grief journey

The Mueller Report

Will it always be this way?

I feel like I’m done grieving – if that’s even possible. The mornings waking up dreading the day ahead because I know how awful and painful living without him will be are over. The nights spent hoping fervently that I’ll dream of him, just to get a glimpse of him again, just to have some time to pretend that he’s still alive rarely happen any more. The millions of memories that spring up that remind me of things we did and shared have become almost unable to shatter my peace now. Oh they still happen, but most of the memories have been revisited and revisited and revisited so often in the past year and a half, that I’m mostly numb to their power to hurt – and often, now, the memories even make me smile.

After all this time, I’ve finally accepted that I can’t live back in the past with him, and I can’t bring him along with me into whatever my future holds. I may survive his death, after all. But then, in the midst of this general feeling that I’m existing in the calm after the storm, so to speak, a significant event happens in the news and I desperately miss the man with whom I’d love to discuss it. I miss my favorite sidekick. In the midst of all those feelings of acceptance towards my new life, who would have guessed that the publication of the Mueller Report would be my undoing?

When I think about politics, I think Rick Palmer. Rick was the most intelligent, politically savvy man I’ve ever known. His knowledge of political history was brilliant. He was interested in politics from a young age and honed his expertise (and opinions) by arguing his liberal ideas with his conservative father throughout his teens – and this all took place at a time when I was getting high on mescaline in a nearby park and wondering (barely) what all this talk of Watergate signified.

After we married, Rick caught me up to speed politically and I was soon avidly interested in politics and able to keep up with the changing political landscape. We enjoyed discussing the ins and outs of every major political event throughout our marriage – with him always adding tidbits from historically similar events out of his wealth of political knowledge. He never forgot a significant name or date. He even enjoyed reading all those alternate history political novels and the ideas about what could have happened.

In other words, politics were his life.

Rick’s favorite political pundit was Rachel Maddow, so much so, that when he became disoriented and confused after the brain radiation or when his blood counts were off, he’d ask continuously, “is Rachel on yet?” “is it time for my Rachel?” His timing was always confused during hospital stays, and I’d see searches on his phone for “Rachel Maddow” so he could determine when she was on. Watching her show was the highlight of many a long day after receiving chemo or recovering from hours of IV’s or blood transfusions.

Voting in primaries and presidential elections was a big event in our house, and it was always a shared occasion. The poll workers knew him, and it was disorienting and depressing casting my first vote without him after he died. And now this… some of the most significant events in the history of our country are occuring after his death. When the Mueller report was published today, I felt his loss hard.

And it’s not just that I miss discussing politics with him, or miss sitting next to him while I watch Rachel Maddow alone now each evening in my quiet living room. It’s the fact that HE’S missing all this. What would he think? I ask myself. Of course, that’s a foolish question, because after spending two decades with him, I know what he’d think. But I don’t get to hear his deeper, more knowledgeable insights on the subject, ideas that I always appreciated when he spoke. And I don’t get to share in his enthusiasm or experience the joy of watching him become animated as he discusses those ideas and opinions.

No, I don’t get any of those things. I just get to miss him all the more and wish so much that he was here so we could talk about all this. Like I missed the man who took me to Paris when I watched Notre Dame burning. Like I missed his arms around me every time I heard a report of another terrorist attack in the past year. Like I miss his soothing voice whenever I read upsetting news about the threat of nuclear launches or when I worry that the earth is slowly dying and wonder about the effects it will have on our grandchildren.

I guess I just miss the man I shared all of life’s ups and downs with, even if I think I’m “over it.” I guess I’ll never truly be over losing him, and life will just keep finding ways to remind me of the fact. So, yeah, I guess I’ve answered my own question. I’m sure it will always be like this.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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