Funny things you think about as a widow, still experiencing that loss after more than three and a half years. Like how good it was getting into bed and putting my feet on a warm husband. My husband Ray was a diabetic and as such slept much warmer than I did. He used to yowl and complain and say: "Get your cold feet off of me!" and I would just laugh and snuggle up to him, Having a warm body to hug is so much better than an electric blanket or hot water bottle. On a cold dark night when I am putting the garbage bins out, dragging them down the driveway and remembering it is "his job not mine". Talking to a friend about problems they are having with a building or their car and thinking : "Ray will know what to do." so many things I want to tell him, so many things I want his advice on.
I am working on being alone, living alone, being comfortable being alone, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Winter is harder to bear than summer, winter with it's short dark days and long cold nights seems to emphasise that I am alone now. As the wind whistles around the house I feel colder than I used to do, I know some of that is ageing but some of it is in my mind. Comfort food such as warm chicken soup is not the same eaten alone, television programs we watched together are not as funny if you are the only one laughing. I love music but it is the same old music, Ray is not shouting: "Is it my turn to choose now?" as he used to when we were younger. So the old country and western CDs go unplayed as they were his choices not mine.
I rarely hear from his cousins now, once we were included in their family events, weddings , christenings, anniversary parties, since he has gone that is over. I loved his girl cousins right from the first time we met but his long illness gradually lessened the ties and his funeral was the last time I saw most of them. I tried to keep in touch but once we had each said how our family members were doing there was really nothing else to say. What we had in common was Ray. What we talked about was the times we had shared, the events we had participated in together. I miss those times but I know they are not coming back.
I wish you could grow a new family at my age. But it is not like when we were young, all having children at the same time, all with children starting school at the same time, going through the same stages, getting into the same kind of mischief. Then there was so much to talk about on those long phone calls or on the visits as we talked and laughed over a pot of tea and not much else, as we were all paying off mortgages back then. Now if I call in there are still some silences when i know they are thinking: "I wonder how much I should tell her?" because their lives go on as a family and mine as a widow is not the same.
I do still have friends, some from a long way back in my life. Most of the friends I lost I realise were Ray's friends not so much mine. I do go out with other widows, sometimes with the female partner of one of my couple friends. I still sit down for a coffee with a few couples but it is not the same and not as often as Ray and I as a couple once did. We would call in and visit with some of his cousins on our way back from a day out. Back then it was so easy to say: "Let's call in and see if the Smiths are home today and see what they have been up to." Of course some of this would have gone by the board anyway as life has changed so much in the last couple of decades. Now we would message them instead.
I sometimes wonder if I am missing Ray or missing that way of life. That life before electronic gadgets took over our daily living. I am so glad I have email and Facebook and Skype, so many ways of keeping in touch but I still miss the face-to-face contact. As Ray being alive and well and able to get around gets to be a more distant memory I think I miss some that contact more. I miss the "family" that nebulous body made up of Mum, Dad the kids, their spouses and the grandkids. I miss the gatherings for Father's day and his birthday, I miss the "let's go and see Pa and Granma" thoughts they had, the phone calls that started "could I speak to Pa please Granma?" just the fact that we were grandparents together.
I could go on and on about the things I miss. I guess all widows and widowers can. We were us, a couple, Ray and Sue or Sue and Ray depending on who you knew first. We were Mum and Dad, Granma and Pa, the Wilkos next door, so many different things to different people. I really miss that.