I watched the I Love Lucy Vitameatavegamin episode the other day, enjoying the experience thoroughly, laughing in all the right places. “Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular? Well, are you?” I knew what was coming because I had almost every line memorized, yet it still enchanted, and I was surprised.
I was surprised because this was Mike’s all-time favorite sitcom. We’d binged every episode so often over the years that only our least favorites held any revelation whatsoever. I was surprised, too, because this was something I’d avoided for months, sure that watching the classic sitcom would make me hopelessly sad—that is, if I could manage to get through an episode without crying.
I found the experience oddly healing and only a little bittersweet around the edges. I could sense the childlike joy he always felt at each new antic perpetrated by the beautiful clown filling my iPad screen, and suddenly, it was as if we were sharing something again. It was as if he was right there with me, and we were simply enjoying the moment.
Rather than being a reminder that he was gone, Lucy brought Michael back to me for a second or two, and I felt lucky that I’d gotten past my fears and was brave enough to risk sadness in order to have the experience at all.
Then it happened. Almost two years after my husband died, I was watching a sitcom I’d never seen before and thinking how much Mike would’ve enjoyed it. I imagined him chuckling right along with me when I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember his laugh.
I’d heard about this phenomenon—reading about it in books and seeing it in the movies, but I never thought it would happen to me. How could I forget anything about the man who’d been such an indispensable part of my life for so many years?
Not only did I feel sad over this fresh loss, crying every time I mentioned it to anyone, but I also experienced a sense of guilt because of the hole in my memory. I searched for ways I could hear his laugh again. Perhaps I could find it on some long-forgotten video clip. But the fact that I hadn’t been able to watch any videos with Micheal in them stopped me in my tracks.
Then I remembered how similar Mike’s laugh was to his brother Randy’s, and I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that there was still a possibility of hearing a sound I’ll always connect with unadulterated happiness the next time I ran into my brother-in-law.