I cried last night all the way home from a dinner party. The Celebration of Bill’s Life was just last Friday and the weekend has been filled with family dinners and visiting. By Sunday I was exhausted but there was one more dinner to attend.
This morning I awake crying, sobbing, wailing, whimpering. My heart is breaking; I miss him so. Everything around me reminds me of him. “Mother Mary comes to me, Whispers words of wisdom; Let it be, let it be, let it be.” But it’s not really Mother Mary; it is Paul McCartney giving me this truth.
My grief seems to have intensified. Now he really is gone–gone where? Gone physically from my sight only. He is here in every piece of furniture I use every day. He is here in the art and drawings; he is here in the way our house looks and feels. He built me my own trestle table in 1980; all I had to do was sand it. I sleep in the bed he designed and built, sit on the couches he created in the basement so long ago on Bayaud Street. We could not get them up the stairs, so the stairs had to go.
My mind tells me I should have appreciated him more, done more, been more. It’s a trick; the liar is here again, making every effort to entice me into his embrace again. The truth is he loved me with all his being and I loved him more than life itself. I appreciated him more than I remember, I did all I possibly could have, I was there—I loved him and he knew it. He was my friend, lover and husband.
Friends will become more and more uncomfortable when I cry. They will not know how to handle this profound grief. They will ask how are you and can I do anything for you? They will ask sweetly because that’s what we do. I must understand that they’re grieving as well. I must remember that they loved him too. There really are no words but we say them anyway.
The very day we came home from Brazil we discovered that the rim lock on our front door no longer latched. Bill spent the next four hours fixing it in spite of his extreme fatigue from the nearly twenty-four hours of travel and the cancer. No matter what I said, nothing would divert him from this task. When he finally got the lock exchanged with a similar lock from the back door he discovered that it would no longer lock. He fussed and fussed over it until he decided that he could add a slide bolt to the door and that would take care of the problem. We found a large six inch slide bolt in the Studio, I said that’s too big but he said it was perfect. He pulled up a stool to the door and concentrated with all his might to install it. Finally he stepped away to admire his work and saw that it was definitely not level. His disappointment in himself was intense but it works and it remains that way today. I will leave it as it is because that is where his spirit gets in and out of this house where everything else is so perfectly crafted by him, strong and straight. I will let it be.
I am reminded of some of the other things he desired during his last month of life. He insisted that we buy two cords of firewood which is now stored in the Studio and all ready for winter. He wanted to have the driveway fixed so that it would drain properly around the house. To do this we had a load of road base divided between the house and the beginning of our road to smooth it out and half near the house which would then be spread out to enable the drainage. I am grateful today that these things are done but at the time I could have cared less. All I knew was that I was losing him, I was not thinking of practical matters at all.
Then we had to do major surgery on one of the eagles after it nosedived onto the floor. Truly it was my entire fault; I had removed the ladder that was stabilizing its precarious balance when I was looking for a box on an upper shelf; then I was just too tired and lazy to put it back. I have to admit that it did cross my mind that it might fall but I did not do anything about it. Both of its wings were cracked and broken, the right one by its “shoulder” and the left one at the “elbow”. After the guys lifted it up to lie on its back on a board between two ladders, we commenced to cut away the wax, chicken wire and foam to expose the wood supports inside. All day we created splints made of iron which we bolted on either side of the wood. The wings were now actually stronger than the original. He was exhausted but hopeful that we were now regaining ground that had been lost. It took me two weeks to replace and re-sculpt the feathers on the wings where they had been removed, lost or broken.
As I watched him struggle to finish the projects he had started and even look forward to future projects, my heart knew that he would not live much longer but I participated in the fiction that he was healing, not wanting to lose hope. I kept thinking that the oncologist had said six months to live. It turned out that he lived just three months to the day after the terminal diagnosis. I was angry but then how do or can they know exactly. I wanted it to be a guarantee; a promise that he had three more months at least to live.
The Universe had other ideas.