I'm finding I have one major regret in life. I never took the opportunity to make a video of you. I could have easily picked up my phone and made a simple recording of you walking in the door after work one day. I could have captured the sweet smile on your face and the beautiful sound of your voice saying, "I'm home!" I could have...but I never did. I'm sure I have some video of you some where. Maybe the tape from when we did our home tour 10 years ago, on the day we closed on our house. Maybe some random footage from some random family event. It's the one thing I've missed most the past few days, and the one thing I know I'm going to have the hardest time finding. It's a needle in a haystack situation.
The ability to see you in motion, to hear your voice; I don't know if it would bring comfort or if it would send me back to the early stages of grief where crying was so physically painful that I could only manage it for a few minutes at a time. Photographs are nice...but they start to seem lacking when I realize they are only a reflection of your life, a beautiful reflection, but somehow empty, too.
In a few short hours it will be exactly 28 days since you departed and began the eternal part of your journey. I find that the flavor of grief I'm in right now is changing in subtle ways every day. When I cried during the first couple of weeks, the physical pain that accompanied my grief was almost unbearable. It felt as if all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in my body were trying to move in their own individual directions, tearing me apart at the seams. There are several flavors of loss that make me cry now, but none of them compare to the physical pain of my initial grief. There is still hurt, emotional hurt, raw hurt, more hurt than my heart can bear at times and it's randomness catches me off guard.
There is a specific flavor of grief when I think about the loss of everything we had together. Fifteen years of shared life have been ripped from me, and this produces it's own bitter sting. There is a specific flavor, or lack of flavor, when I think about the loss of everything the future held for us. An empty chasm exists where a road waiting to be traveled once spread out to the horizon. These griefs mix together, but do not become homogenous ("Welcome to Baskin-Robbins, would you like to try the double fudge swirl of sadness today, or maybe a double scoop of chunky monkey with sprinkles of sorrow on top?") They each maintain their unique ability to make me hurt, along with several other flavors that accompany them, a gang of grief, wreaking emotional havoc wherever they roam, whenever they feel like it.
Your dad sent me a quote by Mark Twain this week. It's from a piece he wrote about a year and a half after his wife had passed away. I can relate to what he says when he writes, "The mind has a dumb sense of vast loss—that is all. It will take mind and memory months, and possibly years, to gather together the details, and thus learn and know the whole extent of the loss." Twain goes on to detail just how long he expected this to last with an analogy, "A man’s house burns down. The smoking wreckage represents only a ruined home that was dear through years of use and pleasant associations. By and by, as the days and weeks go on, first he misses this, then that, then the other thing. And, when he casts about for it, he finds that it was in that house. Always it is an essential—there was but one of its kind. It cannot be replaced. It was in that house. It is irrevocably lost. He did not realize that it was an essential when he had it; he only discovers it now when he finds himself balked, hampered, by its absence. It will be years before the tale of lost essentials is complete, and not till then can he truly know the magnitude of his disaster."
I try to celebrate what we had, even when it hurts. I try to remember how soft your cheek felt against the palm of my hand, your lips against my lips. I try to remember the warmth of your body, pressed up against me as we slept. I try to remember your scent, clean but earthy, infused with aroma of a day spent in the flower shop. I try to remember...but find that sifting through the rubble of my burned out house often produces a only a cloud of ash. I worry, as CS Lewis worried in A Grief Observed, that my memories of you will become mired together in an almost unrecognizable form, "We have seen the faces of those we know best so variously, from so many angles, in so many lights, with so many expressions—waking, sleeping, laughing, crying, eating, talking, thinking—that all the impressions crowd into our memory together and cancel out into a mere blur."
It's been a month...soon it will be two, then three, then twelve, then the count will tick to years. It seems so vast, yet so compressed, I can't fathom the passage of time yet to come when the past 28 days has felt both eternal and only a breath in this life.
I love you. I miss you. Give Miranda a kiss from daddy.