Some days are better than others. Most of the time, I can lose myself in routine. I can fill the emptiness with work or Netflix or a book. But every so often there’s a lull. The gears in my mind slow down, and I have a moment to think.

At work, after spending too long responding to an email, I’ll glance out the window and remember your reaction when I told you I got this job. I think you were proud of me, though you probably didn’t say so. You were a little weirded out that I found the job posting on Craigslist, but you got over it after I started. I wonder if you’d still be proud of me today.

Proud, even though I fill my free time with consumption of all the television I never watched growing up. When an episode ends, and I have a moment to decide if I should watch the next (as if I could stop), I remember staying home from school when I was sick. I would sit on the couch, wrapped in a blanket with tissues stuffed up my nose and watch your soap operas with you. Even as a kid, I found the plots silly and the acting rough, but I enjoyed them. If Guiding Light ever shows up on Netflix , maybe I’ll give it another chance.

I still try to read a book now and again. These are the easiest ways to lose myself. My mind is completely enveloped by my imagination as my eyes follow the words like a machine. When I start to fall asleep, I place the book down on my nightstand, and I see the photo of you there. Immediately, my thoughts, once dreaming of a world of adventure and magic, fill with memories and sadness and pain.

I have felt the emptiness in me since you had your accident, and it’s grown larger every day. Even on my happiest days, something is still missing. It’s like the feeling you get after you’ve left on vacation. That you’ve forgotten something. Except it never goes away.

People say grief has five stages, as if you move through them one at a time. But these aren’t hurdles in a sprint. The first four stages came crashing into me all at once, casting a shadow over my life. The world seems dreary and cold and hopeless. I try to be positive and strong, but deep down I am empty and bitter and weak. I am still in stages one through four.

Acceptance is miles away, and I’ve run out of gas.

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