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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019 @ 9:50 am
I fly north to my home office.
I initiate my official transition to the coast office; I spend two days telling my story over and over.
“I feel bad now, asking you so many times about the snow conditions when you weren’t even there.”
“Robert. It’s OK. How were you to know? I couldn’t talk about it, and furthermore, I did not know whether or not it was real. Was I really walking away from a fourteen-year relationship?”
My voice cracks. Shit.
At the end of day two, I shut everything off. Emails, texts left unanswered.
I lace up my running shoes, throw on a windbreaker, and run along the river trail as the sun drops behind the sagebrush-covered hills. Cottonwood snags, grey with mud and dust, jut up from the riverbank at odd angles. Bundles of leaves emerging impossibly from the twiggy shrubs.
I run out to the end of a pier. Take off my windbreaker. Let the warm wind blow over my bare arms. Raise my arms up to stretch into the setting sun. Close my eyes.
I shower and crawl into bed. I slide the window wide open, turn off the thermostat. Fall into a heavy sleep.
I dream of giving birth to a child. I put my hand between my legs and feel my child’s head crowning. She arrives into the world, slippery and limp. My daughter.
In the morning, I drift awake and the room is thick with the musk from pulp mill. For a moment, I think that I’m in Prince George, where we had a house and a yard and a cat. I imagine getting out of bed, walking into the bathroom that we renovated together, then into the kitchen to make pancakes, as I did each Sunday. That kitchen, sunny and warm, and Alf laying in the middle of the floor, his tail flicking on the grey floor tile.
I shove the aching thoughts away. I remind myself that I’m in a hotel and alone. I go into the bathroom and wash my face. I stare in the mirror.
And then the aching thoughts return, and instead of pushing them down, I let them surface. I collapse and sit on the edge of the bathtub, crying heaving sobs into my hands. My body shuddering, my shoulders hunched.
After, I put on the kettle to make myself some tea.
This is grief. The constant push forward, and yet the gentle slips back. How long will this happen, a smell triggering a wave of aching sadness?
How fortunate I am to have had that - shoving my face into Alf’s furry torso and buttermilk pancakes.
Today is a different reality. Differently beautiful.