Diary of a Widower

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

No choice. It hurts so much

SUNDAY, March 21 – It’s lying in wait around the corner. I’m sure of it. Any minute I going to find myself face to face with the all-encompassing truth that Jennifer Mary Nolan from Brooklyn is, indeed, dead. What will happen when this reality finally gets through to us?

I shudder at the thought.

Luckily, the weekend is almost over. One more dinner and then I can relax and wind down until it’s time for bed. It seems as if I haven’t done a damn thing. A couple of chores maybe, so it wasn’t entirely for nothing. All in all it feels like a wasted weekend, heralding the realization that Jennifer will always be absent.

The three of us are confronted with our own uncertainties – the first signs of depression – which are becoming stronger and stronger. I toy with words, trying to capture this weekend.


He sat on the couch, dejected

Having played happily all day

Glum, a lip that trembled

A hand that searched nervously for mine

And found it.

Hand in hand on the couch

He is unhappy with himself

Since others

Apparently refer to him

As ‘odd’.

Going overboard, I stress that

He is cool and friendly

Good at sports and bright.

But he does not believe

In himself.

Arising from the couch

He walks away. His self-esteem gone.

Because he

Doesn’t listen to what I say.

Would rather hear it from her.

But she can’t be found

Nor can he.

And yet we find each other

In a comforting embrace

Not far from the empty couch.

After dinner we go out for ice cream, the first this year – because it’s spring. We each order our customary two scoops, double lemon for Eamonn and then his smile fades. I lean towards him and say, ‘I know what you’re thinking.’

He looks at me. ‘Mom would have licked it clean for me.’  He hates sticky fingers and Jenn always licked his cone, so he wouldn’t get the melting ice cream on his fingers. So I say, ‘From now on, I’ll do it.’ I keep my promise, but I also tell him that it will get easier as time goes on.

When we get home, Eamonn requests a group hug on the couch.  It feels great! When Sander leaves the room, Eamonn confides in me: ‘The whole weekend I’ve been thinking about Mom. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way and I hope you won’t be angry with me, but I think that Mom’s death is worse for me than for you or Sander.’

He’s probably right.

And Sander is right, too, when he walks in at nine-thirty, sits down next to me, and voices the fervent hope that ‘some day things will get better. That’s all I wish for.’ I promise him – as I have done so often in the past – that one day it really will be better. Really and truly. He is not convinced.

‘That’s what you said five months ago.’ And he’s right.

He wishes it was six years later. ‘By then it should be much better.’

I agree, but first we have to get through this difficult period.

‘And that means it hurts. We have no choice.’

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