Okay, so now I have something to say.
It's Monday night. Dalt had his weekly fire department meeting and wouldn't be home for dinner; Joseph and Savannah both made the honor roll this six weeks which earned them free meal coupons from one of our favorite local restaurants, so we went out to eat (Katie is too cool to go out to eat with her family - we brought her food home.)
The kids and I had a great time! We played a roll-the-dice game on my phone while we waited for our food to come and we chatted about school and possible story lines for a book I could write. Joseph likes comedies and Savannah likes scary stuff, so we thought maybe I could write a scary comedy. It was cool because I've been kind of bandying around an idea that was along those lines anyway.
On the way home we got on the subject of dying and what it's like after you go. I said something along the lines of not being afraid to die because we have so many people to look forward to seeing again like Nathan and Papa (my dad.) Savannah perked up in the backseat and said, "Oh my gosh, I almost forgot about Nathan. I almost forgot Nathan was ever alive."
Well, wow. I think about Nathan a lot, and lately my memories have been ambushing me around every corner. I know it's not that way for the kids because they were so young. Three years is a long time in the lives of children. Savannah was barely seven years-old when he died, and Joe was only nine. But I was Nathan's mom for his whole twenty years.
I explained that to the kids in the car on the way home tonight. How it's kind of different for me because I knew him for so much longer and he was one of my children. I told them how I think about him and it makes me sad because I miss him so much, but how, when I really think about it, I feel better because I know where he is and I know I'll see him again.
Savannah asked me if I thought Nathan knew it was coming when he died. I told her I didn't think so, but that God knew. I told her and Joe about hugging Nathan before I left for my trip and how good it felt and how he and I had talked a lot before I left and there wasn't any unfinished business between us.
Then Savannah told me this for the first time: "I remember sitting at the computer desk that day, decorating a doll on my computer game. I remember Nathan coming in and saying how pretty it was and that I did a good job. Then he said he was going outside to swim for a while, but would be back in when Dad got home. He said he'd see me when he came back in. And that was the last time I spoke to him."
She said it in a very matter-of-fact kind of way, just like anything else she might say in the course of a day. But it kind of ripped my heart out.
It made me want. It made me want things to be different. For just a minute, it made me imagine what things might have been like if he'd walked back out of that pool instead of drowning in it. It made me want so badly for him to have come in when his dad got home.
It made me see for the first time a little glimpse of what it must have been like for the kids that day; for him to have been there one minute, and the next be gone. It made me want to rewrite history, to go back in time and be home that day and not know what I know now. That death doesn't come when you're looking for it. It doesn't come when you're ready. It sideswipes you in a blind jab you can't see coming. It made me hurt and cry a million tears behind my eyes where no one could see.
And while I was bleeding from a thousand fresh rips in my scar, I smiled and drove and chatted with my kids. I pulled into the driveway at home and brought Katie's food in and handed it to her. I greeted the dogs and re-started the dryer to toss the wrinkles out of the clothes so we could start a new load. I sat down on the couch and turned on Dancing with the Stars.
Maybe it's still not a scar yet. Maybe it's a scab that has to be scrubbed away every once in a while so it can finally heal all the way, like a deep burn. I don't know.
I really do know where Nathan is, though. I'm just selfish enough to wish he was still here.