Sunday, November 13, 2017

I had another slight meltdown today after Lynn left. I didn’t feel like doing anything except sitting in my Rick blanket cocoon. I guess it was because I spent the entire day until 1:30am with others and didn’t have any time to cry.

I thought of Rick several times yesterday. In the movies, he was always next to me. We held hands, shared popcorn and gave each other looks of approval or dismissal after every preview. And this is only the second time I’ve gone without him after several years of weekly movie dates. It just felt wrong.

Then Jim and Karl joined Wally, Traci, Lynn and I for dinner. Rick should have been there.

Lynn and I had long discussions both last night and this morning. Widowhood, dating, going on alone, hanging onto sentimental things. I think I just was overloaded with emotional thoughts by the time she left.

I sat in my chair and looked over at the couch, just longing to see Rick lying there as he did sometimes, especially in the last months of his life. I passed football games while channel surfing and wished he were here on the rare Sunday afternoon he watched a football game – the special ones, at least.

My life is so empty now. The house is so empty. God, it’s awful. I just kept thinking that I can’t do this, but I have no option BUT to do it.

Tonight, I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm without him. He would have loved some of these jokes. Larry was dating a woman with a son, and for the first time, it hit me that Rick made the decision to date a woman with a 14-year-old son! I had never looked at that with that perspective before. That’s a huge decision. He married me and became a stepfather to a potentially live-in child, even though we never did live together “too much” with him here because of our weird commuter marriage. It’s just odd that I never thought of this with this perspective and from the point of view he may have had. I don’t think I would want to date a man who had minor children right now. He made the choice to love me despite the fact that he didn’t want to father more children.

So, I had a sort of “emotional “flu” day. I didn’t do any of the chores I need to, didn’t work on the site updates I need to, nothing. Just sat and cried and watched a movie and ate sandwiches. Then napped a bit. I felt incapable of doing anything else. I’m still devastated by my loss. I love and miss him madly.

I did look at some future travel ideas with the Road Scholars. Genealogy and writing trips to Indiana and Wisconsin. I felt some interest, some hope that I could do a couple of these week-long trips. After that was when I lost it again emotionally and started sobbing. Two steps forward, one step back? I picture a future without him, enjoying myself by myself, then feel like I’ve pushed too far, have left him and our love behind. I don’t want to leave him. I can’t betray him by having a life without him. That’s stupid and I know he wouldn’t want that. I can’t help how I feel.

One of the pieces of the metaphorical vase that I would put in my mosaic is the ability to have the independence to travel, the wanderlust he inspired in me, and the confidence that I could do that by myself. I was becoming more confident before I met him, just by what I accomplished at UofM, but traveling the US, Canada, and Europe with him, gave me even more confidence and the open-mindedness that I could do it alone. Our travels and love of travel will go into the mosaic, and I’ll think of him as I wander anywhere in the future.

On the practical side, he taught me how to nonrev, get a rental car, and mundane things that are normal for many adults, but that I had never done. I’d driven places with Brandon and gotten hotel rooms, but only a few times. After 21 years of travel, I’m so much more adept and open to going places that I will take that as one of the beautiful pieces of life he gave me.

Oh God, Rick, you were so good to me. I love you so much.

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 *