When I was younger, I would play the game “I Never” with friends. Everyone would sit in a circle with their hands in fists in front of them. One by one, each person in the circle would take a turn saying something they had never done. If someone else had done something, they had to put a finger up. The goal was to think of things that the others in the circle had done. Whoever got to 10 fingers up first was the loser.
Nowadays, I play “I Never” with myself. When Shane’s death was very recent, the big “I Nevers” were in the forefront of my mind. I Never get to see Shane again. I Never get to talk to Shane again. I Never get to celebrate a holiday with him.
As time stretches and the space between Shane’s death and the current day grows, it’s the little “I Nevers” that get me the most. These “I Nevers” creep up on me in quiet moments. Like today, while standing over the sink, wishing we had a dishwasher, I paused as I rinsed the suds off of an indigo blue bowl. It is one bowl of a set of four that reside in our cupboards, and I use one of them almost every morning.
But it wasn’t until this day, holding the bowl under steaming hot water, watching soap fall down the drain, that I thought how the bowl came to be in its current place. Shane and I had purchased the bowls, along with dinner plates and side plates and mugs and servingware. I don’t remember if they were for Mother’s Day or our mother’s birthday or maybe Christmas. But I remember going shopping with Shane, in the basement of a department store. I remember he was wearing his black Converse shoes and the light was very harsh and we looked at probably every set of dishes before coming back to a particular set of indigo blue dishes that we had examined when we first arrived in housewares. It’s a silly little memory. But it brings about a host of “I Nevers.” I will never walk through a department store with Shane. I will never make a decision with him, no matter how big or small. I will never buy another present for our parents with him. I will never walk a little ways behind him, surprised at how much of a man he had become as he walks with his hands in his pockets, shoulders slightly hunched, always looking thoughtful. These are the “I Nevers” that I will probably miss the most, but which are most capable of slipping from my mind because they are tiny moments, not occasions captured with a camera lens.
All of this came to my mind as I finished washing an indigo blue bowl.
I never take much care with dishes, but today I dried the bowl more delicately than required, and placed it gently in its proper spot in the cupboard.