“I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.” –Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, posting one month after her husband’s death
I wrestled in my younger days. And while I thought wrestling three, one-minute periods was tough in middle school, I had no idea what was waiting for me once I got to high school. I was a wiry, tenacious, hard-nosed 112 pound kid. You take one of me, and put me up against another kid just as dogged, and let us grapple each other for three, two-minute periods, and what have you got? Two purple-faced kids trying not to lose their cookies in front of the wrestlerettes. Never before had I known that six minutes of one’s life could be so agonizing, so prolonged. The harder the encounter, the more the hourglass defied gravity. And so it has been in the weeks since Alicia died. That’s why Sheryl Sandberg has got some serious street cred in my book, she knows what’s what.
This time distortion is only made all the more jacked up because my internal clock seems to have been reset to the time of her passing. Everything since gets measured against that painful point of reference. Every passing day, each week, my mind constricts around the notion that I’m somehow further from her. She’s the Wilson to my castaway Tom Hanks. Oh how I desperately want to jump off this raft and claw my way back to that day, to the hour of our forced separation. Only it doesn’t work that way, and I find myself being pulled slowly, agonizingly, further away with each passing moment. All that’s left is to collapse on this piece of shit, rudderless raft and wail, knowing I’m powerless to do a goddamn thing about the fact that I’ve lost her. In my weeping I’ve mumbled these thoughts to myself countless times, but I now have need of screaming them out to her as time carries me away,
“I’M SORRY ALICIA, I’M SORRY YOU GOT CANCER…I’M SORRY YOU SUFFERED THROUGH SO MUCH…I’M SORRY YOU COULDN’T EAT ANY LONGER AND YET YOUR HUSBAND IS AN SLP AND EVEN HE COULDN’T HELP YOU SWALLOW ANYMORE…I’M SORRY IT HURT YOUR TONGUE TO TALK AND YOUR WORDS WERE HARD TO UNDERSTAND…I’M SO SORRY I WASN’T THE ONE STRAPPED INTO THE MASK EVERY DAY AS THEY BURNED MY TONGUE AND MY FACE AND MY NECK WITH RADIATION…I’M SORRY YOU STOPPED FEELING LIKE A MOM TO OUR BOYS…I’M SORRY I GOT FRUSTRATED WHEN I WAS DOING EVERYTHING AND YOU WERE COMING HOME EVERY NIGHT AFTER WORK AND COLLAPSING ON THE COUCH AND WE DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD CANCER YET AND I SAID I FELT LIKE A SINGLE PARENT, BECAUSE I’M A SINGLE PARENT NOW AND I GET IT, IT’S SO MUCH HARDER. I’M SO, SO SORRY ALICIA, SORRY FOR EVERYTHING, PLEASE CAN YOU STILL HEAR ME I’M SORRY…