When my brother was deployed to Iraq, I saved every email he sent me. Even the ones that were just one word answers to banal questions I couldn't even remember asking. I was so afraid that Brian would die over there, and I knew that I would want all of his words saved, safe, as some piece of him that was for me, and me alone.
My brother made it back safely from Iraq in January of last year, but I still have all of those emails. I will never, ever delete them.
I was so afraid.
My cubicle at work is dominated by a cork bulletin board that's covered in pictures of two things: Spock and Kirk, and pictures of my mom. At some point while I was in Durham, I thought about calling the woman whose desk is immediately behind mine and asking her to take down those pictures before I returned. I didn't think I could take it: seeing my mom smiling, beautiful, warm, soft...and knowing that I've lost her forever. If I had had any breath in my body, I would have called.
But I didn't have any breath. And when I returned to work yesterday, after a week I spent falling in and out of lucidity, I was so glad to see her there. Smiling and laughing and holding me as a baby and being alive.
Seeing her picture was easy. It was so, so easy. I just want to stare at her beautiful face all day long. Seeing her picture is easy.
But today. I worked on getting through the backlog of emails that had accrued in my absence. I was just deleting most things without reading them, just barely glancing at the subject lines and addresses.
And there it was: her last message to me. Her last message to me, about my plans to come home for the family reunion at the end of May. Her message that said "Honey, don't rent a car. I will come get you. I will come get you. "
It is sometimes so hard to talk. I am still not making or taking many calls, although I know that her sisters and brothers need to talk and grieve just as much as I do.
Other times, I just pretend it hasn't happened. I carry on conversations online that feel so false to me, because someone reading them would have no idea that this person, me, has just died all the way inside.
Mostly, I am just pretending it hasn't happened. I know she's going to come get me. I know it.