That was the question and a very good one.
It was a quiet conversation in a much more noisy establishment that served white people food and drink. The subject, and I have no idea how we got around to it, was how people; we’ll call friends, acted when my wife died.
It is a conversation people should have before the event but no one wants to breach the subject. Is it too painful or do we just want to avoid the inevitable?
So my high school buddy tells me he had finally realized what my social media post meant but didn’t know what to do next. A phone call or flowers or a card, but what is there to do? It wasn’t an excuse and there were no regrets. Sometimes things are just what they are.
A random conversation brought about from a wander down familiar streets and some changes. A stop in this store and a window watch in that and couldn’t buy any ladders (you had to be there, but that is another story).
So after much to-do, we old buddies find an old hangout that only one of us attended back in the day. Wooden booths and similar feel; new owners, new patrons following the tradition passed down by the neighborhood, and higher prices. The volumes of books that could be written from this one location would fill a library.
Well the subject of ‘death’ rose up the pleasant meal of too much food and a few drinks. How do you explain what you do when someone dies?
There are certain social moirés that obligate following accepted procedures. Bring in the family and clergy and go through the motions of grief while support groups feed and sooth the remaining member. It is all good and structured and when the dust clears people go back to their normal lives.
It just doesn’t happen like that.
The cards are written and the flowers wilt and reality takes hold. Of course the thoughts and affections are appreciated, but life moves on. Now what?
I can only assume since I’ve observed from afar that families adjust to situations and adapt. Maybe that is the answer? We all adapt.
Back to the question… “Do You Miss Her?” It is a personal question but by a friend I don’t mind. With a pause of how to respond about someone who had spent decades with how do I answer?
“No, she is still with me.”
He looked somewhat befuddled at the answer, perhaps expecting a different answer or had some preconceived perception. I tried to explain.
The two of us had just wandered down sidewalks that I had walked since childhood. A place where my elementary school buddy would venture every Saturday to go to High’s Ice Cream shop and get a milk shake and a package of Nabs then stroll down the boulevard of boutiques and haberdasheries of the time. We’d end up at Bob’s Hobby Center to watch the trains go round and buy tiny rubber soldiers.
This one street held memories from years gone by. Movies at the Byrd, a hardware store that always had just the right tool, pipe shop, piano shop where I bought my first guitar, camera shops, bicycle shops with a friendly old guy who educated me into the two-wheel world and sold me “Happy Jack”.
Through the years the stores and facades and faces have changed. A wave of grocery stores replaced the pony rides. The practical became the unnecessary, but still the street has a certain mystic.
Back to the question…. “Do I miss her?”
The answer is “No!”
Look around you. There are memories everywhere, particularly if you live in the same place. Visit the museum and remember a time when we visited and commented on the metal knight on the pretend horse before seeing a zillion year old dead guy wrapped in toilet paper. Go to the park for a picnic and read later that was one of her most treasured moments. Venture into a bookstore and remember the joy of doting on this stranger allowing for adventures I would not attend.
I still live in the house we shared. Everyday I wander out into the yard she created and stop and pause out of respect and wonder. I still wander the same streets we traveled and see the same sites we enjoyed together and that won’t go away.
When I move, if I ever move, it will be a new experience but the dreams will remain the same.