One year ago I was sending my daughters back to school after summer break. My youngest was starting Kindergarten and my oldest her first year of middle school. Needless to say that morning was filled with emotion. I didn’t have Jon with me to drop them off, but he was the first person I called when I realized dropping my youngest daughter off at her first day of Kindergarten was nothing compared to sending my oldest off to this mysterious and pre-pubescent wasteland that is middle school. I found myself in tears that my little baby girl seemed suddenly so grown up.
Jon consoled me in a way no one else could. That sounds endearing, but it went more like this, “stop whining and go to work, you’ll be fine.” Now he sounds mean, but he knew if he said anything even remotely supportive, I’d just cry harder. The harshness of his statement snapped me out of my mommy misery and back into real life.
I could hear him not so gently willing me along today on yet another first day of school.
Today was a calamity of errors. My computer crashed and I lost an hour and a half of work (that was last night, but it affected today.) Two of my girls’ bus stops were in the wrong place. My car broke down on the side of a busy highway and I was in very inappropriate shoes to deal with it. Then, my kids got off the bus and didn’t see their Grandma so they walked a half mile to our neighbor’s house and nobody knew for thirty minutes.
Then I realized that I had also forgotten to give them lunch money. I felt like a shitty mom and I wanted to ram my head through a wall.
For much of the day, even before I thought I didn’t know where my kids were, I floated around in a cloud of anger. Why? What did I do? Why are there killers and rapists and assholes lurking around this world untouched while the universe just continues to rain shit all over my life these past few weeks? And throughout that, all I could think was, I need Jon. I need you today baby, I kept saying in my head. But he didn’t answer. Not literally anyway.
What he did do was pop into my brain from somewhere under a lump in my throat and tell me to get up off my ass and stop feeling sorry for myself. The memory of him last year, talking me through my tears by being firm and forceful, invaded my brain and stopped me dead in the middle of a growing sob.
It’s so easy to be angry; to think that nothing is fair. It’s easy to think about the situation in terms of all that I’ve lost. I can get lost down the path of regret – I wouldn’t have to do this if Jon was here or it would be so much easier with his help. Those are both are very true statements. But lamenting that my life is harder in his absence, though true, doesn’t change the fact that it is what it is. Everyday there is something, often several things, that I have to do that he would have done. Mowing the lawn. Doing the dishes. Putting the laundry in the wash so I had no choice but to dry it and put it away. Cleaning up that broken beer bottle so no one got even the slightest sliver of glass in their foot. Fixing the leaky washing machine and figuring out why the radiator in the car isn’t working. All Jon. Now, all me.
There are so many times I think about these things and the anger wells, because that’s the easy reaction. But there are other times where I swallow whatever darkness is gripping me and just get shit done. In those moments, I am not only whole, I am amazing. Above all, I am the woman that Jon loved.
I remember when we first met and Jon brought his car to my house to work on it in my driveway. I got right in there with him. I knew what parts were what, what they did and where they were located. I knew which tools were which and I even offered a couple of helpful tips as he worked, elbow deep, in grease. As he realized he was dating a girl who knew her way around a car engine, you could almost see him fall in love. He left this world knowing I was capable and strong and that there wasn’t any “Jon” chore I couldn’t handle. So, when I keep it together long enough to realize that and get things accomplished, I feel him smiling down on me; almost congratulating me.
Today was shit. And there will probably be lots of shit days. But no day will ever be as shitty as the day he left us. And the short life we spent together was filled with lessons preparing me for this awfulness. To forget those lessons is to forget him and that is simply just unacceptable. My Jon deserves more.