A lot has changed in two years.
I’m married now and trying to sell our first home. When we look at houses one of us will slip and say, “not enough space if we have a baby.” I’m onto a different job, so is my husband. Those blue capris she let me borrow all those years ago fit again. I’m probably more emotional, more observant, more true to myself. I’m less trusting of going with the flow and I know all about bad things happening to good people.
But then there are the things that haven’t changed. Like that I still think about her every single day; sometimes it still feels like every single minute. I still cry when I drive and over-anticipate the possibility of being killed and seeing it at the very last second, like I still imagine she did. I still wonder when it will hurt less and when I might again feel whole.
Two whole years ago, my life changed in the middle of a street in Milwaukee. I don’t think I’ll ever again attend German Fest, where the fateful news of her being dead – dead – quickly paused and reverted all fun we had that afternoon. My 27-year-old mind did not process the information easily. I (still) want a do-over, ten more minutes, one more conversation, one little hug, one explanation. The impossible. It’s still – and always will be – impossible to get her back.
The thing about two years later is the amount of alone you feel. I wasn’t her sibling, or her mom. I’m not related, I didn’t lose a child or miscarry a baby. Somehow not quite falling into any category in dealing with my loss makes it less relevant and important. Just a friend.
There was nothing ‘just’ about her, or about it or about the way her death – two years later – still makes me feel.
The worst thing you can say to someone in these situations – and I know – is “I know exactly how you feel.” And sometimes it makes me just so angry that I don’t have a group to fit into to deal with these very raw, and still real, feelings. You know, I read the blogs, too. The ones about moms who lost their babies and young husbands who lose their spouses. The writers – the people – lose themselves in their words and fall apart on the other side of the screen developing a network of people who reach out because they feel exactly the same. And you know what, that is how I feel. But something would be wrong with implying the comparison, so I don’t. So, you’re kind of left to cope with the people who lost a parent or grandparent in a very normal scenario (I know this is hard too, I’m not insensitive) at a very normal age, which isn’t really the same at all. Lonely. Maybe there’s the just. Just lonely.
After two years, people don’t really ask how you are; they expect you’re alright. On a lot of days, I am. I laugh and email a memory to my best friend. I recall small and big moments. I smile at a photograph. But some days I worry too much about death and freak out when my husband doesn’t return a call or a text in ways you should not freak out over for a two minute lapse in time. A lot of times I still cry when I listen to songs that strike whatever cord in the car while I’m driving. The car is still hard; I sometimes live her last minutes in my mind even though I know I have no clue. The scarf her mom gave me doesn’t smell like her anymore and I fear I’m starting to look older than she does in her last-taken photo. Her Facebook page, on most days, angers me and I don’t really like when people write on her wall. Although, maybe you can read your Facebook page from Heaven, I’m not sure. The world feels different. And sometimes a lot harder to navigate my way through than it ever was before she died.
She would be married now and would probably deal with the “you’re so pregnant” comments you inevitably get constantly at this stage of life much better than me. She’d be model step-mom, cancer killer (by trade) and husband supporter; she’d be really great at it all. I still (stupidly) wish for her these chances. The chance to live a somewhat-parallel normal last-year-of-our-20s life.
But, that’s not today. Today is two years since she died in that horrific crash that I hate so much. Today is the day all of us on the other side remember, and hurt, and mourn, and probably cry a little more than usual. I love her and I choose to believe she knows how much I miss her. That’s today, two very short and long years later.