Evenings are the worst

Evenings are the worst.
Coming home from work to an empty house – the new normal.

No plans, no dinner, no evenings on the deck, chatting about our day, drinking wine and eating appies and listening to Five for Fighting Pandora. No watching you prep and grill dinner while I grab a swim. No moving to sit under the gazebo after dinner, the gazebo that you erected on the deck you built, sitting across from you under the blue lights you strung up (because you love blue lights), listening to your ideas and opinions and memories and dreams and plans – and relishing your feedback and comments when I tell you mine.

But then, mornings are the worst.
Waking up alone. No “Gerry, time to get up.” No nudge from behind, no clatter of you wandering around the house, feeding the cat, letting her out, playing at your computer… waking up noises. “Gerry, do you want me to make you breakfast?” Cooking me scrambled eggs. Microwave door slamming as you heat my sausage patty before assembling my to-go breakfast (with cheese sprinkled on top) in a plastic bowl. No more, “C’mon Ger…I’ll go warm up the car,” and “I’ve got your computer.” And getting into the car with the already-warmed seats and leaning to kiss you good morning.

No, maybe driving is the worst.
One shared car (why would we need two? we did everything together) so you drove me in the mornings, often came back to take me out for lunch, picked me up after my hours were up at the end of the day. Driving everywhere together, to work, to restaurants, to wander around looking at potential condos, through parks, down streets… wandering wandering wandering, which is your favorite thing to to. Me complaining about your attitude behind the wheel (Me – “We’re not in a hurry, why do you care how bad the traffic is?” You – “Because it’s not right. There are rules.”). Me constantly pointing out potential problems to watch for and pissing you off (“I see it, Gerry! I’ve been driving for years.”). You reaching over to try to pinch my inner thigh and me letting out a blood curdling yelp to retaliate. You reaching over to try to grab my nose, but I lick your hand and you pull it back with a disgusted noise. Now I drive alone, no music – can’t bear to hear another song that reminds me of you. No silence, can’t stand the way I think of you when I see every landmark with a memory behind it. So I listen to the news and miss you next to me every minute of the drive.

Actually, not getting your texts is the worst.
No texts asking, “What time do you want to go to lunch?” No texts asking, “What did you want at Costco?” No texts at 4:30 saying, “I’m here.” No texts from outside on the deck to me inside the house. “Are you coming out for a glass of wine?” No texts from the hospital, “I love you, forever.” “I miss you.” “When are you coming up?”

No, night time is the worst.
No bitching at you when I come to bed and you’re wrapped like a burrito in both our blankets. No grabbing my pillow from your arms, where you’ve cuddled it and made it too warm. (“I want a fresh, cool pillow – you made it hot!”) No hearing you ask, “What time is it?” as I come to bed, or feeling you reach over and with your muscular strong strong arms, simply pull me across the king-sized bed to you. No more of your wonderful, thoughtful, perfect back rubs to help me relax and get to sleep, no more giving you some of the same, and hearing you AAH, and OOH when I hit just the right spot – or YOW when I accidentally touch your sensitive spine. No more touching. No more loving. Night time is the worst.

Saturday afternoons are the worst.
No more, “Let’s take a nap,” after only lounging around all morning and going to the diner for breakfast. Yup, time for a nap. And if it’s a rainy day, you lay on your back and I cuddle on my side, close to you, nestled under your arm, stroking your huge muscled chest. And we talk about plans and life and things we’re reading, and our family, and our friends, and our business, and our dreams. And you say, “I love listening to a rainstorm,” and “I love listening to the train whistle far away,” and “Let’s pretend we’re sleeping in the back of a pickup truck that we live out of as we wander across the country.” Because you were a dreamer. And now you aren’t there on Saturday afternoons at all.

Sunday mornings are the worst.
Sleeping in late to find you’ve been up for hours, but you rejoin me in bed for some cuddle time. You always print my special Sunday NYT puzzle with much bitching about how the printer isn’t working right or that the puzzle didn’t print large enough. Going to breakfast (again!) at the diner. You read your paper and editorialize on what you’ve read. You end the breakfast by telling me the Tigers’ latest stats – and we both know I don’t pay attention, and we both know I’m being facetious when I say, “Oh wow!” and have no clue what the stats mean, and don’t care. But you always tell me. And now you don’t.

Evenings, and mornings, and driving, and not getting texts, and nighttime, and Saturday afternoons, and Sunday mornings are the worst, but, otherwise, I guess I’ll be okay without you.


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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