It happens every single time I park at the gym. Every single time. Turning off the engine sends a rush of quiet where even my inner dialogue stops. All distractions gone, stillness settles and I can't hide anymore. There's only so much to keep you busy on the dashboard of a minivan. The tears start as yelps being swallowed hole in my throat until a few sneak past and land on my lime green Danskin shorts.
Jimmy is still not here.
In grief you feel like you go through these seasons of hell but then you get your lost one back. Obviously nonsense but that doesn't matter because in real life --alive life-- that's how it works: you get sick then you get better. A marriage breaks down then you get a divorce. Your kids backtalk then they have to call you Pretty Mama 10 times in a row. In your alive minutes all suffering is rewarded with something better.
Grief is not that way. It is this endless circus on the inside, only the kind of circus Stephen King would write. Demented ringmasters whipping at angry elephant paws to make them dance, stir a pot of noodles, do the dishes, feed yourself, smile at the people who don't know your world has lost its original compass, its only muse. Thin acrobats go dripping from one rusty trapeze to the next, sometimes with only one apathetic bent knee because there is no rush. They know it's going to be a while.
Your gut aches so much that rings of fire don't sound so bad with their singe and release, singe and release. Numbness, after all, is what you're after.
The tears come again and I am clutching my "J" necklace, trying not to break it.
Jimmy, what the $%@# happened!? Why did you have to go now? Can you hear us down here? How will there be Thanksgiving and Christmas without you? Jimmy, I miss you so much. What are you doing there? Are you still here at all? Can you hear me? Am I making it harder to go to heaven by missing you? Jimmy. Jimmy. Oh Jimmy I can't believe you're gone. It's not right. Nothing feels right since you left. Where is your voice, your laugh, your 2 am Instant Messages on Facebook. I need your kiss on my forehead. I won't let it be forever, G*&dammit. That can't be gone forever. You suck, you know that? You really suck for leaving us all here without you. Mom got a tattoo, Jimmy, with your initials because she's trying to numb too. It worked but only on two inches of her wrist. It's numb alright and now she wants me to do it. Maybe I will. Jimmy. I miss you so @#!%& much, you have no idea. Jimmy. I will save all the dogs for you.
And I squeegee the bridge of my nose, flick the useless tears away, and start my car again. I'm not ready to start caring about this crap yet. I'm just not ready to care about kettle bells and cellulite.
So while a few minutes alone in the gym parking lot really sucks, that's ok because the alternative, this insidious Stephen King circus is no picnic either.