As this trip to Australia drew closer I fell prey to a growing anxiety. There were a few things driving that with the most vexing being the time away from my pack. By the time I get home I'll have been away from my posse for three weeks. I'd not gone more than a couple of weeks away from Erin or Kim or Caya in over a year. Put Jill into the mix and I'd not gone more than two weeks without contact with someone in our little family, our little ball of beauty, in close to a decade. Prior,to Jill getting sick that was important but assumed. Since she died it's important and so very not taken for granted.
I find that intense anxiety over one thing (separation from the pack) will often fire a fixation on something else. In this case that something else was my wedding ring. I lose stuff. Always have. I told Jill before we got married that she wasn't allowed to be mad or hurt when I lost my wedding ring. Because I would absolutely lose my wedding ring. It wasn't an if, it was a when.
And damned if I never did lose it.
Had Some close calls. More than one instance where I missed a flight home because I'd realize on the way to the airport that I'd left my ring in the hotel room and would go scrambling back to find it. As this trip approached I became convinced I was going to lose the ring here in Australia and, for some reason, that would be worse than losing it in the States. Don't look for rational thought in this, it isn't there.
By the time I hit the day I was leaving I was pretty cranked up about it. I knew if I didn't feel its familiar weight on my finger I'd feel out of sorts. I also knew that feeling out of sorts was a lesser evil than feeling paranoid the entire time I'd be in Australia or the crushing loss I'd feel if I lost the ring. I took it off and dug through the drawer where I keep the box that Jill's rings are in. I placed it in the box with her rings with such an over pronounced gentleness...like I'd break them if I was careless and lumbering and uncoordinated and a hundred other adjectives that describe me with painful accuracy. Then I curled up on the bed for a half hour or so with Caya and held her and pet her and let her lick my face as I cried. As I told Jill, in my head and maybe out loud for all I know, that this didn't mean anything. That it didn't signal that I was done. That she was still my girl and I was and would always be her guy and not to read anything into it and please don't think it means I am anything else than crazy stupid frantic teeth grinding in love with her. I figured out as I was on the bed clinging to Caya, or remembered again, or some damn thing why I had gone from attached to that little dog to dependent on her. Jill didn't just want her people in the same place as her, she wanted to be in physical contact with us. Quite often, that meant me leaning against an arm of the sofa with an arm around Jill and Jill draped across me and Caya draped across Jill. When I'd come home Jill didn't just give me a hello and a perfunctory peck on the cheek. She'd wrap herself around me and not let go and pretty soon I couldn't tell where I ended and she began.
I'm not a hugger. Never have been. But I crave contact. The touch, the smell, the weight, the warmth of another living thing...a living thing that, you know, likes me. My only real outlet for that now is Caya. So, loving on Caya and feeling that little heartbeat and her breathing and her nuzzling my face...it's pretty important. There is no other place for me to get that glorious sensation of contact.
I got here to Aus on Tuesday. I haven't felt terribly bereft or freaked out. Or, I hadn't. The combination of jet lag and lots of work responsibilities has, I think, numbed me a bit. Until tonight when I caught another round of emotional sniper fire right in the teeth. Walking through the lobby of this rather fancy (to the point of pretensious) hotel, beautiful people in alarming abundance, blasting through a gaggle of tuxedos and evening gowns, I caught the sound from the upstairs lobby of the mediocre pianist and working way to hard to sell it lounge singer and I heard the words...
Rise up this mornin'
Smiled with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying', (this is my message to you)
Bob Marley. Three Little Birds. Jill. Erin. Kim. My three little birds. Instant impact. Aching, white-knuckled longing for something I'd never have again. For the someone whose absence feels like something wild with sharp talons ripped the soul out of me.
Singing' don't worry 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing' don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Sounds like a song to you. To me it sounds like everything. It sounds like every little thing. All her bits of magic. All her Jill Harper. Everything. I guess longing for one thing can also make me fixate on something else. Something less complex. Something ultimately trivial. 'Cause right now all I can think of is how to eradicate lounge singers from the face of the earth. It's, like, important.