Ten Months

In just two months it will be the one-year anniversary of Tom’s death. It’s amazing. Almost a year. Already? Only one year. My sense of time is skewed. It’s difficult to explain.

I guess it’s like being shocked that you graduated 30 years ago when it feels as though it could not have been more than ten. Or when you think about an exchange with an old crush that still makes you smile although years and feelings have passed. It must be what parents experience when they look at their teen and see a 5-year-old.

My thoughts and feelings about Tom come and go fluidly. I find that I don’t mention his name as frequently as I did only six months ago. It bothers me. Yet when I do say his name — repeating a story, referencing a mannerism — it feels natural, less shocking. I don’t think about how others feel when I say his name. It just rolls off my tongue like before. I guess there will come a time when I’ll have to explain who he was when I mention him in small talk. Or I’ll say, “my brother” and it will lead to questions.

My birthday is around the corner and preparing for it — it’s a milestone birthday — feels ominous. Last year I cheerfully went about my business of planning a weekend getaway as a late celebration. There was no foreshadowing; I was not aware of the news I was about to receive. This year I see the distant cloud threatening to cast a shadow. Maybe it will blow my way but maybe it will stay put. A gray reminder that he’s not here to celebrate. A gloomy sign that I’m approaching the anniversary of something horrible.

I keep thinking… what would we do if he were here? We would talk frequently as I made my plans. He would give me advice on my party menu. He would want to see pictures. He would send me a lovely card, maybe a special gift. Maybe I would go to NYC for a visit. Better yet, he would join me here. That would have been perfect.

He’s still with me, I know, just not the way I want.

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