The next few months go by in a whirlwind of colors and delicious aromas, as fall comes and goes and snow falls thick and heavy blanketing the ground a good few inches. From pumpkin spice lattes to thick foamy hot cocoa, the coffee shops outdo themselves, with diverse flavors like they do, year after year. Winter had always been Eva’s favorite time of the year and I try not to think too much about it as our wedding anniversary passes as does the yearend holidays and I somehow survive through them. Live them by continuing my tradition of collecting those little tickets of fortune, tiny signs from the love of life, slowly learning to live, to heal with crying, and to find salvation between those who love me.
Holidays are still difficult but I manage to endure, by spending them with my family and reading her poetry and hugging her pillows and embroidered cushions to bed every night. It is my way of keeping sane; to keep my grief from taking over my entire life, like it had done in the immediate days after Eva. She is gone and while I cannot change that, I can learn to live in a way which would not cause her so much pain if she is indeed watching me.
I do not know what healing feels like. All I do know is that when the holidays end and time hit the 6 month mark after Eva, life seems to be regaining a little color. My world which had been left gray after her death is coming slightly into focus, the edges are sharper and the flowers appear a bit pale but at least the color is returning. The pain in my heart is still there, but it has faded into a background ache always present but not the kind where I would take one look at Eva’s picture and breakdown. Perhaps this is what healing feels like.
There are still bad days sometimes, like when I open her wardrobe and find her scent getting weaker and weaker or when I see the growing mound of dust on the books on her table and I feel like a lost man, all over again. But days like that have been reducing slowly, from every day, to once in a week, to once every month or so. This is progress and while I am not very happy with the circumstances which had bought me here, I am still trying to make something significant out of it.
Bryna calls in often and sometimes comes to visit me when she isn’t busy with work. We spend a day sharing stories about Eva, and I find myself talking about her without losing my head. It feels good. Bryna cooks while I play with her 2 year old, John and those days aren’t so bad after all.
Time flies by to mid February, and it is after a particularly hard week, when I receive yet another fortune cookie with an order I had picked up back from work. I crack it open the minute I get home, long gone is the Adrian who would roll his eyes at fortune cookies and tease his wife to no end over them, and quickly pull out the thin scrap of paper, holding my breath the entire time.
'Companions can come in all shapes and what you need is a good one'
I look at it for a long time trying to figure out what the message is. Companions in all shapes and good friends? It doesn’t make sense, but then, none of these ever did in the first go. So I tuck it in my breast pocket close to my heart and leave it there.
It isn’t until the end of February when I am returning home from work one day, when I see a stray cat on the side of a street and the meaning of the fortune hits me like a punch.
Eva had loved cats and had often insisted on getting one. ‘We would name it Twain,’ she would say. ‘Please, Adrian!’ But I had never really liked cats and their annoying habits of getting into things like they owned the place. But I couldn’t really say no to her either. So I had often told her we would get one in a little while, when we had more time in our schedule to take care of pets. I suspect she knew I never wanted a cat but teased me anyway, every few months and we would argue companionably and the day would pass, the talk long forgotten in the evenings when we would cuddle together watching our favorite TV show. Cat or no cat, our relationship has been stronger than anything I had ever known.
Companions in different shapes! You need it! I am being instructed to get a cat buddy. Something that had never been done while Eva had been alive, but I knew now, I’d keep not one but a hundred cats at my place if it only meant to see her smile one more time.
And so the little stray finds home with me, something I wish I had done years before for Eva’s sake. Even so, I name the little brat, Twain wondering what had caused Eva to come up with a name so Shakespearean in nature. And as days slip by, and I fall into a routine of feeding the cat, cleaning the litter box several times a day and patiently tolerating the 3AM beastly meows, I have to admit it isn’t so bad having company after all. Not bad at all. Twain is not Eva, but he often snuggles in her side of the bed at night and sometimes even cuddles in next to me. Whatever it is, at least I am less alone this way.