For six months my fingers have paused briefly as I flick through clothes hangers in the wardrobe. They stop momentarily on a dress, a black one with birds, made of comfortable jersey. I used to wear it most weeks to work, my comfiest work dress that still looked professional. That’s why I wore it that day in June, it would be comfortable to stand, shaking hands for hours. After that long day I haven’t been able to bring myself to wear it again.
There’s the t-shirt too, it says “Hello” on the front and “Goodbye” on the back. I couldn’t wear it to the hospital, I couldn’t bear to have him see the word “Goodbye” as I walked out, in case that was the last time I had seen him. It’s not t-shirt weather.
I don’t remember what I was wearing on that very last time we said goodbye.
There are other things too, triggers is what they call them. Mainly very trivial things that shouldn’t be an issue.
Like Vit Hit, It was my drink of choice that very long weekend in June. Every time I see it brings me back to that place, to the time that I can’t decide whether I want to forget forever or whether I want to remember as it’s my last memory of him. When I spot it in a petrol station fridge I wobble.
Some memories I’m trying to undo. My work commute is also the road to the hospital, the road I took that night after receiving that call. I’m mostly desensitized to it now, three times a week since July, that’s what it takes, but some days I see the sign “TIREDNESS KILLS” and it’s 1.20am on Friday night/Saturday morning in June.
I reach for the multipack of Walnut Whips, a standard addition to his Christmas bag, and stop. I could eat them myself. Truth be told there’s more than one pack that had to be replaced over the years as I wired into them before Christmas.
At Christmas time, I expect him to be at the kids’ shows, to arrive in late and take off his hat as I shoot him daggers for being late again then look at the delight in his face and the kids’ reciprocal gazes.
How long will it take
How many bottles of Vit Hit?
How many “Happy Christmas Grandad” cards in the shops?
I know I will get used to this, I know it will get easier.
It already has in lots of ways,
In the meantime I’m bracing myself for more firsts, more never agains and more close calls.