Sign here, here, and here.

Last week, I closed on the refinancing of my home.  (Feel free to applaud.  Finances are not my forte.)

I remembered nine years prior, when Robb and I sat at a similar table, signing our lives away.

We were brand new transplants to Colorado, we had made about $250 on the sale of our first home in Ohio, and we were so excited to get the keys to the home we loved.

We got our keys that day, and we went straight to this empty home of ours, to walk through the echoing rooms and imagine the life we would bring to it.

The rooms we would paint and decorate again and again.
The home where we would bring our baby home.  And then another baby.  The flower bed for the petunias.
The sprawling deck for evening dinner parties.  We imagined great things.

As we left, I said, “Should we lock this door to the garage?  Because I think they like to keep it locked.”

With a smile, Robb said, “Hey, babe?  It’s our house now.  We get to decide.”

Oh, right.  It’s our house now.  Man, I loved that day.

At that closing appointment, they ask you to sign four thousand pages, promise your firstborn child if you cannot follow through in paying back the loan, and promise to be faithful in all things homeowning, including live in the house and bring in your trash cans.

Deal.  It was really very simple, until the very end.

The last four pages were our last four tax returns.  We always e-filed, so there was no signature on the electronic forms.

“Ma’am, could you sign here and here and here?”

I was called upon to sign where Robb’s name belonged, next to his printed job title.

Underneath my signature, I read the printed words: Surviving Spouse.

I barely made it out of the office.  I cried in the parking lot, gasping for air.

These are the blows that bring me to my knees.  In every sense of the phrase.

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Best Guess Speller

Tyler’s preschool teacher greeted me yesterday afternoon with a gleam in her eye and an iPhone in her hand.

“I just had to show this to you,” she said.  The children had been playing with letters to build words and sentences, and this is Tyler’s finished product.

“My mom is a writer.”

Trefoils.

I supported the next generation of women in the entrepreneurial world: I bought our stash of Girl Scout Cookies.

I stocked up on the usual trio: Samoas, Thin Mints, and Trefoils.

Turns out, only Robb liked the Trefoils.  The package sits nearly untouched.

Still, I’m not sorry I bought the box.  I supported the lovely little saleswomen, and it’s good for my children to know all of daddy’s favorites.

Acquired Task

Tucker glared indignantly at the bulging trash bag next to the back door.  (He’ll make an excellent indignant teenager, I foresee.)

“That trash is always there, and I always have to take it out, and it’s always so dirty.”

“And I’m so thankful for you, Tucker, because that’s something Daddy used to do for me.  And I’m glad you don’t mind.”

His countenance softened, from his shoulders to his voice.  He heaved the bag over his shoulder and opened the door to the garage.

“I’ll do this for you everyday if you want, Mommy.”

Recurring

I wake up in a cold sweat, shaking in a rhythmic pulse.  This used to happen all the time, several times a night, but now it’s less frequent.

And it’s different.

In my recurring dream, he has come back.  He steps into the traditions of our life together, and he’s just suddenly there, usually making macaroni and cheese alongside me.

Except we can’t find our groove.  We don’t know how to share the space anymore.  He moves through the steps we always knew, and I try to stay out of his way instead of stepping on his toes, because I want to feel simply glad that he’s back.

But instead, I’m fuming inside.  My fingernails make half-moon indents on the inside of my palms.  I take a peripheral stance in the dream, my compass spinning, not knowing what I’m supposed to do since he’s in my world again.

In my dream, a voice continues to whisper to me, “Enjoy it now, because you know he’s going to die.  Be with him, because he’s not staying for long.  Maybe just two or three years.”

In my dream, I am so confused.  I don’t know the steps.  I don’t know the roles.  I don’t know the boundaries.

In my dream, so much has changed, and it’s not just the furniture or the wall hangings.  Identities have shifted, confidence has been redefined.

In my dream, I don’t know what to do.  Because he’s back.  And the voice tells me he’ll leave again.

So I don’t know if I should return to the the girl, the partner, the wife, I was.  Or if I should move forward as the me I’ve come to know. I keep my peripheral, spinning stance, confused and angry that everything is upset and unsettled.  Angry with myself for not simply delighting in his presence here.

And that’s when I wake up.  In the rhythmic, shaking, cold sweat, I am confused and restless: is he back?  Did he come back?

Truth hits me like a gust of freezing wind.  He didn’t come back.  And he won’t.

Then I remember that he will never come back,
that I don’t really want him to,
that I only wish to go to him.

Of all the emotions in the world, the next one I feel is relief.

I am not relieved that he has died.
I am relieved that the decision is made.

(If you can imagine a greater guilt than the feeling of relief, please, just don’t tell me.)