You can unroll the rug that had laid curled up like some oriental scroll on the floor and put the chairs from the other room on it, and sit there, and think it's a bit different.
You can do what has never, in all the years I have known, been done and leave all the fucking doors open--screen doors too--and throw plates and pots on the floor and knock over the nightstand and throw clean clothes on the floor and open the fridge and leave it open for a good seven or eight minutes, and sit there, and think it's a bit different.
But when you're done doing all of that, and you can barely breathe, that's when it hits you.
Because, that's when you come across a clear plastic bag with an unused, pink plate and folded napkin with a "Happy Birthday" motif on it, alongside a card that your mother gave to her sister--before the shit hit the fan back in 2004--and it says how much she loves her and how proud she was to have been her sister for as many years as she has, by her side--literally--for the better part of almost 60 years, and you realize that neither of them have no idea what's about to fucking happen, that's when it hits you.
And you were there.
You were part of a piece of time sliced so neatly, so ceremoniously, so selflessly (almost as if she didn't believe she really did deserve the first slice), and so wrapped together, neatly, for me to find ... and it just leveled me.
Flat out, on the floor, clutching the shag on the rug that I never liked, leveled.
And that was when I realized it was different.
I'm finally mourning.
I'm finally getting out the angst.
I can barely see through the tears, and the only thing that's keeping me from punching the wall is that I'm typing.
It really happened, and I finally can't ignore it or sugar-coat it.
I'm finally done with the bullshit of how "Oh, I knew it was just a matter of time" ... or ... "well, at least she's not suffering anymore" ... or ... "well, look how many thousands of people died in that thing in that country on the other side of the fucking world."
Well this is my world ... in a plastic bag ... with a card, a napkin, and a paper plate.
Please do not be alarmed at my words. I have had people call and write to me worried that I would do something rash.
I will not.
I have too much to accomplish.
I'm just finally coming to terms with how final it really is.
I miss the coupon cutting.
I miss the bargain shopping.
I miss using the Dinner for Two book that is sitting on the coffee table inching its way towards expiration. She'd whip that thing out before the waitress even got us our waters, just to make sure she knew we meant business. Recently, over the last year or so, if a restaurant had changed ownership and the coupon wasn't accepted, she even let that slide and didn't begrudge paying for both meals, but not without commenting on how I better finish everything on my plate if we're paying full price.
I miss the toasts I finally taught them both to make. You don't just toast by clinking your glasses and putting them down on the table. You say what you say, look in each others eyes, clink your glasses, and then you must drink, regardless of whether you are thirsty or not, or whether you fear you'll get lipstick on the glass before we take pictures and you have to put more on.
Its simple, but so many people never learned how to do it proper.
You don't toast because you're thirsty.
You toast to toast.
You toast because, for the love of christ, you can.
You toast, among other things, for those who are not fortunate enough to have the luxury of drinking from a glass.
You toast, among other things, to how another year has come and gone since the first day you were born.
You toast, among other things, to the memory of those with whom you toasted, not long ago, when you toasted to the memory of someone who wasn't there anymore.
You toast, among other things, to how good life can be, even when it isn't.
You toast, among other things, to how good it feels to have the pressure and the inertia of another glass to touch yours, because just the right amount of force will produce a satisfying "clink" while too much may crack the glass and send the waiter running for a rag.
And he's running for a rag right now.
And I'm at a table for one.
Thanks for reading.
PS: It's finally cold again.