I have to go to Home Depot today. Not only that, I have to go to Home Depot tomorrow. One the website tells me is 9.38 miles away because our local one does not have the last closet door we need. I also have to get the oil changed in your truck before I go pick up the door. I’m also going to have to call a pool guy because you left a part needing replaced. These are the things I am perfectly capable of doing. These are also the things I hate having to do. These are your things.
I’d been a single mom of three teens for a couple of years when you and I met. I’d been living in a rental that blended in nicely with the rest of the neighborhood but inside was coming apart. The owner had taken stupid shortcuts to patch things (no green board behind the shower tiles? really?) and time was running out on all of them simultaneously. Then there was my car, also showing its age. The dude at Firestone knew me by name. That’s how bad it had gotten.
Those years—and honestly the few before when I was basically on my own as well—are why I know I can do what needs doing. But you made everything in life so easy. You anticipated and fixed and handled so that I didn’t have to. House issues. Automotive problems. You were my 24/7 pool boy. The water was always sparkling. The pump humming. The chemicals balanced.
You walked the dogs. You biked the dogs You cooked. You shopped. You cleaned. You did all these things whether you were working or not though I did more of the cooking and shopping and cleaning when you were.
You drove 45 minutes each way to the office which made for very long days. That drive was the reason we moved. Before we moved, I’d been helping with the lawn, too, as the exertion tired you more than did exercising the dogs. Obviously that was your heart starting to protest the blockage. Which was why we’ve had great lawn dudes here for four years.
But even after your angiogram and your new medication regime, you never slowed down. You were go-go-go and it was important to you to do all that you could. Did that keep you from thinking about the battle, the family history, what you were facing? What we were facing? Or was it just your way? I think it was some of both. We talked about the heart thing a lot, lying in bed, my head on your chest, listening to the abnormal rhythm, the strange flips and thumps.
I tell myself this loss wasn’t unexpected; when December 21st happened, it was what we’d both known was coming. And it was. Except it wasn’t. We weren’t ready or prepared in so many ways, and it was way too soon and you were way too young and we had years, years, years, left together, yet I’m navigating pretty smoothly because of all the things you taught me to do.
You loved teaching though you didn’t have the temperament to be a teacher. But you were exceptionally brilliant with one-on-one instruction. You taught our son in law so much. You taught our grandkids. Our only granddaughter is reading the book I gave her for Christmas that you and she had shared many times during the months they lived with us. She’s reading it for you. You taught her that. And you taught me… too many things to name, to count.
Without knowing it, you made my life after December 21st happened easier to deal with. The unimportant things, anyway. House, car, pool… Dealing with my heartbreak, my office that you’re no longer sharing, my empty bed that is now where the white dog sleeps and often the asshole tabby, my life that seems… I don’t know what it seems. A sham. Worthless, though I know that’s not true because it’s priceless and there is so much I want to accomplish for me.
I go through motions, getting things done, not thinking too much while doing them, just… doing them. I go-go-go. I stay busy. I order from Home Depot online then pick up the items in the store. It’s easier than wandering the aisles to find what our son in law needs. And I still hate Home Depot. That will never change, no matter how many times I now have to go.
I used to mock you for all your trips. You were there daily. Often more than once. Sometimes you went to Lowe’s, too. The grocery store as well to pick up something for dinner. You liked buying fresh each day. Me? I like having things on hand. We’re back to that now, an array of choices to pull from the fridge and freezer and toss in the oven or crockpot. I think tonight I’ll make spaghetti. That’s one thing I can do as well as you since it was my recipe originally.
But I much preferred sitting at the folding table post-Harvey, or sitting in my kitchen chair next to my piano desk pre-Harvey, and visiting with you while you did all the work. I would prep the garlic bread but that was the easy part. Then I’d sit and watch you navigate the kitchen, steering clear of cats and dogs, talking to me about your newest Icefall brainstorm, bouncing ideas off me the same way I did with you until the food was done and you served it up and delivered it.
I was so very spoiled. Life with you was so easy. So wonderful. I miss that life. I want it back. I remember you leaning toward me with tears in your eyes and saying those very words two weeks after Harvey. “I want our old life back.” Our life. Our life. Oh, sweetie. Me, too.