One year ago today I lost Anita. I have been dreading this anniversary for weeks.
At work I made some good progress on my current project in the morning and then I was given an interesting puzzle which kept me unmindful of the day until after lunch.
After that it got hard. I finally gave up and went home early, to sit and get my act together. A year ago at 4:40 PM I held Anita’s hand as she stopped breathing and went into fibrillation, feeling her pulse flutter against my fingertips and then stop. Today I spent that same minute sitting by myself in my living room, as alone as anyone can ever be.
Thirty minutes later I picked up my grandson from after-school care and we did chores together around the house. After a late dinner we watched the J.P. Patches 50th anniversary special on PBS before I put him to bed. It was kind of fun sharing that bit of my childhood with him.
Funny thing, but I didn’t cry today at all, until now as I write these words. Yes, this dread day has gone by and a year of living without Anita is behind me. But it doesn’t change the important things a bit. She is still gone. I’m still here. This day will come again and again, hopefully for me it will come for a great many years.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how good I was to her. And, honestly, I don’t think it was good enough. Anita gave far more to our relationship than I. Yes, the same was probably true of every relationship Anita had with another human being; it was her way. Still, I owed her more than she got and I will regret to my dying day every little moment of discourtesy, every time I didn’t respond to ‘I love you’ in kind, every hurt feeling I ever caused her. Certainly these things were not common, nor large. But they happened and, in the human way we all have of remembering anything self-judgmental, they loom enormous in my mind.
But my year of rain has passed. Yes, the clouds are still there. It will rain yet again, without doubt. Still, I live in hope of sun. I haven’t broken through my grief and depression in the way I described wanting to do nearly a month ago, but I didn’t expect the process to be fast or easy then. So I’m not disappointed in myself, in that way. Although I haven’t been writing fiction much, I have been playing guitar again and have even started composing a couple of new songs.
Most likely I will process my emotions through my music until I can understand them; it is what I have always done. What I need to do new, in this, is to record the songs and write down the lyrics. Always before I have composed what I called ‘ephemeral music’; songs I would write, sing for a week or a month, and then forget. It drove Anita bonkers when I did that; she would ask me to play some song I had written not long before, which she had liked, and I would just shrug my shoulders helplessly. It bothered her that I would forget them and it bothered her even more that it didn’t bother me that I would forget them.
I usually write songs for myself, you see. And not sharing them with others (unless they happened to be there when the songs are with me) is yet another small selfishness of mine.
So, for Anita, I must fix into a matrix of remembrance those songs I will write over the next few months. The funny thing is, I still don’t feel a great need to do this. It isn’t like I am creating great music that will touch a million souls. It isn’t like I expect to gain a thing from doing it. But it was an oft-repeated wish of hers and one I want to honor.
Quite literally, it is the least I owe her…