Diary of a Widower

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

Price of grief: 985 euro

TUESDAY, April 27 – Inexplicable and irresponsible, but fun.  A sudden urge.  I go for a walk, heading in the direction of P.C. Hooftstraat, Amsterdam’s answer to New York’s Fifth Avenue.  Wearing jeans, sneakers, and an old T-shirt, I walk into Oger’s.  Salesmen raise their eyebrows.

Ten minutes later I walk out of the shop wearing a new sports jacket.  I decline the ridiculously large bag.  I’ll wear it. On the street I run into the writer H, who’s sitting at a sidewalk café with a young lady. We shake hands and right away he asks how long it’s been… And the children, how are they coping?

Normally, we’d immediately start gabbing about soccer or mutual friends from some bar or other.  About London, the States… anything.  But things are different now.  I smile my unflappable smile and move on.  Still totally non compos mentis, but in a thoughtful frame of mind.

I stare at myself in a store window.  Anyone who’s lost some pounds mourning a loved one and is now getting out and around is expected at the very least to look decent. Fuck it. The fabric is magnificent, the fit is superb, and at 985 euros, the price isn’t half bad.

19:58 – Two minutes to eight.  It was at this that precise moment exactly 32 years ago that my father died. I saw it happen. He was sitting in a black leather chair. His right hand clutched the left side of his chest and his face convulsed as the life drained out of his frail body.  Mother immediately sent us upstairs and closed the sliding doors leading to the living room.  The parish priest came up to our room to tell us that our father ‘was now with God’ and that everything would be all right.  I think about the family members who came that evening and sat around in the living room except in the empty chair, which remained empty.  Memories… no more than that.

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