Today I missed Ray, yesterday I missed Ray. I miss him every day. Yesterday I missed him because I met a next door neighbour from 20+ years ago, she was about 8 when I last saw her. She said: "I was sorry to hear about Ray." Ray was working back when she lived next door but he would stop what he was doing and talk to the two little girls, her and her sister, through the fence. Children remember things like that.
Another young girl who lived next door later on also remembers Ray's kindness. She remembers when she came over to our house in the years after he had his strokes she could sit on the arm of his chair and he would read to her. I used to think it was good practice for him as his speech as a little slurred but for her he read slowly and turned the page with his "good" hand. She just remembers that he was kind.
I find it is hardest on weekends, I find I am lonelier and more at a loose end. Of course Ray was stroke affected from 1999 but despite the fact that he was somewhat brain damaged and a semi-invalid for 13 years, he was HERE, he was home with me. We had companionship. I included him as much as possible in the decision making and respected his feelings and his advice. We were still Sue and Ray. We were still a couple, we were not alone, we had each other.
As he needed a lot of outside help, especially in the last five years of his life our weekdays were busy with appointments and people coming and going but our weekends were appointment free and our relaxing time. Ray was fairly alert in the mornings but in the afternoons he slept a lot but just his presence in the house was enough to reassure me that things were as they should be. I had a husband for 44 years, that is a very long time. And when the kids had flown the coop there was still US.
The year when he was in the nursing home was hard, I thought I would get used to living on my own but I never did. It was like we lived in two sets of rooms, I lived in our house here but I also lived through the day in the rooms at the nursing home where Ray lived. On my daily visits we watched the entertainment in the lounge room, spent time in the sun in the courtyards and according to what was on the program for the day I wheeled him to whichever room the activities officers were using to play Bingo or do puzzles. Sometimes we would move into one of the smaller public rooms so we could watch TV together.
Last year was a horrible year, trying to get over Ray's last months, his death, the funeral etc. I was in a bad way for a while, I guess we all are in that first year. Now I am in my second year and it is better in some ways but the underlying pain from the loss is still there.
I was reminded of all of this when someone asked me today if it is getting easier being without Ray? I suppose in a way it is. I am more cheerful, less self-absorbed, less focused on Ray's death and my widowhood. I can move around in the real world without too much problem. But I am not over it. I am not over being part of a couple with half of the couple missing. I still want to be a part of Sue and Ray. it is just Ray is no longer in the same space.