I remember everything, or at least the things that matter. I remember every pore of his skin, the encysted bump he had on the back of his head, the way he looked like a droll rabbi when he steepled his fingers. I remember the smell of his skin. I remember the lopsided grin he’d get, so wolfish and calculating and triumphant, when he’d won an argument.

I remember the weary look he’d get when we argued. I’d insist on staying up half the night so we wouldn’t go to bed angry. I remember the feel of his arms around me when I had my period,when I’d cry, and he’d bring me hot water bottles. I remember his laugh, his anger, his joy.

I remember how his colorblindness led to some odd clothing choices. I remember him growing a bit heavier on my cooking, and liking it. I remember the plans we made, the places we went and what it was like to be mistaken for his mistress, or a maid, because we were different colors. I remember asking him to marry me, and I remember how, after spending years of saying no, he turned to me out of the blue and casually proposed.

I remember leaving my mother’s house to be with him, and him going into his office for hours while I unpacked, as he got used to the idea of a woman sharing his home. I remember he said it was temporary, and it lasted nearly eight years. I remember the flowers that were everywhere in the living room, waiting for me and silently greeting me.

I remember worrying that if he was an atheist we might not see each other after death. I remember deciding that God could not be that cruel, and if he was, I didn’t want to believe anymore. I remember accepting that we’d have no children, and I remember convincing myself that between my asthma and his age, we’d die at the same time. I remember being happier than I’d ever been before or since. I remember the taste of him.

I remember turning 36, and thinking we had everything before us. I remember finding his body, and screaming for what seemed like hours.

I remember how I bargained with God to take me instead, and I remember that it was then I realized how much he meant to me. I remember the black dress I wore to the memorial service. I remember all the people who came. I remember the empty bed, and my heart breaking. I remember telling my mother I was a widow. I remember telling his mother that he was gone. I remember feeling like a ghost haunting a house. I remember dating again and making a botch of it.

I remember losing most of my friends. I remember the drinking, and the suicide calls, and the despair, and the self-absorption. I remember not being able to leave the house during daylight hours, and not being able to remember where I lived or where I was going. I remember limiting myself to an hour a day of crying, and then a half hour, and eventually five minutes. I remember being poor. I remember hating couples on Valentine’s Day. I remember no longer crying, but simply praying for death. I remember making myself finish the degree he’d helped me start, and finding work, and wishing he could be there. I remember sleeping with everything that moved so I could forget his taste and smell, and finally realizing I didn’t want to.

I remember meeting a man online whose fiancée had died, and he’d hated dating, too. I remember calmly noting, when we met in person, that my hand seemed to fit perfectly into his. I remember how he said he wished he’d known my husband. I remember letting myself feel slightly happy again. I remember how hard it is when he goes back home, and how I long for him.

And I remember the taste of him, too.

Michele Buchanan has been a writer, an adjunct professor of anthropology, an executive recruiter and a marketing specialist. She lives in New Jersey, and blogs at The Cocktail Hour.

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  • Diane dettmann August 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks California Girl. I’m glad I found such a wonderful guy. Actually, I almost gave up on dating all together. Dating at 58 is a whole different experience than when I was in my early twenties. A young widow encouraged me to try match.com. I said I’d give it a month or two. A couple weeks before my subscription ran out, I got a “wink” and responded. The rest is in the book. My memoir, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels, reads like a novel and focuses mostly on starting over and building a new life. Getting great reader response. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003FHMAUS

    Reply
  • California Girl August 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Wow. . . I’ve contemplated this and it was sad. The reality is worse.

    I’m glad you found someone.

    Reply
  • diane dettmann August 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

    The pain of permanent separation softens with time. It’s been twelve years since my husband died suddenly at the age of 54. I still think of him everyday. After living alone for six years, I remarried a widower and we’re enjoying our life of retirement. Both of us hang onto the memories of our spouses, because that’s all that remains. I published a memoir, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal, hoping my story will help and inspire others who have lost a loved one. Available on Amazon.com

    Reply
  • California Girl March 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I often wonder about this kind of permanent separation. What will it be like? How much will I miss him? Will my friends help fill the void? Will I ever again want to find someone else? Where do you go when half of you is missing?

    I’m sixty now, much older than the author at the time of her loss. I don’t know if this difference will make it easier or no. The idea of wanting to date again seems far fetched. But some friends are losing their partners and they grieve, they mourn, then they’re lonely.

    I guess we’re herd animals after all.

    Reply
  • Angela January 28, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    You made my eyes water up quite a lot.

    Reply
  • Lombardi Chris January 27, 2010 at 9:32 am

    It’s in the air! This week’s New Yorker: On Mourning.

    Reply