Posted On May 21, 2020
For the first few months after Rylie died, I’d often tell people that I was playing pretend. It was easy to pretend she was away at camp. It was easy to pretend she was spending the night with friends. I could make up all sorts of stories.
As time got further and further out, I became aware that the “pretend” game couldn’t last forever, but I understood its purpose. It was my way of coping. My way of making sense of something that made no sense at all.
Over time, the reality that we weren’t going to pick Rylie up from camp that weekend, or that she wasn’t going to be dropped off on the porch set in. It just became our reality.
Since she died, I don’t think I have ever once come home and called out her name. That is until today.
Almost exactly three years from the day she died.
I opened the front door, bags in tow as I have a million times before. I intended to yell up the stairs, “Hey, Tanner…” in order to have him take the garbage out to the curb.
Instead, I opened my mouth and out came “Hey, Doub..” I caught myself before “Double R” came all the way out.
“Double R” my nickname for her – short for Rylie Rae.
I stood there dazed. Confusion washed over me as I tried to process the unthinkable. It’s been almost three years since I’ve called Rylie, Double R, at least outside my head. It’s been over three years since I’ve yelled out her name in summons.
I stood there digesting the fact that I say her name all the time, but haven’t uttered it as a call in three years. I stood there comprehending that I slipped up “forgetting” she wasn’t there to be summoned almost three years later. I wrestled with the fact that this is the first time that I recall calling out her name at all, rather than conversing about her, in three years.
I found myself breathing deeply, wiping tears from the corners of my eyes as I tried to ground myself in reality. Questions forming around me faster than I could process them.
Why now? Why in this moment? One that doesn’t even make sense – I was preparing to call Tanner to take out the garbage… it’s not like that was something that Rylie used to do.
Why did it almost slip out and more importantly why did I stop it? What would it have felt like to yell up the stairs, “Hey, Double R…”?
On one hand, I think it would have felt magical to utter her name in such a present way. But then the silence that would have met that summons would have been deafening. The concerned look from Ziggy would have made me even more self-conscious. The confusion in Tanner’s eyes, if it had gotten past his headphones, would have hurt my soul.
So I breathed in deeply one more time and made my way to the kitchen. I shared what had almost happened with Ziggy, in a somewhat matter of fact way, but also vocalized that the whole situation had me a bit on edge. Then, I sought comfort in routine.
I found comfort in the routine of making dinner and cleaning up the mess that I was making in the kitchen. All the while my mind tiptoed back to those moments when I first walked in. The quick steps in the front room followed by the “Hey, Doub..”
This experience is still quite fresh in my mind and I’m still not entirely sure of what to make of it. I shared it with my best friend and I love her take on it, perhaps it’s kind of like that corner of the bed that you know is there, but randomly stub your toe on it anyway. Perhaps, calling out “Hey, Doub..” was somewhat a reflex. The result of calling it out so many times in twelve years. Usually I have the presence of mind to know better than call it out, but this time it was like that corner of the bed and it snuck up on me.
Perhaps it’s a reminder that she’s still with me. Will always be with me. That’s okay. It’s not just okay, it’s good. Weird, but good.