I had not been out of the townhouse in three days. I knew it was wrong to depend upon my go-to girls, Tami and Allissa, to get me groceries, or bring my car in for repairs. They had been so incredibly good to me but it was far past when I should be clinging to my babysitters. Fear struck me as I envisioned my melt down in the produce section of the IGA, as I stepped into my one, new-bought, pair of brown suede boots and donned my familiar warm parka, scarf, and gloves. It struck me as incongruent when I opened the door and was met with the brisk, clean air of the mountains and the reflection of brilliant sunshine on blindingly white drifts of snow. It was breathtakingly beautiful and that was painfully wrong. Scott was gone, and sudden anger washed over me that the sun would dare to try to penetrate its cheerful rays through my dark and hopeless despair.
I unburied the brave 4Runner, so recently transposed from its warm Florida roots, and pressed the ignition button fully expecting nothing, but the engine sputtered to life anyway. I kept wracking my brain in a vain effort to come up with reasons I could not go, but there were none with any veracity to sustain them, and 10 minutes later, I found myself on highway 4 toward Oquossoc and Koob’s Garage. I’m not sure what triggered it, but that old familiar swelling in my chest began and another “fit of grief” as I now dubbed them, was upon me as I passed the Rangeley Inn. Paranoid as one tends to become as a new member of a small town with a colorful though brief history, I was sure everyone knew as they passed in their cars, that it was me, that nearly unrecognizable, red-faced, sobbing being, passing by in the Toyota.
Dodge Pond was the worst; only a tiny fraction of its pristinely frozen, white face was still thawed; evidence of the warm summer lake that was our favorite kayaking destination. Floating along with our paddles intertwined, our kayaks secured side by side, I looked up into that shadowed face so familiar and beloved, that held such love for me and was so loved in return. For a fleeting moment, I wanted to slam on my brakes, run to that opening in the ice, and plunge myself under, believing for a brief second, I could find that moment in time and hold it, forever with him, under the frozen surface.
Instead, I kept trying to drive up and down the undulating highway, through the snow and the tears. I did manage to get to Koob’s Garage and get the headlamp fixed, though I knew that they recognized that the puffy, red, tear-stained face before them was not really “fine” as she had responded to their kind inquiry. They all knew. What good, good people for not pointing it out! For not pursuing a more correct answer in line with the evidence before them! For not demanding I fall apart right then and there on their concrete floor, surrounded by bottles of de-icer and trailer hitches. The drone of hundreds of snowmobiles waxing and waning in my ears called me back to the waiting vehicle and the drive back over those undulating hills and vales to the townhouse. I had more errands to run; I should have gone by the post office, and picked up a kitty box shovel at the hardware store, but as I was kicked into another spasm of pain and tears passing Dodge Pond again, I knew that would have to wait for another day, and I would have to live through one.