Friday, May 13, 2011

Naming things

May 12, 2011

Hi tonight,

I was trying to remember the last time I had a vegetable garden.  I can not.  It was when you were alive. 

Tonight I planted three different kinds of lettuce, parsley, Russian kale and fennel.  The weather is supposed to be nice again tomorrow.  I will plant more.  Carrots, beets, zucchini squash. I love to watch things grow.  You did too.

You would love this home I have made for myself.  I have lived here one year now—settled in.  Last year in May I was unpacking, painting walls.  A friend came and helped me make a bigger patio.  I landscaped, put in sod.  The kitchen looks out onto a big rock wall.  In front of that I put a garden.  My backyard is my haven.  Hummingbirds and rabbits come to visit.  And there is a deck with a hot tub.  It isn’t big.  It isn’t fancy.  It is big enough for me.

And one other person—Steve.

You would like Steve.  He and I have a lot in common.  Most of all he is mischievous and makes me laugh.  We watched the same cartoons as kid, ate the same penny candy, loved Orange Crush.  He takes me for rides on his Kawasaki.  We take long walks around Capital Lake.  There are concerts laying on a blanket in the grass.  In all that, there is the grief.  With each of us, you cannot see it.  But it is there.  For his sorrow there is a name—widower.  Mine, no one wants to talk about, imagine.  How can you name it? There is no word big enough.

Steve’s grief is intimate, I am an outsider.  Mine is all encompassing.  I do not know what to do with his.  I try not to show him mine.  Though he has come and put his arms around me as I screamed at the edge of the pond until I lost my voice, then cried. 

Silently, we share our grief at night, when it is dark and we can crawl under a blanket together.  I slide in next to him, press my shoulders into his chest, feel his round stomach fill the small of my back.  I feel his body rise and fall as he takes in air, inflates his lungs, oxygen attaches to the hemoglobin in his red blood cells.  I feel his heart beat as it pumps hemoglobin in red blood cells throughout his body, depositing oxygen where it is needed.  He puts his arm around me.  I sigh.  He does too.  We can each be who we are, yet connected to each other.

“I don’t want to get married again.”  He told me on our third date.  I am not sure what it means, or if he means it.  Most of all I am not sure how I feel about what he told me.  I only know I am uncomfortable being called his “girlfriend.”  I want more than that.  I am too old to be a girlfriend.  Is there something other than a girlfriend and a wife?  What is the name for that?

We sit across the table from each other.  We have our laptops open.  I am writing this letter to you.  He has found something amusing.  He laughs. 

“It will be a year soon.”  I tell him. 

He turns his computer screen so it is facing me.  He is looking at a website with cat pictures that have funny captions.  This one is a cat sleeping in a chair in front of a computer.  The caption reads “Cure for Writer’s Block—A Can of Tuna.” 

I can only see the caption from where I sit.  I ask what the cat is doing.
“The cat is laying in the chair.  He is blocking the writer from sitting there.  A can of tuna will get him off the chair.”  He reads the caption again. 

I laugh.  I get it.  I tell him “I could not see the picture.  I do not have my glasses on.”  But really, sometimes I am just slow, now, to get the joke.  I don’t want to admit that.

“The Rapture is supposed to happen on the 21st of May.”  I tell him, we have been joking about the Rapture for days.  We even talked about throwing a Rapture Party.  Have all our friends over for beer and Tostitos with guacamole.  “If we are still around after the Rapture, what do you want to do to celebrate our first anniversary?”

He looks at a calendar.  He is thinking.  

I am thinking too.  Maybe I can just let this be.  Perhaps I do not need to find a name for this, whatever our relationship is.  He can be Steve.  I can be Sherry. 

I can simply enjoy his warmth against my back at night, his arm around me.  And then the sigh. 

The weather is supposed to be nice again tomorrow.  Steve will dig the holes for the tomatoes to be planted in my garden.  He helps me build things here.  With him, I have gotten stronger.  Strong enough to plant a garden.

I am waiting to see what he comes up with for our anniversary.

                                                                                         Love you,