April hit me like a sack of bricks, and I’m just now starting to dig my way out. I knew going into the month that it would be hard, because April 24, 2021 is a day I’ll never forget. It was a day that ended in a very different way than I expected and left me feeling on top of the world for days after.
In case the date isn’t ringing a bell: April 24 was the day Emily and I went from friends to more than friends, and it completely changed my life for the better.
Of course, when our anniversary rolled around this year, it looked very different than I expected too. And, if I’m being honest, I didn’t cope well. However, as I reflected on that day, I had a random revelation. It seems as though many of our “major milestones” somehow involved a couch. When I made the connection, I immediately started laughing. The laugher soon turned into tears, which then led to all of the thoughts you’re about to read.
We Met “On The Couch”
As you may recall, Emily and I met in group therapy in 2018. Our therapist had recently taken over a second room in her office suite. When you walked in, she had a couch and two chairs in the entry area. Her individual office had a couch, an arm chair, and a desk. Then, the new room just had chairs in a circle.
I laugh when I think about this because the first day of group therapy with a new set of people is always awkward. Then you add people having to sit together on this couch in a small entry way before the group even starts and it’s just extra great.
I remember Emily sat next to me when we went into the room. I was shocked, but instantly intrigued. She was quiet most of the time, but I said something at one point that made her chuckle, so I knew from that moment she was “my kind of people.”
And, as I’ve probably shared several times by now, the rest is history. It’s a kind of history that not many people have. And, as my therapist recently pointed out, it’s rare for two people who met “in treatment” to be able to form the type of relationship we did and achieve the same level of growth and recovery that we both were.
Maybe that should have been my first sign that couches were our thing?
We “Shopped” for a Couch
By the time April 2021 rolled around, Emily was a fairly regular guest in my home. The kids loved it when Emily came over, I loved it when Emily came over, and I think Emily liked us well enough. Also, I stink at making decisions on my own. So, when I decided it was time to shop for a new couch, I knew Emily was the perfect person to ask to join me.
I think we sat on at least 70 different couches that day between 4 different stores. However, my favorite was the couch I bought because as soon as we both sat down on it, we looked at each other and said, “This one is so comfy!”
We sat on that couch for over 30 minutes just talking. And then we got up to try several more and ended up going back to it for another 20 minutes. When I asked her, “Should I get it?” she laughed and said, “It’s your place?” I think I made a joke about her being at my place a lot and she said, “I mean, this would definitely be worth coming over for.” It was great.
We “Kissed” on a Couch
That same day as the couch shopping trip, we ended up at Hooters. I’ve already covered everything that happened with that (hence the appropriately titled post “Because We Went to Hooters”). But, the big takeaway for this post isn’t what happened at Hooters, but rather after we left the restaurant.
As I detailed in the aforementioned post, we went back to my place and ended up kissing as we sat on my couch (the old one I was in the process of replacing). However, that night wasn’t an isolated incident. Over the course of the next two weeks, we had several “steamy encounters” that involved kissing and more on that same couch, her futon couch, and my new couch once it arrived.
I’ll keep this post mostly PG rated, but I will say that when we officially moved in together at the end of Emily’s lease in February 2022, we had a hard time deciding if we should sell the futon couch because of the memories attached.
We “Dreamed” on the Couch
Sexual intimacy aside, the couch played an important role in our relationship. We spent so many nights on the couch doing everything from watching television shows to finishing Emily’s grad school assignments. However, some of my favorite memories involve the conversations we had on couches inside of our house and other places.
We discussed many of our dreams as we sat on the couch. We talked about wedding plans, made travel arrangements, and discussed our hopes for our family. We even made these homemade journals to write to each other on the couch one night, and one of the first things we wrote in them was what we thought life would look like 30 years from now.
It was funny, because even though we wrote our letters without consulting each other, we both mentioned retiring at the beach and continuing to play music together. Our dreams always seemed to align, but even in times when they didn’t, we discussed how we’d each support each other always.
But in all those dreams we made together about everything from our future child (we picked out the name Victor Max) to old age, neither of us ever saw a life where we’d be apart.
We “Died” on a Couch
We were sitting on the couch, watching 9-1-1 and eating dinner on Monday, October 17 when we made the decision to go to the emergency room. Emily had been in pain on and off that entire day, and despite my best efforts to give her anything she wanted, she wasn’t really eating or drinking much at all.
When we finally made it into a room at the ER some eight hours later, I eventually started to nod off on the extremely uncomfortable “couch” in the room while they took Emily to imaging. It was more like one of those extra wide waiting room chairs, but I would consider it the sterile hospital version of a couch.
I was still positioned on that “couch” a few hours later when a dear friend stopped by to check on us. I remember the way we both reacted when Emily said, “This feels like 2017 again.”
Less than 24 hours later, she was gone.
I remember exactly where I was when the doctor came to the ICU waiting area to deliver the news about Emily to me. It was yet again one of those wide hospital chair benches, so again, a couch. I’d been sitting there for what felt like forever (it had really only been 30 or so minutes since the last time someone gave me an update), and I’d been spending that entire time chanting the same thing over and over again: “Please, God, please save her. It isn’t her time. It can’t be her time. Please, please God, don’t let her die.”
As soon as the doctor sat down next to me, I knew it wasn’t good.
At first, I just kept saying, “But she was fine just a few hours ago! She can’t be gone!” Then I panicked as I thought about Emily’s parents who were over halfway to the hospital from Knoxville. The doctor called them, and I sat there, frozen in place, crying and shaking.
When the doctor left to go check if they were to a point where I could go sit with Emily in the room, I started up again, but this time I asked for something different: “Please, God, please let me die. Why not take me instead of her? I don’t want to live without her. She had so much left to do. Why, God? Why?”
I don’t remember much about that day after I left the hospital, but I do remember the first thing I did when I got home: I immediately took off the clothes I’d been wearing since Monday, and then I picked up one of Emily’s blankets and became “a blob.” (That’s an Emily term.)
Stuck on the Couch
It took me nearly five months to stop sleeping on the couch where I’d planted myself the day Emily died. Part of it was that going into the bedroom was just too painful because it was filled with her things and looked exactly the way it did before we went to the hospital. But, also, I think the couch was a way for me to still feel connected to her.
I’ve spent a lot of hours on the couch since October. Far more hours than I did before. I think, in many ways, I’m stuck. I know she’s gone and she’s not coming back, but I selfishly don’t want to let go. Also, as I’ve told my therapist, I just feel “stuck” and generally unmotivated.
I have no idea what the future holds right now, and I’m too scared to even dream of anything right now. But, because of Emily, I have a lot of great couch memories to lean on, and I am trying to be okay with spending so many hours on the couch. At least it’s a super comfy one?
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