adoptions, at our local Petsmart. He was exhausted:
Me: Boo, let's go to Sarah's place, it will be fun.
Him: You go, Boo. I'm really tired and I just don't feel like going out.
Me: But it's the 4th of July, I wanna spend it with you. Let's go to the neighbors, they have an awesome view from up there.
Him: Nah. I just don't care about fireworks really.
Me: Okay, well you and I can just walk across the street and see them then, by ourselves.
Him: Nah. You go. I just want to stay in tonight, play some guitar, relax.
Me: But it's right across the street. You're saying you won't walk across the street with me to see fireworks?
Him: I'm saying I don't care about fireworks.
Me: But they are right here. All we have to do is look up. You are refusing to look up?
Him: It'll be hard to look up when Im taking a nap. Go to Sarah's house. Have fun, Boo. I'm fine.
Me: Okay. I guess I will then.
I did go to Sarah's house that night, and I felt really sad about it. Don and I almost never fought, and this wasn't even really a fight either, but it made me sad that he didn't want to spend time with me like I wanted to spend time with him. And that he wouldn't walk across the street, simply because I wanted to. But now, since his death, I feed myself with guilt and ask: Why didn't I stay home with him that night? Why did I leave him? I should have stayed home. The poor guy was tired. He was working two jobs. Why did I make him feel BAD that he didn't want to watch fireworks? Why was watching fireworks more important to me than hanging out with my husband? These questions loop inside my heart, over and over, relentlessly.
And it bothers me that THIS is the LAST thing I remember about our life. This stupid, silly conversation about fireworks and being tired. After this night, everything else turns to fog.
And now, today, and every 4th of July, even if the fireworks are right outside my window, I refuse to look up and see them. I don't want to see them. Not without him. Not without my husband. It sounds incredibly stupid, but watching fireworks on the 4th of July feels like I'm betraying him. Like I'm leaving him to go hang out with my friends and look into the night sky without him.
It feels wrong, and I feel crazy, but sometimes crazy is my best friend, because my real best friend disappeared into the night, that night. Gone on the 4th of July.
(pictured: My husband Don is in front, taking this "selfie" of us, with the group of friends we used to hang out with constantly. This was taken at our Jersey apartment, where the fireworks were literally across the street, so our friends would come over and watch with us. This is I think 2008, on the 4th of July, in that life I used to have that no longer exists.)