There we were, eagerly unwrapping our ice-cream treats. Big A and Little A were sharing one red Adirondack chair and I was sitting next to them.
Little A held up her treat, blue eyes wide open, smiling from ear to ear, "See what I gotted? Do ya? It's so awesome! I so excited!" And then she placed into my hands an orange push-up that she needed help opening.
It happened that fast; within one moment--years were erased and existed no more. I was eight years old, climbing into a wood truck, eagerly anticipating stopping into the local store after a delivery of lumber to get my orange push-up, my smiling grandfather placing a quarter on the counter to pay for it.
And just as quickly, I was back. To that moment in those red chairs. To her blue eyes. To the knowledge that he is gone; the racing of my heart when I remember again that I've spoken to him and seen him for the last time.
It's still not real, you know. Oh, it's real enough when I choke back tears and clear my throat and walk into a different room to gather myself. It's real enough when I hear my grandmothers changed voice and read her letters speaking of emptiness that I don't want to know. It's real enough watching the Tigers and trying not to remember how many days of my youth were spent lying on my stomach, viewing the Tigers with my grandparents.
It is real enough.
And yet, I must remind myself of this frequently and I worry of what is to come. If something so large, something so true, is something that I must consistently tell myself of--what will life make of me later?
It's the small things, the little moments, that quietly sneak up and startle me. The blue of the sky, hearing a laugh that sounds like his, a blown save by a Tiger's relief pitcher, an orange push-up.
I've never lost someone that I loved so much, and yet I know that there will be greater losses. The calendar days passing and my daughters so quickly growing do nothing to ease the fear that arises in me when I think of these things.
I try to capture time; to remember so much that it all becomes muddled and hazy--the things that I do remember are the small ones:
Big A's snarky comments, years beyond her age.
Little A's uncontrolled laughter anytime I squeeze her chunkins.
A red wood-truck picking up a tow-haired girl at the end of her driveway.
I miss him so much. Still. In uncontrolled ways when I am honest with myself, sobbing in the shower.
And then I walk out of the bathroom, smile at the Queens and slide orange push-ups to the top of their container, all the while pushing down the small things that keep rising to the surface.