Life After Death is No Laughing Matter – To Ronnie
Life after death is no laughing matter. I know it for a fact. You died. I’m alive. That’s not funny.
You should be here, damn it! There are things I need to ask you — Who do we use for the generator? Where are the passcodes to the alarm system?
There are things I want to tell you — They’re going to reopen Restaurant Eve as a steak house. They’ve renewed The Rookie for another season.
And there are things I need to show you. Look we do have red camellias — a spit in the eyes of those squirrels that chewed up the buds all winter and spit them out — red confetti on the patio.
And the apple blossom trees — they’re more beautiful than they’ve been in years. I knew it was a good idea to prune them. And see? You were worried that I was going too far. I didn’t kill the Japanese maple either.
I’ve been going through our pictures and printing my favorites. The desk is papered with them.
I keep printing more — but not this one. Not this one. You look too handsome, too happy, too impish, too much like you’re about to tell a story that will make me laugh even if I’ve heard it a dozen times.
Missing you hurts too much. I don’t want to do this grief thing. I don’t even know how. “It’s a process,” they tell me. The church, the temple, and hospice gave me books and pamphlets. But they’re sad, so I didn’t read them.
Whether I want it to or not grief takes over sometimes. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, suddenly, I’m crying. I can keep myself from sobbing or wailing, but tears pour down my face, and a scream strains to get out of my throat.
For example, yesterday, I was okay, having a relatively good day. I took Mackie for a walk. We passed a cherry blossom tree, and without warning, I was crying. Stop it! I thought, or did I say it out loud? “Stop! I don’t want to feel this right now! I don’t want to!”
Mackie misses you too. Twice I forgot to feed him. I’m still trying to train him not to jump on people.
I tell my children and friends, “I don’t want to be a burden.” It’s a lie. I’m fine with being a burden. I want my kids to call me every day — twice maybe — and have dinner with me five nights a week. And I want my friends to have lunch with me. I need people around to talk to me — which really means listen to me ramble on, bouncing through a mish-mosh of topics that always come back to you.
“I don’t want to be a burden,” means I don’t want you to think I am — or let on if you do.
Television should be a distraction. I look through the list of recorded shows. No. Not these — you didn’t like them. And not those because you did. So, I turn on a show neither of us liked. It doesn’t matter. I can’t focus anyway.
Living without you is hard. I’m working at being disciplined like you — a fanatic. I write every appointment, every minor to-do on your calendar, just as you did. In the afternoon, I go to the door every twenty minutes and check to see if the mail has come so I can write checks for bills that aren’t due for a month.
I haven’t changed much in the house. Your dresser is still crowded with pictures and the little yellow bear, the first present you gave me. Your toothpaste is still by the sink. Everything reminds me of you.
I left your wedge pillow on the bed too — the one I bought to help you breathe. It’s there to catch me when I roll over so I can forget for a minute how alone I am in our bed.
I keep to the routines I had when you were here. I wake up in the morning, fix my hair, put on my makeup, and go downstairs — where you aren’t there to see me, to smile, to tell me I’m beautiful. Are you somewhere? Do you see me?
That question haunts me. I pray, please, God, be real. Please have a Heaven with Ron in it. And let me be good enough to come too. It’s a good thing faith isn’t perfect. If I had perfect faith that I’d be in Heaven with you, I’m afraid I’d go now.
Of course, you and I were both married before. So, how does that work? Block that thought.
Think about the garden. I’m sitting here, under the awning you bought for us, then remember that you never even got to see it. Stop! I don’t want to cry right now. I don’t want to hurt right now. Think about something else. Or write something funny for the blog. But I can’t.
Being married to Ron Birch was my honor, my happiness, my laughter. You’re gone. And life after death is no laughing matter.