“Deep funk” doesn’t quite capture it, I’m talking about the mental state I am in. Today I am honoring what would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary with Jon. Today also marks 47 months since he died. None of this is right or fair. He should be here, but he is not.
There is no candy-coating for these kinds of concocted sweets often called missing, grief, and heartbroken. From a distance, it looks like a heavily-sugared gingerbread house, every part appears edible and dripping with frosting, plump gum drops and rainbow-swirled, spun-shaped delicacies on every surface. On the inside, however, what’s found is empty, hollow, the walls are rough and colorless causing eyes to squint, and uninviting sparse furniture has no softness, hue, or design.
There is no place to comfortably sit, and looking around to each corner of this interior, the light entering this space only finds its way through vertical cracks in the frosting mortar where cookie slabs meet. The soft streams of light point to crumbled candy bits and loosened nonpareils all-scattered across the floor, and any attempt at silent walking is met with loud echos of crunch and stabbing pops from each footstep. No one has lived here for quite some time.
Standing still, I look down to see a glinting sugar-bit-bobble, its iridescence taunts to be picked up from the floor. Hesitantly, carefully, pinched and plucked from the coldness below, rolling in between damp fingers to inspect its unique shape, I decide I want to taste it. Raising it to my dry lips, now parted to touch my tongue against its smooth side, my anticipation of sweet flavoring is immediately replaced with repulsive salt that shocks my tastebuds into reaction: an instant gush of saliva to this unwanted sensory overload, I’m suddenly bent-over, spitting and coughing out its residual remnants.
The realization of what this lebkuchenhaus is made of heaves breath out of my body and my ears are ringing so loudly that I’ve lost my balance. There is nothing sweet or delicious about this house. It is made entirely of salt. I wanted so much to find comfort and safety inside here, but there is none to see or taste. Knees buckle, body slumps to the pebbled floor, my mind needs time to reflect and rewire, so with eyes now closed and curled-up like a lost dog, I’m thinking about what this house is missing.
It is missing its heart, and all the tears and sweat from these several years have dried and crystallized into what I see around me. I don’t know if my heart alone, just a hidden ember, is enough to ever make this place beautifully aglow and spark invitation to the inside. More self-doubt, sadness, and tears, are not welcome here.
It is better to view it from its replica-salted exterior, and only imagine what should have been on the inside to at least match in style. Rather than a renovation, a new house instead may need to be made from scratch, realness-enriched with blind faith and hope that somehow it will become a home, both outside and in its bones.
There is no form of positivity that can compensate or coverup for Jon’s absence. If people can espouse how great life is, whether in a summarized outlook or counting on fingers all their good things to be happy or blessed about, then I am equally able to say what my perspective is: for me, without Jon, it is all the opposite. It is awful, incurable, unfixable, sad, unsafe, isolating, and draining. That’s just how it is. He should be here, but he is not.
And I don’t feel the need to give you a further description here of my life without him, per se, but rather I will share that I am always waiting for him to come home. There is a space unfilled in any room or place where I am, because he should be here beside me, but he is not.
Today I celebrate him and us in my memories and reminders of life with Jon, these are with me (the list is actually endless) as he remains in my heart and mind: a key unlocking the door, his voice saying “yesssss” just like that, Tibet on his shoulders, our children’s faces, riding bikes and rollerblading, cooking without a recipe, playlists, driving, signing my name, wearing his socks, his handwriting, hot sauce and picking habaneros, smelling any kind of pasta dish and fresh-baked bread, polar bears, heart-shaped anything, shiny dress shoes and Timberland boots, Ansel Adams and Keith Haring, sawdust, candles, tiny rocks and keepsake objects, bottle caps, Zen gardens, Lake Michigan and Manhattan, artwork, lavender, French pressed coffee and loose tea, Matchbox cars, feathers, surfing, bubble baths, key lime and creme brûlée, whiskey breath, The Wall Street Journal, and always Lagerfeld Classic.
This week, I made tamales for the first time, ever. Making the masa, choosing fillings, and attempting to master my corn husk wrapping was all-new to me. I never thought to make my own, but it just sounded good to eat, and I wanted to try. How I wished he could have been in the kitchen with me to make these! At first I struggled with their assembly. Mid-making I had to watch a video to learn the official proper wrapping techniques, then it all made sense, and suddenly I became a tamale-making-machine. After cooking some of my creations for dinner that night, the remainder were put in the freezer for future comfort-food, when homemade goodness will be required.
I woke up today like most mornings with my arm wrapped around myself, and for one breath, it is him who is here lying next me. Sometimes I am okay with the discovery of it being just me, wrapped in sheets instead of his skin on mine, and at other times, my heart races like a struck match bursting with flame, feeling certain it is his arm and then sudden disappointment hits and the knowing sensation, it is not. The further away from his death, the missing of him grows more every day. Missing him deepens, widens. I’m still so in love with him, and long for him and for that life we had together. He should be here, but he is not.
My Dearest Jon, in your absence, prost, to you and to us, my love, to year 23. I love you, I miss you, I wish you were here. Tonight I may cook some tamales for an anniversary dinner. I promise to make something sweet for dessert, a chocolate something, and I will try not mix up the sugar and the salt. Come to me tonight in my dreams, and wake up with me in morning. Love is here for you, forever. ❤️~Puskie