The sadness is back

The sadness is back.

Maybe it’s because I’m trying too hard to make plans, to think to the future. Maybe I’m not ready to let go of the past.

This morning, everything seems to trigger a memory. I was getting used to going a few hours, or maybe even all day, without thinking of him, but the weekend was one giant step backwards.

It could be because I entered the essay about the cancer ordeal in the Fish Short Memoir Contest. Maybe reading the history of his illness and death over and over while I fine tuned the writing during the weekend made it rise too close to the surface.

Maybe it’s because I was reminded this morning that I need to use 55 hours of vacation by the end of March, and I can’t think of anything I’d want to do without him.

Or because the SuperBowl was yesterday, and we often had a party with the kids, or at least made some special snacks for the event. We’d sit together while he watched the game and I read a book, but I’d pause so we could enjoy the commercials together.

Maybe it’s because of all the hype about “This is Us,” and the main character dying. Maybe it’s because I weaned myself off the Xanax. Maybe maybe maybe.

Valentine’s Day is next Wednesday. Great. I should be on my way to Florida with Rick. My heart just constricted, just a little, at the thought.

Whether there are other reasons, or the few I just thought about, the weekend was a bit more difficult than it has been lately. I had to take much more time out to grieve. I napped and sobbed for more than an hour yesterday afternoon. I cried myself to sleep Friday and Saturday night.

God, I miss him. I keep returning to that shocked feeling I first had after he died. Yesterday, he came to mind and felt stunned and that phrase came back to mind, “I can’t do this. I can’t live without him!”

But I have to and I will.

Feb 5, 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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