There are days you brace for knowing full well you may feel her absence keenly. Those days are difficult enough. But it’s the 100 tiny little land mines of grief that hit erupt unexpectedly shattering your heart that are the most difficult because you are often surrounded by them all day every day.
These are my 100 tiny little land mines of grief:
Sears. Every single senior citizen I see. Phone calls from Gerry, first man you met when you entered that retirement home three years ago, first friend who might have been the love of your life, weeping softly. I loved her. I miss her. I know, I say. Me too, I say. Every time I pass the Dairy Queen where we sat with my kids. Mother’s Day. The month of May and March. Birthdays too. July. August. Kensington Village. Your birthday this year a landmine exploding all day, shrapnel of memories raining down. Happy. The word elegant. The word Love. The rain. The rainbows after the rain.
Taiga, Hannami, Kaz, Payton, Ainsley, Aunt Pat. Well meaning phone calls from Marion. Norm. Your sweater. Your housecoat. I kept them each through the move. Glamorous scarves. Sons with their mothers and mothers with their daughters. Every grandmother I see holding tight to the hand of her sweet granddaughter. The card aisle. The bookmark I kept with your handwriting on the back over and over penning the names of your friends and their phone numbers. An envelope you wrote on too. Willing yourself not to forget. The asshole word Alzheimer’s. Pneumonia. Thanksgiving. Pictures. So many pictures. Pharmasave. Nurses. Ainsley and Payton again. Chicken Soup for the Soul Books. You loved those.
White hair. Seagulls. The beach. Back to school. School photos. Oh how you loved the Fall. The leaves, changing seasons, so many gorgeous reds, oranges, yellows. Yoga, centergy, airports and airplanes – even though we only flew together twice. Most turbulent flight ever and your first real plane ride to St. Petersburg. This reminds me how you loved Florida and dreamed it was a place you might retire. I wish you had had the time to make that real. The gym, where you worked out. New Balance running shoes, and parks. The dentist. The TV news, Tim Horton’s, apple fritters, safety patrol. The city of Guelph. Red Door perfume. Baby powder.
Shopping. Safety patrols, Crysanthemums, roses, pansies, geraniums, the summer, children, schools, teachers. Your little blue alarm clock on Ainsley’s dresser. Baby clothes, the ones you bought for me first and then the armloads of pink you bought from both of your granddaughters. Ceramic elephants, Collingwood and Blue Mountain. The fancy china dishes, the silverware, my couch.
Beer nuts, cheese, turkey, bread. Licorice All sorts. Mars bars, Snickers bars too. Tea. Covent Garden Market, figure skating, Budweiser Gardens. Tommy Hunter. Johnny Cash. My face in the mirror, the biggest reminder of all.
These are the things that remind me of you. One and a half years later some things pass easier and others not so much. I am extremely thankful we had you as long as we did. I know there are many who don’t get that much time together.
This is our second fall without you here. We are heading into our second set of holidays. Pain should be less, I think. But my heart answers yes and no. Grief, I have learned, comes at you two different ways. Sometimes grief is a full on frontal attack pinned to days and events that you anticipate. You might brace yourself for this. Then there are the hundred tiny little land mines that erupt on a day when you have projects due, kids to pick up, doctor’s appointments and dinner. Grief is a bully, sneaking in a sucker punch that makes you mad you let your guard down. Your back was turned. One hundred tiny little land mines that chip away at your heart.