I’ve been contemplating the difference between months and years this past week, deciding that there is a certain infancy implied in “months” that is lost in “years”. Consider a two-year old toddler, saying they are 24 months old still says “baby” even if that “baby” walks and talks. So as the second anniversary of Gus’ passing neared, I decided it would not be two years since I last held him but a mere twenty-four months, since I last rubbed his feet and kissed his face. I would be slowing time this way, artificially shortening the distance between when he was last here and today.
As the day got closer, my husband worked later and later as much to keep up with work as to avoid coming home. He felt bad about this, apologizing constantly for leaving me “alone” but I was not hurt, I had my own distractions; like purging the house, reading, writing and exercising, anything to keep from having too much time to cry. Early yesterday morning, shortly after when Gus would have taken his last breath those many months before, a curious thing happened. My husband came to bed late, about 1:30 am. He was tired but could not sleep, the weight of the next day starting to settle on him. I was asleep but restless, my dreams retracing the last twenty-four hours of his life trying to find the point where I might have saved him from his fate. We sat up from our various places to the sound of footsteps, two feet were clearly making their way from the boy’s rooms towards ours, stopping just at the entrance to our room. My sub-conscious mind called out “Gus!”, recalling the many years Gus had done that, walk from his room to our room stopping at the door to call to us before jumping into our bed. My mouth however, operated by my conscious mind that knew it could not be Gus, called out “Frankie?”, as unlikely as it was that we could not see a 6’1, 22 year-old man standing at our open door. My husband scrambled for the light, hoping we wouldn’t find a stranger crawling into our room, instead finding our dog “Girl” staring at us with a look of sympathy and understanding. Never mind that Girl knows better than to come upstairs and on the rare occasion that she does, her steps do not sound like feet. They sound like paws with little nails click clacking on the wood floor, slip-sliding on the rug in the hallway. We let her lay down next to our bed, knowing that Gus had brought her to comfort us.
We still cried at the mass we dedicated to him the following morning and as we placed flowers, a bag of his favorite hot cheetos and a snicker’s bar at his niche but the phantom steps of the night before stayed with us, assuring us that as the months turn to years he will always be with us.