MORNING COFFEE 42 - remembering you

By Susan Weber

These posts will be less frequent for awhile. I need to rest and replenish the writing well.

The bereavement counselor says that because I’m the first of my peers to be widowed, how I grieve might be of help to others when their time comes to lose a partner. What may seem strange in my behavior could be a comfort to them when strangeness becomes their norm. To this point, let me relate to you the past five minutes of my day.

I’m standing in the kitchen pouring blue and white sprinkles into green and red sprinkles so I’ll have a new place to keep the toothpicks. The reason I need the jar the toothpicks are in now—which once held 2.75 ounces of Hickory Farms sherry wine jelly—is my upcoming trip west. Members of my husband’s family will help me release some of his ashes into the Pacific. The TSA will appreciate the svelte contours of your container, I say aloud to my husband, a saline film tingling the surface of my eyes. I test the lid to make sure it won’t jiggle loose in the plane but of course I’ll have it on my person, sealed in bubble wrap and plastic. The label’s a bit worn around the edges, I tell him. But then, at the end, so were we. I’m smiling and the tears come anyway.

The small jar stood in our cupboard all these years containing a mixture of smooth natural picks and the colored ones with hard corners. We used them to test the doneness of cakes and for picking globs of batter from the sturdy old-school stirring phenomenon my husband had before we were married. Picture strong metal loops and hard wood handle. Where did you get it? I ask him. Why have I never asked before, when he could answer? Not that I’d know where to store yet another detail of his tender life.

Remember the giant cookie you made me in our courting days with one whole batch of dough? I found it on the counter when I came back from a time apart. While I was off fulfilling obligations, letting go of a sad set of circumstances, he stood here stirring chocolate chips into his oatmeal fortified cookie dough, loving me no matter what. Our eldest, a baker too, has had his eye on the formidable implement. But it helped me make the lemon bread you liked, the spiced lasagna, your mother’s stuffed cabbage. I’ll keep it for now, remembering you.

I’ve washed the jar, set it aside to dry. I sniff the lid and tell him it smells a little woody. I decide I’d rather not wash it. He’s always been fond of the forest. His silver maples shelter me still. I push away thoughts of his life force whittled to wood dust and ashes. The boxes of belongings for children and siblings and their kids line the living room. As I pass by them, I can’t avoid the flood any longer. I don’t want to live here without you and your things and your wisdom, I cry. We were planning to do this sorting together. You always gave me such good advice. Without you it is strange and very empty here.

Very strange. And empty.

Photo by Ashley Bilodeau CC BY-SA 2.0