I hear him on the phone. He paces when he talks and he constantly flips his arm around to look at his wrist even though he doesn't wear a watch. I have pointed this out to him. He insists he doesn't do it. His voice will float down the stairs, or sneak around the corner of the kitchen and into the living room.
"I'll ask her, but she's probably not up for it."
"Thank you for inviting us. I'll be there, but she will probably stay home."
"She's doing okay, but I think she'll stay home this time."
"This month is hard for her, she's not doing much, but I'll come over. What time should I be there?" Arm flip, wrist check. I don't even have to be in the room to know he's doing it.
We've been watching M.o.nk (someone told me to do this so it doesn't come up in a Google search. Would it really come up? Is that really effective?) and I am absolutely in love with the title character. His wife died suddenly six years ago and he is not coping well. He is obsessive compulsive, has a long list of phobias, and is borderline crazy. I like how honest he is about his grief, and the limited capabilities he has. If he doesn't want to do something, or if he can't do something, he doesn't do it. He says no without compunction or fear of what people will think of him.
I find myself agreeing with many of the sentiments in the show (I think the writers have been through grief. They understand it so well) but one conversation between M.on.k and his shrink has stuck with me for days now.
"This is not the life I wanted. It's unbearable. You know that I envy everybody. Strangers, people on the street."
"Maybe they envy you. You're an extraordinary man.
"Yeah, I don't want to be an extraordinary man. I want to be the guy on the bus coming home at five-o-clock to help his kids with their homework. I'm just so tired. So tired of being me."
Exactly. I would love to celebrate an engagement, or be happy about the holidays, or be happy about anything, but I can't figure out how. I know, I know. You make your own happiness, wallowing isn't helping anything ...
I would like to say, "I'm there," when J pauses in front of me, the phone in his hand, his eyebrow raised in question, but the truth is I'm not ready to be there. And as I find myself moving backward in grief, to a place where the tears come often, strong and quick, and I pull out the pictures I hid away for so long, because I am forgetting what she looks like and I want to memorize her features once more, I realize it may take me six years, or more, to put down my book, take a shower, find a smile, and rejoin the living world.