He’d been telling me every day since I met him a month earlier, that we were going to get married, and so finally, I agreed to go on a date with him to Calico Ghost Town. He asked me to bring my eighteen-month old daughter.
It was May in the Mohave Desert, and so hot that I dressed my daughter in a soaking wet tank top and shorts to keep her from overheating. The tank top was pink.
We wandered up and down and in and out of the small tourist town that day unknowingly fabricating the bonds that would one day turn us into a family. “Wanna meet my grandparents?” He asked me as we loaded the baby into her car seat that evening.
“I’m not dressed for grandparents” I said, motioning to my daisy duke shorts and tube top.
Somehow we still ended up in the cozy living room of his kind grandparents watching my daughter color a page of their family scrap book that I would one day, after his suicide, ache for deeply to see again.
On our way back to my apartment, as my baby slept and the setting sun caused John to remove his sunglasses, I suddenly blurted out, “We are going to get married, aren’t we?”
He laughed and said, “I’ve been telling you that for a month!”
A week later, on Memorial Day weekend he moved in to my apartment and we began to plan for a fall wedding.
Three years later, on Memorial Day weekend we moved into our first home. I watched him sweat as he moved boxes and I nursed our son.
Seven years after that on Memorial Day weekend, John was gone forever, and I was deep into the home remodeling phase of my grief….which also happened to overlap with the slut phase of my grief.
I stood in the demolished dining room and called one of the contractors I had hired to remodel my house. We had sex on mine and John’s bed amongst the plastic room dividers and saw dust…all the while I silently prayed to him, “Please give me HIV so I can die.”
When that nice man left, I numbly showered. It’s weird how depression makes you unable to even feel the sensation of hot water. When I reached for the soap, John’s abandoned razor caught my eye as the afternoon sun reflected off its chrome handle in the shower’s window ledge. Just hours before he shot a bullet into his torso, he’d shaved his head and face. He wanted to look good in his casket. I had him cremated. As I held the razor I noticed a single chin hair caught between blades four and five.
Grief, is plucking a piece of his hair from blades four and five.
Grief, is clutching onto that hair as you fall to your knees in the shower.
Grief, is then crawling out of the shower, wrapping yourself in a towel, and saying goodbye to the hair you plucked from blades four and five as it is carried away in a stream of cold water; lost forever through the porthole of his former bathroom sink.
Later that day, a woman said that I seemed happy that John was dead because I was smiling in my latest Facebook selfie. With one comment, this lady invalidated my suffering. She made me ask myself, “Was I happy he was dead?” The seeds of guilt she planted in me that day grew to be forests that I still get lost in even now, three years later.
Before you judge a widow’s social media, think about my husband’s hair that was caught between blades four and five. Think about a despair so deep that you pray to contract HIV. Think about things you probably have never experienced because you, like that lady have not yet known a loss like this. Think about this story because chances are that one day you too will meet grief in the shower.