Every day, at precisely half-past one, I pause for a moment of silence to honor a lost friend. It has been over a year now, and I still miss him like it was yesterday. Those who say “time heals all wounds” never knew a love like this.
His demise was not unexpected. For a long time, he had been fading, but I denied it. We used to spend every afternoon together, so when our times together got shorter and he began to miss our daily meetings altogether, I couldn’t let myself face the facts. “He’s just going through a thing,” I thought to myself. “It’ll pass.”
But it only got worse. A missed afternoon turned into missed days which turned into missed weeks. Towards the end, I hardly recognized him anymore. He was just a shell of who he once was.
“You don’t need me anymore,” he said. “It’s time to let me go.”
“You need to get on with your life. You’ll find someone new. ”
“What? Never!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “There’s no one else but you!” I blubbered. “There never has been, and there never will be!”
But it was too late. Nothing could save him. Just like that, he was gone.
“How am I going to live without you?” I shouted into the emptiness. No one answered.
At first, I was numb. I knew people who had gone through the same thing, but it’s different when it happens to you. Nothing can prepare you for something like this.
I didn’t know how to cope. In a moment of weakness, I ran to the open arms of the Disney Movie Collection. It was a cheap substitute for what I once had, but it dulled the pain, at least for a moment. The happy glow of taking animals and heart-wrenching ballads drowned out the memory of what had happened. But then the credits would roll and the screen would go black and I’d be left alone again. The long hours between dinner and bedtime loomed larger than an evil stepmother bent on revenge. How would I fill the time?
“Try Play-doh, or crafts,” a friend suggested. “You could paint!”
Paint. I had heard about people who’d gotten involved with him. It always ended messy.
“Go to the park! Have a playdate! There’s so much you can do now that you’re not tied down. You gotta learn to live a little!” another said.
But I wasn’t the kind of girl who just played around. I longed for the familiarity and security of my comfortable relationship. The two of us had been together so long. He was my rock, the one I turned to when everything else failed. I didn’t know how to live without him. “You need to move on,” they said. But I wasn’t sure I could.
Then one afternoon, I decided it was time. I loaded up the kids and we headed for the grocery store. The grocery store! In the middle of the afternoon! I could never have done that before. I was always obsessing about getting home in time for him, and I worried about what might happen if we missed him altogether. The next day, we spent the time at the library reading books. I found I could read The Little Engine that Could exactly fifty-three times before my toddler tired of it and my voice gave out. I had never had the time for such meaningless repetition before because he always limited the stories to one or two.
Things will never be the same since I lost him, but I’m finding comfort in the “new normal,” a normal that includes lazy afternoons of making cookies and having tea parties with teddy bears. I didn’t believe it at the time, but I think he was right. I am ready to move on. Even now I feel a new friendship blossoming. His name? Early Bedtime. This could be the start of something good.