The Weekend

Dear Rick,

I thought I was getting better, but I didn’t make it through the weekend. Somehow I went from Friday feeling positive, feeling like I could go on without you, to Sunday evening, sitting in front of your computer, watching videos of us dancing at our wedding while I dissolved into a puddle of tears.

I guess I should’ve seen it coming. I’ve had those feelings of positivity before and they always end eventually.

Saturday was pretty good. I spent the day keeping busy. I had a little setback when I was doing taxes. Yes, I was doing taxes in January! I wanted to see how much we owe for last year, how much to budget for next year. I wanted to see how much we spent on deductions for the business and decide if I should keep going with it at all. So I did taxes, and that meant going back through the credit card records looking for deductions. I followed our expenses all the way back to the beginning of last year.

It was a little sad when I got to August and I saw the money I had spent for your obituary in the Free Press. I don’t regret spending nearly $1000, because you were worth it. But it reminded me of all the decisions I had to make right after you died, and how awful it all was and the great fog that consumed my brain.

But then as I kept going backwards through July, June, May, April, I saw all the things we had done together: the diners, the movies and date nights nearly every week, a couple of doctor bills, just regular stuff. April was the worst. That was the month in Florida. It was our last happy month.

I saw the price of the Madeira Beach parking nearly every night and immediately thought of us sitting together, watching the sunset, me wondering if you’d be here next year and dreading the idea that – deep down – I didn’t think you would be.

There were sunsets, there were restaurants, pizza places, just stuff. Just hanging out. There were the motels we stayed at. There were the Jack-in-the-Box tacos we ate coming and going when we stopped in Tennessee. And it brought it all back again. How wonderful and awful that trip was. It was a honeymoon that I knew was the end.

So I finished the taxes, picked myself up, and went to play with our grandchildren. I had a wonderful dinner with Brandon and Lindsay and her brother Mark, and I hung out with the kids and talked and laughed. Then I came home and, surprisingly, I was still OK and I thought yeah I’m getting better. It comes and goes, but it’s not as bad as it used to be.

So I guess it’s no wonder that Sunday morning I woke up missing you. I felt lost for a while. Should I go to a diner? Should I get up, dress, shower, go to a diner alone? No, I can go out later. I decided to stay home and relax, make a nice breakfast, and do my NYT crossword in this very quiet quiet quiet quiet house. Sometimes I do our little routine, even though you’re not here to do the answer part. Remember on weekend mornings, before I got out of bed, I’d yell to you in your office in the next room and you’d answer? It would be the same question and answer every time. So Sunday, I called out, “what are you doing?” And then I did your part too, and I called back, “waiting for you.” And I chuckled to myself instead of crying.

So, yes, I thought, Wow! I’m really doing much better now. I had my breakfast, and I watched a recording of Saturday Night Live, just like we often did on Sunday morning. I talked to you during SNL in the parts I knew you’d especially like. I know you would’ve loved the part where Kate McKinnon played Robert Mueller. Just the bizarreness of her taking on that character. She was always your favorite, and I turned to your picture and said what you would have said to me: “Look honey, there’s our Kate,” Just like you would’ve said it, too.

It’s really bittersweet doing all these things without you. All the things we always did together. But I did it, and I didn’t cry, well maybe a little.

And then I thought, I have to get out of here; I have to get out of the house. But first, I’ll do some work on our web business – you know, the work you always did. So I worked on the newsletter that you should be doing. And I guess I wasn’t aware that I just kept getting sadder. Until I decided that’s it, I’m going to go to the movies, I’m going to go out, get dinner, and go to the movies. But anyone I thought of inviting to go with me just didn’t feel right. No one felt right. Because no one is you.

And I finally decided… wait a minute, my counselor would tell me I need to schedule time for grieving, so I went into the bedroom and I curled up under the covers and I talked to you, and I cried, and I sobbed a while, and I wailed, and I cried, and I couldn’t stop. Because I miss you so fucking much I can’t stand it.

I felt it all again, the way I don’t want to go on without you, the confused realization that you really aren’t here, the dread, the awful dread, of going through day after day without you. So much for getting better, eh?

When I finally cried myself out, I decided to stay home. Made a little dinner. But before ate it, I went to your computer to get some fonts that I needed in preparation for working more on the newsletter tomorrow. And there on the hard drive was a video labeled “our wedding, 12 July 1997.” And fool that I am, I watched it.

I watched me getting ready that morning with the girls in my apartment, me happy, me being excited because I was about to be married to you. I watched us kissing at the altar after exchanging our vows. I watched us wandering outside with the bridesmaids and groomsmen to take pictures. And then I fast forwarded just a little just to see how long the film was, to see if it needed cropping so I could post it on youtube or your website for the kids and our friends to see.

And suddenly, I stopped fast-forwarding, because there was the two of us dancing to our wedding song. We were dancing to “You Are So Beautiful,” by Joe Cocker – the song you sang to me at Karaoke all the time. And I was stroking your arm and your head, and you were leaning in and nuzzling my neck. We were so in love.

Why didn’t we get forty years? Why were the last 20 stolen from me? Why were two people so obviously in love separated by death too soon? How can one of us go on without the other?

Yes, I started out this weekend thinking I was getting better. I was wrong.

I love you.

Jan 21, 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 Amazon.com.

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

Comments

  1. Dear one,
    Tomorrow marks 6 months since my beloved Jim died. I’ve been reading your posts though you are now 3 years out. You give me comfort though we do not know each other, yet our live stories are so similar. I pray I come through as you have. Thank you,
    Ann

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