Joe died at 5:30 on an extremely hot Wednesday Summer afternoon.
I was at a fabric store buying material to make curtains for our bedroom at camp. I know exactly where I was because I kept checking the time since we were suppose to both be home around 6. For dinner. On the grill. Then some drinks. And time for just the two of us in our house. Obviously that joyful night never happened.
Yesterday was a hot Wednesday Summer afternoon. There was a time when I knew, week after week, when 5:30 on a Wednesday came around. Thankfully most of them go by now, without me reliving the (tragic) moments. Though I look forward to a day when every Wednesday goes by, without me reliving the (tragic) moments. Yesterday I remembered vividly. Partly because of the weather, partly because I was alone without my kids (rare), partly because of the day of the week, partly because of where I was going- back to the fabric store. I've only been there one other time since the accident. You wouldn't think that a store would mean anything, but really, for some reason it does.
When I think about this stuff, I start to have silly thoughts, like, "what if I go there and something bad happens again?" These are just thoughts that my mind wanders to. Not real, rational, believable type stuff; just my mind going over the possibilities, for what purpose, I don't know. As it worked out I was at the fabric store in the late afternoon and traveling home afterwards, the same route I traveled the day of the accident at the same time of day. So it all was all on my mind as I rode home, by myself, just like I did on that day.
When I got to an intersection, one in which I make the choice to go around where Joe died (as I chose to do for a solid year) or right by it, I chose the shortest route, which is right by it. I go that way probably 50% of the time now. On the 1-mile stretch of road between the turn and the accident scene, I feel every twist and turn and think "these are the last turns I made as my old self"; "this is the road where my beautiful life- as I knew it- ended; and finally, "this the the last hill I climbed before everything changed".
When I got to the top of the hill that day in 2007, I saw commotion from afar. "Oh an accident" I thought to myself. As I got closer I could see a police officer directing traffic. Cars parked around the road where they would not be normally parked. People standing around, on their lawns and in front of their businesses. And finally, as I approached the intersection where I would make my turn, I turned and looked to the right, down the road and saw it.....a bike down. On the pavement. The same color as Joe's. The same road he'd be coming home on. There were so many people around, cars, police cruisers, commotion. All of it was fuzzy for a moment while I looked at that bike on the pavement. My body instantly went numb. And I turned left.
I prayed the whole way home. No, no, no. Don't let it be him.
And so it began. My new life.
Yesterday as I made the turns of that road on my way home, I remembered all the usual things...I kept telling myelf to stop. "Put it out of your head Robin." Why keep reliving it? Put away the similarities of the day; of the time of day; of where you just were; of being alone in the car. In my mind I was telling myself to stop focusing on the similarities. But as I got to the top of the hill, once again I saw from a distance commotion ahead. I saw a man in the road directing traffic. People standing around. As I got closer I saw a banged up car. And another one on the other side of the road. I did not see anyone hurt, and I don't believe that anyone was seriously hurt. I got to the intersection and had to sit and wait. I looked around at some of the people standing outside of their businesses and homes and wondered.....did they do this when my husband died? Are these faces that I am seeing now the same ones that witnessed the scene and aftermath of my own husband's death? For a second I thought about driving around the cars in front of me to just get the hell out of there. But I waited and took some deep breaths. And when it was time for me to move, I turned left.
I wondered, as I kept driving towards my house, why did that have to happen? Why today? And my answer.....Life is cruel sometimes. It just is.