Nine Pages in a Book

Tomorrow is mine and Gregg’s ninth anniversary. I’ve been reaching out for anything to take my mind off of it. A distraction, a diversion from the trigger that could start an emotional upheaval that I just do not have the time or energy to deal with. If you asked me how I felt about the day ahead, I could honestly say “fine,” because I haven’t been thinking about it. There have been enough distractions. Apparently avoidance is still my go-to coping mechanism. Super. I even planned a big distraction, er, adventure to mark the occasion. I always do something adventurous on birthdays and anniversaries and difficult holidays. Really, I started doing it, and continue to do it, to honor Gregg’s memory and his adventurous spirit. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t also a good way to scare myself into numbness. You can’t think about your emotions if your survival instinct is screaming at you that you should not be 100 feet above the ground right now, with only a rope between you and certain death. You can’t address the pain when you’re terrified. There’s no room for feelings when you’re feeling that.

Gosh, I miss him. When I was making my mental list of things I wanted in a husband before we started dating, everything about him was on it. Not that I was even consciously aware of my list, but I had one, everyone does. He checked every box. Tall, funny, strong, infectious smile, compassionate… I could go on, but you get the idea. Mr. Perfect. And I loved him even more when the facade of perfection I had created of him melted away, as it always does, and I saw him for the man he truly was.

I miss the feeling of safety he gave me. After he died, I felt helpless against the evils of the world. Single woman with two kids who looks like she hasn’t slept in four years; easy target for thieves and murderers and bears. I wouldn’t stand a chance. I never had to worry about that with Gregg because, I mean, come on… no one was gonna mess with him, not even bears. I sort of adopted some of his paranoia after he died, too, which didn’t help. He wasn’t there to check the house at night, so I did. He couldn’t tell me about all the terrible things that could happen while we were at the grocery store, so I had to think of them on my own. It was exhausting, and gave me the smallest glimpse of what he went through. But it’s better since I started going to the gym again. I may not be a 6’4″, 275 lb. hulking man, but at least now I’m strong enough to pick up both my kids and run. Which is sayin’ a lot, because they are not small children.

I miss Gregg’s playfulness. It was one of the things that attracted me to him. Also one of the things that I sometimes wanted to strangle him for. When he was himself and was feeling immensely happy, he was exuberant and boisterous and could not be talked down from the clouds. There were no adult responsibilities, nor reason, nor meaning to anything that was outside of his bubble of happiness. It was refreshing and frustrating for my practical nature.

I miss his ability to just make a decision already. I am a woman, therefore I am indecisive. Not about important things- those things I can see in black and white. But the mundane day-to-day decisions, the pointless things that don’t really matter can run me in circles until I don’t know which way is up. Gregg was good at pointing out when I was being ridiculous if I couldn’t decide on the color of wrapping paper to buy or what to pack on a trip or what to make for dinner. He wasted no time in looking before he leaped, for both the small, pointless decisions and the big, life-changing decisions.

I miss him forcing me to watch YouTube videos. Truly. A constant occurrence throughout our marriage was me doing homework and him trying to distract me from it in the form of a video of someone doing something stupid or an American Idol audition (the good ones and the bad ones). Occasionally he would try to distract me by singing “Mr. Lonely” from the other room, then follow it up with a video of gym fails after I finally came to sit next to him. I would usually pretend to be interested and then go right back to my work. I should have watched more dumb videos with him.. Put that on my headstone. “She should have watched more YouTube videos.”

If he were here, we’d be leaving on a trip, where we could hike and eat dessert and watch movies until dawn. Or we’d be high fiving while we passed each other at the front door, me getting home from some dumb meeting and him to going to the gym. One of the two.

It is weird to think about what we would be doing now and how different my life would be. And it’s a really weird feeling to also be happy with how things are now. Even with the trials we went through, my time with Gregg was full of happiness. But I am also happy where I am. I wouldn’t go back, but I would bring Gregg here if I could. Maybe here he could be happy, too.

An old friend told me before Gregg and I got married that we go through major life changes or chapters or something every ten years… maybe it was twenty, I can’t remember, but the point is is that maybe this is just the the beginning of the end of that chapter. There has been love and pain and happiness and tears and it’s been a beautiful story. But things move forward and you have to follow the plot where it takes you. You would miss out on the rest of the story if you got stuck in the first couple of chapters. Even though it’s painful and you know that there’s still more pain ahead, there’s also joy and happiness. What you learned from the beginning chapters will help you figure out how to deal with what happens later on  and everything will come together in the final couple of pages. And when all the lose ends are tied up in a neat little bow, you’ll be glad that you chose to keep going.

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