(The closed end of Jason's casket at the service. Pictures, his old faithful Auburn cap, flowers, and one of many crashed motorcycle helmets laid on him in the open end)
I don't feel strong, I don't feel like I'm doing anything differently than any mother worth her salt would do. I paint my face in the morning, I slip into some business casual attire, clip on my name badge, and I sip my large Diet Coke on the way to my downtown office, as if it's a normal Wednesday. But it couldn't be less like a normal Wednesday. Just like a cheap magician, I have fooled you with an optical illusion, a magic trick. The makeup disguises the redness and dark circles from crying and lack of sleep. The business attire doesn't allude to the endless hours I've spent in the same T shirt and pajama pants of Jason's. The name badge just reminds me of who I am supposed to be today. My trusted Diet Coke is my comfort food (do NOT tell me it will cause cancer).
Today is a particularly hard day for me to play these games. On this day 3 years ago, Jason asked me to marry him. He took me to that special restaurant I've talked about, and before dinner, he dropped to one knee, pulled out a diamond ring, and asked me to be his wife. People passing by on the street stopped and said their "Awww"s and wished us luck. I called friends and family and of course immediately updated my Facebook relationship status, duh.
Shortly after he proposed, the restaurant burned down. It was like it fulfilled its destiny. He took me there on our first date, for special occasions and then to make it official. So it was almost ok that it burned down! Like it had this one purpose, to be our place.
(Our restaurant at 1022 South Broadway, burning. I was more affected by this than one should be. Jason proposed on the sidewalk in front of that tiny green awning in the middle, March 5, 2011)
The street address of "our spot" is forever etched into my memory. With as many wonderful memories as we had there, I can't see past the image on the medical examiner's file listing it as the place Jason's death occurred*. The place of our first date, the place of our last date. Both times with a single rose laying in front of me. In a way, I feel like this restaurant fooled me with its own smoke and mirrors. It seemed to promise me forever, but it didn't keep its end of the deal.
(My final rose from Jason. Just like the one he gave me on our first date)
1022 South Broadway was rebuilt after the fire with a newer, albeit less charming, face. I can't help but wonder if I will follow suit.
For now it's too early to say. For now, I have to put on my show and pretend that today has no power over me; that it's not taking pieces of me with it. I will chat with coworkers and family. At least for the daylight hours, I will try to ignore the lump that has been in my throat all day, threatening to give me away before I can stop it. I will attempt to continue my master show of il•lu•sion (noun): 1. an experience of seeming to see something that does not exist or that is other than it appears.
*For those of you keeping up, Jason did eventually pass in the ER [see my first post], but this is listed as the location of first occurrence