Missing Jeff

I’ve been missing Jeff — my deceased life mate/soul mate — not in a grief-stricken, yearning, lonely sort of way, more like a missing puzzle piece sort of way.

Health, geography and various other circumstances isolated us. During the last decade or so of his life, we seldom saw other people. We only did our errands once a week and if we forgot something, we didn’t run out and get it, but did without until errand day came around again. We didn’t eat out — there were no nearby restaurants, and besides, we tried to stick to a healthy diet with lots of salads and stir fries and home-cooked meals of our own devising. Even the occasional baked goods or desserts we ate were our own creations. We tried to be as self-sufficient at possible, doing many things ourselves that people have others do for them, even to the point of my cutting our hair. We didn’t do car repairs or major things like that, but for the most part, we were on our own.

Sound familiar? Like sheltering at home? Like quarantine?

It’s as if he and I spent our lives together preparing for a crisis.

The crisis is now here.

But he is not.

During the first nine years after his death, although I was on my own and felt alone, I didn’t actually live alone. The first years lived with my nonagenarian father so I could take care of him. After he was gone and the house sold, I visited friends, traveled, house sat, and rented rooms.

When I moved here, I was out and about a lot — getting to know the town, meeting people, joining groups, volunteering, going to the library, walking to do errands. Now all that is temporarily suspended, and I am back to living the way Jeff and I had always lived. It feels wrong. As if he should be here with me. After all, he is part of the puzzle of my life, and we did prepare for these times together.

At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, I tweaked my knee to such a degree that I couldn’t walk. I spent the night on the daybed in my office/media room because the metal framework gave me something to grip to turn over or to sit up. I don’t need the bars so much now, but I’m still there. I don’t really know why I am hesitant to go back to sleeping in the bedroom, but perhaps with his photo there, I’d feel his absence more than I do where I am. Or maybe it’s that subconsciously I now think of it as his room and don’t want to have to confront that ever-present reality of his being gone.

It doesn’t really matter though. No matter where I spend nights — and days — I am aware he is gone. And I am missing him.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

10 Responses to “Missing Jeff”

  1. Judy Galyon Says:

    I know your feelings ALL TOO WELL!!!

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    Dear Pat,
    I’m sorry Pat. I can understand. You are strong, brave, wonderful women with all the courage to express.
    I can feel same but it is difficult to express or contain my feeling. I walk every day with only one hour permitted.
    I try to be calm, patient, hopefully to get some strength to keep my love to get along and every night thousand miles to go before I sleep.
    I hope you will soon settle with your knee with good health.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I know it doesn’t feel like it, but you are doing well. It takes a very long time to get where you can patient and calm and strong without trying so hard. But it will come. Peace will come. Take care of yourself.

      One day, my knee will be well enough to go walking again — soon, maybe!

  3. Joe Says:

    As Judy says, I understand only too well, complicated by the relief that he’s not here to experience this craziness and to be kept apart.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s true. I really am glad he isn’t here to experience what the world has turned into. I keep thinking, though, that if this had happened back when he was alive, there wouldn’t have been any change to our lives since we already lived in the same sort of isolation that is being enforced now.

  4. Terry J Says:

    Yeah…sigh…me too. I like the puzzle piece descripitor…something that fits to make a whole. When a puzzle is complete a piece is just a piece…alone insigificant…but when it is missing your eye goes right to it. I miss my activities during pandemic isolation because they distract me from missing Ron. My activities don’t cure grief or even make that much difference in processing it. That heavy weight task is left to reading, journaling,meditation,painting,introspection stimulated by bloggers; therefore, as you say, the isolation does not bring in the grief-strickened horrible yearning because I still can do those things. I wish it could have been different even though it is likely we’d sometimes be driving each other nuts the puzzle would be whole and I’d feel safe. Now to gain safety I once again rely on the love that endures. I have the same size photo headshot of Ron which is similarly framed. I keep it on the end table near the easy chair where I sit at nite to read or watch tv.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      This time is certainly a test. I wouldn’t want to be going through new grief at this time — without those distractions, being forced into isolation in the very place where the pain is strongest — oh my. But it’s all hard and always will be hard,

  5. Janet Says:

    Pat,
    I can relate to you missing Jeff your soulmate. I think going through this coronavirus and the isolation adds to what we were already feeling even more now. I miss my mate too, I try to keep busy but then there are the memories especially now that Spring is trying to flourish.
    Still cold some days. Activities he would be doing now, mowing the lawns, washing the cars, and outdoor grilling. So much more! wish only the best to all of us who has had the loss of our best friends our soulmates.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It really is a difficult time, especially those of us who are going through multiple hardships at the same time — missing our soul mates, the harsh winter, physical ailments as well as all the worry and constraints other people are dealing with. Well, the virus and its repercussions might not leave us alone any time soon, but summer will come, and ailments might even themselves out. Best wishes to both of us.


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