12 Minutes

I have a 12 minute commute to work.  It’s an easy 12 minutes.

on the way in, I mentally prep for the day.  Orders that need to be written, reports to review.  Plans for my group.  Typical middle-management office stuff.

It used to be the 12 minutes on the way home was my decompression time.  I’d start planning the evening.  What is for dinner? Do I need to stop at the grocery?  What is my Triscuit situation?  Where are the kids and what are their plans?  Should we go up north this weekend?

I had so much life to prep for.  Life all around me.  Mostly busy.  Mostly pleasant.  Always usual.

Now, since my guts have been ripped out and my soul gets shocked with a wave of realization several times a day, my 12 minutes home are a different order of decompression.

I spend the day trying to avoid the quagmire of my own thoughts.  Which means that when I get in the car and mentally let go of my office, I slip into this robe of sadness and helplessness.  I can’t tell if it’s comfortable, being there.  I’m not sure what it does, but it is.

I spend those 12 minutes gearing up for tears, then crying.  I remember all of the thoughts I so desperately want to let go of.  I try to wear them down, to make my brain tired of replaying the horrible memories so it will stop.  I cry.  Sometimes it’s straight up sobbing.  Sometimes I just well up, then suck it up.

When I have 6 minutes left in my drive, I start to compose myself.  I look for Flogging Molly’s “If I ever leave this world alive”and play it twice.  Singing along.  It was my anthem when my late husband passed.  It was my touchstone for grief.  I come back to it for familiarity.  That song ushered me through many commutes home when I was raw from the first passing.  It carries me home again.

When I have 2 minutes left, I breath deeply and with purpose.  I try to think of something happy.  I remember her voice.  Her opinions.  Her shine.

When I pull into my garage I go into the evening.  I do not know what’s for dinner.  I have not stopped for groceries.  I’m not sure where Alex is. I am not prepared for my life.

My 12 minutes have a new and strange focus.  I hate them.  I hate them.  I treasure them.  I hate them.

The 12 minutes are mine and hers.


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