After spreading George’s ashes yesterday in the designated place he chose before dying, I was done. I decided to go on hiatus today from everything. I was planning on going back into the city to see the fireworks but I was drained emotionally and also physically. I walked 10 miles yesterday and cried for about 10 hours.
I knew our anniversary was going to rip me apart. Upon entering Central Park through Columbus circle, I couldn’t stop crying. I walked with my head down and B-lined it for the rocks George proposed to me on. It was the first time I had been to Central Park since he died. Several times in the winter I thought about it, but anxiety took hold and I never visited. But this time I had to do it to honor him on a day that we both loved.
A couple things happened in the park that made me feel he was with me. Did it help with my crying? No, but that’s not the point. The first time I came to visit him, he took me to Central Park for a picnic. We picked a shaded spot under a tree and it was close enough to the bike path that people watching was fun but far enough away that there was some privacy. That day when we were having a picnic we had an interruption a couple times from this family playing whiffle ball with their kids. When I walked to where I think the tree was yesterday, I looked out at the bike path to see if it stirred up recollection. I turned my head back toward the tree and as I went to turn back around at the bike path a goddamn frisbee was coming at my face. At that moment I knew it was the right spot I found.
One of the most beautiful places in Central Park is this fountain. After George and I got engaged we walked to it and took dozens of selfies. But it wasn’t the first time we visited it. The second weekend I came to town we walked the park and I couldn’t keep my hands off of him. We went to this fountain and I took some of my favorite pictures of George there. When I went back there yesterday I stared down at the water in the pond and I saw threaded movement near the surface of the water. A little turtle popped its head up and looked at me and then went back under. Again, the timing was so perfect that I knew George was there with me.
I felt incredibly lonely in the park but I couldn’t have anyone with me. This is my journey. I don’t want to walk it with anyone else. The emptiness I feel when I wake up and go to sleep is so great that I wouldn’t want anyone to feel what I do. Some days it scalds my soul and other days is a low hum of pain. But it’s always there, and I think that’s just how I’m going to have to learn to live my life.
You know what is hard to hear? When people tell me how wonderful the love between George and I was. When I hear or read these words, I can’t help but think “yeah I know, and I may never find it again. Thanks for reminding me.” I now understand why those military homecomings are so epic. If I could see George for just one moment I would lose my shit.