No Surprise

Monday, August 6, 2012

I shouldn’t be surprised. After all we don’t forget how to ride a bike. We have muscle memory so why not have “usually” memory?

I shouldn’t be surprised that as the dust had really settled around me since Dave’s death, the last couple of weeks have been deeply painful. Not the wailing pain of disbelief or release of emotions, but the soreness of loss. A low level ache. A bruise, unseen but felt below the surface.

I am in a time of usually. The time my ordinary life memory rears its head because I realize I’m hungry, I’ve worked later than I thought, and it is time to rustle up some dinner. As I walk past his office on the way to the kitchen I would usually stop in his office, because he too would work past time filling his curiosity. Usually. We always ate dinner together. Even now I have these little expectations that he should hear me and come out to see what’s to eat.

Usually, we’d watch TV in the evenings. There is a great new show on HBO, in its first season, called The Newsroom. It is one of those well done intelligent mix of story, human interest and good subject matter, in this case, the politics of news and politics. It reminds me of other discovered series we’d watch together over the decades – Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, America’s Most Wanted, X Files, The Closer, Cold Case, House, Criminal Minds – that made waiting for the weekly show time something to look forward to (well, until they “jumped the shark.”). The Newsroom is something Dave and I could have enjoyed watching together. It seems so unfair not to add this to the endless repertoire of his garbage can mind full of trivia from history, literature and yes, television, because watching Southpark was a study in contemporary social commentary, and funny! Anyway, as I watch and appreciate how well produced and written The Newsroomis I really miss not watching this one with him.

Usually, we’d do the NY Times crossword puzzle on Sundays. It’s the only day I have the paper delivered any longer. I am now back to the weekly walk around the lake, the usual routine of Sunday mornings before my balance and surgery derailed me. I often still cook eggs for breakfast this day. Now the puzzle sits on the kitchen table all week with some boxes filled in, a few more added in with each meal. It is nowhere near the completed puzzles Dave would leave around, each day a new paper and new crossword filled out in pen. My contribution would be finishing up the stragglers, or breaking open the clue pattern, enough for me to claim I was working on them, too. Now I always get to start the Sunday puzzle, something I would request when I felt particularly competent, or at least wanted a shot at it!

Usually, I’d fall asleep with the TV on, because he was the night owl and I the early bird. There is a moment I turn off the TV now, a time later than I ever used to stay awake before, and I am always aware that I am the one turning off the TV. I silence the room. His pillows are never touched; they are all made dressed up just like when I go to sleep.

Usually, my work included business meetings, volunteer service and network groups. As I step back into the usual routine of life and work I am face to face with the world again. In retrospect I can see that I had dropped out of sight for quite a while. Now, catching up with acquaintances and contacts means answering the question about how my husband is doing. Everyone else has been living their usual lives, too, each of us oblivious to the other. In the midst of ordinary business I am shocked into the reminder that I am on my own in more than the ways of a solopreneur.

Usually I could talk all my fears, joys, options and ideas with Dave at any time. I had a sounding board, I had someone who was wise enough to ask if I needed him to listen or to fix of whatever I spoke. Now I miss him just as much, if not more in the moments I feel really good, as when I feel I need comforting.

The dust has settled and there is an emptiness surrounding me. I am back in my own life. Working. Taking care of things. Feeding cats.  But I am not in my most ordinary circumstances. Or at least what had become ordinary and usual for the last 30 years. Sometimes I would call us somewhat boring, as in predictable and not much outside of routine, but Dave would always take stock of our comforts, our life together, our choices, our family, and I would willingly agree that indeed we were fortunate, and he’d admit to (liking) being a little mundane!

Long ago, because of so many health threats, we understood that “the alternative sucked.”  Well, I live that alternative now. And I am still fortunate to have all the comforts, the memories, the opportunities, the ordinary and usual life we built together. Ironically, an awful lot of preparing for this outcome became a usual part of our lives.

My overall life itself doesn’t really suck so much, but there is missing link to share in appreciation for how I got here and with whom. Even as I go through the usual motions each day it is not the same and never will be again. The reminders are all around me.

I shouldn’t be surprised.


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