1000 days

There was a pair of shoes at Nordstrom’s last week that Dave would have loved, but I didn’t buy them because I couldn’t remember his shoe size.

And, obviously, also because dead men do not need shoes.

Today he’s been gone for 1000 days.

That’s a big number. Four digits, even. But it hardly seems like enough time to start forgetting things.

I’m not a desperate person by nature, but I felt as if I started to drown a bit in that store. I began to remember every little thing about him, trying to grip the little grains of memory, praying that the effort didn’t let them slip through my fingers.

But it’s as an inevitable as death.

Life slips by.

I want to say my late husband wore a nine and a half, but I’m not sure. I didn’t get to keep any of his things.

He was particular and careful about his possessions. He’d shine his shoes at the end of the day. He never left his clothes on the floor, or left a pen uncapped, or dropped a plate. He never tried to hold something he didn’t care for, so everything he held was precious enough to hold on tight.

His hands were sleek and unbothered. They moved with the quick precision of a surgeon. It could seem too fluid at times– too feminine– and his friends would tease him about it sometimes. His hands were like his mom’s hands, he’d reply. And she was the strongest person he knew. There were worse things to inherit.

He had his father’s teeth. Small teeth, stained by a cigarette habit that started in his teens and lasted until I agreed to marry him. It was something he gave up so he could hold me with care. His teeth never really recovered but it didn’t bother him. He was never ashamed of his choices.

My teeth were easily twice the size of his, and he’d say that people had a lot in common with farm animals, and the size of my teeth is how he knew that I’d outlive him.

I hated that joke. It gave me nightmares.

I’d wake him up, and he’d pull us down to the floor. He’d hang a blanket over our heads and he’d hold me on his lap until I stopped crying. I’m not a small girl, but he never complained. He’d sing, but of course, he couldn’t sing. There wasn’t a single note he could reach with precision, but it never stopped him, and I never minded. Eventually I’d fall asleep. Then the next morning, I’d wake up in bed, somehow. Magically.

He was magic.
He loved me.

In my very worst moments, he loved me.
In my very best moments, he loved me.

I’m not sure he could tell the difference between the moments. As long as I was myself, as long as I was reaching for happiness or holding it, he was happy. That is literally all he ever asked of me.

In my head, now, that’s how I double check to see what he’d think of my choices. I bought a sequined dress because I love it even though it sheds sparkle everywhere. I agreed to a second date because the man ate sushi with his fingers when I said I didn’t know how to use chopsticks. I read my poetry to crowds of people before I considered it finished. I did all those things because they seemed like something I would do, something that my invisible insides wanted, and when I talk to him about it in my dreams, he approves.

He teases, but he approves.

He had a wicked and terrible sense of humor. I almost always laughed with my hands over my eyes, or over my mouth, in shock and childlike glee. He used to make strangers choke on their coffee, spit out their water, and snort-laugh. He always made people feel something, good or bad. All feelings were equal to Dave.

And I called him Gray because he chose a name for himself, and it fit as perfectly as the clothes he liked to wear. Tailored and trimmed to his edges. In his death, I switched him back to Dave for his family like he always said to do.

He didn’t believe in God. He didn’t believe death was the beginning of anything.

He believed in the sacredness of the now, and he believed that anything leftover of someone’s existence belonged to those who still existed.

He could hold the idea of death in his mind and still smile, thinking of it as part of life, and that life was what you made of it.

He was an artist. He could make anything beautiful or terrible with a few strokes of a pen or a brush. And, unlike most people, he could sit with that horror and gorgeousness and not be discomforted or weighed down by it.

You could never tell if he was listening, but he always was. It was difficult for him to not listen, to not feel, and that’s partially why he didn’t like crowds of people. That, and he was an introvert. An anti-social introvert. The first I ever met who wasn’t embarrassed by it, or shy about it.

And he was generous.
He would have never bought those shoes because someone else could have used the money, and his shoes were fine. That’s why he shined them every day.

I would have bought them for him, once upon a time, because luxuries make the world a kinder place, and it wasn’t always a kind place to Dave. The world is often a hard and jagged journey to a person who listens big and hopes for the best of things.

I would have bought the shoes for him, once upon a time, in hopes that I’d catch him looking down at them and smiling, but I didn’t because I couldn’t remember his shoe size,
and besides…
Dead men don’t need shoes.

Ari: The picture here is one drawn by Dave in several different mediums and compiled. It is my former family standing on the back of an orange buffalo. I’m on the back in a dinosaur suit, Flash the Cat is tiger-sized beside me. Dave is at the front, on the buffalo’s head, zapping laser guns, with Perdita the Cat in his man-purse. For some reason there’s also a smoking gnome hanging out, and a monkey swinging on the vines alongside us.

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

Ra Avis is the author of Sack Nasty: Prison Poetry and the girl behind the dinosaur at Rarasaur.com. She is a once-upon-a-time inmate, a reluctantly-optimistic widow, and an exponential storyteller.

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  1. My husband has been gone 1828 days now – that’s 5 years and 3 days. My heart goes out to you! it isn’t much easier now than it was at 1000 days except that I finally don’t feel as though there is something terribly wrong that I must fix…..even though there is but I can’t. sending much love.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Much love, Rara.

    Sarah Manguso said:

    “There will come a time when people decide you’ve had enough of your grief, and they’ll try to take it away from you.”

    Don’t let them take it away from you. It is now a part of you. It is as beautiful a part as all the others.

    She also said:

    “Instead of pathologizing every human quirk, we should say, By the grace of this behavior, this individual has found it possible to continue.”

    “Giving up hope and submitting to suffering looks the same as achieving total detachment and surpassing the Buddha but for one detail: the smile. Remember to smile.”

    Thanks for reminding me to gracefully continue and to remember to smile.
    I know you do.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. Everyone who didn’t know Dave well gets to know him through your words. I share with Dave the not being able to not listen, and not feel. My new job works fast paced with the public and it is exhausting. I love the portraits you paint of Dave with your words. Absolutely beautiful. I’m so sorry that he’s gone. You deserve every happiness sweet Ra. Hugs.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Dani. Yes, I think you and Dave shared many of my favorite human characteristics. 🙂 I’m glad you got to meet him. I can’t imagine how exhausting the fast-paced public must be for you, but I am sure you add a bit of light in all of their days and that’s kind of a beautiful mental image. 🙂 ❤


  4. This is heart breaking to read, and beautiful, too. You seem to have been an amazing couple together. Now you’ve passed the four digit number, I cannot even imagine what you’re going through, and actually, don’t have anything to say that feels appropriate or relevant. Take good care of yourself, the memories, the future. As to life after death, I’m wondering. As long as we remember people, they are partly with us, aren’t they?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Actually, I think of that thought often when I look through your Instagram feed. Everything becomes something else, and if you’re paying attention, you actually get to see it happen. (Your vision is a beautiful gift you have, by the way.)

      I like to think that moments like the shoe thing are just proof that Dave is still with me. He’s just something different now. ❤

      Thank you for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  5. and in the 1,000 days no doubt you have thought of 1,000 ways you loved each other. he would certainly want you to continue on as you. what a beautiful tribute to love. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  6. *Hugs* I think you’re amazing for carrying on, for writing such fantastic word-pictures, for figuring out who and how you are, despite an because of everything. For so many reasons. I think Dave sounds great too, always, not just here. And I think the sushi man did a brilliant thing.
    May you go through your memories like Dave went through his possessions. Shoe size isn’t as important as any of the other many things you’ve told us about him.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You two walked into my heart early on. That’s a gift. I’m normally not very welcoming to new people in my life. Somehow, I knew you were both different. I haven’t regretted it since. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. All the love and all the thuds.

    Dave lives on in the hearts of those who knew him best of all. Sure, he doesn’t need shoes, but the thing is, those shoes made you think of him and that keeps him living, and it inspired you to write this post, so those of us who didn’t know him so well can get to know more of the amazing man you married. And you had the opportunity to relive some of those memories and keep them in your heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. In Hawaii, we say “change of address” rather than death. I like to think that Dave just changed addresses. As you know, he still communicates with you from his new address. So beautiful to see a relationship, a love, surpass time and space.


    Liked by 3 people

  9. Perfectly beautiful–like a flashlight beam thrown onto the shadow of your own grief so that others can see it, and you yourself lose a bit of the outline, lightening the load–just for the time it takes to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My goodness, you have brought me to tears with this most beautiful ode to your husband… for the brief moments we read, he is brought to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this. I have been hurt many times by love, but never by the death of the man I loved. I’m not sure I could handle it, after I’d finally found him. You’re a strong woman, Ra. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Ra,
    To read this is heartbreaking in a way that’s much-needed. I know that’s why you’re here on earth…..to break open our hearts so that we’ll feel more than we’ve ever dared to. I want to say how sorry I am that you got this tough job but I can’t imagine anyone who could’ve done it any better. Thank you. ❤️
    Radhika 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love what you remember about your husband, the good and even the little annoyances that made him, him. I’ve lost 5 children, one died in my hands, and even though he was only in my hands for 48 minutes, I can remember every single detail about him, and that brings me sadness as well as comfort. Blessings on your journey. Grief is a process. Be patient with yourself, love yourself…and breathe.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine the sadness that must have filled you, and the eventual burden of nostalgia. I really hope you cherish his memory, but at the same time live a life that would make people wonder about your emotional strength and positive power.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I loved this part: “He believed in the sacredness of the now, and he believed that anything leftover of someone’s existence belonged to those who still existed”. When I was an obituary editor once, my editor gave me this advice” “Write about people, who were they still alive, the reader would have wanted to know.” Your writing reflects that I would have wanted to know your husband. Peace to you.

    Liked by 2 people


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