June 11th came. And I survived it. I did a round trip drive to Pennsylvania to see my nephew graduate from high school. I stopped in A’s classroom before I left. Worth every moment. I spent the morning at a coffee shop we used to go to together… working on the 26 days post.
I woke up on June 12th and Tim’s car was gone from the driveway. Someone came into my driveway and took my property. Tim’s car. Which as of September 2017, was registered and titled to me care of the Virginia DMV. So close to my home. So close to where my three babies were sleeping. I’m a short female, widow…living alone… with three small children. Surely, I should have felt “vulnerable” before. But I just… didn’t. Maybe that’s foolish, but it’s simply true. This one act rattled the core of my being. I missed another day of work, I dealt with so many police, detectives, insurance agents, adjusters, car lot, tow truck drivers, body shop managers… you name it that week. I got the car back. Spent more to get it back than it’s worth and should have just let it go and bought a new car… but I will let that car go when I am ready, on my own terms.
Year Two. People tell me it’s worse than year one. I actually remember Tim remarking about that once with respect to the overwhelming sympathy/support you receive because people note the “first” of everything… but they have moved on by the second… and you haven’t. I guess this is true. It may also be that the cloud of grief has lifted, and you have to feel more, you still have to live the new reality. There are a hundred reasons people may say that year 2 is harder than the first… but I didn’t want it to be true for me. Of course not, I never do. Well, I guess how the year turns out remains to be seen, but it certainly started with a bang!
Year Two for me has been difficult in a unique way as well, that not all widows face in exactly the same way. For me, as a result of the size of my heart, along with random happenstance and timing. Hopefully one day I’ll be ready to write about that.
Tim had such a solid and nearly instantaneously good sense of people. I used to say he was an excellent judge of character, but it was more than that. It used to drive me crazy how he always turned out to be right about people. The thing for which I am most grateful is how much we knew each other. And how much he shaped me. While we never discussed death and arrangements for us specifically, I knew immediately every step of the journey how to do exactly what he would want. I worried sometimes (because I am me) how they would be received by others, but I always knew what he would want… and I executed accordingly. In any difficult situation in the last year, I’ve offered it up to him in my heart and I hear an answer from him nearly immediately. That fact has a spiritual / other-worldly nature to it that I don’t typically buy into… but it’s simply true. I hear him in my heart telling me what to do, whenever I ask. Sometimes, even when I don’t.
In D’s room I have a picture of him and Tim where Tim is looking straight into the camera. I picked it to put up on a canvas on the wall even though there is one I have in the same position of them looking at each other that I like even more… because I love the idea of D having that in his room… with Tim looking right out at him. I both love and hate that picture. It has a Mona Lisa quality of Tim’s piercing eyes. Tim could pierce you with his eyes like Dumbledore… in life, and most especially in the picture in D’s room, beyond life as well.
There was a saying that I always liked that went “if equal affection can not be, let the more loving one be me.” (From a W. H. Auden poem.) I have often lived that way.
There was a time, when I put D to bed while Tim was in the hospital… when I bathed or put D to bed right after he died… when there were many people here with the girls, that I was finally alone with D, and I would just cry. And I would worry, what am I doing to this poor kid to cover him in my tears all the time? That hasn’t happened in a long time. But tonight, I let the girls watch something while I put D to bed, so we were alone reading stories… while he was getting another one I looked up at that picture of Tim. I let his eyes pierce me. I let everything he would say to the questions of my heart wash over me. And I cried. I felt bad, because D looked at me very confused. But when I smiled at him, he smiled at me and snuggled in for “one more” story…
What I hear him say is this: I know you, MaryBeth. You know me. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment when it really matters. I can’t be there to envelope you in my love. I can’t be there to adore you. Surround yourself with people who adore you. People who adore you, but will also call you on your BS…
So this is what I must do. This is what I will focus on doing in year two, and I will see where it takes me.
“Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen