If You Hadn’t Died

If you hadn’t died, then I wouldn’t have flown home for the funeral. Maybe I would have met my husband that weekend. Or maybe I would’ve been in a car accident and joined you up there in the light of the unknown. It’s also possible it could have been a regular weekend: gym on Saturday then drinks with the girls at night. Sunday would have been spent running errands or at the farmer’s market.

If you hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have seen you like that, cold and limp with just the right amount of make up to make you look alive. No one questioned it of course. I wouldn’t have gotten mascara stains on your children’s shirts, fought with my dad about the last time we saw you.

If you hadn’t died I wouldn’t have sifted through our memories, a lifetime of memories. I wouldn’t have laughed and cried and shook and panicked. I wouldn’t have thought: How will I get out of bed tomorrow knowing she’s not here?  Who will I call when I need the advice of someone who knows me, the only person who did?

If you hadn’t died, when would I have seen you? Would we have waited until Thanksgiving or done one of those spontaneous weekend trips to Atlantic City or the Vineyard? Would you have tried to set me up with the bartender? Yelled at me for drinking too much although you yourself would have been hammered?  Would we have split the bill or would you have covered it, telling me to get the next one?

If you hadn’t died would you have divorced Karl when you found out about his affair or would you have stayed together for the kids? Would you have moved to Albuquerque like you’ve always wanted or started ballroom dancing in an attempt to distract yourself from your aching heart? Would you have blamed yourself? Became insecure and detached?

When your kids grew into teens would you have been one of those laid back mothers who trusts them enough to avoid curfews and ultimatums or would you have intimidated them, used fear as a form of control? Would you have comforted Tess after her first heart break? Patted Sam’s back when he got cut from basketball tryouts?

If you hadn’t died would you have woken up the next morning and breathed in the fresh air? Would you have opened your heart and soul to the beauty of the present and immersed yourself in being the best you could be? Would you have kissed the sun and dipped your feet in the ocean?

I’ll never know because you did.

He says

“You can keep it if you want…my last name. You don’t need to change it.” He says.

“Wow. Thanks for the consolation prize. How generous. I’ll be a Walker again as soon as the paperwork is in.” I say.

“Jess please. I’m just trying to…” He says.

Our wedding portrait dangles in my peripheral.

 “Don’t. It’s not worth…” I say. 

“Yeah okay I guess you just…” He says.

“Yes, yes I do.”

I sling my bag over my arm and make my way towards the door.

“Bye.”

Bye he says, like he never knew me at all.