My computer crashed over the weekend. Fortunately the hard drive was salvageable, but I had to buy a new computer. The computer whiz said they could transfer all the data from my old hard drive to the new one and it would take a day or two. I picked up the new computer yesterday, and last night was going through the files to make sure everything got transferred. I of course was most concerned about pictures and videos, I had almost 7000 photos...most of them from my former life. Many of which I've avoided looking at because it is so hard to do.
I'm always finding myself awed at how quickly the girls change and grow, and am always saddened when I think of how much of them Andie has never known. But actually looking at pictures that feel like they were taken decades ago struck me with a force much stronger than I expected. I had saved the pictures in folders according to their ages at the time...1st birthday, 13 months, 15 months, 16 months, and so on. Literally seeing how much they have physically grown and changed in such a short time, and realizing he never knew them at so many stages had me on the verge of tears. And then I found the video folders. I opened one of me when I was pregnant; Andie was filming so I couldn't see him but he was talking, and hearing his voice brought back so much. His voice was almost unrecognizable, and had I heard it out of context I might not have recognized it as his after almost 3 years of not hearing it at all. It didn't sound like I remembered and it broke my heart; it made me feel like I've let him down in not even being able to accurately conjure up the sound of his voice from memory.
Naturally, this morning on my drive to work (when I do most of my thinking and reflecting) my thoughts drifted to him and memories of our life. Some tough personal things have been going on for the past 6 weeks and I've felt his presence, seen his signs, and talked to him a lot lately. I was kind of in my own world thinking of him when I realized a hearse was in front of me, and because I was behind it I could see there was a casket in it. I thought it was odd to see a hearse before 8 in the morning that had a casket in it. There is a small cemetery on the way to my school and I thought perhaps it was going there- though again, odd at this hour and no funeral procession with it. Just a lone hearse. As the road opened to two lanes I passed the hearse and got ahead, as did a couple more cars. I almost forgot it was there because it had fallen so far behind me. After we passed the cemetery I looked in my rear view and the hearse was right behind me. I couldn't imagine where it was going, but it felt strange for it to be following me.
Such a perfect metaphor for my grief; in the early days it was front and center, it led me, and preceded every thought. I eventually caught up to it and passed it, and now it's still there behind me- always. At times it's very near and other times farther in the back of my mind, but always present if look for it.
As I got near my turn off to get to the high school I pulled into the left lane and was astounded when the hearse pulled in directly behind me to turn left also- the only thing down this road is the high school and houses...it was as if the universe was trying to tell me I can't out run the grief, it will always be there. It actually turned in to the main entrance to the high school and that's when I remembered that the school was putting on one of those demonstrations for the students where they see the effects of drunk driving, (i.e. a wreck and actual students pretending to die, etc.).
But I still couldn't help thinking that there was some message there for me in seeing that hearse this morning. Some reminder that he is always with me, he is always there...if I just look back.