The next year I began to live again. There was a girl, blond and fast and funny, and the day she mentioned she needed a roommate, I spoke up, and then went in the back of the restaurant where we worked together and cried. The rest of that year I laughed, we laughed, at everything absurd and mundane and unfair.
We waitressed long shifts, me in the very early morning and her later in the day. We left our exhausted shoes steaming outside the front door and brought them in before dawn, our feet thawing them into the next shift.
I healed most days and hid some others. Those mornings in the fog before the sun was up and the restaurant door unlocked were some of my saddest gathered days.
There is a certain solemn pause of grief when you first wake up into another day of your unraveled life. A sharp awareness of it happening still. And yet, each morning you wake to it again, there emerges a small bone sung chorus that begins to hum you back to life.
When I returned to that apartment building, the stone from my now home waiting to be planted to honor that grey hearted year, it felt different, misremembered.
I walked through the courtyard, young children playing, the sun warm and solid, and found myself at our stairs. How many times that door opened and I walked through the trusted tones of other peoples shared sleep, how many slow eyed regrets I held in my hands that also tied my apron and made coffee I never drank?
How did I never know until that day the tenacity that girl had to keep going, disarmed by the ending she never wrote for herself. When I placed that stone under the flowering shrub by the stairs that led the way out of that year, I went and sat back down in my car with the word that held on all the way there.