October

Grief is hard. And all the firsts are hard.

You ruined Halloween forever. First Thanksgiving; Escape to the beach so it won’t seem real. First Christmas. Just fucking grit your teeth and get through it. Next year will be better. Except it’s not better, and your mom is still dead.

My own birthday, when the person who carried me for nine months didn’t call me first that morning for the first time in my life. I’m thankful that I spent my last birthday with you, in the hospital. First spring without you; You loved daffodils and called them jonquils. I planted daffs for you a week after you died, the same day Biden’s election was certified. My kids came out to tell me; it was a sunny November day. A wry smile from me, my face to the sun. It didn’t matter anymore that you called democrats baby killers or told me when Obama was elected that Tiller would end up in a burkha. The daffodils popped up in spring, and you weren’t there to see them. Dad’s first birthday without you. Your anniversary. Rollie’s eighteenth birthday and I couldn’t call you and tell you he was okay now, and your own birthday, our first without you.

And then October 1st. It was always sad for you, the month you lost Charlie, and the month you lost grandma. And the month fell on us, like a pall, with the first stray leaves falling alone. Tiller’s 16th is in two days. You will never ride in a car with her, just the two of you, like I did with Grandma when I drove her to the liquor store, wearing her green and white polka dot leisure suit and her silver sunglasses glinting in the sun. The last month of the first year. I keep replaying the last time we were all together, a Tuesday night, sitting on LeeLee’s couch, just you and me, and something deep in me knew, and I just had to get away, because something inside me was breaking.

I will never forgive or forget that I didn’t see you again until it was time to let you go. Ever. I know some people didn’t get the same comfort of sitting in wait and holding the hand and whispering the important things while the first person that greeted them in this world left it.

And each day seems like a tick on a clock counting down to when it’s been a year and it all becomes real.

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