I can’t hang onto you, I know that.
But I’m trying.

I’m working so hard to move on, when everything inside me screams – hang on, hang on, hang on to every scrap, every piece of him,

As your life is being dismantled.

I want to keep every aspect of your life untouched, in place.

I know you don’t need your clothes, your shoes, your files.
You don’t need anything now.

But I do.
I don’t want to lose you.
So I keep the scraps, the mementoes, the photos, the things you kept because you liked them.

Your stuff.

But it doesn’t help.

Gone eight months now. It seems like eight years. I miss you more each day. And every day, you slip farther away.

When I return to the empty house, I don’t expect you to be home anymore, waiting, with dinner on the grill.

When I wake up in the morning, I’m used to you not being here, in your office – the early riser waiting for me, the sleepy head.

When I enter our empty bed, I no longer try to imagine that you are behind me, waiting for me, ready to envelope me in your strong arms and pull me to you.

I did a little pretense yesterday.

I was sitting in the park, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, reading my book – just the way you used to like to do. A man rode towards me on his bicycle – a large man wearing a helmet.

For one fraction of a second, I hoped it was you – and then I remembered that you are gone.
And I said to myself, just for a minute, pretend it’s him. Just for a minute, pretend you are meeting him as you so often did when he was out riding on the weekend.

Just for one shining moment, picture him coming towards you, smiling, as happy to see you as you are to see him.

Just pretend he’s alive and life is still perfect.

So I did.

For one short minute, perhaps only 30 seconds, I allowed myself to fantasize, to dream that my lover was back, coming towards me, smiling.

And then the man turned on his bicycle and rode away.

And my life was empty again.

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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