Every morning when I wake up, I practice the same routine before my feet hit the floor. I turn off the alarm, turn on my bedside lamp, and flop my head back down. Pulling the blankets up around me, I curl up tight, snuggled into the extra pillows I bought to fill Rob’s empty side of the bed. My hand fumbles on the bedstand to unplug my phone. My thumbprint opens my screen, and I tap the Amazon Photos app that holds Rob’s pictures synced to my phone.
When the app powers up, Rob’s memories pop up before me, the photos he took on this date through years past. Some mornings, his smiling face greets me. Inevitably selfies he took on a trail somewhere. I smile. I love his crazy curls, his gray and white beard, his smiling eyes. He’s so handsome. I love Rob more every day. I get a lump in my throat as I lie there alone in the bed that’s ours but only mine now. I want to see him lying there beside me. His is the first face I want to see every morning. I want to convince him not to get up early, to linger a little longer, to let me crawl into the crook of his arm and fall back asleep. I don’t want to look at pictures of Rob from a time that now feels so far away.
Other mornings when I scroll through the app’s memories, I glimpse the world through Rob’s eyes. I see the pictures of us, of his work receipts, of house projects. Pictures of mountains. So. Many. Mountains. I especially love these moments where I can step into his head and get a sliver of his perspective. Rob’s photos reveal what he found important, worth remembering. I scroll through pictures of 4-H dog shows, our boys doing work projects, close-up selfies of our youngest as she played with his phone while sitting on his lap. When I flip through these pictures, I cry. Rob loved us so much. I know he never would have left us if he could have prevented it.
It has been 255 days since I last saw Rob face to face or heard him speak to me. I wake up every morning hoping I’ll see him again. Even if it is just on his photo app. I don’t like to think about how long it will be until I see Rob again. That thought hurts too much, and the day is just beginning. So I slide out from under the blankets and place my feet on the cold wood floor. I tell myself, “You can do this, Clarissa.” And I stand up to meet the day.