Friday, 11/17/2017

Dear Rick,

When using the broken vase analogy, my counselor said to pick out some beautiful pieces and make a mosaic.

I think of that often, as I try to decide what to take from our marriage on my new solo journey – my very painful foray into the future without you.

It’s work-at-home Friday. I toiled all morning on a project and finally finished at 2pm. I decided to go to lunch, just get out of the house. WWRD? He’d say, “c’mon, let’s go to lunch.” You couldn’t be contained in a house for long. You used to laugh at me when I said a perfect weekend was not having to go out for anything, no groceries, no reason to leave the house. The thought of going out to run an errand was no thrill to me. But to you, you loved it. You enjoyed wandering and shopping and just getting out.

I will never enjoy errands like you did, but I can at least attempt to enjoy something, anything, again. Since you died, nothing at all is enjoyable. Oh, sure, I went to a movie last night, and it was nice, but there’s this overlay of sadness that I can’t shake. I can’t FEEL. I can’t rise above this. You are gone, forever. I will never be the same.

The past couple of days, I didn’t think of you constantly. At first, I thought, oh, it’s getting better. But I’m not that foolish anymore. This has happened before, this small respite from the pain, and then suddenly WHAM! It’ll hit worse than ever.

So, I dressed, left the house, and decided to go to Olga’s. You never liked Olga’s and we only went there that one time last year. It was safe! No memories of you sitting across from me.

I did a crossword, ate my snackers, and then noticed the music – nothing terrible, no great reminders of you like Paul Simon, or songs about being in love, but they were songs that were popular over the summer, our last summer. They had no more meaning than that. We drove places and those songs came on the radio, and it was all I could do not to break down sobbing in Olga’s.

I handled it. I finished lunch and left the restaurant. I was on empty, so I went to the Kroger gas station next door, one you’ve gone to many times. And I pumped my own gas. You always pumped the gas, Mr. Gallant Husband. And I didn’t cry. But I wanted to.

And I got back in the car and sobbed all the way home.

Because you are gone, and I know it, and I can’t stand it.

So, I’ll continue to try to pull out the pretty, shiny pieces from the shattered vase of our marriage. I’ll get out of the house and run errands and try to find the joy you used to have in those small actions.

I’ll try to take life easier – try not to fret about everything like I always have, while you tried to make life more enjoyable for both of us, always, with little trinkets, lunches, road trips, just being and doing and not always accomplishing what’s supposed to be done.

I love you, honey. I love how enjoyable you made our lives – my life – in all those thoughtful ways.

I’m going to go on without you, but I don’t know how yet.

Friday, 11/17/2017

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

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

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