I remember seeing an Outer Limits episode when I was a kid where everything was frozen in time and you could see what was about to happen in just a few minutes. A little girl was going to get hit by a truck and it was the challenge of the people who were not frozen to figure out how to save her when time “unfroze.”

Over the past 8 months I haven’t really moved anything of Michael’s. It’s all as it was before his seizure. His phone is still activated, his computer is still plugged in. The pants he bought days before his seizure still sit in his closet in the bag they came in. All his clothes are hanging in his closet and even the battery pack that he bought the weekend before his seizure is sitting on his tall Craftsman toolbox. His fishing poles remain in the back of the van. The tackle box sits right by the door on his side of the garage. Everything in the garage and the basement (his realms) is as it was.

Some days I walk through the garage or the basement or open his closet and stare as if there is something I should be doing with it all. The day I noticed the pants in the bag was just a few weeks ago. I opened the bag and the receipt said Sept 10, 2008. Six days before his seizure. A day just like any other day.

Since I finished the book on September 4th and promised Michael that we would now get back to “normal,” I remember those last two weeks very well. I had spent all summer hunched over my laptop writing the book. Michael would come in and ask me to take a break and I declined 99.9 percent of the time. I had to get the book written.

I would wave him off and promise him, when he seemed to get down about it, that we would indeed have fun once I finished. “The weather will still be warm and we will still have time to do many things before it gets cold…”

On September 13th we took the little boys to Bear Mountain. We had a lovely time as the pictures show. But I noticed Michael was off. Something was off. But I was so glad to be out and about with him and the boys. The weather was still warm, as I said it would be, and this outing with the boys was just the beginning. I had so much to make up for. I would make it all up.

And then it was all gone. Gone. Just like that.

And in the Outer Limits episode a plane hangs in the sky. I remember that so well. So many days it feels like a plane is hanging in the sky. A plane that will never, ever land.

I passed the battery pack the other day, just sitting there. They are small batteries and I have no clue what they go to. I don’t know what I could even do with them. There they sit. Newly bought and never opened. What was he going to do with them? It’s a bizarre time in life to be surrounded with things that someone was in the middle of doing something with. The batteries, the pants, the fishing poles that are inside. He always brought them in when he needed to re-line them. Michael built some shelves in the basement so that when a store had a special on canned good or non-perishables he could buy in bulk. He would come in and just leave the items in the bag on the shelves. Over the past 8 months I’ve removed many of them from the bags. But still a few bags remain untouched with things that only he ate.

In the face of all these unfinished projects and items, I thought about families who have sudden loss. Whose loved one are killed or die suddenly. What do they do with their stuff and when? Do they just leave it there? Do they gradually get rid of it. Do they sell it? Give it away? Ignore it? What do you do and when?

What do I do with Michael’s stuff? There are boxes and boxes and boxes of his things everywhere. There is a person that has lived here and that I have lived with for over 13 years and that person was a packrat. Who knows what kinds of things are in these boxes. We were supposed to go through them over the winter and get rid of stuff….of course, we never did.

The kids refuse to take anything of his. In case he needs it, they said. The boys will not take his tools. No one will move anything of his. I could use the closet space but can’t bear to do anything with his clothes. I could use space in the basement but can’t bear to move a single box.

We have a professional quality pool table but don’t I play pool. All his personalized sticks and special balls that the kids bought him (like the Dale Earnhardt pool stick and World’s Best Dad cue ball) have just stayed where they are. The cue balls he last played with are all still in the pockets of the table. The boys used to come over and play even if he wasn’t here, but they haven’t played since he got sick. No one will touch any of the pool stuff.

I don’t know if it’s morbid to think about all this stuff…all this stuff that has been frozen in time for 8 months. At what point do I deal with any of it? It’s not like I’m in a rush TO deal with it, but it’s odd to be surrounded by so many things that continue to give me a snapshot of life before September 16th, 2008. The day my life changed forever. It’s weird to be around all the stuff that says that life should be normal. And knowing it’s anything but.

Michael and I shared an office. We had done that for the first 4 years of our marriage and then I had an office alone because I was in law school and later a lawyer. He kept his computer in the family room during the years I had my own office.

When I bought this house two years ago I insisted we set up our computers together like we did in the beginning. It was such fun to share an office together. To chit chat while we worked on the computers (okay, while I worked and he played games). It was nice. It reminded me of when we were first together and would spend hours together in the office. I was glad we were together again in the same room.

The office has turned into a storage room. It’s no longer like an office. I have crap everywhere. Piles of books and papers. The place screams, “No one lives here anymore.” I try to do all my computing on the laptop by Michael’s bedside which is now in the living room. I never want to go into the office anymore.

I have insomnia which is so bad that nothing touches it, and I think that I avoid going to bed at night because I don’t want to lay in the huge king-sized bed alone. I just lay in the middle of the bed and thrust my arms out to each side every single night and think this is the loneliest I have ever felt. I can hear the oxygen machine downstairs. Pumping air to my hunny who is sleeping in that big living room all alone. And I’m upstairs in the big dark room. Also alone. Some nights I try to will him up to me. “Get up” I whisper to the dark, “Please get up and be with me.” Come up those stairs like you did SO many times before and say, “Hey hun, what’s going on?” Please please please.

I don’t want to walk through the garage or in the basement. I don’t want to open certain closets. I don’t want to do anything except reverse time and keep it from taking him away from me.

Every day I think it is just not possible to miss him more than I already do. And every day I look over and something is there that makes me miss him more.

My heart aches with lack of acceptance of how things are. I just scream inside all the time. I want to give him those pants and tell him to put them on and let’s go out for ice cream or lobster or something fun. I want to tell him to put his batteries in whatever they go in. Put the tackle box away dear before I trip over it. Get the fishing poles out of the van. Get those golf clubs off my side of the garage. Let’s look in this box and see if we keep it or get rid of it. Let’s go in the office and play computer games.

And take my hand

and

let’s go to bed.

Please.

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