Sometimes the world feels colder. And sometimes the cold scares me, in that deep part of me that will always think it’s deeply wrong he died when he did.

The fire is more remote than it used to be. My distance from it feels disconcerting even as it relieves the pain. I remember someone saying to me, right after he died, that they’d like to fast-forward to a time five years later when it didn’t hurt so much to remember him, and we could talk about him with smiles and laughter. I remember feeling panicky at the thought. I thought the intensity of the pain was all I had left of the fire. It was my tether to a time when he still existed on this Earth. And I knew every moment of every day, I was moving inexorably further from that time, and there was a part of me that hated it.

And then sometimes to this day, without warning, like a hot ember in my hand, I’ll catch a memory, and it will sear just like that first day. But then I remember this means he is not so far away, and we’re not so far from him, and it makes me smile. That’s a strange thing about grief: relief from it can sometimes be painful and pain can bring relief.