The alarm goes off at 6:15 instead of 6:45am, because I need that extra half hour to get ready first, then make lunch, then harass Madeline incessantly until she finally manages to emerge from the top bunk of her bed.
I pull into the office parking lot at 8:37am instead of 8:46am, because I've already dropped Madeline off at Molly's or the grandparents' house for school by 8am, so what's to stop me from going in early? He's not here to hug me an extra hug, or convince me to just have a little bit more coffee with him before I go, or to ask me a million questions, like, "Do you have enough gas? Do you have enough for thruway tolls? Do you want me to make you some eggs? Do you want me to make you a lunch?" He's looking out for me and subtly wants to keep me from leaving just yet. I like that.
I skip breakfast.
Sometimes, I skip dinner or eat it over the sink.
I find myself staring off into space more at work, and yet, I find myself over-compensating and attempting to impress my boss more. I become more talkative when I answer my phone. I engage more with my co-workers...usually, to my misfortune. I don't distance myself enough at the office. I become too involved, which only results in more work I'm doing that goes unnoticed.
I grocery shop faster, because I have no one to hear my snarky, sardonic running commentary on everything around me at all times. I grocery shop faster because it's not fun.
When I get home, I don't take off my coat or my work shoes, and I never change out of my work clothes. If I take off my work shoes, I lose momentum. I learned nearly two years ago that if I take my shoes off, the show is over for the night. If I take my shoes off, we're ordering a pizza. If I leave my shoes on, we're having steamed broccoli with goat cheese wontons or homemade mac and cheese or lasagna. All things he would make if he was here. And he keeps his shoes on all day. Now I know why.
I leave the TV on while I sleep. Sometimes, I leave the light on.
I make sure the door is locked before bed at least a dozen times.
My cell phone never gets set to vibrate, and it never gets turned off.
Weekend plans are made well in advance, and, if possible, I fill up Sundays. Sundays are the worst. Can someone tell me why?
I try to put a moratorium on Madeline going away for sleepovers. It's purely for selfish reasons. It's too quiet in the house.
There are things I do, machinations and well-rehearsed processes and intricate systems that click into the on position when he's gone, so quietly, so inwardly, that sometimes, I don't even hear their soft "click" into the "On" position they make when it happens. I can't listen to it happen. I can't know. I can't leave a space open for awareness.
I've just learned that it's so much better, so much easier if I don't even go there. And I know that he isn't, either. Wherever he is on this planet, he's got his own system going. So it's kind of like we're still together all the time.