On the topic of emotional sniper fire I mentioned in an earlier post...I've had a couple of run-ins with things that set off my Jill triggers in the last week or so. I guess you could say I went 1-1.
The One I Lost
It's benefits re-enrollment time. Seems innocuous. It turned out to be fraught. There was no global "my one true love died way too soon so could I remove her as the beneficiary and/or dependent just once" button. Every policy, every coverage category, every retirement fund every goddamn everything. Had to go through the same five step process on all of them to have her removed. Another piece of my life I have to intentionally remove her from. Admittedly administrative and I hadn't anticipated this one packing a wallop. It did, though. I think maybe because it is another reminder of how Jill rescued me from the selfish life I had been leading. It's just pronouns but "I, me, mine" are so lonely and lame compared to "we, us, ours". Didn't know how much I cherished the plural. Don't know how I managed to miss that but it feels like everything now.
It was somehow eerily similar to going to the doctor a couple of weeks after Jill died (at some point I'll write about what is now known as the "Banana Peel Incident" at my house...I am the only person I know of who has actually been injured by slipping on a [email protected]!#%€g banana peel). You are asked the following question every time you go see your primary care physician. It is so commonplace you don't even know they ask it. "Is Jill still your emergency contact?" I pivoted and walked out as quickly as I could as I felt myself crumble. "No. No she isn't. No, because this cruel bastard named Cancer won again. Like he does." Or so I screamed to the clouds and the traffic sounds as I stalked around the parking lot sobbing. I got it together, went back inside and was so focused on simply saying "No. Jill is no longer my emergency contact," that I did not anticipate the logical and inevitable follow up question..."So, who is your emergency contact?" I don't have one. I lost that person who gave the final, total and complete damn about my existence. God, help me. I don't have that anymore. Sure...I can give you a name. I can give you a list of them. It ain't the same.
The One I (sorta) Won
I'd been a bit nervous about putting the garden in. Four years ago, Jill put in some raised flower beds and we'd put in more veggies and herbs each summer. She'd also put in a whole passel of flowers around the front and backyards to round out the color and vibrancy of summer at our house. I was pretty tuned in to the veggies and herbs...I cooked with them. I have no idea what flowers she planted and I have the aesthetic sense of an ice pick. I thought I'd go to the nursery, see the flowers, not know what to get, see Jill as she'd bounce around the place (she got so animated over the plants she'd quite literally bounce...beat the hell out of anything on TV for pure entertainment value) and fall to pieces. And a weird thing happened...I went. I walked up and down the aisles of flowers. I had no idea what to get. And I was good with it. Didn't freak me out in the least. Knew I'd have to get Erin and Kim to pick out the pretty and I was fine. So, I turned my attention to the herbs. Basil (3 kinds), Rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro, oregano, tarragon, sage, sorrel (no clue what to do with sorrel but I was on an herbaceous roll so screw it...sorrel it is), marjoram, dill (despite the fact that Caya thinks dill is a toy for her to play with and it's unlikely to live more than 20 minutes past when I put it in the ground). On to the veg...tomatoes, jalapeño, Serrano, cucumber, radish, leeks, carrots, peas, red leaf, spinach, kale, frisée, Swiss chard, radicchio. It's all good. I'm having fun. Yeah, I'm thinking about Jill and I'm missing her and I can see her prancing around and picking stuff out but for whatever reason the memory, while wistful, is warm and I'm smiling and...I don't know. Remembering not only didn't hurt. It felt good.
I was wheeling my massively overfilled cart toward the checkout when I saw the Arugula. I love arugula. I reach for it and I'm drilled between the eyes with the most vivid memory of a year earlier. Jill is weak but this is during the brief period when we thought we'd knocked the cancer out...so, weak but recovering and optimistic. I had stopped in front of the Arugula, like I did every year. I grabbed, like, four seedlings (I really like Arugula), like I did every year. Jill rolled her eyes and sighed very dramatically.
"Nothing, my ass. Totally something...What?"
She sighs, again. "You do this every year."
"I do what every year?"
"I like Arugula."
"I know. So you buy a lot every year, it alway struggles. It's always a sickly yellow and tastes bland. And in 6-8 weeks you'll be standing in the backyard swearing very loudly at the Arugula."
It hurt because it was true. It wasn't a fight. It was a random conversation on a trivial topic like you have multiple times a day when you've been with someone for awhile. It wasn't a good thing. It wasn't a bad thing. It was just a thing that existed.
So, why the memory of it so thoroughly obliterated me I will never know. It was instant. Tears flooding down my face. Me, bailing out and leaving my loaded cart in the middle of the aisle. Walking fast, head down to the car. Jumping in slamming the door and ansolutely losing it. Screaming nonsensical combinations of words and pounding the hell out of the steering wheel.
Sidenote: I sincerely hope you never find yourself in the situation of losing your spouse. But if you do, screaming really, truly helps. Alot. No, you won't feel all better but you will feel less bad. HOWEVER, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. If, say, you are in the very crowded parking lot of the very crowded nursery on a beautiful spring day when pretty much the entire state has decided to go get its garden on you may want to remember that your car is not soundproof. Boy, is it not soundproof. I am truly remorseful about the children i frightened and the parents I freaked out. I am eternally grateful for the empathetic security guard who was dispatched to check on the crying, screaming guy. I am absolutely gonna invest in various sound dampening features for my car.
So, after the security guy left I got back in the car fully prepared to leave and figure out plan B.
Every now and then a man's gotta make a stand. A fella has to look his nemesis in its green, leafy face and say, "You and me, arugula. Mano - a - veggie. Give me your best shot of fibrous, peppery, crunchy cruelty. Knock me down. But you better knock me out...or I'm gonna keep coming at you."
Go time. I walked with great purpose and pace back into the nursery. My cart was still where I'd abandoned it. Right in front of that Eruca Sativa bastard Arugula. I grabbed the seedlings, the garden fresh spawn of satan. Yeah, I teared up, again. Yeah, the incredibly uncomfortable seventeen year old manning the cash register totally didn't believe it when I half sobbed half spoke the word "allergies" to explain my shaky state. Yeah, I didn't actually plant the Arugula myself. I had to ask Erin to do that. But this right here...
...that's the "you will be my future salad" smell of victory.