Over a month has passed now. A month that in any of Jacob's imaginary travels would have brought forth a choppy, staticky-quick phone call or a hastily-written postcard on one of his trips, now entirely suspect in light of revelations from his letters to me. A month that in past years would have seen Cole settle into a relaxed-tense state, and everyone else drift off to their own space briefly as we lost a little of the brightest hues in our technicolor world.
Living in that moment just before the shoe drops.
I took that shoe and threw it right through the most beautiful stained glass window in my house.
I made a horrific mess.
The house is warm but it has to be plain now. It's a living museum where even the brightly colored toys scattered on the floor rest in the shadows and memories echo off the ceilings of loves gone by, with a tiny young widow who rattles around the halls high on pills and low on energy and the ghosts come at night when she sleeps. Mostly, anyhow.
I have had a long month of explaining myself despite not needing explanations, details which have already been duly noted and absorbed and it's almost time to fully process what I did the weekend after Jacob died.
And I have to be the one to tell it. I'd rather you get all the facts from me than from Caleb.
But not yet. There are more pressing matters to attend to first. There is the living to attend to, first.
Henry and Ruth both had brief speaking roles and they both sang in the choir last night and did a wonderful job. Three songs and some very bright eyes in the audience. Seven minutes in, after the lights went out and the kindergarten kids shuffled onto the stage, Ben appeared behind me, putting his hand on my head and kissing my ear as he sat down. He passed me my hearing aids. I turned to look at him and he shook his head and pointed to the front, as in, we'll talk later.
I turned back around and proceeded to immerse myself in the concert. It was so cute and funny. I felt like I wasn't going to fall apart for once and I turned around when the lights came on to talk to Ben, just in time to see him slip out the door at the far end of the gym. PJ said that he would collect the children and meet me at the truck if I wanted to follow Ben and so I pushed past a crowd growing at the exit and ran outside into the snow where Ben was walking down the path. I called out to him and he stopped and turned around.
Could you just stop, please?
I didn't want you to feel obligated to spend time with me. You wanted space, here it is.
I want you to be present without expectations.
I don't live without hope.
You're going to talk circles around me for the rest of my life, aren't you?
He didn't have the right, Benny.
It wasn't an instruction, Bridge. It was an inevitability. It was a gentle push.
Did Jacob deal in inevitabilities?
No, but I do.
He smiled and I wanted to kill him and hug him all at the same time. Instead I just stood there staring at him, expressionless.
Jacob wasn't a stupid man, princess.
You're biased now. Somehow you tricked him.
No, the inevitability of life won him over, he just takes the time to look for things most people will never see.
I doubt he saw anything. He was trying to help me.
Exactly. So why won't you let him?
Because it means giving him up forever and I'm so not ready to do that.
He was three inches from me then, because he could hardly hear my whispers.
You don't have to give up anything, Bridge. I wouldn't ask you to do that.
He puts his hands on my arms and I pushed him away.
Ben, you can't ask me for anything at all.
And with that I turned and walked away from him. Because the past month of my life went by in a dizzying blur and it went by in drips and fits and starts like molasses (morelasses). Taking forever, agonizingly, slowly. I can't figure out which end is up, which road to take or what to do next.
Ben, no, he has it all figured out. Jacob had it all figured out and Bridget, well, as usual she has no fucking clue at all.