Thank you so much for the opportunity to come out and play! Here are the prompts I had to choose from:
Amy- A large urn with a funny smell
Cameron- The workplace dynamics of a vacuum cleaner manufacturing plant.
Erika- A crushing blow
Jen- Opening Line: After my husband died, I found a phone number in his wallet. It was for Sandy.
Wendy- If ___________ ran for President.
After giggling with the idea of my 16 year old daughter running for President, I sobered up and took Jen’s challenge….
Denial and Isolation:
After my husband died, I found a phone number in his wallet. It was for Sandy. The number was written in an unknown hand, and tucked between his picture of me and the torn movie ticket from our first date.
It took me two months before I touched any of Adam’s things on our dresser. I loved the look and the false feeling that he was in the house somewhere, or on his way home from work. I couldn’t bring myself to change the pillowcase on his side of the bed since it still smelled like him, and it gave me something to cuddle on those long lonely nights since that last squeeze of his fingers in the hospital. I just wasn’t ready. There was no one named Sandy at his memorial service.
Ours was an easy relationship; mellow and without drama. We were tender, affectionate and playful. We cuddled on the couch, and danced in the kitchen. During our daily walks, we relived good and bad times with the kids, shared news of our friends, events at work, and debated the state of the world. He spent great times with his friends who loved him, and he never begrudged my time with the girls. I’d never heard of a friend or friend’s wife named Sandy.
We talked all the time, but there were things that he kept from me until he had a load of liquid courage. It took him 6 months, 8 beers and a gin to tell me that he’d been to the doctor and that he would need surgery in a few weeks. He was embarrassed, and hadn’t wanted to worry me. I was pissed – to put it mildly. Heart sore and terrified. How could I help him if he didn’t let me? Sandy could have been one of his doctors.
I’m not used to the feeling of jealous insecurity, so when it’s hot poker ripped through my chest, I had to force myself to breathe, and when it imbedded itself with a grappling hook between my shoulder blades I didn’t know what to do. Adam wasn’t here to massage the pain away. Who the fuck was Sandy?
My first reaction was irrational. I knew it was, but that didn’t diminish the effects. I forced myself to set the number down and walk away. I didn’t get far. I sank onto our bed, buried my face in my pillow and cried myself out. Looking back, that cry was a mix of pent up emotions with self-pity being the ultimate source. I didn’t want to feel lost and alone. I didn’t want to find something else he had hidden from me. I wanted my best friend back. I wanted the certainty that he was faithful. Why Sandy?
Over the next few days that tiny slip of paper haunted me. I ruminated, rationalized, fumed, and forgave, but ended up with random reasons to walk by the dresser. My eyes were glued to that little slip of paper that had been tucked into his wallet for who knows how long. Sometimes I paused and stared down at it. Sometimes I dared to touch it. Twice I picked it up and reached for the phone. Would Sandy answer?
I knew myself. I had to make the call. I would never rest or forgive myself for not dialing. Worst-case scenario, I’d be devastated, but I could get over it, and really, what were the chances? I loved this man. He loved me. I trusted this man. He trusted me. There was NEVER any hint that he was seeing another woman. I’m not that oblivious. I hoped.
I forced myself to breathe, dialed: Sandy 510-349-0582… and hung up. Disgusted, I tossed the number down on the dresser. It didn’t make it, and fluttered to the floor instead. Only then did I realize that there was writing on the back:
I don’t want you to be alone.
Call Sandy, he’s a good guy.
In love with you always,
Relief washed over me, easing the knot from my back. Adam hadn’t been cheating, he had been thinking of me; trying to set me up with a new companion so I wouldn’t be tempted to hide at home with my grief. I put the note down, sank to the floor and cried for Adam all over again.
I’m writing this today because something amazing happened yesterday. After my support group meeting, one of the other members approached me. We’d talked a few times in the 6 months that I’d been attending, but nothing more. He asked if he could give me his phone number, so that I could call if I ever wanted to talk, or grab a cup of coffee. I liked that he wanted to give me his number and didn’t ask for mine. He wrote down the number and handed it to me. It was a number I knew.
“John, what’s your last name?”
“Sanderson. Clarissa, what is it?” He must have noticed the look on my face.
“Are you ‘Sandy’?” I asked in disbelief.
“Only my wife called me Sandy,” he stepped back in confusion.
“Look.” I reached into my purse, grabbed my wallet and found the little slip of paper that had haunted me so long ago. I handed it to him.
“This is my wife’s handwriting. Oh my God!” He reached into his wallet, shaking his head the whole time. As he pulled a little slip of paper from behind his wife’s picture he asked, “Are you Clare?”
“Yes!” I laughed. Tears finding their way down my cheeks. John reached out and we held each other, remembering the loves of our lives, wondering at the twists and turns that take people away, and bring us together.
“Would you like to get some coffee?” he asked. “I don’t know about you, but I really want to try to figure out why we have each other’s phone numbers in our wallets.”
“Yea, of course,” I replied and as we turned to go and I realized I was still holding onto him. I thought about letting go, but I didn’t want to, so I slid my hand down his arm and found his hand ready for mine.
John, and I talked until the waitresses started giving us dirty looks. It turns out that John’s wife Amanda and my Adam had the same Oncologist. They must have met several times in the waiting rooms or recovery rooms, maybe even supported each other during treatments. John and I aren’t sure, but they must have loved us both very much to try to set us up.
No one knows with the future holds, but I’m going to be okay. Thank you Adam. Thank you Amanda. Thank you John/Sandy.