It's late here.
The crickets are out, and I can hear the train on the Square clearly because the window is open wide to get the cool breeze and the leaves are already dropping off the trees. When we bought this, our first house, in 2001, Dane and I would curse the train, tossing and turning for months as summer turned to fall and it sounded like the damn thing was rolling through the backyard. Then spring would come; the leaves muffled the sound and made it easier to sleep.
The dogs hear it, too; they jump and bark at the slightest noise these days, which makes The Child and me jumpy as well. I look at them and realize that they know he is missing and are hoping he will come back. Dane was rough with them at times, not mean, just rough in that "they're just dogs" sort of way, but I would catch him now and then, absent-mindedly rubbing Winston's head or scratching behind Gatsby's ears. I am their pack leader, but they know someone is gone, and they feel the disorder in their universe. I read a dog training book once that said that dogs don't care what their number is in the hierarchy, just so long as it is clear and they know what their number is. They have suddenly all moved up a notch. They are still adjusting.
It is still so surreal. I guess by now it should be clear and true and what has happened, but it is hard to describe the unreality of every day. The marks on the road have finally washed away; the tree's bark has healed completely. It is done.
And yet every day is so strange. I am not in denial. I am not bargaining. I am not any of those other stages. I just still can't believe it. He is so present, and so absent at the same time. He is Not. He is Here. All at once. Vividly clouded.
I accept it. I am too pragmatic to be fooling myself, and too atheist to believe that he is floating all around me. To sit outside in the morning with a cup of coffee and not get his standard good morning phone call is still astonishing to me. To take Sicily to catching and not hear his voice booming in the pitching facility is deafening in its silence. To lay my head on my pillow at night and have the vast endless open ocean of his side of the bed is shocking, every time.
The unreality of it all is nearly too much to bear, and daily awful. Even as we make progress on the Tiny House, as softball season looms large, as I try to figure out what the hell to do next, the discord of what is and what it should be is hard to reconcile.
I have a recurring nightmare (something of an irrational fear, also) of dying in a car accident whereby I lose control of the car and go plunging down an embankment and into water; it is nearly always winter in the dream, so the water frequently has a thin crust of ice that gives me just enough time to contemplate what is about to happen before it breaks with a crash and icy water jolts me from the dream. Perhaps this is the waking version of that dream.