Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Widow's Walk: The Quiet Night

The other day I overheard a woman complaining about her husband's snoring. "He shakes the rafters," she said and all her friends laughed commiserating with her.

I want to tell her, enjoy this. You may miss it one day.

I did not realize how precious that last night was at the time. I did not know it was the last night. And even though it was not Mike's typical snore - it was light and raspy, I sat by his bed, our fingers barely touching, listening and watching him sleep. I would doze some, but then I would wake seeking comfort and finding it in the rhythm of his breathing.

For several days after, our house was full. It was noisy.

And then, everyone left. I was home alone, well except for Bob the cat, who did not like me before and really did not like me then. He thought I was to blame for Mike's absence.

I sat in my spot on the couch. Mike's chair was empty. I did not have to take a shower to cry (before it had been the only place I could let my emotions go when I needed to). I could let go right then, but I was afraid. What if I couldn't stop?

I could eat anything I wanted. Cook anything I wanted. The smell of food would not bother him now. Mike once called me a loud eater - croutons in a salad would send him into a frenzy. The cancer amplified his hearing.

Sleep finally came that night, but it was fitful. The quiet was too much, the only noise was the occasional meanderings of the cat. There was no snoring, the sound I listened for in the night, my assurance that everything was fine. It would never be the same, this was my new normal.

It took me a while to adjust. I did leave the television on quite a bit, the noise helped me. If you are recently widowed, nobody can tell you what will work for you — people can only make suggestions. Keep an open mind, but do what is right for you.

And sometimes you just have to let yourself cry. I had trouble doing this. I had two methods. I would watch a movie that I knew would make me cry, but also give me a little hope in the end. Or I would set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes, my allotted time to let it all out. I would tell myself that when 5 minutes was up, the tears must stop. I rarely ever made it to 5.

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