It is 4pm, or it was when I thought to write this. Then two lovely men delivered me a huge double glazed window and quite entertained me with their efforts and genuine smiles. It lifted my spirits, even if it was pitch black out there and they were two hours late. Yawning like a giant the evening feels like a big black hole, and, yet, I am warm, well lit with twinkly winkly lights and fat church candles on pedestals. I have good food, a merry little log burner and, now, a huge double glazed window for the fitting. We are all safe. You will guess there is a ‘but’ and here it comes.
I notice, these days of early widowhood, the shock of sudden absence. Oh, I am still here and so it Poppy dog, although she is not the whole shilling these days. Grieving, perhaps. I don’t question her, nor she me. We just abide in this strange new world of silence. This silence is fillable, of course, with music, talking books, lovely delivery men, the postie and passers by, people I know and could have rushed out to hug, would have. Can not now. We communicate through arm flapping and blown kisses and they are gone. I turn back. To the kitchen, to the log burner, to the Poppy dog, to good food for one and the evening yawns on.
I think back to all the times I was irritated, scratchy, demanding my own space, yelling for the kids to stop yelling, throwing out barking dogs into the night for a cool down and completely engaged with a life I did not appreciate enough. Now I realise how precious that time was; now I realise, moving on through the years as children left home, one by one until there was just me and just him, how precious that was too. My dad once said to me, as we chatted while he packed for another long haul trip to sort rich men’s chickens, usually in the desert, that it was quite something to be in that place. He questioned the rightness of it. We met and fell in love, he said. We brought forth children (he was a man for uptown wordage) and then got on with life. As they grew wings and flew away we found ourselves staring at each other and thinking…..remind me…….who are you? I had no experience to lean on and probably didn’t get it, but I do now and I did as that time came for me. When the ones who kept us together with all their teenage opinions and rights and that passion to change the world, left, it was just us and we were strangers. We had both gone through things together and many things alone. This will not be breaking news to any who recognise this awkward place of reconnecting, or not. Over those turbulent and demanding years it is inevitable that a couple will pull apart, pull together and pull apart again. We change according to our circumstances and circumstances alter facts. I was this young woman, he was that young man and then kids blew the whole dynamic to powder and shrouds. We lost ourselves to them, on both sides of the bed.
Now I sit here in the early dark (by 3.30 pm here) and consider it all. I can do this now with yawning evenings and so many days ahead of just me and just Poppy. I took the time with him for granted, those latter days when he was always here and so was I. Do you think I could shift this planter to a better place for wind protection? Can I go for a walk now (looking at those burgeoning rain clouds) or should I wait? He would check the sky and say, You have ten minutes, or, if you wait for five, this shower will clear and give you twenty. Shall we play scrabble, eat this, watch that, talk about this child, or that? It was like nothing, like breathing. It came and went as a natural part of a naturally shared day. Now it is just me and Poppy and she doesn’t play scrabble, nor care much what I eat or watch and has a similar diffidence to incoming rain. But it isn’t just someone missing. It is the historical other part of me, the one who, for all his faults and failures that infuriated me, the ones I commented on, sulked at, stomped around in, in loud boots and all to no avail, it is he who is missing and there are times the silence is so loud I am deafened.
I don’t want him back. Poor soul at the end, he had had enough and chose to go. But the yawning evening speaks volumes about all I took for granted, all that bothered me at surface level, all I had no idea I would miss so much some day. So, my point is this. If anyone out there stops to think about how lucky they are to have a someone, even an infuriating someone who shares their history, then it might be time to recognise that, to be thankful and, better to speak it out. When I ranted on about himself to my old mum, years ago and once she was widowed, she rounded on me. At least you know he is coming home, she said.
I rest my case.