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 am touched by your words. I have no words that might comfort you; sadly, words are all I have to offer. I believe the biggest reward to a writer is when he/she can transfer their emotions to their readers with only words. Let me just tell you, your heartfelt words brought tears into my eyes. I wish God bestow upon you love, kindness, and strength ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for remembering and sharing stories about Dave and Gray. Thank you for loving him so much and sharing that love. I miss the time you both blogged, and shared your world and your love. His art is what led me to your blogs. Keep sharing. xoxoxo You are loved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw, I didn’t know that. That’s such a lovely connection he left behind for me. 🙏🏾 I also miss his blogs, I’ve always thought there was really nothing else like his writing. 💚💚💚 Thanks for reading, Juliette.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This line says it all, “everything he held was precious enough to hold on tight.” Rara, this is a touching post about a man who made everything count and lived without ridiculous boundaries. The story of your husband’s life is poignant and made me see what a wonderful man he was. May your grief subside in time even if it never ends. May his love endure and accompany you everywhere – but it will.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is beautiful and the love in your relationship with him shines through. Someone once said that the lives of the dead are held in the memory of the living. We may forget small things like shoe size but the important stuff is always there.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Very sorry for your lost. Yet this a great way of healing your hurting heart; sharing your thoughts and reaching out to help others. What a great post! Please keep up your great work here; and always keep a hold of your great memories of your Dave! May God continue to give you strength and grace.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I lost a Dave too, who was as individual, caring and wonderful as yours sounds. I’m sorry to read of your loss, but I wanted to tell you I think the words in this post are beautiful. I’m no where near 1000 days, but I’m approaching 100 and I’m enjoying connecting with other people who have experienced loss and found something creative as well as grief.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It leaves an impression on my soul that you posted his art up with this piece 💜 thank you for sharing your story. It helps with my own grief of loss and also reminds me to cherish each of these precious days I have.

    Liked by 3 people


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