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.