Living alone in our world

Dear Rick,

We were in a world of our own, a perfect world we created together.


We jealously guarded the world, only letting in close family members. Only going to a few social events if they really struck our fancy. Otherwise, our home, our car, our forays to diners and restaurants were solo. They were us.

We refined our world, we decorated the home, we filled it with the electronics we needed for our web design, our hobbies.

We filled our world with our own books, music, and even TV shows. All the entertainment was culled from things we enjoy together.

And those things that we didn’t both enjoy, we enjoyed side-by-side. You reading your iPad, me doing genealogy on my MacBook. We even played Scrabble on our electronic devices, both of us nudging each other ever so often – electronically and verbally. Com’on, are you ever going to make a word?

We enjoyed breakfast at diners, yet rarely communicated. You read your New York Times. I did the puzzle you had printed for me before we left home. I’m sure waitresses thought we one of those married couples who barely spoke. But we didn’t need to speak, not at breakfast when we didn’t want to. We had refined the communication. We needed few words to communicate to each other.

You drove me to work, you picked me up, and took me to lunch, you drove me home. In our world. Our very special world together.

Oh, every once in awhile I did my thing. I went and played cards, and Friday nights sometimes you went to visit your friends. Once you even went to Arizona for a weekend without me. But even then our world didn’t disconnect. Even then we texted and talked and FaceTimed while we were apart.

I went to work at my own job and you stayed home to do websites. During the day, you did your wandering. You loved your wandering time – for those few hours before and after lunch anyway. You liked to eat McDonald’s breakfast with a donut at the end. I hated that you did that, Mr. Type 2 Diabetic.

Before work, you made my eggs and sausage and put them in a Rubbermaid bowl with a twist top. Just another part of the habits that overtook our world.

Yes, we did socialize, usually family events, every once in awhile with friends, but usually it was just us. Usually it was just us, and now it’s just me. How will I overcome this loneliness? How will I live in our world without you? How?

October 29, 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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