The last night I slept in my own house there was no heat, and I draped myself in blankets so that nearly the only things visible were my mouth and my nose. And I lay there, imagining myself as if a bear getting ready for my great long nap, as if a painted turtle slowing my heartbeat, becoming still so that I might survive this, as if a caterpillar cocooning itself so that when the spring came I could become someone new, could become anything else. Only the small body of my son, sleeping next to me soundly, his chest rising evenly and steadily, gave me any warmth at all.
And now spring is nearly here and I have become something else, found a new word to wear around my neck like a noose, and this word, widow, is choking me. I want nearly any other word to wear at all. I want it to become instead window, something I see your face through, want this news to be a typesetter’s error, not truth. Just the lack of an n, an accidental deletion; just a mistake.
What am I to do with what’s left of you? Two small black film canisters with grey caps—this is what I am given, yet husband, your weight is more than I can measure. I put you in the drawer where I keep my stack of single socks, the ones I am always looking for matches for, the ones I hope dumbly will return in the next load of washing, the ones I know are gone, but I have never been good with parting, with giving up, with saying goodbye, and so I keep these stupid socks month after month after month as if somehow I can will them to appear. But I know I’m wrong, with the socks, with you.
And I feel it tonight in this house where you are not, where our son sleeps down the hall, his chest rising steadily and evenly; looking outside I feel it so keenly—how a window opens up to let something in, how a widow is broken open to let something go.
(for more information on my husband or a link to his obituary, go here)