June 2, 2011
Today is the first celebration of something I can have that is unconnected to you. It is the anniversary of my first date with Steve.
And I found out the polyps from last Friday are not cancer. Precancerous. Not cancer. I called my sisters to let them know they need to make appointments now too. Seems the family has a predisposition for colon cancer.
Steve is at the dining room table here across from me. He is working on his final paper. Next Friday he will graduate and get a second degree—a BSc in Evironmental Sciences. His daughter is graduating on the same date from the same college. We will celebrate with a barbecue in my backyard. I hand made all the invitations for the party. It is the kind of thing you would have liked to help me with. Along with the decorating, planning the menu, laughing with our guests.
But that celebration will be tinged with grief. Steve’s daughter is graduating from college and Steve’s wife, her mother, will not be there to see it. She died two and a half years ago. I suspect she is around, though, and will view from wherever she is now. I feel her sometimes. Even though I never met her.
Steve, his daughter and I are careful with each other’s losses. There are wounds we refuse to nurse or bandage. We want them in plain sight, where everyone can see them. Except they are invisible to everyone, but the three of us. Steve and I acknowledge this amongst ourselves. We pay grief its due respect. But his daughter. She has lost her mother and I have lost my child.
I am not sure what to do with that. There is a line. I feel it. I cannot see it. I am afraid to cross it.
This is a time of change. I am not sure what is going to happen when Steve graduates. He has his house in Issaquah. He talks about moving back up there. Looking for a job up there. Going back to the schedule we had last summer. I go up to his place on Fridays and leave for work in
from there on Monday mornings. That leaves four nights here at my home—just Sadie, Stella and I. The problem is I have grown accustomed to him being here. So have Sadie and Stella. Olympia
These nine months, in the morning I set my alarm for six a.m. with absolutely no intention of getting out of bed then. If Steve were not here I would turn the snooze alarm off every 10 minutes until the second alarm went off at 7. At six a.m. I hear him downstairs in the kitchen, whispering to Stella. Sadie is usually sleeping curled against me. I hear the coffee grinder, then smell coffee brewing. The refrigerator door opens and closes. I hear him looking for things in drawers and cupboards. The sound of the gas stove lighting, a pan being set on a burner. Making breakfast. It is my morning music.
When the snooze alarm goes off the third time, I usually meet his hand as he is turning it off for me. He has come to watch me during those last few minutes of sleep I am stealing. He has come to pull back the comforter and welcome me to a new morning.
I do not want to have to miss this. You have taught me how short life is. How quickly life can end. Not to waste one minute.
How can I tell him this? Even as we are with one another, Steve misses his wife. I miss you.
In the midst of that, we have our celebration. One year together. Another year ahead. There is no guarantee of anything. Just a promise to be kind. And friendship.
I am trying to be ok with that. And I think I am.