I’ve long had this vision of you suddenly coming back to our house: the cat running down the stairs to greet you and you smiling and noting how little has changed since you died and don’t we have a lovely house.
But now the cat is dead as well.
And there’s a pandemic going on. Everything has changed.
After you died, it was very important to me that I continued living our life. I often wondered if you would be proud of me and then usually decided you would be ─ and that mattered a whole lot. It matters a lot less now. Maybe I am doing things you wouldn’t approve of. And that would be fine: it’s not like I always fully stood behind everything you did.
It feels liberating to go through the house and move your things out of the way, or simply throw them out. You won’t come back to ask for them. It turns out, there aren’t that many things that I feel emotionally attached to.
Are we still married? I have found it increasingly strange to refer to you in conversations as ‘my wife’. It feels like you kind of stopped being that, if not two years ago when you died, then at least gradually in the time since.
Mind you, it does hurt a bit to write this. Part of me wants to say what I feel I am expected to say, that I think of you every minute of the day and that you are the light that guides me the rest of my life. It would sound lovely. But it simply isn’t true.
I do wish we could hug once more. Then I could promise you I would always look after our teddy bears ─ because some things really don’t change ─ and then we would say that our ways have now parted. And that it is okay. After all, on that hot June day in 2006, we promised to stay together until death would do us part.
You died long before the pandemic that has changed everyone’s life. This isn’t your world any more. We talk about the new normal, and that will not be the same as the old normal. I don’t know what my new normal will look like. It will definitely be very different than my old normal. And I know I will be alright.