Remembering wedding anniversaries is not my best skill. The Norwegian would remind me every week before and then daily. It’s not that it didn’t matter. It’s that I’m the least romantic woman on earth. It occurs to me only yesterday that today is 35 years. Or would be if he hadn’t had the bad manners to drop dead in the woods on a sunny day.
It’s easy to say I’m not romantic. My husband was known as, “jewelry boy.” He brought home flowers each Friday. I have volumes of poetry including the collected letters of Elizabeth and Robert, of Barrett-Browning fame. You know, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Perhaps I’d have turned pining romantic harpy without all the attention to my heart.
Conversations with widows pull back the curtain. It’s not things that people miss. It’s the everyday. The feel of his hand in yours. Still. Someone to do nothing with. Another human who knows your quirks, how you take your coffee and doesn’t think your secrets are all that big a deal. He puts up with your mother, your temper and your need for Mexican food. He denies you’ve gained weight, pronounces your ass perfect and claims not to notice wrinkles.
It’s the moments. A daughter walks the aisle fatherless. A child lands a promotion. A dream is realized. Or things go wrong. It is, indeed, easier to traverse the world in pairs. Pairs join strengths together girded for battle. One is strong when the other is weak. Someone is the fun one, dragging the other out in the world and human interaction. One shows the other not to wear that shirt, put the toaster away and load the damm dishwasher.
It’s the dance of back and forth, give and take, say your piece and keep your mouth shut. It’s grappling with the hard and celebrating the good. It’s giving space and holding close. It’s houses and children and cooking and cleaning. Until it’s not.
Until it’s a cluster of tears and fear and dread. And no one to zip your dress or clasp your necklace. Or listen to you drone on about The Housewives reminding, “You know there’s cameras everywhere don’t you?” I do. Just like you know Tom Cruise didn’t really ride the top of a train right?
The silence of a meal alone, and then another. Okay–for those of us who’d rather eat cereal for dinner that one’s not so bad. Neither is closet space, free use of the remote or starfishing in bed. No one wonders why another pair of black heels has taken up residence. Or that there’s not a steak in sight.
But would you give up the remote, buy fewer shoes, stop watching Housewives, share your closet or sleep like a regular human to have it all back? In the time it takes to draw in breath.
Except for the shoes.