I haven’t had a parent die, or a child, I can’t compare – each an equal ripping, I imagine. You don’t measure grief against grief. But a partner-in-life you walk beside. That’s what you do.
A roll of paper towels on the sunroom table, the plastic half ripped off. When did I fetch it? Begin to open it? Get distracted? I am half on this planet and staying moored here exhausts me. The other half walks endlessly with him on his endless journey. Walking bedside him. That’s what partners do.
The lost art of cooking – one step and then the next. Burnt pots, boiled dry kettles.
I am the bucket on a bucket brigade passed hand to hand from friend to friend. Alone, I might drift away. Not desiring it, just from habit; decades of walking alongside, next to him.
He was my ground my standing place my starting place my earth.
Old people often die when their spouse dies. I understand why. Too much energy to stay put. When our parakeet Benny took a bad bounce onto Bill’s shoulder as he was opening the sunroom door and flew away, his partner (not his mate but his partner) Diego flew careening wheeling wildly around the house for four days then found the same open door – a door he’d never approached in years – and flew out after him.
The dogs go out in the rain and come trotting back wet. They force their noses against me, expectant. “Oh! You want your towel!” I say and get it and rub them and land in my body again, wet fur and terry cloth, bright eyes and gentle tongues. My friends call. My daughter needs a ride. “I’ll walk with you later,” I say to him inside my head.
I am so tired. My body refreshes but not my mind. So hard to stay on this planet, so hard to stay on this ground. Hold my foot like a balloon string, please, or I’ll fly away. Who knew gravity didn’t work when your partner’s in a grave.
I lie down with the sun. I wake every hour every night all night. I cling to the bed – his side – a life raft. My heart is above the tree line, granite and thin air. I walk with him sometimes into the wind, sometimes into the sunny fields, sometimes into the sky.
I walk from room to room forgetting things. “Why am I here?”
I walk with him and with myself wondering exactly where and when our paths diverge.
First it’s hard, and then it’s harder.