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life is dull without your warm presence

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. 

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Comment by lizbeth4 on June 12, 2016 at 8:36pm

Life is different without my Husband.  It has been 3 years since his death.  It has been hard to start a new life after being married for 31 years.   We were lucky that my Husband had 7 years with our Grandson before he died.  They both loved each other so much!   I feel like I am making progress in my life.   I have a few single (divorced friends) and many couple friends.  I still find myself feeling envious of the hand holding.  I miss that so much.   You never think that you are going to be living alone, making all decisions by yourself and dealing with everything alone. We can just do our best.    

Comment by only1sue on June 9, 2016 at 1:22pm

Thanks Jess.  I was fortunate my husband got to see all six of our grandchildren and even though the youngest was only three months old when he died there is one or two photos of her in his arms.  It is the important family milestones that worry me sometimes, I want him to be here to share the grandchildren and their successes,to see how much they have grown.  I see traces in them of him but know that they will have some of my sayings and some of my mannerisms too as i am e survivor, the grandparent they know best.  I have tried to keep him alive in their memories but can see that is fading now.  I do feel for younger women like you who have lost so many of those good years with a husband and the father of their children.  So sad.

Comment by Jess on June 9, 2016 at 5:55am

Life is dull for me most of the time.  Work helps because I am not around couples, it is safe to be in the office 9 hours and not see people holding hands, staring at each other across the room, arguing about little things.  I find moments of joy too, especially when I hear my children's voice, see them smile, and when a friend actually mentions my husband by name, I want people to recognize that I am still grieving and that I am not well with all that has happened.

I received my new bedroom set yesterday, it is perfect for me.  It is something I decided to change one morning when I woke up and looked around and realized that the space was now only mine.  Last night when I finished organizing everything I looked at my bedroom and smiled.  I felt proud of myself and gently told my husband that I needed to do this, I believe he is happy for me too.  His things are put away in a chest in my room, I can visit with them whenever my heart desires but lately it has been painful to touch his clothes and things.  I play videos to hear his voice and it feels unreal that he is no longer here with us, I miss him so much. 

Friends and family really do not understand but then again I reflect at my actions and attitude when a friend of mine lost her son and I too was not a constant supportive friend.  I visit, in my heart and mind, how I behaved during her loss and the truth is that MY life continued, my daily routines continued, and I did not reach out to her often.  I pray and feel terrible about it now, I did not understand loss like I do now.  I want to make up for my past shortcomings, I want to and will be more compassionate.  This Saturday I will be helping a disabled woman in church visit her husband in the same cemetery my husband is in, Quantico.  It would be her wedding anniversary and she wants to visit her husband, I will help her with this to help fill my cup and her cup. 

My husband will never meet his grandchildren, never walk the girls down the aisle when they get married, never will I be able to feel coupled again but I pray that with time I will learn to accept that this life does have hope for new joyful things and moments.  I miss my husband and I miss my way of life, my husband was a big part of my life and in a way he still kind of is, his death resulted in my new life so how could he not be a part of it?  Peace be with you.

Comment by deaf widow on June 9, 2016 at 3:11am

You have expressed exactly what it feels like to miss the way things were before our loved ones passed.  You have a lotta DEEP understanding about the change in family/friends relationships.  Those funny memories are the hardest things to remember (you wanna laugh and cry at the same time).  Thanks for sharing. ((hugs))

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