On Friday night I needed to go to Target to get a prescription filled. When I pulled onto their street, there were several cop cars with lights flashing, but, not wanting to be one of the rubbernecks, I only quickly glanced over and couldn’t see a major wreck. When I turned into the parking lot, though, I noticed that something serious must have happened. There were no lights on in the whole place, not even streetlights. Upon further inspection, there were the secondary, back-up generator lights on in the store, and people coming and going, so I decided to try and get my prescriptions filled, I needed those antibiotics, dangit, and wasn’t going to let a little thing like electricity get in my way.
I walked in, spoke to the security guard at the door about the fact that they were, indeed, open, got my cart, and proceeded to walk back toward the pharmacy in the half light of the back-up generated electricity. It was eerily quiet. That was when I saw him.
Sawan was walking toward me. He was wearing his usual outfit: blue North Face Denali vest, jeans and a white t-shirt. He was talking on the phone, pushing a cart.
In the space of half a second I felt about a million emotions. I was startled. I smiled. I was excited to see him. I didn’t know if I should waive, or run to hug him. There was confusion. Why wasn’t he running to me?
And then the realization: No, it couldn’t possibly be him, he’s dead. Looked a lot like him, but not him. Not as handsome. Too heavy.
I had heard of this happening to others but honestly didn’t think it could happen to me. In my arrogance I thought I was above it. I thought that since no one knew their husbands as well as I knew mine, this would never happen to me. I could never mistake someone else for him, I knew him too well. I would always know the substitute right away.
This has stirred up so many things inside me.
There’s the moral/ethical dilemma: If I could choose to have my Sawan alive instead of that stranger, would I? Thank God I it’s not up to me.
What if I dreamed it all? What if I somehow made it up, and that really was Sawan, but I was a stranger to him. Would he still fall in love with me if we met now?
And then there’s the whole reality: It wasn’t Sawan. He’s gone. You’re alone. This really is your life. He really was here and now he’s not. You had an amazing love. You can’t possibly make sense of it, so stop trying to.
So I resisted the urge to stalk the stranger, went and got my prescriptions filled, and went home, trying to assure myself that reality is better or somehow safer than science fiction.
|A photo of Sawan in his Denali vest. Cutting our Christmas tree with Arthur, 2008.|