Either Jason wasn’t real, or his death isn’t real. Even at seventeen and a half months, I can’t reconcile both of these things. There is no way I had this and that I don’t have it now. The lifetime that I shared with him can’t be the same lifetime I am living now.
Maybe it’s because I’ve moved back into my mother’s house, the house I grew up in, and the place I came home to after college. But it feels like the years between twenty and thirty-two weren’t part of my life. They aren’t the life I have now. This life I have now is more like a continuation of who I was when I was eighteen. I’m working in theater, writing angsty shit on the internet (though to be fair, I didn’t start writing angsty things on the internet until after Jason and I started dating), and trying to make it in the arts, while living at home. This is who I was at eighteen and twenty and twenty-two. So those fifteen years in the middle must not have happened.
Except I pay a mortgage every month, my cat just walked across my hands, and I still talk to myself in Bislama. And when I’m not paying attention, the grief monster escapes its leash and I cry all the way home from work. Or I look for him on Bear Stage to tell him I’m walking down to the Revelers’ 5 o’clock set. Or I dream about him and it feels like the most natural thing in the world to kiss him. Then I wake up and he’s still dead.
I don’t know when I will understand that Jason is dead. Like, really, truly, not coming back dead. I don’t yet. Part of me hopes I never will. Part of me wants to believe forever that he is just at a show, or out of town, or not home yet from work. Part of me wants to pretend that he’ll come home at any moment. That I should think about lunch or dinner or where our training clothes are so we aren’t late to class.
And part of me has gotten on with living. Part of me finished my Masters degree and got a job. Part of me planned out the work on the house and installed windows and figured out how much I needed to earn to keep it. Part of me has made choices that will set me up, and are setting me up, to have a future. It’s a future in which he’s part of the past.
I understand why people freeze in time when their partner dies. It would have been easier to let the house stay exactly as it was. It would have been easier to stop progressing. I could have left my Masters half finished (like so many other projects in my life), and he always would have known how far I got. I got as far as his death.
It is harder to make choices. I’ve had to make choices that I can’t ask Jason about. I had to decide by myself, the things we should have decided together. Most recently, I decided to take a job. Like a career job, not just another freelance gig. I had to make that choice alone. And by making that choice, I’m that much further from the person who Jason knew. Time is driving me slowly and inexorably away from him, and from who I was before his death. I hate it. I wish I could freeze time and never change. But to do that, I would have to stop living and I would hate that too.