In the two weeks since my wife went to heaven processing thoughts for me has been like being inside of one of those wind machines snatching at swirling dollar bills. My thoughts swirl around me and only some of them I actually manage to retain.
I’m not one who by nature considers myself to be scattered. Yet, in these last ten plus days I have started the washing machine and forgotten to put in clothes. I’ve walked away leaving the dishwasher door hanging open never putting away the entire bottom rack of dishes. I’ve even gone to appointments on the wrong days because I’m not reading my calendar accurately. Some details I’ve carried out fine. Others are blowing around in my brain as I clutch at them only to find they’ve slipped through my grasp.
Those have been the easy things, to be honest. Over the past fifteen years I have been so oriented to watching the clock in order to make sure I was home in time to turn Tricia in her bed or make sure she had her lunch that I feel out of sorts when I realize those tasks are no longer necessary. Nothing takes me as long as it used to. I wake up every morning and still wonder if I should go check on her first thing. I’ve reached for my phone to call her and see if I can bring her something from the store. If I sit down in the living room to watch TV I have to remind myself that she won’t be lonesome in the back of the house without me coming in there. I don’t have to offer to share my dessert or make sure her laptop is powered up or turn in my order for medical supplies.
I’m going through closets, drawers, and keepsakes of hers and I find myself wanting to ask her if she thinks we should save something. When is it okay to throw away a person’s hairbrush? What do you do with keepsakes that meant more to the person you lost than they ever did to you? Is it okay to admit that I never liked the color of our bathroom even though she did?
I feel a bit like the man who went to sleep on the airplane and missed his connection. When he got off the plane he expected to be in Cleveland and instead he found himself in San Diego. I love the weather in San Diego but I’m used to the weather in Cleveland. I can predict the weather in Cleveland. I have no idea what people do in San Diego.
From here I will learn to enjoy the different weather. From here I will adjust to the vortex where a week feels like a month. I will learn to think with more intentionality. From here I will continue to grope at random thoughts however incomplete knowing that eventually I will get to retain a few more.