Trying very hard, because I promised to.

As I’ve said in the past, my old go-to in terms of coping with an impending day of misery was to imagine myself past it.  To conjure how I’d feel in the future, perfect-tense, looking back on the dread moment.

It’s not a mechanism that lends itself well to the sixth of February.  There is no magical perfect-tense date on which to perch and cast a wary eye back.  In fact, there isn’t even really a dread moment, either.  Every moment is the one I fear, and the sum of all the moments I spent in fear of so long before that.

Yet I feel more compelled to mark February 6 than nearly any other day on the calendar.  I feel more duty than I do on family and friends’ birthdays (ironic, that), or any state or religious holiday.  The problem is that I feel compelled, but without any specific sense of what I’m supposed to do.  Like the last three years of my life, I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m going to do.

I wish I could tell a nice story here.  About the time he kicked the Penn State magnet under some unsuspecting fan’s tire.  About the night he ran back down the street to dip me for a Hollywood kiss in front of the Mezzanine girls.  But I don’t have the emotional capital to spend.  I’m torn between showing how I feel, tangibly marking the terrible day, and  letting it steamroll me.

I wonder if I should write.  About me?  About him?  About the kinds of philosophies you create when your entire world winds up in the “should have” column?  I think—just once a year—about meditating in some empty church.  I contemplate a long walk.  Demon voices suggest synthetic anesthetization.

I don’t know how to plan for this.  You’d think after the two before, I’d be better at the anticipation.

I suppose none of this matters in any sense existing outside my head.  We loved each other.  More than I thought I ever would love or be loved, and despite circumstances far too unfair and advanced for our youth.  He was my proof of goodness, and the one thing I come back to when I believe the world is as bad a place as my cynical hyperbole makes it out to be.  He was a monument to patience and faith, and somehow, he chose me.  When I froze behind fearful walls, he made me believe someone could care enough to get in.  When I was afraid my frustrated, crazy tears would banish him for good, he told me he was relieved to know I wasn’t all hero and bravado.  When he was scared, I was his courage.  When he was unsure, I was his boundless, secretly sourced faith.  I was his bedside nurse, even when he was taking care of me.  I held his hand, and I told him we were lucky that we didn’t need any declarations; we already knew everything there was between us.  I held his hand, and he died, and it was the moment my heart disintegrated.

Tomorrow is the only day of my life where I don’t even attempt to exercise control.  I wait for the tide to roll in and disappear with me.  The reality is that the tide is there every day, and every day I decide whether or not to give in to the undertow.  But on February 6, I wade in without resistance.  And this year, more than before, I’ve been holding my breath for months. Waiting for the moment it’s ok to release, and gasp.

End of April
Phillis Levin

Under a cherry tree
I found a robin’s egg,
broken, but not shattered.

I had been thinking of you,
and was kneeling in the grass
among fallen blossoms

when I saw it: a blue scrap,
a delicate toy, as light
as confetti

It didn’t seem real,
but nature will do such things
from time to time.

I looked inside:
it was glistening, hollow,
a perfect shell

except for the missing crown,
which made it possible
to look inside.

What had been there
is gone now
and lives in my heart

where, periodically,
it opens up its wings,
tearing me apart.


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