We had the kind of love that seemed to be infinite; the holding hands through the park, soft kisses in the rain, never say goodbye, type of love. The day that I was forced to say goodbye, I went through a lot of doubt, grief, and denial. My therapist explained that it was normal, that denial was one of the primary stages of grieving over losing a loved-one. She told me that it would get easier; that somehow, someway, I would grow and move apart from our relationship, and the shattered heart of mine would be miraculously replaced with reinforcements. You ever hear of those saddening stories of people with mental illness, and how they take drugs to soften the pain? The idea of self-medication was a necessary evil; and sometimes the only barricade to feeding a broken heart. Mine didn’t require the use of drugs or alcohol. I had a much darker antidote.
The first snowfall of the season had stricken the town, leaving it a messy, white, illusionary snow globe. It was right before lunch period, and a lot of students had decided to skip out on school because they weren’t used to driving in inclimate weather with their newly found licenses. Most parents didn’t mind this easy attempt at playing (and winning) hooky, but Bradley’s parents did. The school’s attendance policy was to call the parents’ of the students’ who did not show up for morning class without calling in sick. When his parents’ received the phone call, Bradley bitterly swept on a clean pair of clothes, terminating his self-made snow day. The accident was a fleeting slaughter of future; quick, destructive, and fatal. I was just sitting down with my plastic, unstable lunch tray filled with a cardboard imitation of pizza, watered diced pineapple, and a carton of chocolate milk. Waiting in our usual meeting spot, I patiently glared at my food as if it were to grow eyes and stare back. I knew it didn’t take long for Bradley to drive to school, as I usually drove with him. He lived just a few blocks away. I wondered if his parents let him off the hook after all. In social settings, it is interesting to see just how quickly messages can travel. This one was as deadly and torturous as an epidemic. When it finally reached me, I was in fact, infected.
It was Sara who first arrived to my table, in a panic.
“Jodie, did you hear?” She breathed.
“Um” I responded, having no words. There wasn’t much of a reaction at first, I didn’t even
know what she was talking about. She knew the truth was, I didn’t want to.
I started in a pottery class shortly after Bradley died in the accident. I wasn’t very artistic, but it gave me something productive to do. My therapist recommended it, and sometimes that was much easier than facing school. In a way, I became an artist; using my hands to shape my emotions into physical form. Pottery class reminded me of Bradley and I’s relationship. My first project required a lot of time and effort, molding and beating the clay with intricate finger strokes and pressure. Over time, I realized that the pot was becoming smoother, connected, and more like concrete. I spent weeks learning how to operate and successfully mold the clay into the piece that I envisioned. Of course, it wasn’t perfect at first. But finally, when I learned to create, art was formed.
After the piece was fired, I remember holding my glass like, fragile; yet sturdy piece in my palms. I ran my fingers over each bump, crack, and imperfection that it held, and realized how perfect it really was. I spent another week glazing it, painting carefully and correcting it. It had turned into a masterpiece, stronger than ever and promising an eternity. It was the first time I felt an accomplishment or joy since he passed. The numbness would return shortly, but it was feeling alive for a second that was worth it. My therapist thought I was progressing, but the medicine didn’t help. Neither did talking. In fact, I didn’t talk much at all week to week. In a way, I guess we are like ceramic.
Bradley was to join the military after senior year had ended. As high school sweethearts, we had our plans of kicking our shoes off and diving into the ocean of life together. I knew I wouldn’t mind being a military spouse, because the arrival since his departure would be worth it each time. He wouldn’t become a pilot, nor would he arrive home with a bouquet of flowers and a bright- crooked smile through our front door. We wouldn’t have our picture-perfect first dance at our wedding, we wouldn’t shop for decorations for our first home, or experience the giggle of our first child. Death is a thief in the night, stealing our hopes and dreams while burdening us with the chilling memory of fate. I had a really difficult time coming to terms with it. I’d like to think he did too.
I knew what I was thinking, 24/7 every day. The sadness of my thoughts plagued my mind and raced in a frazzled derby each morning to the night. The thing was, I guess I desired to know what he was thinking as well. In a relationship, you almost constantly experience an influx of shared emotions. If there was a past life, I wondered if he was feeling the same; if he were happy, was it heaven? Would he come back? Would I see him again? All of these unanswered questions left for his answer. When the depression became too much, I’d break down and cry. I’d repent my questions and come up with catastrophic answers, time after time. I just needed to hear from him, even if for one last time.