Forever doesn’t last

I recently met a couple of other widowers, one of six years and the other a month. They’d read some of these essays, contacted me, and I met one for a cup at 100th Monkey Books & Café, where I know they don’t mind weeping.

I was glad for the chance to talk to a man about all this, and I was comforted to learn that that constricting welling-up in my chest and throat wasn’t mine alone, which isn’t charitable, I know, but there it is. The initial sensation feels a little like the prelude to a sneeze, only in my solar plexus. I know what’s coming and I resist it anyway. It hurts.

I can get choked up anywhere, anytime. In my car, in a store, in the park, in the garden, and especially at the co-op and at home. The first few months I did all right when I was with people, most of whom were enough of a distraction for me to remain dry-eyed and composed. Lately, not so much.

I can ride the brink of sobbing long enough to get through the checkout and maybe to my car. That’s as far as I get usually, because my car was Janice’s car until last September, and it will always remind me of her, so then I weep because she’s not driving her car instead of me.

That’s not to say that if she were there she’d be driving, because I doubt it. There were times when I rode as Janice’s passenger, usually when I was dead tired or she was gonna drop me off somewhere. As Janice’s passenger, I tried hard to be a disinterested observer, and I never failed to arrive sweaty and bug-eyed. I found over many years and after many trials and trips that I could best relax for several minutes as Janice’s passenger if I kept my eyes closed, which even I thought rude.

So nearly always if Janice and I were going somewhere in the same car, I drove. To the co-op or to Seattle, I drove; her car or mine, I drove. I guess I miss her being there in the passenger seat, by my side. Very corny.

And this other guy and I talked about how “till death do us part” was just a phrase when we got married. I thought, “forever,” but it’s not. It’s until somebody dies, and there’s a pretty good chance it’ll be your best friend. There was no way to prepare emotionally anyway. We’re clueless because there are no clues. Phooey.