Signs and Memories
I’m worried about getting lost in the smallest things, of looking for signs of Ana in every spring blossom and pristine sunset – not that these are small, not that they are meaningless, but what part of them represent Ana? Where is she? Everything, EVERYTHING reminds me of her. I can easily see how the desperation of missing her might lead me down a path of distraction, of pining over the littlest things.
This morning I was rooting around in a cabinet looking for my last book of unused checks. I found them behind a collection of half-empty bottles of sprinkles. Touching those bottles, picking them up in my hand and feeling their weight, knowing Ana had grabbed them at least a dozen times so she could help me decorate the one kind of cookie I’m good at baking, well, it undid me. Right there, crouched on the dining room floor, the last book of checks forgotten, I grabbed as many bottles of sprinkles as I could find and threw them all out, crying loudly the entire time.
Ana didn’t care about the sprinkles. She would’ve looked at me with annoyance (and more than a little alarm) if she’d been there to see my reaction. She didn’t even like helping me decorate the cookies all that much as she got older. Plus, her appetite had started dwindling right in the middle of cookie season. I baked them anyway and she tried to eat them, but couldn’t. Even this comfort, my holiday cookies, became a painful reminder of what she was losing, what she’d lost. .
I’m sure I’m confusing signs of Ana with memories and this terrifies me. I’m desperate to hold onto every bit of her. I sit in her room and talk to her. I feel crazy, alone, desperate.
She died one month ago today. One entire month without Ana. Roo doesn’t run to her door every morning when I go upstairs the way he used to. He runs to Emily’s door now. Easter has come and gone. Emily’s birthday has come and gone. Ana has come and gone.
One month. The longest I’d ever been away from her was a week and that was right before she got sick. The day after she returned from that trip, we took her to the hospital for stomach pain and everything changed in a split second. It’s when everything started and, also, when everything ended. So, yeah, I’m grasping–hoping for meaning in the mundane, trying to decipher the messages she may or may not be sending me. I keep thinking it will be easier to bear this grief if only I knew she was really okay and sometimes, sometimes…I’m sure she is, but then the doubt creeps in.
The last time I looked at Ana’s face she was lying in the funeral home. She’d spent the night there, alone, far away from us. I almost didn’t want to look at her. I was afraid it would ruin all the years of knowing Ana by heart. I was afraid that seeing her dead would be the only thing I remembered forever and ever and…
But when I walked in and looked at her, she was beautiful and had a small, peaceful smile on her face. She wasn’t there. I was looking at an echo of Ana. I touched her cold forehead and told her I loved her and I knew she hadn’t spent the night in that funeral home. I knew she’d been with Jim, Emily and me waiting with us before going to her beach and being welcomed by her new friends. That last sight of her is not what I obsess over. It’s not the first thing I think about when I recall her face, although I do try to hold onto it when I’m scared for her and worried about where she is right now. She’s so far away. But, I’m relieved to remember all the angles and curves of her face clearly, to still know Ana as Ana, even a month after I haven’t looked at her face at all. Maybe that’s a sign from her. Maybe it’s a memory. I’m not sure if it matters.