I was coming around the side of the house – no, limping, as the scripture has since revealed, when my feet were stopped by a pile of peculiar garbage. It seemed that as Daniel had been weeding, fertilizing and everything else in his beautiful Eden, he had lifted the broken, hokey ornaments stuck between plants and discarded them in a heap of metal poles and dirty plastic.
Oh, halleluiah. The gaudy girl in a bonnet was gone. The lady bug fly thing, whatever sort of hideously large insect, was in the shitpile as well. Daniel was slowly starting to question the bigger matter of taste and has taken it upon himself to clean up. Not all things left by the dead wife were meant to remain as appropriate ornaments and I give him a lot of credit for being strong enough to handle that truth.
Sure enough, the Disney toys slowly started disappearing from the decorative shelves. Her certificates came off the wall. Now he wants to paint the foyer, over the partial mural of Greece that was never completed. Waiting under the last remaining return address labels splattered with rainbow colors and Tigger, several new pages await of a black and white monogram for Mr. Daniel.
I am not lost in a fantasy world. I know that it will never seem like enough, quickly enough. It will always be sad and complicated and I will always be the first to be made in to a bad person for preferring my own things and styles in the home where I live. Although it was straight outta the “Don’t Do After Death” book, Daniel let me try on all of the dead wife’s clothes, keeping what I wanted to keep. I was honored and troubled the same, as every garment he doesn’t recognize me wearing before is met with, “Is that my wife’s?”
No. Whether it was mine then or is mine now. The answer is no.
He’ll be sitting with me in a co-op Xbox game and his mind is racing with indecision over which pattern of flowers should border the dead wife’s headstone. And because he is used to sharing, he shares this with me in the most dysfunctional way. We are well aware that we have been doing it our own way since day one, against every cautionary tale.
His first day back to school was Monday. I still worried that he would be asked what he did over the course of the summer and he would say, “Nothing.” He did NOT go on a Disney cruise. He did NOT go to Jamaica with his dead wife. He may very well have told them that he did nothing besides work in the hot sun and design his dead wife’s “tombstone”, which always leaves me feeling so confused when I know that it’s the sort of long, patient marble with enough empty space for his information to be added one day.
How exactly, does that work? Does he zip up his pants, die and fall in next to her, asking her what he missed while he was living with me? Where does my jealousy and bad feelings come from? Am I crazy to feel weird about it? Should I be thinking about what it could all mean on a larger scale?
If you ask Autumn, here is what she tells you:
Daniel bought me a Huffy bike and we started going for bike rides. I have not ridden a bike in years and I love it. I worked in Dan’s yard, though not to the extent that he did, but I certainly planted more lilies and maintained what I had. We shot off our OWN fireworks, a first for both of us, which was a blast. We found our new favorite place to eat, a pretty big deal considering it has a live female vocalist performing who also plays the fiddle. We rode around Detroit on the People Mover, attended the Maker Faire, Daniel disappeared hours at a time for some sort of investment planning stuff he keeps separate from me, we played ‘Never Alone’ and ‘Chariot’, found new shows to watch on Netflix, went to the driving range, played tennis, visited my family, helped Daniel with tasks as the association’s groundskeeper, and one day after drinks he spontaneously invited some of my work friends over to the house before proceeding to take too many hits on someone’s pipe and he got so stoned and sick that he passed out from partying like a teenager.
That’s far from nothing, if you ask me.