W is for When It Ends, It Begins Again: #atozchallenge Day 23

Life Begins Anew

When the last breath comes life changes

When it ends that’s where it begins

Begins to dawn on me that it’s all new

Begins with that alien word widow

Widow the label that ends a marriage

Widow for the rest of my life I’ll be

Be the only parent they still have

Be the one who survived when he died

Died with so many good years still ahead

Died so that last line can’t be the truth

Truth maybe for me but not for him

Truth is I’d rather not do this alone

Alone with the years stretched far ahead

Alone but yet not because he’s still here

In the children who share his eyes and smile

Here in my broken heart and in my wounded soul

Soul still trying to grasp what’s been lost

Soul to soul we were for so long not long enough

Enough love to fill my life to overflowing

Enough time to intertwine on so many levels

Levels of grief that shift like ocean waves

Levels of solitude now mine to explore

Explore the empty bed and things now unsaid

Explore the emotions that ebb and flow

Flow as the tears that move like the tides

Flow into a new way of life and living

Living my way into each new day’s dawning

Living and growing even though it seems strange

Strange to make so many decisions without him

Strange not to have him here chatting and laughing

Laughing our way through twenty years and more

Laughing even when life was tragic and shattering

Shattering us as he held our dying newborn

Shattering me as I held him on his deathbed

Deathbed that had been our marriage bed

Deathbed he made with his very own hands

Hands that will never again build or cook

Hands that can no longer hold or caress

Caress me with his love and tenderness

Caress me with his passions in his eyes

Eyes that were windows to all that he was

Eyes I adored and will never see light up again

Again I will sleep this night here without him

Again I smile at the shelter dog in his spot

Spot he doesn’t need she happily fills

Spot where my life has become something new

New bed of my own where our marriage bed was

New life new belongings in a strange new reality




For over twenty years, Jim was my reality. It would be a lie to say that every moment of our marriage was wonderful, or that there weren’t problems from time to time. Some were external and beyond our control – like the death of our secondborn at 12 days old.

Others were internal – arguments we never really settled between us. Maybe we would have, if there had been more time.

Or maybe not.

I’ll never know, now. I can guess, from the ways we’d grown in our marriage, and were still growing. From the business we were building together, and the bonding we were doing while we did that. It was his dream, not mine – and it was a dream that died with him.

Other things have changed, too, since his death. I know it’s inevitable – and yet, there’s a little stab of something like guilt when I take apart the bed we shared, and in which he died, and buy a new one he never shared with me. When I adopt a shelter dog to share that bed, because I wasn’t sleeping very well when I was sleeping alone. When I rearrange the bedroom we shared, but which now is mine alone.

In so many ways, in so many choices from the tiny to the enormous, I’m moving beyond a marriage I valued and was committed to – beyond a man I still love with all of me, and whom I talk to about the changes: “Babe, do you SEE what I’m doing here?! I’m COOKING! For ALL of us! And it TASTES good!” “So, what do you think about this new dog in our bed. I know, I told you I probably wouldn’t get another one after you died, but it’s lonely, and she snores, and she loves to snuggle.” “Hey, did you know that Charlotte Rae, who was Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life, was Sylvia Schnauzer on Car 54? Or that she did stand-up in the 50’s, and was really, really funny?!”

It helps, this bridge of talking to my dead husband while I remake my life and figure things out I never expected to need to before last fall. It’s not exactly what I wanted – but I know beyond doubt that Jim would want me to enjoy my life, not sit around mourning him for the rest of it.

I know that because we talked about it, when he got sick, and long before that, when it was all theoretical, and not anything to do with our real lives….

But now, he doesn’t have a real life anymore, and I do. My goal now? Finish the raising of our children, and make the most of it, as joyfully as I can manage.

Join us again tomorrow, when we explore the way Jim was Xed out of my present.

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