Dear Rick,

I was taking a quick break to read emails between projects at work. One email was about SAE logo merchandise for sale.

I was browsing through the shirts and suddenly flashed back to Florida – you and I in a Walmart. You were buying two or three of those silky zip-up shirts that you liked so much. You always wore them when riding your bicycle. You convinced me to buy some in my size. (In fact, when we were back in Michigan, after no success finding more at the local Walmart, I ordered more for you online, because you liked them so much and wore them daily.)

The flashback was really of no big memorable activity, just a very small reminder of a typical activity on a Saturday in Florida – our very favorite place to be.

The times we had in Florida were heaven sent. We were so happy there. I am so thankful that we had many weeks before it all went downhill – before the pneumonitis set in, before you lost weight, lost energy, slept more, couldn’t walk, got sicker.

Picturing that one Walmart scene brought back Florida in an instant. It brought you back to life. It hurt.

I went to the company’s nursing room because the pain was so vivid, I thought I would sob out loud in my cubicle.

The flashbacks are getting stronger and coming on more suddenly now. Or is it that the fog of constant pain has lifted, so when it returns so suddenly, I’m not ready, and it’s like a punch to the gut?

I miss you, I miss you so much. I want you back.

November 7, 2017

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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