My beloved husband is dead. There are no other words to describe it. Waves of grief
followed by moments of laughter. Layers of memory stained with loss. Feeling him just beyond my reach. Outpourings of love from all corners of this wild, expansive area he cherished—those who wear his imprint from years of friendship, or those he touched with a momentary exchange over a cup of tea. The spirit of him wafting through these gentle hills.
Where do I go, now? And what do I do with myself? I had these thoughts, even before I lost him. Somehow I knew that our time together was short, that I would outlive the gift of his presence, that one day, I would be alone, again. I never dreamt it would be so soon.
Perhaps I’ll learn Italian and find a cottage on a southern beach. Perhaps I’ll pull out my worn, neglected hiking boots, and train to tread the Appalachian Trail. Perhaps I’ll put my words to use.
But today, I am here, in this bed we shared, his car parked on the road outside my window. Today, I sit, with the thwarted plans, the lost years of us, our teasing banter, our warmth, our mutual admiration, our easy ways.
I will miss him, how he danced around the room when he was happy, his mispronounced words, his love for this world and the people he met, all the tiny pleasures he relished, his recognition of the beauty contained in this painful and delicate life.
I do not have an answer for this loss. I cannot ascribe to it any meaning—why some of us get to grow old together with all of our children beside us, get to share our lives with our siblings, to enjoy our parents into their old age. Why others of us suffer one loss after another, watch our loved ones topple, one by one, year by year, like bowling pins.
But I do know this: the world goes on. In the midst of my deepest sorrow, I awakened this morning. I watched the sun perch between the sloping hills my husband loved. I crept down the stairs and made myself a warm drink. I took up this paper and pen.
Despite the suffering, mine and that of others, the world is still here.
What choice do I have, but to shake hands with it?