Today-oh what can I say about today? I woke up not wanting it to be here because I signed the papers and sold his truck today. I hadn't seen the truck since that day and my father did all of the set up for what to do with it...except I had to sign the papers to allow them to clean it and then send it to the body shop. Nothing in widowhood, the dismantling of a life, the saying good bye on paper to a person, is ever easy. Selling the truck came with its own set of problems. I battled with the bank yesterday that held the loan I paid off because they didn't want to accept a Cashiers check (which is verified funds) as good enough to sign off on the lien even though their headquarters told me that was the right thing to do. See? I call before embarking on these little trips of hurt to make sure they won't be even more so, and they inevitably are anyway. So, title in hand, I had to go to the Secretary of State, aka DMV, aka 5th circle of Hell to transfer the title to my name because it was only in his name. So I had to bring one of the "the certificates". That is what I call them because I am fooling myself. Surprisingly, the title transfer (erasing of yet another marker of his existence) went easier than I thought...until she tried to tell me that I needed to transfer the registration and that would be $272 please. I said,"No thanks, it's being sold tonight, and there is no law saying that I have to register it in my name to sell it..." She began to argue using the "Ma'am" and the eye rollies and all and I pulled out all the stops and said,"He's dead, okay? Will you just please allow me to sell this truck?" and she dropped it. And I cried all the way to the car. Great big sobs of God-how-I-hate-this-I-don't-want-to-be-me-anymore-without-him, while my son (my poor little boy who doesn't deserve this and only wants to be good and make everything better) clung to my hand saying,"Don't cry...shhhh...don't cry...I'm here..." And he's too young to have to do that.
My father drove the truck over to my mother's (it is a friend of hers that bought it) and then met me on the street outside her neighborhood because I am a wuss and couldn't stand the sight of it while still yearning to see it, but knowing it wouldn't contain what I wanted it to. And so ended another chapter in the book that is Trying to Survive Even Though Everything You Once Believed in is Gone. My father also gave me the box of his belongings that he had on him that day. My father had kept them until I was ready. I said I was ready. Actually it is because I need every bit of him that is still here on earth here. These were the items I signed for the day I went to the police station. And, stupid me, I opened the box...and saw his handkerchief and the glint of his belt buckle (and oh no, not his pocket knife it really did happen) and I had to close it and put it away. I did not get his ashes, because we ran out of time. And I am mad at myself for letting myself run out of time when, in reality, I did have the time-I just wasted it.
Later this afternoon, right before my son came home, I was ripping through the cupboard looking for my "Costco Passport to Savings" circular because I have not properly grocery shopped since early August. I was pulling out the cookbooks when a card fell out of one and (I kid you not) hit me, right in the eye. Because that's the kind of luck we have here in this house.
It is the card that Leonard gave me for our very first anniversary. I remember that day so well. He had gone shopping with his mom for me (remember he wasn't well versed and didn't realize that Mothers in law are probably not a good choice as a shopping companion even if she is your own mother...I cut him some slack, we were still newlyweds). He bought me a Brett Favre Jersey (I am a Packer fan by birth), a cookbook (which might upset some wives but I love to cook so it was perfect), and this card, which I kept in the front cover of the cookbook. His mother said I would hate the book and the jersey, but he got me. He really did. And it was a wonderful first anniversary-July 19th, 1997...one year from the birth of our miracle and the adoption of our daughter, 10 years before this horrific bad dream that I can't seem to wake up from. I would have never guessed, as we sat at the kitchen table of our little mobile home that it would fly by and I would be left here, like this. I can't bear to think of it, and yet I can't help myself.
The cook book was The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook and we decided that night that we would go through all of the recipes and I would write the date and what we thought of the dish, dessert, beverage etc and also any important events. A family history of sorts, for the children. There are 100 dates-Sept 11th, the night my water broke with James, the day my aunt died, my daughter's last day of 8th grade, my son's first day of kindergarten, other anniversaries, our special Mardi Gras parties (I'll talk about those another time, but it hurts so much to think of doing those without him), the day I made the spinach potato soup and it was neon in color so I chucked it and we ordered out. And the book looks so worn and splattered, and there are so many blank pages, but I don't think I can ever write in it again. I begin to believe that I can't do anything we used to do again.
And then there is the card. I remember reading it that first time and how it left me breathless, because my husband was not a super mushy, "I'm going to go and buy a card that tells her how I feel", kind of guy. It didn't photograph well but it says:
On Our First Anniversary
I have loved you this year
For marrying me...
For saying I do--and meaning it (the underline was his)
I have loved you
For being solid and dependable,
but still full of surprises.
I have loved your gentleness,
your humor, your way
I have loved you this year
Knowing that it is the first of many:
A lifetime of discovering
more things about you
And he signed it Love Leonard (in his beautiful handwriting that I wanted to share with you all)
and he put a heart around a #1... He did that on every card for all 11 years of our marriage.
When I read the part about knowing it is the first of many, of a lifetime and I realize that our lifetime together was only 11 too short years, 49 short of the 60 I thought we would have, I get so angry at the unfairness of it all. I hate this so very much. It is walking around with a solid pain in my chest. I want that lifetime with him. I needed that lifetime with him. I wanted to turn to him on the day our youngest left the nest and wrap my arms around him and spend all of those years together. And I can't do that. I can sit here with the echo of his last "I love you" in my mind from that last day and wait. Only I don't know what I'm waiting for anymore.