I miss Kelly every day. Sometimes I will realize that I’ve gone 15 minutes without thinking about her, and the fact that she’s gone, and remembering makes my heart break all over again and the fact that I forgot, even for a few minutes, well honestly there is no single word that I can think of to describe how that feels. It’s like a bubble (made of lead) has burst. People have told me I’m doing so well, but I’m not sure what that means or if I am. And honestly, whether or not I’m handling this wellhasn’t occurred to me. I’m not trying to make it through the day without crying, I’m trying to make it through the day without stopping. Literally, just stopping – in a grocery store, in a meeting, mid laugh, on a walk – wherever. I fight hard to resist the urge to just stop and stare. I’m still trying to grasp it and even believe it.
This is evident to me when I see or hear things that I want to share with Kelly, and for just a moment I forget that I can’t. This happens every day. At work in one of the bathroom stalls the toilet paper dispenser is a U-shaped bracket attached to the wall and if you look closely, as you’re sitting there with a few moments to spare, you can see the words “Install this side down”. I always meant to tell her about that because it made me laugh. She and I used to laugh at funny acronyms, like FALUC (which has since been revised) and PPFT (which spells the sound a fart makes). The other day I saw STPUD, which I wished I could share with her. Although these moments make me feel like I can keep her with me, they also break my heart, because the truth is she is gone, and that’s what’s so hard to accept.
Well the other day I saw an opportunity to pretend for a moment, a few seconds really, that she was not gone. I went to a work-related luncheon (though it wasn’t really fancy enough to warrant calling it a luncheon and Kelly would be the first to point this out) and the featured speaker was a woman who shared a lot of Kelly’s physical characteristics. Same hair color, same skin tone, similar body, dark glasses. At first it simply occurred to me that she looked a little like Kelly. Then I found myself trying to pretend that it was Kelly. But of course I couldn’t make that work. So I began “adjusting” my vision. It sort of worked, but her voice was not like Kelly’s and it threw me off. I actually became slightly frustrated and I wished she’d stop talking so I could stare at her with intentionally-blurred vision and pretend she was Kelly. Then I realized that if I adjusted my vision and waited for someone to ask hera question I had more luck. As she stood patiently waiting for the question to be finished I could pretend for about one quarter of a second that it was a very blurry Kelly standing up in front of the room. I continued to blur my vision as she spoke, but the moments when she wasn’t speaking were the ones I concentrated on. I must have done this about a dozen times in the 30 minutes or so that she spoke.
Just about the same time it occurred to me that what I was doing was incredibly sad and a bit unstable, I realized the woman had done a few double-takes in my direction and her words had faltered ever so slightly when she looked my way. I found this a bit curious at first, but then it hit me, my method of “adjusting” my vision was in fact not undetectable. I didn’t see how this could be possible since it felt like such a slight movement of my eyes, but later that day a friend confirmed that yes, it was indeed quite visible. The poor woman. Every time she looked at me she saw my eyes widen and move slightly up and to the center. Did she think I was making faces at her? Did she think I was having a seizure?
And of course, I wished I could share this story with Kelly. I think about how I would share it with her. I would need to be sensitive about how I told her the story because she struggled so horribly her entire life with the fact that one of her eyes pulled inward a little. I wouldn’t want her to think I found the fact that I was crossing my eyes funny, I would want her to know that the funny part was that I was doing this thing I thought nobody would notice only to find out it was totally obvious. I think if I told it right she would get a good laugh out of it. I can hear her laugh, see her face. Sometimes when she laughed really hard she would have a coughing attack and her eyes would water. I might get one of those laughs out of her with this story. If I told it right.
Of course, in order to get a good laugh I wouldn’t tell her the part about how subconsciously I must have known all along that the woman could see a shift in my eyes but that I chose to ignore this because I didn’t want to deny myself the opportunity to pretend she was standing ten feet away from me. Or maybe I would tell her that part. I think she would be very touched by that and although I might not get a good laugh out of her with that version of the story, I would definitely get a big hug, which would be even better. And I promise you, I would never let go.