Some things I remember

There are some things I remember about that day, and the days leading up to it.  And then other things that time has worn away.

I don’t remember waking up that morning.  I wonder if my fingers stretched across the sheets to find his.  I don’t remember curling into an ‘s’ next to him, my head pressed firm against his heartbeat.

I don’t remember the words we said as we stood before our double sinks.  I wonder if my eyes wandered to find his as he brushed his teeth, taking snapshots for later of those sweet and simple last moments.

I don’t remember finding a note from him, though I’m sure he left one somewhere.

I do remember knowing exactly what to get him for his birthday: a talking picture frame.  I locked myself behind two closed doors–in the bathroom–to record it.  I didn’t know what to say.  I love you was true, but trite.  And somehow I just couldn’t find the words to ease all those miles that would soon be between us.

I remember the laundry piled on the living room floor.  I remember matching pairs of socks.  I remember him packing a green canvas sack and pulling tight the string.  I held my finger in place so he could tie around it.

I remember standing in the garage, him shivering on the chair beneath me.  I ran the clippers over his head and shaved it bare.  On the night of his twenty-sixth birthday.

I remember rounding the curve to the airport early the next morning.  I remember trying to make light but all the while there was a rock solid in my throat.  One wrong move–one teetering thought–and all would be lost.

He checked in for the flight and then the tick of the second hand echoed loud through me.  I remember the conflicting feelings in my chest–empty and heavy all at once.

I remember–finally–saying goodbye.  I remember watching him go through security.  I remember how he turned at the last second and blew a kiss from two fingers.

I remember the only silver lining I could find: at least it had begun.  One day closer to when he’d come home.

Gram had come to distract me.  And that she did.  Two full days would pass before the lonely sank in.  Before reality came barging in and set up camp smack dab in the middle of my everything.  No way around it.

I could tell you about the days that passed in between.  The wakeful nights.  The emails that flew back and forth between us.  The scent of his civilian clothes left hanging in our closet.  The wine bottles that clanked in the recycle bin as I lugged it to the curb each Tuesday night.  The slant of his script on thick envelopes in the mailbox.  I could tell you exactly how it sounded when the doorbell pulled me from sleep that one night–how my heart pounded within my chest as I made my way to the door.  I could tell you exactly how I imagined they’d say it.  How the flag would be folded into a triangle.  How nothing would ever be the same.  I could tell you how I turned on the porch light and peered through the window.  How I braced myself for the sight of them.

I could tell you that the doorbell had only been part of a nightmare.  And how I collapsed, crying crazy tears onto the cold tile when I realized it.

I could paint for you a picture so vivid you’d swear you were the one.

Eight years ago today we said goodbye.

There are some things I remember about that day.  Some things I just can’t forget.



11 Replies to “Some things I remember”

  1. Whoa – that brings back memories. I remember the day I took that picture, and Jeff took one of me in the same spot. Kelly had it in our bedroom (the one of me) for years after we got back.

  2. I think Geoff is disappointed he didn’t get credit as the photographer.
    So glad that time is behind us, but probably the best thing that came out of it for me was meeting you!

  3. So happy this story has a happy ending. Thank Jeff for serving and thank you for suffering loneliness while he insured our freedom. You both have our gratitude.

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