I hear my husband’s voice in my head sometimes, chiding me towards indulgences. His memory helps me to live larger and easier. There are times, not very frequently, that I miss him. I know how odd that must sound. I had a happy marriage and loved my husband very much and very well. But while I think of him always, I don’t exactly miss him. What I miss, really really miss, is being married to him. It is the partnership, the union, that I long for. I loved my marriage as much as I loved him.
Losing a spouse means losing an identity and losing one’s world. I loved taking care of him. Picking up little treats to bring home for him, cooking favorite meals, even folding his laundry are memories that now make me ache. I loved how we started and ended each day together. I loved all the shared jokes and opinions, the shorthand and nicknames we accrued over the years. A good marriage not only makes life technicolor but also means bearing witness to each other’s lives. Living without a witness feels one-dimensional and terribly self-absorbed.
After about a year of being alone I started to embrace having a home of my own. It snuck up on me rather suddenly, or at least the awareness of it did. I was in a shop specializing in quirky kitchen and tableware where I spotted alphabet cookie cutters. I’ve never used a cookie cutter in my life but that didn’t stop me from purchasing the multi-colored; B-R-E-N-D-A. Upon returning home, I propped them up on the kitchen counter and declared; “I can do that now, it’s all mine.” I won’t lie, it was a good feeling. I don’t enjoy shouldering all the stressors and unexpected expenses of sole ownership, but I do enjoy that it is my space. I’ve made it mine with paint hues and feminine touches. I’ve opened my home to others in ways I never did when married. But something has changed recently. Perhaps it’s that I now have a couple of post-marriage committed relationships under my belt, I’m not sure. What I do know is that my home now feels empty to me. I prefer having someone I care for here. I’ve no doubt it’s a metaphor and what I really miss is sharing my life with someone.
I can make my life as big and loud as a Vegas act but the loneliness creeps in. The busier I am the sneakier it gets. As I finally crawl into bed, the emptiness rolls over me and sadness descends. Unlike other disagreeable parts of life, this one is utterly and completely out of my control. Being happily partnered with someone you love above everyone and who loves you the very same way, is not something you can go out and make happen. I feel that I’m not living a full life and there’s nothing I can do about it.
My husband and I saw Titanic when it first came out. I wasn’t a fan, to me it was a jewelry snuff film. But there is a scene that ripped my guts out. There is an elderly couple that gets into bed to die together. After the film, I told my husband I never could’ve gotten on a lifeboat and left him behind. I can still hear him telling me; “you’d have to live for me.” I can’t help but feel I’m letting him down.