I didn't know what to expect from this weekend. I am in Chicago for the Pink Party, the fundraiser event that your sister Berkley, and her husband Bob, founded to honor their beloved baby Jane who was born asleep 3 years ago. It is the event we met at. It is our two-year anniversary. A year ago, we attended this event arm-in-arm. I wore a European pink, chiffon, and sequin strapless gown. I'd bought it in Vail one day when you went skiing and I stayed at the house to work. I felt like a prima ballerina at the party that night, our one-year anniversary. You coordinated your outfit with my dress, as you always loved to do. We shopped together to find you a tie and a new shirt. Initially, you planned to wear a black suit – you felt it was appropriate for winter – but I convinced you to go with your grey one – a Hugo Boss we bought together for you in Austin. You looked so handsome in a suit. It was you in a suit that caught my eye two-years ago at this same event. But, I don't get to see you in a suit tomorrow. It is not only our two-year anniversary, but also marks three months since your death. I have my pink dress, but I don't have my love. Your sister has the memory of Jane, she has her newborn son, William, but she doesn't have her brother. Anxiety is creeping up into my chest. My skin feels chilled. My throat is raw. My heart beats loudly, a reminder that it is still working even though it's in severe pain. My eyes are cast low. The sound of my own laughter is a shock to my system; it hits like a static shock when you unknowingly touch a charged doorknob or railing. My dreams are cursed. My thoughts feel claustrophobic in the confines of my skull. I feel lost.
I walked by a store this morning called Material Possessions. I slowed and gazed at the window displays. I thought about all the things in there that people would purchase just so they could take ownership of something. So they could show off what they have. I used to show you off. I thought I had you. But I learned you cannot possess ones heart, not even your own – it can go at any time. I thought about how, over the past few months, material possessions have suddenly seemed so immaterial. And yet, at the same time, I've also felt a need to hold onto what is mine. This is my shoe. This is my car. This is my phone. You cannot take it! It is MINE. I've felt a sort-of deserving (a nasty word that I try to avoid) towards whatever I can possess. I have been robbed of what's most important to me. I am free-falling through life right now. Whatever I can cling to is giving me some sort of stability, some sort of wall to hold. When the lover is ripped from my bed, the career is pulled from before my eyes, and in some sense, the floor from beneath my feet – what am I supposed to hold on to? I wrap myself in my own arms, but I am still cold. I need your arms. But if I can't have your arms, I at least need a really warm, new, fancy blanket.
It's been painful for me to go back and look at photos of us. Seeing the joy in my eyes, the height of my cheekbones due to a smile so big, and the closeness of our bodies pressed together makes my whole being quake with sadness. I'm jealous of past-Sami. But I'm also scared that if I don't look, I'll forget. I'll forget the way I felt when I was with you – complete peacefulness, exuberant joy, unconditional love. I know the words I felt, but will I remember the feeling? When we were together, we didn't need to be anywhere else but with each other. We were just as happy under the covers alone as we were in a crowd of loved ones. We were always smiling together, even when we were grumpy about life. We were always having fun. There was never a lull in joy.
So, to preserve the memories, I looked at the photos of us from this same event, one year ago. I admired the giddyness in my eyes with an envious despair. I looked at how your fingers gripped into my shoulder in one photo, a proud possessiveness. I looked at how your hands interlaced around my waist in another, pulling me close into your hug. I pressed into you with beaming willingness. I looked at a photo of us kissing. We are smiling so big that our lips are too puckered to kiss properly. My cheekbones smash into my eye sockets because of my grin. We look like two frozen goldfish. My eyes are slivers that can't see – but they don't need to because they feel your touch, your caress. I would happily be blind for the rest of my life if I could just feel you alive, if I could just hear your voice.
As an anniversary gift to us, I plan to listen to the one voice-mail I have from you that I have never checked. You left it for me about a week before you died. It will probably be you asking me to pick up some avocados or you letting me know that you scheduled an appointment to get your tires rotated. But, just maybe, it will be a message I need to hear. Maybe you will tell me you are always around me. Maybe you will tell me that I will be happy again someday. And maybe, hopefully, I will be able to hear you say "I love you" in your voice, one final time, for the first time.