Last night, the kids and I had dinner and played board games with some people from church. It was a lot of fun, and I think I laughed more than I have since Emily died.
As I drove home, though, the tears started. I don’t even know what caused the waterfall, except maybe just the memories of all the times Emily and I played games together.
Game Nights With Friends
I’ve been doing game nights with my friends Jen and Elissa fairly regularly for several years. Right before COVID shut everything down, we had a sort of celebratory game night out at Dave & Busters (yay, divorce). I invited Emily to come along that night because I really wanted to hang out with her, and although she was anxious about meeting my other friends, she showed up.
From that point on, Emily became somewhat of a regular at our friendly game nights. In the fall of 2020, we had a game night at Elissa’s house that Emily attended as well. Emily brought Cards Against Humanity, and we also played Life. But mainly I remember that night because Emily did the dance to WAP and apparently Elissa figured out that I had a crush on Emily.
We always had fun playing games, and I loved that Emily enjoys pretty much any board or cars game about as much as I do.
Games With Clients
Emily’s love of games didn’t stop at friendly gatherings. In fact, Emily shared her love of games with clients at work, too.
When she worked as a peer recovery specialist at a day program for people with severe and persistent mental illness, she sometimes sat and played board or card games with the clients during down times between groups. I think it’s one of the reasons why she had such good rapport with so many of them — she was willing to just be a real person doing everyday activities with them.
They played Uno quite a bit. She also picked up several games at Five Below and took them to work with her.
I also know she’d try to find ways to add a game-like component to the groups she led when she could. I think it was partially because she liked them and partially because the clients responded well when she did it. But either way, she played games at work when she could.
Family Game Time
After my divorce, Emily spent a lot of time over at my apartment. She’d come over for dinner at least once a week when the kids were home, and the kids would almost always talk her into playing a game with us after dinner. So, it’s only fitting that family game nights became a regular part of our weekly routine after Emily and I started dating.
One of Emily’s favorite games to play with the kids was Telestrations. We laughed so hard every single time we played that game, and Emily and I often had sidebar conversations over text messages because the kids drawings sometimes looked very inappropriate.
We also really liked to play 13 Dead End Drive, although Emily and the kids would usually end up fighting before we finished. We’re all a bit competitive in this house, and unlike me, Emily didn’t want to hurt the kids’ feelings. Usually it turned into Emily and Meredith saying, “No, it’s fine, you can kill my person off,” to each other repeatedly while they both sulked. They’re way too similar in that regard.
Sometimes we’d mix things up and play a video game together. We’d do things like Just Dance, Mario Kart, or Super Smash Bros. The kids especially loved playing Just Dance with Emily, and I loved the sounds and the view of them playing together (also the view of Emily dancing, but that’s another post).
Games on Airplanes
Emily and I were lucky enough to take several trips together during our time as a couple. We both enjoyed having things to do on flights, so we’d sometimes play cards.
When we came back from Florida in November, 2021 after she spent a weekend helping her internship supervisor lead an amazing training, our flight had all kinds of ridiculous delays. So, as we sat and waited to take off for over an hour, we played Egyptian Rat Screw.
If you’ve never played that game, it can get kinda physical. The guy next to us was a huge jerk, so we were having fun being silly just to see if it would annoy him. Much to our surprise it didn’t, but we definitely had some laughs as we played the game and nearly injured each other several times.
Games Won’t Be The Same Without Her
I loved playing games with Emily. We have a similar sense of humor, so playing games like Cards Against Humanity and The Game of Things worked well because we’d both laugh over our dark humor. She made other games fun too because she loved to play and was fairly competitive (but also cheated sometimes). Mostly, though, I just loved the bonding experiences that happened over games with her.
I won’t stop playing games, because I love them and I know Emily wouldn’t want me to. But I do think there will be a lot of moments like Thursday evening where I have a good time playing the games, but suddenly think of her and melt into a puddle of emotions. It’s just another one of the thousands of things on the list of what makes me miss her.