We were definite opposites. I always used to poke fun at him about being a busy-body, never sitting down, always checking things off his list in his head. Shayne was so efficient. Always on a task.
One task to the next.
I don’t know if it was anxiety or just his love language, acts of service, the need to be helpful and productive.
He wouldn’t relax, I would have to remind him to take a break, take it easy.
I loved watching him, though, this interesting creature of task and habit.
And he’d catch me eyeing him and smiling, and say to me, “Aaaaaaaalways watching!” Yep.
Always watching. Observing. Taking you in.
I don’t regret a single moment I did now.
Because I remember the way he moved and cleaned pots and pans with the sponge, how he’d only put a little tiny spot of dish soap on it, stick it under the faucet and squeeze out the soapy water onto the pan and scrub. I can still see how he folded laundry and hugged the girls and mowed the yard and brushed his teeth.
I absorbed it all. I could describe it all.
He would be going about his duties… and I would intentionally stand right behind him and put my hands up like in a “come on! bring it in! take a second to come up for air and hug me!”
Sometimes I’d wait for an entire minute! Just smiling and holding my arms out. He would be so deep in his task he wouldn’t even notice me, outstretched arms, looking like a dork, waiting for him to pause and give me a hug.
I did it just to bug him and distract him, mostly. He’d finally turn around or notice me and close his eyes, shake his head and laugh, like, “Geez. Really? Now?”
Oh yeah. Now. Bring it in.
Moving with him always seemed like it was going to part of our story.
Part of our adventure together. It felt natural. After awhile we grew accustomed to change, adapting. I never knew or met anyone who felt so unwilling to settle just anywhere as I did.
If we didn’t like a place, we knew pretty quickly… catch the vibe, quietly make the switch happen and off we went.
Between 2007 and 2016 we moved 9 times together.
I remember our first big move together to Chicago, we had to rent a UHaul and tow my 1991 Isuzu Trooper behind it. I didn’t know how to drive a manual… which of course his Chevy Blazer was, so I had to drive the UHell with a big ass trailer towed behind it.
I can’t even believe he trusted me to do that. No choice. Either learn the stick or drive the UHell.
I can’t even tell you how nervous I was driving that damn thing!
Why didn’t I just learn how to drive his Blazer….????…….
Our move from South Florida to Nashville in 2011 was just a haphazard shit show and hurried.
We had been living in and were moving out of a trailer on a wholesale plant nursery property, where Shayne worked.
We didn’t want to pay for a UHaul so we… ok, really, Shayne, packed our cars to their absolute capacity.
Smashing in anything and everything into every crevice of the car.
I don’t think we could even see out of any of the windows in either of our vehicles.
My dog was hitting her head on the ceiling of my Toyota Matrix, Shayne had packed my front seat with so much stuff.
We even left a bunch of our belongings to collect at a later date, which we did about a month later.
I can’t believe we did this……the trailer, the cars, everything……… all I can do is laugh.
I can’t remember what happened to my rims!?
I loved that porch though.
Needless to say, moving… even just a few miles away now… without him feels lonely, frustrating and like I’m trying to make sense of the senseless all over again.
He should be here. Busy-bodying.
Even though I had a crew of people help me sell off, give away or donate a majority of our lives together last year before moving here… I hung onto this personals and some of his clothes.
I have been putting off going through his clothes and finally did yesterday, donating a few bags full to a local addiction recovery center.
I still have a lot of his personals… photo albums, cards, lots of memories.. even before he met me. I have it all.
The clothes are what have been especially nagging on me.
Because they are literally hanging in my closet, mixed in with mine.
I had kept all his jeans, polos, socks, shirts, jackets, hoodies… not knowing what I wanted to do with them. If anything. I wanted to wait.
But now, I look in my closet and see them and more than feel good they are there… felt exhausted.
Angry. Sad. Frustrated.
Not necessarily inspiring any good feelings.
I would think… ‘Why are your things in here that you’re not even using? And just sitting in a box? Why am I keeping them?’
Are they bringing me any more peace, joy?
Isn’t that what I need to be striving for…?
Don’t I deserve that?
Doesn’t make sense to keep bringing them along, does it?
So I started going through it.
Closing my eyes, shoving pieces in bags, breaking down when I saw his sweater that he wore our first New Years together.
Sobbing in frustration.
I would put it in the bag and walk away, heated, angry.
And return to the pile to stuff more in and away.
Then the sweater he wore his last birthday we celebrated with him.
The shirts I bought him. The socks he wore to work.
Everything had a memory attached.
I knew every article and when he wore them.
I was standing, crouched over just bawling my eyes out, clenching these clothes in my fists.
Squeezing what life was left in his clothes.
Saying, “How could you do this? How could you do this to me?”
As if he would somehow answer me.. he never does. I just keep crying and asking anyway.
Then I found a t-shirt and as tears were rolling down my cheeks I started to laugh.
I didn’t want to laugh, I wanted to stay mad and sad, but I couldn’t help it.
Keeping it. Its an orig.
We went to the T-shirt Deli our first trip to Chicago together and had these made.
It literally is a deli setting, you pick your shirt off a menu, font, text, they make it right there and you pick it up wrapped in butcher paper complete with “deli” stickers.
We didn’t tell each other what we were “ordering” on our shirts.
Mine obviously says, “Mrs Stephenson.” Of course!
He seemed okay with my overzealousness… I think to myself now, why and how didn’t he run away?!
But not, I guess.
Who wouldn’t want to be loved like that. I know I would, and was… in his way.
When you know, you know.
Energy, vibes, gut, intuition… whatever you call it – doesn’t lie! I knew it even then.
I loved him and knew he was going to be mine. Let’s not waste anymore time. Blind leaps are my specialty.
It made perfect sense in my head. Still does.
Be bold. Let’s get the shirts. Call it a day. All in. Settled, you have me, I have you. CHECK! Lets move onto bigger, grand scheme life shit.
We had an inside joke, he would always say, “Man I’m beefin’ it!” when he messed something up or embarrassed himself in front of me.
Which he felt like he was always doing… tripping up. Burning popcorn. Guessing the wrong pizza slice I was going to pick. That sorta thing.
All I remember is laughing hysterically when he unwrapped his shirt, like, really?!
You’re really going to wear that?! Ha! Not sure if people are going to get the “right” idea….
He did. He wore the damn shirt.
And I wore mine. And that’s just how we did the damn things.
All the moves and moving we did together, not once would I have ever been able to imagine taking any of those steps onward without him.
And now, here I am. Onward alone. Getting it done.
Must go onward.
Tense. Anxious. And slowly.
Having to stop and give myself a lot of grace.
Which I am not really great at. He would always, always say, “Why do you shut down, why are you always so hard on yourself. Why do you do that.”
Rhetorically asking of course, he knew I wouldn’t answer him.
And I can hear him now.
I am tired.
I am tired of being sad. I am really tired of feeling these things, and this way.
Getting impatient with myself and process.
Come on already.
With my head in my hands the other night I pleaded out loud, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
I don’t. I just don’t want to be heartbroken anymore.
I’m so emotionally tired.
I want to rip all these band aids off at once and just “get it over with!”
Race to the finish and look back already.
But I can’t.
I know I can’t. Its a process. Its a marathon.
Look back when? What and where IS the finish line?
There’s nothing I can do to heal my heart any faster that is broken because of losing a love like his, and his presence in my life.
But I’m still just trying to live my life and be present and show up and lean in for everything and everyone that is happening now. I want to.
I just want that other foot in the other side of the door to get over here already.
Come join us over here. It really is okay. Its going to be okay. I know this.
What a delicate dance. That most people cannot understand. And I can imagine at some point may need to move on or away from to protect their own happiness.
It may look like or seem like I am just carrying this around to delay starting the rest of my life, right?
“How can you still be so sad?”
“Why can’t you just do ________ and be okay?”
Sometimes I can. Sometimes I need to let myself feel it all and not rush the waves. Let them roll in and crash.
All I’m confident in saying now is that I’m just committed to showing up.
Whatever that looks like.
Committed to giving grace to myself, and others who are walking this closely with me, as front row as some may have been and are… people still can’t understand what they don’t understand.
Lots of grace and patience for everybody. Keep dishing it out.
As hard as it is, when I want to just scream, “GET ON MY LEVEL!”
I can’t. Because I don’t really want anyone to.
I don’t want anyone here feeling this. Its not a place I need or want company. As lonely and isolating as it is, I carry this. I carry it for Shayne and I.
And I know at some point I need to give myself credit, so I can stand on these two feet of mine with confidence, everybody deserves that.
To feel like they’re steady on their own. For the first time in my life.
Because I have had someone lifting me up the last 10 years, when I didn’t even know I needed it… its hard to do this now for myself.
But I can’t expect anyone to give me the credit I need and deserve, that I need to be giving to myself.
Its all tough. All of it.
But the only way out is through. Moving onward ever.