widow grief and memories

An Eternity of Sundays Without Him

Why does it hit so hard sometimes? I move along, I feel myself starting to heal – just a little, and then I’m blindsided with a grief so fresh it feels like he died yesterday.

It’s 8 and ½ months today. My heart was shattered on an August Sunday nearly nine months ago. Sometimes it seems like yesterday that he was here. Other times, it feels like years since I’ve held him.

My grandson Jonas and I were watching Peter Rabbit Friday night and Mr. MacGregor died of a heart attack. Jonas had a million questions, “Why did he fall down? Is he sick? What’s wrong?”

Then he said, “The man died… MY papa died. My papa died long, long, long, long, time ago.”

Yes, to his little three-year-old mind, last week was a long time ago, so several months must feel like an eternity.

An eternity.

Today I can’t stop thinking about Rick, about his love for me, about his boyish charm, about his kindness and intelligence and gentleness, and his unparalleled enthusiasm for life. About things we did together and all the Sundays we shared.

Saturdays, Sundays, the weekends in general, are always the most difficult. We’d be doing this now, we’d be doing that. We’d be together because that’s what we did. We spent time together all weekend, every weekend. We liked each other, we loved each other, we had fun together, we worked together. We liked to talk about life, and love, and literature. We chose to spend our lives together and we relished the time spent doing everything and nothing side by side.

And it’s not fucking fair that cancer stole that from us.

I’m angry and sad and miserable. I don’t want to spend my weekends without him. I found the one person in the world who was my soulmate, the yin to my yang, the person who “got me” – and loved me anyway.

We weren’t a perfect couple. We argued, we shouted at each other sometimes. He often irritated me to no end, and throughout the years, I saw numerous eye rolls on his part when I irked him.

But for every single argument or disagreement, there was a renewed sense of awareness that, despite our differences, we could and would move on. We would work it out because the most important thing to both of us was that we had found each other, and we both knew it was worth working through the muck to keep this most priceless gem of a life we had created.

And now it’s all gone.

He’s gone.

And it hurts like hell to spend this Sunday morning without him.

I’m still alive and breathing, and I don’t take that for granted, but it takes much more effort to be grateful for that. It’s cliche, but a part of me died when Rick died, a part of me that still can’t come to terms with the knowledge that he’s gone forever.

Each morning, I rise from my bed knowing I will feel the emotional pain of his loss in some fashion during the day, whether dozens and dozens of times – as on weekends – or maybe only a handful of times on the busier days during the week. But I’ll feel it, and I can’t avoid it.

So I plan activities to keep me distracted, and I strive to find meaning in the life I have left. I visit friends and family, and I write, and I work my 9 to 5 job, and I keep our web business going, and I cook, and I clean. And life goes on.

And then there’s a day like today, and I just can’t do it. I don’t want life to go on. I don’t want to move forward. I want to move back to the past where he is.

And I wallow in the pain, and I miss the man I love, and I curl up in a chair and I stare at his picture. I relive the memories we shared, and I give into the self-pity and the sadness.

And in a little while, I’ll get up again and start all over on my solo journey.

Because I have no choice.

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 Amazon.com.

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

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