I couldn’t do it today. For a lot of reasons, but the biggest of which is that I still don’t know how to feel. Like any kind of grief, I run the gamut depending on the day. I’m sad. I’m angry with you. How in the hell couldn’t you have known to see a doctor before it was too late? I’m in denial. There are still days that I think, “Man, I should text Scot to tell him…” and then I remember. Needless to say, I’m a ways from acceptance. It will come, I know it will, but not until I sit with some of the grief and actually let myself feel it. I was talking with a friend today and was telling her that I still had stuff to work through with your death. She said, “It’s really easy to go around something hard, it’s much harder to go through it.” I’ve managed, over the last 15 months to go around you being gone. It’s time I start to navigate my way through it.
When you died, I was in the thick of going through my own grief over the loss of my marriage and the new life, new job, new schedule, and new responsibilities that came along with that huge life change. I realized when I was talking this morning about you that there was really no way for me to fully let myself grieve your death because I was already so caught up in all of my own stuff. Sounds selfish, but maybe it was a delightful coping mechanism in disguise. It happened often in the months after your death: I would be sad about something that I knew you’d like. I’d laugh about something that I knew would make you laugh. I’d see some ridiculous political story, or something about Betsy DeVoss or the Department of Education that I knew would make steam come out of your ears. And, there were the tears I couldn’t stop from coming when we ran into Stella on what happened to be your birthday. There is nothing about that event that strikes me as coincidence, by the way…nice work. It was easy for me to have those moments and then to move along. I went around the grief. I’m still circling around it in many ways. Maybe that’s how I will learn to eventually get through it.
Some part of losing you so suddenly brought me immediately back to losing my cousin Karleton on September 11th. There was no warning, no closure, just as sure as he was there, the next moment, he was gone. You were gone on a Sunday morning. The week before that, we’d texted about how we’d not seen each other, and how it was about time for a night out, which surely meant debauchery was about to occur. I had my girls that Friday night and didn’t get to go out, but you and Ted did. On Saturday, you decided to lay low, I’m only assuming what happened on Friday was typical of a boys night out. You had dinner with Steve instead, and I’m so very glad he got that time with you. On Sunday, you were gone. I’ve had some regrets in my life, but none sting quite like knowing I could have had a little bit more time. We’d likely have done something ridiculous and perhaps even illegal, but it would have been time together.
Here’s some things I think you should know:
The Royals suck. Like, not just sort of bad, they are completely shitting the bed. Still, we went to a game this week and I looked for you in the Pepsi Porch anyway. I still couldn’t tell you anything about the Chiefs. Shocking, I know.
Jason Isbell put out a hell of an album last summer. I know you never got to hear it, but I think about you almost every time I listen to it. It’s the kind of writing you wish came from you, and it’s the kind of music I know you’d have loved. I’ve also found a love for Lori McKenna and for Travis Meadows, both of whom have written some of the most gut wrenchingly lovely music you’ve ever heard.
Man, our government is FUCKED. That’s about all I have to say about it. You’d be a hot mess over it. They want to combine the Department of Education and the LABOR department. I know. Also just today, Judge Kennedy announced his retirement from the SCOTUS. Some days I think maybe you are luckier to be missing this dumpster fire.
Your daughter is so beautiful. I’m sure you know. When we saw her – at Stumpy’s of all places – she was lovely and kind and sat and talked with my girls. Another regret I’ve had is dropping the ball there. It has always been my intention to keep an eye on her, and I’ve sucked at that, royally. I think I can change that, and I think part of trekking THROUGH this stuff means finding ways to connect with your Stel.
Recently I’ve started to think about a conversation we’d had a few summers ago. We were sitting on Katie’s porch and you were doing that annoying thing where you pick a point and you stick to it even far after you’ve offended or pissed everyone off. It’s the quality I never really understood but always admired in you. Anyway, you were talking about something that had to do with administrators versus teachers, and we all thought you had totally begun to drink the kool-aid. Later, I realized that you were still trying to figure out your new role, and that maybe you were really just trying to get our reaction and navigate the transition from classroom teacher to coach to administrator. I’ll never know, of course, but recently I’ve been thinking about how hard that transition has been for me. I’ve also been thinking about how to carefully navigate the waters so that there is supervision and also mentoring happening without creating an us versus them hierarchy. It’s so tricky. I wish you were here to guide me through some of that, and that we could have that same conversation again knowing what I know now. I think I would be far less defensive and I would listen more before reacting. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course.
I'm sorry for not showing up today, at least in person. I guess it’s safe to say we were both there in spirit. I sure do miss you, dummy.