Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Two years ago today I wrote this. Since then it has been two years of being always winter. There is still a Janet-shape hole in my heart and always will be.
Do not get me wrong. I have been in many ways fortunate over the last two years. While it is always winter it is not always winter and never Christmas. My winter is not the Norse Fimbulwinter. There are thaws and mild days. Christmas comes.
I have paid off the debts incurred due to her illness (and my trip to the emergency room the month following her death – a severe medical episode on the part of a caregiver frequently occurs shortly after a spouse’s death). I am on my way to restoring my retirement fund by the time I plan to retire. I have a new and challenging job, one that is fun. I am writing more than ever. I have a new granddaughter and a new daughter in law.
I have put my life back together. I do my laundry every week, make my bed every day, fix a full dinner almost every evening (reality sometimes intrudes), and clean up afterward. I go to work weekdays, and go to church Sunday. After living alone for six months, my nephew moved in with me, having found a job in Houston, and needing a place to stay. I am no longer in the house alone.
Nor do I keep to myself. I found a job outside my house to keep myself interacting with other people. I have become more involved in my church. I have gone out on dates. I enjoy things. I have become more active in my hobby groups.
Yet winter it remains. My day is filled with reminders of Janet’s absence. Something I cannot find, which she would have known the location of. Advice she no longer gives me. (I especially miss that.) An address for someone that she would have known but cannot now provide. I find something that would interest her, then suddenly remember I can no longer share it. It is hard to explain – there are just times when I feel a lack of something, and I suddenly realize it was something I could have gotten from her. When others are around I hardly notice. Rather, it is when I am alone, by myself.
The most pointed reminders occur after midnight. Asleep, I reach for her in bed … and she is not there. It is not as noticeable in the Houston summer (although it happens occasionally). But in the winter months when it is cold, I miss her warmth, when we would snuggle together and slumber.
Will I get used to it? I think I have – but only in the sense that someone who has lost a limb gets used to its absence. We were a team, part of a larger whole despite our individuality and independent identities. Now I am not. The team has been sundered forever after over 40 years together.
I miss her – and always will.
If I could erase the 45 years I knew her from my life and had gone through life alone, I would not do it. Living a life without commitment is seductive, but ultimately hollow. The years we had together are worth the pain of separation. More than that, it means I would have spent 47 years like the last two. Forty-seven years of winter instead of two. Winter is the season where things do not grow, and over our life together we grew much. You cannot grow a family without commitment.
As I said two years ago, if you are married, do me a favor. Today give your spouse a hug, a kiss, and tell them you love them. For no particular reason – just because. You will never regret having done that. After you no longer can, you will regret every opportunity you passed up doing so. That hour might arrive sooner than you think. And then winter arrives.Published in