Early in our marriage I would call Rob at work at least once a week because I had lost my keys and needed to be somewhere. He would lovingly come rescue me with hardly any sarcasm. When he was deployed to the desert in 2002, it was a rude awakening for me and my habit of misplacing things (without Rob, who must have had bloodhound in him somewhere). I started making lists and learned to leave things in the same spot - "everything in its place and a place for everything" became my motto. And through that deployment I actually did became a very organized person. My mind is still as scattered and messy, I still lose things and rely heavily on updated calendars and lists to remember why I am supposed to be somewhere and when.... but it's definitely better, I rarely lose my kids anymore, but it could be that they're older and have learned to compensate my weakness. Except for Noah. Noah, unfortunetly, inherited my "disorder and chaos" gene. I once heard tell that you can always tell if Noah Murphy is at a camp out (with his scout troop) because his stuff usually starts at the entrance and is strewn throughout the site. That's my boy.
My brother and Suzy left earlier this week and as we began to put things back together after a rather easy-going couple of weeks it was hard not to notice something: every time we clean it's like we take a little more away of "him". Every dust cloth or vacuum, every load of laundry, every window washed, takes away another layer of his presence. Its not like I'm throwing anything of his away, but rather that scraps of paper with his writing or a stray jacket and shoes are less frequent as we put those things away when they're found. I can barely smell him on the pillow next to me. He's fading and we're going on. His memory is sharp, clear, and ever present - but this is a different kind of fade. His jacket isn't hanging on the hooks by the door anymore, his shoes aren't in the pile in the front-foyer. I'm learning, again, to find my own keys, change my own lightbulbs.......
We won't stop cleaning the house, though my kids might like that idea, but I just don't think I'll ever get used the idea of his not being here.
This New Year holds many firsts for us, but milestones as well - most that will go unnoticed by many, even my kids, and each approaching date will be like a sharp stab in my heart. The day we first noticed the tightness in his throat and the swelling, the first ambulance ride to the ER, the day he was admitted to the hospital, diagnosed with cancer, started chemo, his surgeries, his seizures,.... etc..... there are others, too - our wedding anniversary, our birthdays, holidays or annual scout/dance trips that are waiting and will cause us to look back and remember, but at the same time push us forward.
We DID make it through Thanksgiving and Christmas and so already there is something this year that won't be the first, which is comforting and at the same time terrifying. We didn't read any of the cards sent to us this year; all the newsletters, pictures, sentiments are sitting in a pile packed away in a box - and maybe we'll be able to do that next year, but this year we had no interest in season's greetings.
It's okay that you're moving on, pulling slowly away from our story. It's okay that THIS New Year holds promise for you, somewhere (deep down) I know it does for me as well. I'm just having trouble letting go of the last year that I had it all, and terrified of the approaching days ahead.