It’s a beautiful morning here in Mayberry, and I am feeling so very grateful to be here. I’ve gone through a lot the last month or so. A misguided attempt to help someone who was very special to me led to hurt feelings and what have you. Honestly, I don’t know who I thought I was that I would even attempt to save someone else. I can’t even save myself. But some people just sort of stick to your heart for reasons you may not even understand. When that happens, you have to at least try to help them, should they find themselves in a terrible dilemma. That’s what I think, anyway.
I’ve been being productive on the homefront. My little house is beginning to take on the ambiance of a sanctuary. It’s like a tiny jewel box, holding all of my very favorite things. I have no room for much else. If something doesn’t qualify as an heirloom or ‘most loved’ possession, it doesn’t get a spot here. The reason is a simple one: My dining area, den and bedroom could all comfortably fit into the den at my old house. My entire kitchen is about the size of my old bathroom, and my bathroom is the size of my old closet. To say that I have downsized is the understatement of the century. However, in light of how badly things turned out in the year before Bennie’s death, I’m thankful that I’m not living in a refrigerator box under an overpass.
Bro is coming to visit at the end of October. We are finally going to all be together, at once, and will be spreading Bennie’s ashes. He will have been gone a year and a half by then. I know that seems a rather long time to wait to have a proper funeral, but Bro couldn’t get enough time off of work before, and we all wanted to be together when we finally laid Bennie to rest. It will be nice to have my boys together. I wish it weren’t such a grim deed that they will gather for, but it is suiting that they be the ones who dispense of their father’s remains. Bennie was their hero…a god to them. Even after he changed, the relationship with his sons remained the same. I thank God for that.
Yesterday, I took Bennie’s picture off of the shelf. It’s in the buffet with every other picture with him in it. I enjoy having family pictures sitting about, but it’s not easy to see his face at every turn. So, for the holiday season, his image will be long gone from my view. I feel better, already. I didn’t realize how much it was bothering me until I closed the door to the buffet. The moment it closed, I swear I could breathe deeper. My chest hurt less. It was, instantly, less tumultuous inside of my head. I had no idea that it was bothering me so much.
I think that we all grieve differently and that we are never certain how grief will manifest in our lives, over time. I had joined a couple of groups after Bennie passed. There was much discussion of the Five Stages of Grief. Initially, I was relieved that there were only five stages, figuring that I could work right through them and be done with it. However, I quickly learned that there are a million stages of grief. And, they don’t come in a specific order. They reveal themselves when THEY decide it’s time.
In so many ways, I have yet to truly acknowledge Bennie’s death. I don’t know if I ever will. Don’t care if I do, or not. All I know is that it’s taken me seventeen months to make my personal boat stop rocking and to find some real footing without him being here. As horrible as it was to be married to him, at least I knew my role in life. I believe that knowing who you really are, and what your role in this world is, is the most difficult part to deal with when your abuser passes. You grow so used to catering to someone that it becomes natural. You don’t even hear the noise of it all until it’s quieted by the hand of God. It’s a paralyzing thing, that. Silence. Normalcy. Taking care of yourself instead of someone else. You wouldn’t think the last thing would be so difficult, but it is. Because, when you live with someone who constantly puts you in your place, the only thing you want to do is take care of them so that they will leave you alone, if that makes sense. You don’t spend a lot of time on how you look or dress, as they may call upon you at any moment and you don’t want to be ‘dragging ass’ when they do. Unless you enjoy getting spit at and/or on, or find the sight of a man with his hand on a gun while he yells at you to be a good thing.
There is so much about my life with Bennie I’ve never told anyone about. Partly, because I don’t like who I was with him, and I think the fact I stayed with him all of those years reflects very poorly on me as a person. I don’t recall having too many good things to say to the man during the last years of his life. I do recall jumping when he said jump. No matter what I said, he always knew that he was in control of me. He loved that. He loved to control me. And, it was only me. I don’t know why.
I really don’t know why I miss him. But, I do. I guess it’s because he knew everything about me, and I, him. At my age, there will never be another who knows me that well. I’ll never look into another man’s face and be able to remember what that face looked like at 18. There will never be another man who was my first. Nobody will be able to laugh with me about that night in the back of his truck, fumbling around like idiots under his old sleeping bag. lol! It may not have been the ideal ‘first time’, but I’d take it over a planned night at the San Louis any day. I guess that’s the guy I’m mourning. He’s the one who danced in the living room with me…the one who’d take me to the beach to make love while we watched the sun rise. He was the one who woke me during a midnight thunderstorm to take me outside to play in the rain because he knew I loved it so much. Truly, I think I’ve been grieving for that man for fifteen years, already. I never really knew the man who died in that hospital. That man was cruel and selfish and hated everything about me. He wasn’t my Bennie. And he deserved what he got.