Journal,  Memoir

Prelude to September

I used to have a blog that I posted to daily for several years. This blog was an outlet for me to explore a grief that I recently realized is largely unknown to the people in my life today. While I was actively navigating the early stages of this grief, it felt the like the people around me were right there with me, reading and crying along by my side. Now, almost 12 years later, as my life has moved and changed, as it tends to do, the people who were around me back then have largely vanished and been replaced with different people. But the grief is still there.

I’ve been writing a lot over the last year. Initially I thought this writing would become a book, and some of it will. Eventually. But I find my writing to be opening up a lot of doors back to the grief I experienced 12 years ago. I will be posting a lot of the writings about that moment in my life in a month long event here on my blog that I’m calling Poems for September. Before I do that, it makes sense to share a bit about why September is so difficult for me.

In 2003 I met Dave. We worked together in a call center and became friends. He was creative, funny, interesting, warm, and we got along swimmingly on the same team working 3:30 pm to midnight fielding calls from cell phone customers. A few years passed and we eventually both found other jobs but kept in touch through social media. In 2010 I was leaving a toxic relationship when we started talking more frequently. He asked to meet up for coffee to catch up and I agreed. He picked me up in his orange VW Beetle convertible and we went to a little Ethiopian coffee shop. We talked for hours about life since the call center and then he drove me home. I’m a big hugger, so I went to give him a hug before I got out of the car. I can’t describe it other than to say there was something different about that hug. It was like a quiet desperation hid beneath the surface and I think I fell in love with him in that moment.

We started texting constantly while he went on a trip to California with a friend, and by the time he got back, he asked me to move in with him. I did. Up until that point in my life nobody had ever been so honest, so genuine, so comfortable to be around. Nobody had ever encouraged me artistically the way he did. Nobody had ever made me feel so free. I felt safe and things moved fast. I got pregnant 3 months after I moved in with him.

But, it wasn’t all rainbows. These things never are. Dave was sick. He’d been having seizures in relation to his diabetes. They were starting to affect him cognitively. I was by his side at every doctor’s appointment where they called him a liar because their tests were coming back normal. Medications were started and stopped, diets were started and stopped, varying levels of insulin were tried to avoid his blood sugars going too low, which was the suspected reason for the seizures.

My tummy grew and we talked about being parents. We talked about marriage. We adopted a dog. We went on a trip to California together. He was on a waiting list to see a specialist for the seizures. I gave birth to our son on August 16, 2011. We were so happy.

Then, on September 10, 2011, I woke up from a nap with the baby to find Dave’s on our couch. He was too still. He’d fallen asleep, had a seizure, and suffocated in the leather. I touched his shoulder, pulled him. He was gone. No, no, no.

I remember screaming his name. I remember calling 911 with 1 hand while holding our son, breastfeeding with the other. I remember hoping the EMTs could revive Dave somehow. I remember not wanting to hang up with the 911 operator because I didn’t want to be alone with these feelings. I remember EMTs and police arriving. I remember asking them if they could save him, and the look on their faces when they told me they couldn’t. I remember the coroner showing up and asking questions. I remember the policemen going to pick up my mom to bring her. All the while holding our baby to my chest. I remember a man dressed in black saying “we’re ok to take the body now” and hating him in that moment: his name is Dave. I remember promising Dave’s lifeless body that I would be the best mom I could and that I’d always love him and remember him. I remember not sleeping for 3 days because I worried that our son would die if I did, so I watched his chest rise and fall while the tears soaked my pillow.

The day Dave died was the worst day of my life. We had precious little time together, and even littler time as a family. On September 10th it will be 12 years since he passed and it hasn’t gotten easier. The grief has never gotten smaller. I’ve just grown around it, much like a tree will grow around an object that isn’t supposed to be there. I still think about and miss him every single day of my life. What we had and what we created was so beautiful and I will carry it with me forever. Our son is empathetic, kind, funny, and a beautiful soul like his father was. If you’re reading this, I hope you enjoy the collection of writing that will come throughout September. If you have similar wounds, I hope you can find some healing here.

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