It’s been 4 months now since Brian died. Last night, around 9pm (the exact time the cops showed up to tell me Brian was dead on a Sunday night in November,) my dogs went apeshit crazy. They started jumping and growling and barking at the window and the front door. The smallest of my dogs weighs 87 lbs, so you can imagine the chaos. I immediately started to panic. 9pm on every Sunday is the worst time of my week because that was the time my whole world crashed and burned. heh. Anyway, so last night the dogs were having a blitz attack at the window and I tentatively peeked out the window to find a person in the dark walking toward my house with a flashlight. I’m not going to lie: I had a full on panic attack and pissed my pants right there in the living room. The logical part of me didn’t kick in, the part that knows that no one can possibly hurt me ever again the way I was hurt that night. All I knew was that it was Sunday, it was 9pm, and someone was walking to my house in the dark. As it turns out, it was just someone looking for their dog who had run off, but for a moment I was back in the endless dark.
While it was a very traumatic experience for me (one that I hope I don’t have to repeat,) it made me realize something: I have come a long way, baby. It used to be that I was constantly in that place of darkness and terror every second of every day. It used to be that ANYONE coming to my house made me want to grab my shotgun and set the dogs loose. It used to be that I used to want to lay down and die all the time. Now it’s just some of the time. Big stuff.
My kids were gone all weekend. I had a lot of time alone in the house. That used to cause me to panic, but not this past weekend. I found that I was okay. I felt Brian more clearly. I was able to rest and be and just … be okay. Not great, mind you, but okay. I admit that I spent some of my time this past weekend, as I do many days, escaping into a mental fantasy world where I travel with a band, staying up late and living a wild and free life. I used to visit that fantasy land to get away from the doldrums of being a primarily SAHM (I’m telling you, I can only handle so much of Sponge Bob and Bionicles and tighty whities) but now I escape to it because when the music hits, you feel no pain. In that fantasy world, it is okay to shut down, to rock on, to be outrageous. It’s okay to imagine crazy, wild irresponsibility, it’s okay to “get stoned in the morning, get drunk in the afternoon.” It’s okay to imagine, it’s okay to fantasize, but it’s not the way I’m living. It’s not real life. Escape is temporary. If I’m going to survive, I have to be real (most of the time.)
Brian is never coming home. Brian will never walk through that door. I will never feel his touch in the same way on my skin, I will never experience his laughter in the same way, and I will never again stride up to the stage at a concert and know he’s behind me watching me work my super power. 4 months in and reality is hitting and hitting hard. That fantasy life, the life that was REAL life for 14 years, is over as I know it and I am still here.
I am still here.
I filed our taxes last week. While doing taxes is hard every year, this year was hardest because I had to put down on a federal form that Brian died in 2012. Ugh. We have always managed our taxes in a way that allows us to get a big refund each year (there are perks to living paycheck to paycheck,) and just like Ma and Pa did for Laura and Mary in Little House on the Prairie, we use this refund to get new clothes and shoes for the entire family. The same will happen this year. Elvis knows we all need new clothes. My friend took me shopping a few days ago and mentioned that I could be “43 weeks pregnant with twins” and still fit into Brian’s overalls I have been wearing like a second skin. My own clothes are too big. His clothes are too big (if you knew him, you know that’s saying a LOT.) I need new clothes. We went shopping and, because Brian taught me to manage money well (read: I’m tighter than bark on a tree,) I hit the clearance racks. Who pays full price? Anyway, something BIG happened to me at those racks: I realized that I really don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks anymore. Really. I mean, I do, but it’s out of curiosity, not out of concern. I walked out of that store with 3 semi-backless tops and not one, but TWO pair of snakeskin print skin-tight pants. HUZZAH! I wore those snakeskin pants to a dinner party recently and they were the topic of many comments by one particular guest, but WHO CARES? They are comfortable and they make my ass look great. All snakeskin print, all the time, I say! And, really, they were $8 and they fit.
$8. HA. That reminds me of Brian. I was forever telling him exactly how much I spent on every little thing I brought into the house. He hated it. “Sarah, I know you’re not going to go hog wild! I know you’re responsible with money. WHY DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO JUSTIFY EVERY PURCHASE? STOP IT! I’m not your father, babe. You have the okay from me, but fuck it all, YOU DO NOT NEED MY OKAY!” It’s true. Every red cent I spent was documented and reported, not because he wanted or needed me to, but because I felt like I should. I remember him telling me one day, “Baby, we’re doing okay. You don’t have to buy store brand tampons. It’s really okay to get the good stuff.” Top shelf booze, bottom of the barrel hygiene! Oh Brian, how I miss your clarity!
I’ve been tackling Mount St. Laundry today. Load after load after load. Putting it away is the hardest part for me. I wear my clothes and Brian’s clothes equally. I used to give him shit for the milk crates of socks and shirts he had on his side of the bed. “Why don’t you put that stuff away?” He always responded, “because I don’t have room!” Truthfully, if he had gotten rid of all the stuff he had but never wore, he’d have plenty of room for his stuff, but he never did and, now, I can’t either. For the last 4 months, I have been putting his stuff back in the milk crates. Today, for the first time, I started putting some of his things in my drawers and in my section of the closet. Seems simple, feels HUGE.
Brian would wear his clothes until they literally fell off his body. His t-shirts and jeans are riddled with holes, but he wore them until they were in tatters. “Sarah, the holes are made by my keys and my pocket knife. New jeans are going to get the same holes, so why bother?” Ah, the man mind! Brian never bought himself new clothes. He would spend his money on 3 items of apparel: socks, underwear, and boots. I can appreciate that now. I wear his socks and his underwear all the time. Think that’s strange? Let me tell you, mens boxer briefs are a lot warmer in the snow than my usual yoga thongs. Anyway, he would buy himself new boots once or twice a year and he never skimped on them. After years of trying, he found a pair of Wolverine work boots that were perfect for him and he routinely went back to buy that same pair over and over and over again. There are currently 4 pair in the “garage.” I long so desperately to wear them, but his feet were twice the size of mine.
I LOVE shoes. My feet haven’t changed size since 5th grade, so I don’t outgrow anything and I dress funkily enough that I’m not concerned about what’s “in” (as evidenced by the snakeskin print pants.) At one point, as a senior in high school, I had 98 pair of shoes. I have since scaled back, but do have a closet full. As a yoga teacher, I don’t need work shoes. My work clothes budget doesn’t include footwear. I am like Brian: I don’t spend much on myself, but when it’s something I’m going to be wearing for hours at a time (say, at a concert festival,) what I buy needs to be high quality and I have to love them. Enter the Shit-Kickers. I love boots. OH, how I love boots. My shopping friend and I were talking about boots and how many pair we have and I said, “I think I have 7 pair.” I wildly underestimated, DeeDee. I just did the count. I currently have 13 pair of boots. Some tall, some short, some work boots, some dress boots, some snow boots, mostly cowboy boots (aka shit-kickers.) What I DO NOT have, however, is a pair of badass black boots. For my 36th birthday last year, Brian gave me a gorgeous pair of brown cowboy boots with turquoise stitched hearts on them. They are amazing! My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and, being the good Little House girl that I am, I realized I needed a pair of boots for this season. I found the PERFECT pair and they are my one big splurge on myself for an entire year. They arrive in a couple of weeks. They’re Stetsons, which I think would make Brian smile: he was almost never without his identifying Stetson hat.
Clothes. Laundry. Boots. Buying these things and doing these things says something incredible to me: I am moving forward. I am planning for a life beyond right this moment. I am going to make it. While I might not consciously be aware of it at all times, the wheels are turning below the surface and I am starting to live.
Just don’t show up at my house unannounced after dark, because if my dogs don’t get you, my boots sure as shit will.