Back in September I wrote about my first extended trip for work, going to a trade show in Anaheim. I was miserable that entire trip. It was incredibly difficult to be social given all that had changed in my life. It was the first time seeing most of my coworkers face to face (I work from home, 2,000+ miles from the office). It was also the first time I'd seen most of my customers, many of whom I'd become friends with in my 9+ years calling on them. In short, all I wanted to do was go home and sit with my memories.
I spent the past week in Seattle at another trade show. It was a repeat of the crowd from September. About half way through the week it occurred to me that I was actually enjoying myself amongst so many friends and familiar faces. The usual questions about how I am doing persisted, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I could answer honestly that I am well. That is not to say that I still don't have my moments, but I am learning to live with them the way that person learns to live with a prosthetic.
One thing that becomes apparent in the months after a traumatic event is that the world keeps moving whether you like it or not. It's just a fact of life. You want to press pause (maybe even stop) on everything, but you can't. People move on. Not all people, but a lot of them.
It's not a bad or mean thing. It's just what happens. If you are not directly connected to the event, not having to live with reminders of it everyday, eventually the memories fade. It's like a scar forming from the outside in.
This past week in Seattle reminded me of this, and I am actually kind of thankful for it. The walking on eggshells, the looks of concern, or worse total avoidance, were all missing. The show this past September hurt because nobody knew what to say or do. It all felt so immediate. The time and shift in focus since that time is nice. It is starting to feel normal. This past week was honestly like a working vacation. A time to being single-minded about my job, not having to worry about legacy, memory, or grief. A time to rest and gain perspective.
I am not sure that I would have had this realization had I not been so miserable back in September. Feeling like hot garbage most of that week, contrasted with some truly good moments this week, is uplifting. It is something that I hope will give me strength to cover these next two months. The calendar will be littered with landmines waiting to explode. The short list includes the anniversaries of most of our big road trips, our wedding and our first date. Father's Day. The one year mark and rememberances all the awfulness that followed.
Just writing that list out makes me tired and scared. But to paraphrase Albus Dumbledore: Fear of naming a thing increases fear of the thing itself. They are just dates on a calendar, no more, no less. What matters is meaning we assign to them. I will apply meaning to the happy and joyful things. I will tell the 5th of July to get bent.