Twelve weeks

Dear Rick,

Twelve weeks.

This is the longest we’ve been apart since the night we met. How can I go on without you?

I thought the pain might be getting better…that the hole in my heart would start to heal. Scar over.

It’s not happening. It’s getting worse.

Another Sunday morning without you – what do I do? Where do I go? Do I eat my solitary breakfast here at home? Make some eggs and bacon, set up the little table in front of my “cocooning chair” and do my puzzle?

I haven’t been out of the house since Thursday night. I’m not sure which is worse. Going out without you or sitting in this tomb of my own making.

It’s comfortable, yet painful. I go through pictures and videos and files that are evidence of things we shared – trips and home improvements and all the various business we took care of together. I work to clean out the folders and files and get everything sorted out in case I decide to move, or I happen to die, too.

It needs to be done, this cleansing process. You wanted to help me “get the house cleaned out” and move to a smaller place – a condo – so you would know I’d be okay if – or when (but we didn’t say that) you died.

We made this plan before the medical problems started up. We made the plan when we thought we had more time. I remember saying that it wouldn’t be fair to you to spend time cleaning out a garage if you didn’t have much time. I remember getting up on Saturday and Sunday mornings and saying let’s do whatever you want to do today, and we wandered around town, eating breakfast and lunch in restaurants, shopping for nothing we needed, looking at condos, going to parks. Or we hung out around the house, reading, working on websites, napping.

So it didn’t get done.

And now that you aren’t here, I’m glad it didn’t get done. I’m glad that we didn’t spend that precious, short, short, time cleaning out the crap. I have nothing but time now, honey, time I need to fill with something.

And I’m not sure I even want to leave this place that we shared and move farther away from your memory.

But every shred of paperwork in these filing cabinets reminds me of something we shared and that you’re gone forever. Every bin I open has some remnant of you that seems unbearable to part with.

So I entomb myself and clean and sort and cry and remember and cry some more.

It’s Sunday morning and I need to decide again. Stay in and work and cry? Or go out to our favorite diner and eat alone and cry when I get back to the car?

Whatever I do, I’m reminded that it will never be the same. I need to go on. You aren’t coming back. And the more time passes, the farther away you go, frozen in time. And the more it hurts.

It’s not healing. The wound is still gaping open and my life’s blood continues to pour.

Twelve weeks is not enough to heal the hole in my heart.

I love you and miss you, Rick Palmer. My soul hurts.

Your wife (and I always will be),

Sunday, November 5, 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *