September 13th

The day that forever altered my life. Every. Single. Day. I notice 9:13 a.m. and 9:13 p.m.

Jennifer Estes


Photo by the author.

September 13, 2023, is right around the corner. The giant hole inside my chest, my soul, half my heart, reminds me. It aches with pain and it aches with emptiness.

Two years since you left my side. My brain is no longer in protection mode, at least I don’t think it is. It feels like my brain finally realizes you are really gone.

However, I re-read my journal entries from two years ago. I had written early in the morning of September 13, 2021. You were still alive as I wrote. I was shaking inside my skin that day. When you died I was shaking violently in my skin. I continued to shake in my skin, unable to cry much in the beginning as I violently shook. Now the shaking is gone and the tears flow daily.

My next entry was September 21, 2021, and the first sentence “Tom passed away on September 13, 2021, at about 10:18 pm” I read it and my whole body revolted. I said “NO” My body protested no, it was as if I was reading it for the first time. Tears flowed, and I rocked back and forth saying no, no no.

I flew solo to Phoenix in September 2022 for the one-year anniversary of your death. I rented a car, the cheapest economy car. It had a chip in the windshield so I was granted a free upgrade. The upgrade pulled up, a Dodge Challenger, your favorite car. It was Indigo, my favorite color.

I know that was you.

I drove around to all our favorite places. I ate lunch at Flower Child, fighting tears as I sat alone with all the memories, thoughts of you returning to the table from the bathroom flooding my mind. I drove past our little Phoenix house. I cried, I talked to you as if you were right beside me in the car. I spent the night in Scottsdale, I swam alone in the pool, tears flowing.

September 13, 2022, I drove to Jerome, Arizona, visited the cemetery, and walked the main street as a tourist just like we did once. I sat in the saloon and ordered an alcohol-free beer at the bar. I drove into Cottonwood and stayed in the cute motel we had stayed in that time. I had a healing ritual with Rahelio in Sedona along with a vortex tour and hike.



Jennifer Estes

I am a widow, a mortician, a mom, and grandma. I write about grief, caregiving, substance use disorder, and the death care industry.