He barely remembered specifics the next day, but I still get a lump in my throat when I think about it.We had this conversation three days after we returned home: In December 2008, Clark called my mother to apologize for the fact that I wasn’t going to be home to spend Christmas Day with them.In nearly every conversation, there is something that releases the pressure from my chest by forcing a giant laugh. Me: yes i had soup and chips but whatever someone else has smells delish Clark: k just as long as you ate something how do you spell Bodasifa? He was hospitalized from November 11–19 and again from December 1–6. Clark: oh baby do not say sorry Me: i really was just exhausted! Clark: I totally understand i know you were so tired and I know that you want to make sure I’m going to be okay and safe and really makes me want to cry Clark: i feel the same way about you I want to always want to make sure you are safe and warm and comfortable Clark: and I didn’t mean to yell but you are so stubborn Me: no i know haha SO ARE YOU, for the record Clark died two months later. I listened to “The Ocean” by Sunny Day Real Estate, the song he heard when he imagined me walking down the aisle at our wedding.On February 20, 2009, he had emergency surgery to remove a tumor the size of a baseball from his gut. I cried when Archers of Loaf, the one band Clark insisted make an appearance on any playlist, announced its reunion tour.The ease of our everyday interactions is what kills me. The first surgery, a deep lymph-node dissection of the left groin, and its subsequent days-long hospital stay, spanned the first week of April 2008.
Hundreds of results pop up, and I’ll pick a few at random to read. Me: yep it’s a buddhism thing I can break down Clark’s illness into one diagnosis (metastatic melanoma), one prognosis (between 4 and 14 months to live), three surgeries, three clinical trials, seven hospital stays, three doses of chemotherapy, and five weeks of hospice care.
Two years ago, I was on autopilot when I changed his diaper or scrubbed the smell of urine from the armchair he sat and slept in.
I didn’t question how I found the strength to support his crumbling frame as we hobbled to the bathroom.
I go looking for evidence of our partnership that’s not tied to a memory of me sleeping on two chairs pushed together next to his hospital bedside.
My Gmail is a priceless hoard of us making plans, telling inside jokes, calling each other “snoodle” and “bubbies.” I type his name into the search field and enter a world of the unscripted dialogue that filled our 9-to-5 existence. In hundreds of chats automatically saved to my account, we express our love for each other readily and naturally in our own private speech.