Diary of a Widower

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

Not alone. That helps

WEDNESDAY, June 16 – One minute you’re in a business meeting discussing a particular NOS program and the next minute you’re in the middle of a personal conversation during which the person opposite you casually mentions that he lost his mother to cancer when he was eight and his father when he was sixteen.

There are people who – without being explicit – let you know that everything’s going to be all right and wish you the very best.

And I know: I am not alone. That helps.

14:00 – I’m in the park with Elsa, a sun-drenched afternoon. And damn it, what do I see? Jennifer, in the distance, sitting in the grass against a wall, bicycle on the ground, shoes kicked aside, dress pulled up to allow more sun on her legs. Writing in her notebook, oblivious to her surroundings.

Or in the middle of a stretch of lawn, I see her sitting on a picnic blanket next to another mother, with the children around them. Jenn takes some fruit from her bag as she talks a mile a minute with her friend, collecting stories she’ll recount later on when she gets home.

Beyond the bridge, on the other side of the water, Jennifer is lying in the shade, looking straight ahead. She’s laid her book aside for the moment, saving that last chapter for tonight when she gets into bed. Never read too fast, was her adagio – as if she ever took her own advice. Books were devoured, and there were always new ones waiting for her.

Of course I’m not seeing ghosts.  I see women who could have been Jennifer. That’s the way I saw her before me: relaxed, totally herself, enjoying life’s small pleasures during an hour stolen from work. This no longer makes me angry, but it does take away some of my courage and when I find myself thinking that she should have been there in the park, my heart takes a plunge.

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