Grief Story Written the weekend of the first anniversary of my husband's death
This is a story that isn’t a story. This is a story that isn’t a story because this is the weekend that my husband died. A woman named Myra wrote a line in a poem, “My mother always dies in March.” I guess that’s how it is. Artie will always die this weekend in July. A story has a beginning a middle and an end and no matter how many beginnings and middles I stuff into this story it only has an end. Still dead.
On Friday night I went to a gathering of various artistic folk called Culture Circle and read two poems and then talked a little about my husband as tea was passed around in exquisite pottery cups made by a member of the group. We lifted our cups and said together, “To Artie.” Still dead. On Saturday I went to sit on the bench in Central Park that has a plaque that says, Artie and Jan Warner, Mr. Dazzle and Mrs. Panache, I love you. You’re my heart. Always. Someone else was sitting there so I waited until they left and then I sat and shined the plaque a little with my sleeve but it was 91 degrees and Artie is dead every day so I went somewhere cooler. Still dead.
This story that isn’t a story because a story has an arc and this one only flat lines. When Artie first died I dreamt that I woke up and said, I had this awful dream that you got cancer and died and I’ll never see you again. He said, “Come over here you silly goof and let me hold you.” I smiled until I opened my eyes and saw that there was no one there. Every morning when I open my eyes that’s the first thing I see, no one. He say’s I’m here and I say I know, but the form is different and I liked you better with arms and legs and that megawatt smile.
Someone sent me an e-mail that a theater callled the Cell is taking proposals for one person shows in October and not only did I have my very first audition, I got a call back. Still dead. Then this morning I got an e-mail that Amanda and Michael who live where we used to live had breakfast with Artie at his table in the restaurant where he ate every morning at 11. It’s the meal with the empty chair. I have them all the time. They said everyone agrees the “In Memoriam” I wrote for the local paper is beautiful.
So this is a story that isn’t a story because a story has a shape and there are no shapes left. I wanted to march down 5th Avenue beating one of those big drums shouting “My husband’s dead. My husband’s dead!!” but it wouldn’t matter because all these things that are happening are the dance of the seven veils and the joke is removing the veils doesn’t reveal a beautiful woman it reveals a gaping hole of grief covered with laughter and people thinking you are better.
When two people love each other, however they love each other, and one of them is gone, there is no story only random scattered words. We were the cymbals in the orchestra we made a glorious noise but we had to clash to do it. We stayed up all night singing and the best dinner I ever had was tuna fish on a toasted English muffin because that was all he could cook.
I can’t end the story because it already ended a year ago. Maybe the story isn’t in the form at all but rather in just showing up and opening your mouth to let the words fly out like small birds taking wing for the first faltering time.
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