There is a room in our basement that has taken several forms. It was storage, it was a guest room, it was the room where Brian and I would escape from the kids and the world and have husband and wife time, it was a yarn spinning room, but a few years ago we converted it to my sewing and yarn room. I have a big sewing table in there that is made of an old door, a random wood shelf type thing, and a red filing cabinet that Brian had he was young (high school or college.) There are stickers on that thing and, when we got it out of storage 14 years ago, it was loaded with a million pennies and Q-tips. Whatever, Brian left more questions than answers. It’s not my only filing cabinet. I have 3 others around the house and their contents are varied. One, I think, even contains files!
I have other filing cabinets, too, that get used far more often and contain far more important things. I have filing cabinets in my heart and in my mind. In these cabinets, I store memories, processed experiences, things I need to remember, things I need to forget, all sorts of random unassociated things, but they all do have things in common: they make sense and I know where to put them and what to do with them.
Last night I went out for dinner and drinks with 4 dear girlfriends. It had been a long time since I’d been out with several of these woman. It was wonderful and horrible for me. It was my first outing at night. I didn’t really know what to talk about, how to not talk about Brian all the time, how to carry myself. I was metaphorically socially looking for the right fork to use. We laughed until we peed. We had cocktails and wonderful food and wonderful conversations and I am very much looking forward to doing it again, but I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing or what was going on. Things like a simple girls night are not simple for me anymore. Was I talking too loud? Was it wrong to laugh? Did my face show the horror I feel inside and have felt inside every second of every day since 9pm Sunday November 25? How do I respond when folks are talking about their plans with their husbands and it takes me a minute to remember that my plans don’t apply anymore? Why was everything so loud? When can we do it again?
I don’t know how to file that experience.
I found out some news that involves Brian before he died that exploded my brain wide open. While it was a very simple fact, the effect on my feelings and tentative understanding of what had been going on and the rock solid conviction of the open communication in our marriage suddenly turned upside down and exploded into a thousand shards of shock. Oh yes, shock comes back. Now before you go all crazy and wondering and speculating, let me clarify: it was something simple, nothing earth shattering and certainly nothing controversial. It was just that I found out about a conversation that took place between Brian and someone else a few months ago that I hadn’t known about before. While that doesn’t seem like anything, there are certain situations in which something simple like that can wildly and completely fuck you up. I am living in one of those situations.
I don’t know how to file this information.
A thousand times I day I pick up the phone to text or call Brian. I see things I want to show him, hear things I want to share with them, and have moments when I just need a mental health break. I always always picked up the phone and reached out to him during those moments. I still pick it up, but no one answers and no one texts back from his number. No one ever will.
I don’t know how to file that number nor that need.
Just like there isn’t language for this, there also aren’t filing cabinets for this. It leaves me feeling scattered, shock-filled, uneasy, scared, disorganized, like my whole world has been shaken and stirred, and like I have no safe place to land. It’s one of the hardest parts of this whole thing. Well, everything is the hardest part, so this is one of the hardest parts of right this minute. WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL OF THIS SHIT? It doesn’t fit anywhere. It doesn’t make sense, there is no order into which it can be put, there is no room for it in my life. And yet here it is, uninvited, unwelcome, and unwilling to leave.
I guess the files will just spill all over the floor like tears.