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.

183 thoughts on “1000 days

  1. I just met Dave(through your words) and he seems a pretty interesting chap. Thanks for such a rare opportunity 😊 – I just met the dead…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your words paint a portrait before my eyes and I can see him…and as I see him I can feel the space he left…1000 days…1000 times he didn’t wake up..and yet here you are looking at shoes. It has been 259 days since my sister died and I can see her shoes lined up in her closet, waiting. I read your words and somehow, the pain feels less lonely. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m not crying. 😢 Oh wait, I’m blubbering. I have a man like that. Not two minutes ago I was annoyed at him for something ridiculous… now I’ll remember to cherish him and all the little moments like this.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautiful memories. .and I can hear it in your words how much you loved him and how much he loved you….and that in itself is such a great thing..to love and be loved unconditionally..

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I found it to be deeply moving and intriguing (from a stylistic point of view). As a reader, I felt like I got to personally know who your husband was. You have a follower right here.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Actually through your own words i too am able to know and understand what you’re going through from your own perspective. It’s a true romance you held the two of you; a true galore and I’m equally sorry for it too (ooh i shed a tear too). And bravo also for thé acceptance that you have cupped in that reality and have produced a true celebration manual to the memory of Dave. Wherever he is he is à happy proud spirit. May he remain so till you meet him again wherever it is you might chznce meet…… Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elegant and haunting. I’m so sorry your time together was way too short. It should have lasted for at least a century, maybe two. But I’m glad you found each other and that your hearts are bound in love regardless of the plane you each inhabit!
    Sending love and hugs💜



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