How has it been nine days since you left us? How have I managed to get through the past nine days at all? This morning, I woke up, and for the first time in weeks, I got dressed, made breakfast, and sat down at my desk to work almost like it was any other day. Falling back into a routine like this is strange and confusing. I feel guilt, and relief all at once. My stomach hurts but I can finally breathe a little bit.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to you yet. I probably never will be, but you were taken from me far too soon. I’ve been using your shampoo since you left. I figured you wouldn’t mind, and sometimes when I’m just sitting here, I suddenly smell coconut and aloe and I think of you.
I keep checking the thermostat as if you’re still here, sitting on the couch watching Andy Griffith. I want to make sure it’s warm enough for you, but the TV is off, and your blanket is folded on the back of the couch. Your slippers are still tucked under the side table where you kept your ashtray and plate of pizzelles. Your bathrobe is still hanging on the bathroom door.
We didn’t get to finish watching Gone with the Wind like we promised we would. We didn’t get to watch Outlander together or go for a sunrise walk on the Cliffwalk in Newport like we talked about in the car on the way home from the hospital. I filled all your birdfeeders, but you didn’t get to see them. I’ll keep them filled for you anyway. I promise to take care of your garden exactly like you asked me to.
I bought flowers for the house when I got home and filled as many vases as I could find around the house with them. It’s a little bit like having spring inside the house despite the ice and rain outside. I have a Macintosh apple Yankee candle burning in the dining room for you—our favorite scent. It hasn’t been easy, but everything is slowly coming together again. I’m starting to laugh again.
Waking up in the middle of the night is the hardest. I’m so used to going downstairs for a glass of water to find you sneaking my cats treats or pastina, then claiming they stole your food, and you were just cleaning it up. It’s too quiet here without your shows playing. It’s too dark without all the lights you used to leave on so you wouldn’t trip over something getting up at night for a snack. It’s too cold without you sneaking over to the thermostat and blasting the heat.
You have unopened packages sitting in the front room by the door. Eventually I’ll work up the strength to open them, but for now at least I can just breathe. It hurts, but I’m doing it. I’ll keep breathing and I’ll keep remembering you. I’ll keep the light on over the kitchen island and I’ll keep your Macintosh apple candle burning. I’ll finish watching Gone with the Wind, and I’ll finish the shawl I was crocheting for you.
And when summer comes, I promise I’ll make fresh sugar water every morning and watch for the hummingbirds like we always did.