The sun is out, and the Agapanthus are spiking their delicate purple floral orbs around the backyard. It is Memorial Day weekend and the eight month anniversary of Aaron’s passing. It’s equally weird to me as I’m purchasing my plane tickets to Scotland today, which is where I’ll be for our birthday and the six months after that. I miss Aaron a lot today, obviously, but at the same time, I’m yearning for normalcy (it doesn’t help that, yet again, I’ve caught a cold that has given me coughing for a week. Ugh. Cough cough cough). Dad has retreated into his cave more than he normally does; Mom is angry. And I don’t blame them one iota. I think I’m in the middle, as I’m lucky to have work as a distraction (especially with Scotland on the horizon). They are retired now and haven't found their new normal yet (and spending all day on Facebook doesn’t count!), but I’m hoping they’re able to start finding it soon. Having them with me for the first two weeks will make Scotland both unforgettable and hard: great because I get to spend my birthday with them and hard because once they leave, then I’ll be alone. The thought exhilarates me, though! The fact that work is allowing me this opportunity to work from afar and still produce the quality of work I’ve been doing for six years makes me grateful. Scotland will force me to find a new normal and try new things (haddock!). It’s scary, but I’ll be okay. I know it. I leave on August 5, and I’m counting down the days already.
Aaron died of a heart attack. After three days of not knowing what killed Aaron, we finally found out that it was a heart attack. It’s not the medical term, but it’s the type of heart attack that doctors commonly refer to as “The Widow Maker.” Alex filled in the details: it’s when the left artery becomes fully blocked, resulting in a catastrophic heart attack. The knowledge of knowing what had happened to Aaron helped us get out of that purgatory. There was a sense of relief in knowing what it was, but now we moved on to the harder part of figuring out what to do next. I think of all of those families who deal with missing children or those missing during war. The knowledge of knowing what happened does add a weird sense of closure but opens the door to the next phase of grief. Whatever that may be. I replay Bob’s phone call in my brain often. I replay the call I had to make to my parents often. I sometimes think about what that scene must have looked like with Aaron on the ground. It’s almost like I’m just hovering over him, while he lays there on the bathroom floor. I’ve asked Bob not to ever, ever, ever tell me what Aaron was wearing when he died. For years, my brother and I were obsessed with what people are wearing during climatic/suspenseful scenes in movies: Elisabeth Shue’s scarf in “Adventures in Babysitting”; Martha Plimpton’s scarf/hoodie in “The Goonies”; Kate Capshaw’s robe in “Temple of Doom”; Kim Basinger’s pink dress in “Nadine.” At the end of any mystery novel or horror book we both read, we would dissect the storyline, but there was always talk about what the hero or heroine was wearing. And it usually involved something like “Gwen got tore up in the end of that book! And yet somehow she had that purse strapped across her torso the entire time.” I think it was a weird twin thing that neither of us could understand. Not that Aaron was involved in some edge-of-your-seat situation where he was running to stay alive, but knowing about the clothes he wore that morning when he died would scar me tremendously, and I never want to know the answer.
I know that I take Southern California for granted. Sometimes I overlook the beaches, the sunny warmth on my face, the shallowness of Los Angeles, and forget that for all of its annoyances, it’s pretty spectacular. It takes one out-of-town visitor to make me want to soak in all things SoCal like the rest of us. In fact, I’ve lived here in Long Beach for two years and never walked over to the house used in the filming of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. So the day before Aaron’s passing, Dr. Alex and I walked over to the house, also since it’s one of his favorite movies (in all reality, how can one not like it!?!?). So Alex and I made it and took some photos out in front of the house. It was kind of fun to see a piece of film history (yes, I use that term) there in the flesh. Knowing that Jennifer Grey kicked the shit out of Principal Jeffery Jones in the side yard of that house is pretty cool. Later that evening, I took Alex to a going away dinner for my friends Ron and Katie. It was a great evening where Alex hung out with strangers and Ron and Katie told us that they were expecting…before they’d told anyone else. As a doctor, Alex had already guessed it, though. He said she radiated pregnancy. Looking back at that day through the lens of Aaron's death is fascinating. I remember my other friend, Adrienne, ordering a hippy-sounding beer and the vintage, half-naked women featured on posters in the men’s restroom. It’s weird what stays with me regarding that day.