where Dan dies in a car accident. The hospital calls me at home, but by the time I get there, it’s too late. The doctors explain to me what happened, what they did to try to save him, how they ultimately failed and I can feel myself retreating inward so that my corporeal being becomes an armor against everything to come. I listen, I nod. I do not cry.
The next couple of days in the dream go by in a blur–I’m contacting family and friends, I’m coordinating funeral services, I’m writing a eulogy. Everyone keeps telling me that I shouldn’t feel pressured to write anything, I don’t have to get up and speak, but writing is what I do and I’m insistent that this is what Dan would have wanted. I get through all of this planning and all the hugs from teary-eyed sympathizers without crying. I feel strong and determined. I can handle this. I can be the one person who keeps it together.
I deliver my eulogy. It’s heartfelt, with just the right touches of humor. I talk about how Dan and I had been together since we were sixteen. About all the little pranks he used to play on me. About how smart he was, how he seemed to remember everything. I talk about how I love him. About how he was the one person in my life who could always bring me comfort, no matter what. Still, I don’t cry.
I don’t cry when his coffin is carried out to the cemetery. I don’t cry when it’s lowered into the ground. I don’t cry when shovelful after shovelful of dirt is thrown on top of it, forever vanishing my husband from sight.
I am still strong, still stoic when our friend Brian walks up to where I’m standing alone beneath a large tree, its leaves turned bright orange and red. “Hey,” he says, and there is so much sadness in his voice, so much pity in the way he reaches out and touches my arm that I just crumple before him. It’s like every bone in my body has suddenly evaporated and there’s nothing left to hold me up. My body folds in half and then I collapse to the ground, a pile of tired, aching limbs. The cries roll through me like waves and I’m bucking and heaving, choking out sobs as Brian looks on, alarmed. He kneels down beside me and softly places his hand on the top of my head. I look up at him with tears streaming down my cheeks. My face is smeared with mascara.
And then I wake up. And thus concludes this hour of Claire Bums You Out Friday. This was really just a long way of saying that I haven’t been sleeping particularly well. I’m thankful the weekend has arrived.