I woke up early today to pack for my business trip. The first time I will be away since Michael got sick. We had a bit of hard weekend and I had a lot of wash to do and wanted to get his meds set for the next few days. I was pretty preoccupied with logistical issues.

It’s tough for me to leave but, to be honest, I probably need the time away. So I was just “business like” in preparing to pack and organize for the trip. Michael looked good this morning so I was feeling better about going.

I hadn’t opened my garment bag in a long time. I had no idea when the last time was when I used it.

I opened it and pulled out a few things and one was a black, strapless bra.

Nick’s wedding.

On September 15, 2007. I woke up at 5 and went to the bride’s father’s house to get my hair done. Before I left my hotel room I set out my clothes and, in doing so, realized I left my black strapless bra at home.

I started freaking out. My son’s wedding and I don’t have this. Michael looked at me. Typical guy he didn’t get the importance of this. Why couldn’t I just take my regular white bra and pull down the straps. I gave him a look that would have killed an elephant at 20 paces. “Okay, okay,” he said. “Go get your hair done. We’ll fix this later.”

We didn’t have a lot of time. I was in the middle of nowhere. But I listened and went off to get my hair done.

I was so freaked out I stopped to get cash for the hair stylist and left my ATM card at the machine. I called Michael and he promptly canceled it.

When I got back we took off to find a store to get the black strapless bra. I was freaking out and he kept saying it would be fine, we’d be back in time…don’t worry.

We found a Target and he stood with me while I freaked out in front of bras. Then I wanted to get CJ a toy because he was the ringbearer but has no attention. A four year old who reads at a fourth grade level but has the attention span of a gnat. So I reached down to get him a junior computer. Michael said, “Really?” and I said Really. He just shrugged. I know he was thinking I was crazy to buy a four year old this but he didn’t say anything.

I didn’t need to give CJ the computer because he was surprisingly wonderful at his uncle’s wedding. I got the bra and all was right with the world.

I pulled the bra out of the suitcase and the morning came roaring back to me. Just how whenever I am a basket case, Michael was just a calming influence steering me to the solution.
Normally I’m the one steering the ship. Michael once called me the brains of the organization. But when I would unravel, not often but when I do it’s on a high level, he would take the wheel and all would be fine.

Nick got married on September 15, 2007. Michael had his seizure September 16, 2008. What a difference a year makes. Nick’s wedding was one of the top 3 happiest days of my life. Michael’s seizure was one of the top 3 saddest.

Even when I get a little distance from my grief, preoccupied with a task, the smallest thing can bring me back to reality. One item in suitcase. And I’m folding inwards instead of attending to the task at hand.

Later I had pulled myself together and was walking through LaGuardia airport. I was early and just strolling through looking at magazines. Michael’s face popped into my head and tears sprung to my eyes and my chest grew heavy.

It’s like walking through the autumn leaves and stepping on a rake that comes up and smacks you in the face. And no matter how much you try to sidestep it, it comes up and hits you in the face.

When opening a suitcase can turn you into a puddle, rakes are, it seems, everywhere.