grief - coney island

Sitting alone at the Coney Island

I’m sitting alone in the booth at the Coney restaurant. I thought I was used to it by now. I thought nearly nine months without you had inured me to eating alone, sleeping alone, existing alone.

But perhaps not.

I miss so much about you and our time together, but I miss chatting with you the most. I want to tell you my observations about the woman sitting in the next booth. I actually almost felt like you were here, so powerful is the urge to speak to you, see you. I almost leaned forward to whisper to you, but your spot in the booth is vacant, like your place in my life now.

None of our conversations were important or contained huge revelations. I just enjoyed hearing your take on life. You always had something interesting to say on any topic.

Sometimes, your stubborn, opinionated comments irritated me. Really really irritated me. We butted heads often. I didn’t like when you were negative about life, but your moods never lasted long. (And I may have been a bit pigheaded myself.)

But mostly, I just loved the exchange of ideas and thoughts and relished hanging out with you – and especially at the diner.

So here I am, writing instead of enjoying your company. I can’t let myself think beyond the sadness and disappointment of this moment. I can’t let myself envision a future of empty booths, or empty chairs, of the empty bed. I can’t handle more than this one devastating moment without you, acting pleasant to the waitress, smiling at the other patrons, sobbing inside.

How long will you be ever-present in my mind? On the one hand, it’s awful seeing you in my mind’s eye all day long and not being able to touch you. It’s awful missing you constantly, remembering the things you did and said. It’s my living nightmare.

But, when I think of the alternative, that makes me sad, as well. To imagine a time when your memory will have subsided in my mind to an occasional glimmer of the times we spent together, when your memory will become a passing thought in my busy day. To even think of that brings on such a sadness that I’m not sure what’s worse – missing you so desperately now or a future where you are no longer a part of my life, a constant presence in my everyday thoughts.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

There’s definitely wisdom in that aphorism. I doubt the day your memory will have faded will happen very soon, so I’ll stick with the misery of today. I’ll muddle through the rest of my lunch hour without you, and I’ll take one day, even one hour, at a time… until I see you again.

May 10, 2018

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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