Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 30: Saying "I Love You" for the first time

March 30, 2014

So what if it takes 7 hours and 23 minutes to lace up my running shoes? I'm going. I'm going out there. And I'm going to make my feet and legs go up and down and carry my body along the side of the river. And I'm going to put earbuds in my ears and I'm going to listen to This American Life and then some music. And perhaps I'll cry. And perhaps I'll smile. And perhaps I'll have moments of running and not remembering how I got there. Perhaps I'll need to stop and sit. Or fall to the earth. Look up at the sky and give thanks or beg for a different reality. But I will do it. I will inhabit this body and I will ask of it to please, please do for me something that I know used to bring me joy.

March 30, 2014

Hard to believe it was almost a month ago when Gareth's brother and I almost ran away and joined a group of Gyeongju pseudo-Harley riders. Bet you never saw this photo coming, did you, Gareth?  

 (Photo with Gareth's brother, Scott, and a group of Korean bikers on Scott's last day in Gyeongju with his parents before returning to New Zealand.)

March 30, 2014

I feel like posts about happy times/memories need to come with a disclaimer for those who are worried that I'm out of touch with the struggles I witnessed. I assure you, I'm not. And in time, that may be the focus of my grieving and letting go.

In the meantime, I'm grateful for the moments with the pain is numbed by the recollection of something truly joyful, as was the case this morning when I woke up.

I had trouble sleeping last night. I've found that a small dose of self-administered denial can get me through the roughest times. If I put my head on his pillow- the one that's like a little Gareth substitute- the one that has his blue v-neck t-shirt on it and still, if even barely, smells like him- If I put my head on there I'm slightly soothed. If I move my head just slightly...up with his imagined inhale...out with his imagined exhale...the pain stops almost altogether. This is what I do.

Off and on I slept last night. Once I woke up covered in sweat. Had I been dreaming? Twice I reached for my phone and scrolled through the lives of others until sleep came over me again. Once I heard the familiar chime that meant Gareth's mom had sent me a message and was thrilled to be taken along, through her sent photos, a walk on the river bed in Gareth's hometown.

I finally woke up for good with a memory. It's the memory of the first time we said "I love you." You know. It's a funny thing in a relationship, that first admittance, which usually comes long after the thought is in one's own head.

The very first time I said it was an accident. We'd make fun of it later. "You really like me, don't you?" Gareth said once. "Like you? I LOVE you!" I replied- and then immediately my eyes got big. I wanted to take it back. Oops. That wasn't when/how I meant to say it. "Dang it!" I said. "You tricked me!" and I burst out laughing. This was not the time he'd say "And I love you, too." We giggled and swept it under the love rug and maybe days later, maybe weeks later, is when it happened.

We had been sleeping. It was early morning. Love woke me up and stirred and billowed and sped its way through my limbs and shot out of my fingertips and the ends of each strand of my hair. I placed my hand on his shoulder and shook it. "Gareth?" In a sleepy tone, he replied..."Yeah?"

"I love you. I mean, I LOVE you. And I can't not say it anymore. I'm trying to cage it- keep it behind my teeth- but I'm seriously afraid I might explode if I don't say it. So...there. There it is. I love you. I don't just like you. I don't just think you're funny and great to be around. I don't just think you're handsome. I love you. And you don't have to say it back. You don't. I just have to say it., there it is."

Perhaps I've seen someone smile more that he did in that moment, but I can't recall it ever happening. I can't.

He took my face in his hands. "I love YOU. I LOVE you, Bridget. I love BRIDGET. Gareth loves Bridget."

"And Bridget loves Gareth." I reply.
"I love you, Bridget."
"I love you, Gareth."
"I really do. I really, really love you! Oh my God! I LOVE you!" He laughs. "I LOVE Bridget!" He is delighted. I laugh, too. "I love YOU!" he squeals.

Like a true poet, he let the words spill from his mouth, playing with the emphasis of each one. And each combination was like a new concept he delighted in. "I love you. I LOVE you! I love YOU! I love BRIDGET. GARETH loves BRIDGET."

I love you, too. I love Gareth. (Say it again, he'd say.) I love Gareth. (Again.)

He was like a kid, having been told there was no Santa Claus, suddenly told, "Just kidding! There really IS a Santa Claus! Look! Here he is! And he's got a shit-ton of gifts for you that he's been saving over the years that we tricked you into thinking there wasn't a Santa." He was animated. He was delighted. He was alive.

I think about this now and I smile. I get out of bed and brush my teeth, staring off into nothing and I smile. Gareth loves Bridget. Gareth LOVES Bridget. Gareth loves BRIDGET.

And Bridget loves him.


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