I've become obsessed with counting.
Counting the hours, counting the days, counting the weeks since the night when Jason's brother knocked on my door and without saying a word I knew why he was the one standing there instead of my husband.
It was 10 o'clock at night. The time when Jay would usually come home from a driving shift, unless they got delayed.
The girls were in bed and I was getting ready to sleep. When I heard the hard knocking I thought Jason may have dropped his key on the dark. Did I not leave the outside light on? "I'm coming, I'm coming, gosh..'
The moment I open the door and saw my brother-in -law I knew. I denied with all my strength, I did not accept it, but I knew.
Even as I write these words my heart races as fast as it did then, my muscles tense and the pit of my stomach tightens.
The body remembers. My body remembers every night as it jolts me from my sleep. The same feeling of despair, the same shaking of my hands, the same agonising tightening of every muscle. And I see his face, pale, lifeless laying in that coffin.
The same face that looked at me so tenderly and kissed me good morning. The same face that showed his frustration when we argued, the same face that smiled wide when he saw me and the girls coming home and that laughed that booming laughter at the dinner table.
But my body doesn't remember those things. My body is stuck on that night, forcing me to relive the moment when my world collapses and my life fell apart.
Oh, this life that we so wanted to improve. This life that we worked so hard to make it a better life.
So many evenings we would lay in bed and dream of a better life for ourselves and our girls. 'Let's go to Australia... no, let's return to the States... or maybe we could try this or that...'
We would dream, we would talk, we would weigh out our options. We would try to work it out, how could we provide for our girls, afford life insurance, stop living from hand to mouth, how could we get a better life?
He went to study Counseling because his back was so broken and he was in so much pain that he wasn't able to work with his body strength any longer. He struggled with academia. He thought he was too dumb to graduate.
But he wanted a better life for me and the girls. He found a new kind of strength and a new pathway for what has always been his life purpose: to help others build a better life.
We talked and prayed as we did the dishes. 'I wash you dry.' Why do I always have to dry? He would ask already holding the tea towel which he would swirl around and smack me with.
Ouch! Honey... Stop. Ouch! Hey, don't pinch my bum, we are praying...
And so we would pray amongst the dishes. We would pray while he would hover his hand over my bum and I slapped his arm. We would pray for a better life, not realising that we were living the better life at that very moment.
Now, my life lays in ruins before me and I, in ruins, have no strength to pick up the pieces and carry on.
My youngest girl said: Mommy, after Daddy died I was afraid you would died to, because I heard that there are people that when the love of their life dies they die of a broken heart.
A heart that is broken is a heart that has been loved - I was much loved, and I loved with this heart of mine, as shattered as it is, as weak as it is, as hurt as it is.
Now, without him, I need to find a new normal. Without him, I need to build a better life for my girls, even as my body continues to remember and jolts me out of my restless sleep. Even as I count the hours, the days, the weeks, and from tomorrow on, I will be counting the months.