I have been too sad to write for the past three days. Grief can be like paralysis.
Three days ago we celebrated New Years. I didn't want to celebrate. I didn't open my blinds to see 2015 until this morning. I wanted to remain cocooned in darkness. I didn't want to see what a new year looked like without you. I have stepped outside one time so far this year. I don't want to feel the breath of the new year on my skin. I have hardly responded to my phone messages. I've ignored my email. I haven't opened my computer. I don't want to see what the technology is offering. I don't want to hear the "Happy New Years". I don't want to see who got engaged. I don't want to hear the pop of champagne bottles or the clink of glasses. I've stayed as horizontal as possible until friends coerced me up to eat or Kira asked to go outside. But even she didn't want to see the sun.
Everyone who knows you is sad. I know that. I don't want to compare my grief to others. But watching others smile, celebrate, and honor you through stickers, signs, stories, and memorabilia isn't enough for me. I tried to do it. It worked for a few hours. But the highs are low and the lows aren't describable by language. That's why I haven't been writing. I can't put words to my sadness. There's no way to explain the sorrow when I wake up and you're not there. There's no way to explain how it feels to remember you're gone minute-after-minute. There's no way to explain what life looks like with the knowledge that I can't be with you. Every time I close my eyes I'm taken back to that night. When I sleep, what used to be dreams are now robbed by chilling nightmares. When I feel close to you for a moment – maybe by hearing a song you loved, being near someone who reminds me of you, or seeing a sign from above – the comfort is fleeting. What lingers is a gut-wrenching reminder of how absent you are and guilt for my temporary solace.
I've spent the last week or so surrounded by friends of yours who have been in your life for years, many more years then I was. I have heard story after story that I wasn't around for. I have met people that you never got to introduce me to. I've had heart-to-hearts with friends that I wasn't able to deeply connect with until now, until tragedy hit. And they're all sad. They all miss you. They all love you. But I watch their lives continue and it makes me feel angry. It's anger that I know isn't warranted. But I want to dive under my covers, ignore any semblance of forward motion, and never come out – and definitely not watch others move forward with their new year and their happy lives.
I'm envious of all the people who shared decades with you. I didn't even get two years with you. And yet I had dreams about you since I was a child. And since we started our life together, since we fell in love, I needed to wake up with you each morning. I depended on your kiss to fuel the start of my day. I got to admire you as you did little nothings like brush your teeth, shave, or make tea. I took great care in sudsing you up in the shower, cleaning every bit of you with love and organic soap. I exercised more patience than I knew I had when I'd towel you dry. I moved slowly when I'd kiss your chest and watch your eyes light up with desire. I got to combine my pleasure with your pleasure and witness the creation of true love.
But now I wake up alone. I washed the sheets yesterday because they smelled of tears, sweat, loneliness, and nightmares. And last night I barely slept. I was cold in our bed. I felt so foreign on those clean sheets, the ones that I'd surprised you with one day because they were made out of bamboo and I knew you'd love them. When I did sleep, I dreamt that our house was being robbed while I lay in bed unaware. I woke up in fear and I realized it's a dream I've had a few times now – everything I thought was mine disappearing, everything I thought I could trust being ripped out from under me – a thinly veiled reality.
Kira sleeps on the bed next to me now. She can tell she's needed. She tries to let the weight of her body and the rise and fall of her breath comfort me, but it hardly helps. It just makes me feel even more sad for her loss. Because she misses you too. She wanders around the house and stares out into the distance with the sad eyes of an old dog who's left watching her mom cry all day when just months ago we were all so happy together.
On New Year's Eve I went all-access to your favorite show. I wore stickers with your initials all over me. I stuck smiley faces all over myself and everything I touched, something you were known for doing. I held a sign in the air that read "Team Welles". I brought a bit of your ashes with me to the show in a Ziploc bag and dozens of your friends poured tubes of glitter in with them. I told those who knew you, "If you'd like to take some of him, you can. We can all toss him up in the air at midnight." We called it 'Teddy Confetti'.
I thought people would think I was nuts. But they didn't. With gratitude and love, hand after hand after hand (including band members and their wives!) scooped up your glittery remains and not only offered you to the air, but put you on their faces like warpaint and pressed you to their lips like a kiss. There was more Ted on people's faces than I ever would have been OK with had you been alive! It was an honor to know that the man I love so much, the man I miss and crave so desperately will never be forgotten. And it was truly beautiful to witness how much people wanted a part of you to be a part of them. During the encore, the lights lit up with your name and the band sang the refrain, "Sometimes it seems like such a hard life, but there's good times around the bend. The rollercoaster's got to roll to the bottom if you want to climb to the top again". For about five-minutes, I felt joyful. But when the band left the stage and the house lights came on displaying the wreckage of dirty confetti and popped balloons, my sadness sank in deeper and the guilt-clock chimed.
For every step forward, it's a few steps back. I feel I'm still lingering somewhere around the start-point. Time slithers forward even though I regress. What is time anyway? What is something you can't see, you can't feel, you can't taste? Is it even real? And yet we celebrate the damned thing anyway. So, New Years – the end of a year that housed so much love, so much beauty, and both the happiest and the saddest days of my life. Around me, I watched people curse the old and await the new, while I curse the now and the new, and hide under my sheets hoping to go back three months – back to happiness, back to love, and back to when I wanted to see the light that each day brings.