I thought it would be harder to put you away. You had very little in the way of possessions. Your computers, your tablet, your clothes. Your wallet and phone are on my bedside table. An immediate reminder that there’s something wrong. I did loads of your laundry and folded it all and put it into a hamper in the garage. It’s not that I’m trying to forget you, it’s that remembering is a sharp dagger and I still have to function as a mother. I left one shirt unwashed which I bury my face in at least twice a day. At first it brought wrenching sobs and now just a twinge in the pit of my stomach. It’s almost like it centers me to do it. I do it when I feel complete helplessness. The scent will fade eventually, but for now it’s all I have. Mail still arrives every day in your name. Your car is in the driveway where you parked it for the last time. Every memory has a stopwatch now. We had an amazing 4th of July together. The stroke was only 4 days later. You died 3 days after that. I feel a numbness settling in. I am still figuring out how to keep us in this house, keep the bills paid, keep the kids fed. I am no stranger to poverty and in some sick sense that will help me in the coming year as the dust settles. The nights are the hardest. Sometimes I wound myself intentionally with memories. I search the emails you sent me. I scour your phone. I stare at the call log on mine, at the last call you ever made, your last act on earth. I replay the video call in my head, your studdering and mumbling, the weaving and eventual collapse when the phone went dark but I could still hear the highway patrol arrive. And then the hospital bedside when they removed the respirator. I rubbed my face against yours, feeling the stubble there… Remembering when we first started dating and you’d tease me by doing so. Laying my head on your shoulder for the last time. I played videos of the kids so you could hear their voices. I told you I love you, which I didn’t do enough when you were able to comprehend the words. Watching the numbers on the monitor dwindle to zero. Watching your eyes open at the last breath. Hearing laughing, busy hospital staff outside and wanting to strangle each one just for being there and alive and unable to stop what was happening to you. Tiny moments flood in during the monotony of the day. Laundry and dishes are filled with memories so loud I have to shut them out with music or video games, anything to distract from the loudness of your absence. I exist on coffee and cigarettes. I don’t eat until I’m starved then I eat too much. I wake up with a knot in my throat. I haven’t showered since your memorial last Thursday. The 34 year old widow. Who else will love me so patiently and entirely? Who will take all the shit? I’ve burned down every man who ever loved me. Including you. But you held on to me. And I still need you.