Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

Scared to also lose his dad

TUESDAY, November 24 – Crying while riding a bike is never advisable, especially in traffic.  But I couldn’t help myself.  I’d just left Bickers Island, where Jenn had rented a desk at the Wordsmithery, a non-profit writers’ office. She spent two or three days a week on the island, in the shadow of Central Station, with its slightly wacky residents, their gossip and intrigues.

She loved the animals at the nearby Children’s Farm and passing dogs knew she always had a treat for them. Jenn was excited about the prospect of taking Elsa with her to Bickers Island. She’d already calculated how long it would take to walk there so that the dog could get used to the noise of the city before letting her trot alongside the bike.

I went there this afternoon to turn in the keys at the office and pick up a few personal possessions: two volumes of poetry, a framed photo of Eamonn, a bookmark with a tiny photo of Sander, the card I gave her for her fortieth birthday – a photo of Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had always thought Jenn looked a bit like her.

The message read:  ‘Happy 40th! We’re responsible for at least some of your grey hairs, but even now, you’re ageless.  Plenty of time ahead of you.  We love you.’

There was also a postcard she’d bought during a meditation weekend with the Dalai Lama. On the back she’d written a Dutch poem:

You must remember this:

Everything disappears

Nothing lasts forever

If it is, then it is just as it is.

You can choose where to go

And then you’re where you land.

Stay in the here and now

And don’t be afraid.

Everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine.

The lyrics made me shudder. I cried and cried as I pedaled on, leaving the island behind me.  Away from her private paradise where she’d lived in her own here and now.  I mumble that we’ll try not to be afraid and that one day, yes, one day, everything will be fine, fine, fine again.

22:30 – A monumental case of separation anxiety. It’s written all over Eamonn’s face and evident from his conduct.  That evening I asked him straight from the shoulder, ‘Are you afraid you’re going to lose me, too?’

His answer was a frank ‘Yes’.

He added with shocking certainty, ‘In the end, you’re going to die, too.’

‘That’s true,’ I said, ‘but that won’t happen for a long time.’

He saw that differently. ‘Mom died when she was younger than you are now.’

He’s right. His reasoning is watertight.  Bloody reality.

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