A.V., California

It’s late in the afternoon and work is winding up. I have next week remaining and I’m off to the great unknown. On Tuesday, Jeff starts in my position. I’ll spend the next 4 days bringing him up to speed on my code and apologizing for the sloppy “just-in-time-development” condition. I don’t envy what he is picking up but I know he’ll shine. Guys like Jeff always do and stay humble to boot.

Tonight is the last night in our home. It hasn’t felt like our home in what seems to be an eternity. Perhaps the remaining packing will keep me busy enough to occupy my mind. God, I hope so.

Tuesday night was brutal. I packed Christina’s closet. I haven’t seen her clothes in a year and a half, let alone touched them. The familiar dresses, jeans and sweaters, some still bearing threads of hair, familiar as some faded dream. These clothes brought back ten years of growing, loving and living. The last time I felt any of her clothes, she was wearing them. Now they are empty and covered in dust. No scent of her lingers.

I cried like a baby for hours. But I couldn’t stop working. Try as I may, it’s impossible to completely turn off the emotions. Going numb is a defense I’m familiar with. Unfortunately, no tune or tonic worked to my advantage this night.

Tonight my closet is emptied. The patio will be packed, and the remaining equipment in the office broken down. Tomorrow the movers arrive to haul the boxes of our short lifetime together to storage. The first huge step becomes a reality.

I’m alone. I have no home.

There are no appealing alternatives. This simply is. Some have congratulated me on what sounds to be an exciting adventure. I appreciate the sentiment but it is difficult to approach this with excitement when the journey is built on a foundation of heartache and apprehension.

Leaving our home is giving away my final safe haven, where for a moment I could pretend that life hadn’t become what Reality keeps insisting upon. Packing up our things, holding her clothes, wrapping her photos, leaving our home: this is the ultimate admission that Christina is no longer physically with us and that the life we shared together, gift-wrapped in paper dreams and ribbons of tenderness, lay shredded in boxes like the morning after Christmas.

Small, painful steps. While drowning in options, it’s difficult to focus on the best direction. Somewhere along the line I’m hoping to find an interest, something to stoke the embers of my spirit into the raging fire it once was. I’m tired of choking on smoke.

A couple of fellow wanderers have recommended a forced timeline. They’ve seen what light feet and a sullen heart can lead to: never knowing where or when to stop. They see me at the start of that trail and while they hope the best for me, they already know some of the events and emotions that lay beyond. I appreciate their concerns, yet I think that this is a realm where, once again, I must depend on myself for survival. I’ve endured what I believe to be the worst hell that life has to offer. I awake to it and fall asleep to it. Ultimately, this is my hell. I’ve tamed some fierce demons already. There is another front before me.

So be it.

Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Breathe.