About 30 years ago, I was on the city bus in Seattle. Coming or going to work, I don’t remember. I do remember the woman who sat next to me that day. I remember when she got on the bus and she was looking for a seat – our eyes met, and I must have smiled or something because she walked past several empty seats to sit next to me. And, as she got closer, it was clear that something was wrong.
Within a matter of minutes she had introduced herself and explained that she liked to ride the bus, to nowhere in particular really. She said she often rode the bus for hours each day and said it was the only real relief she had found since her husband had died almost a year before. She talked about his clothes, his habits, their routines as a couple. Her eyes would quickly well up with tears, and just as quickly sparkle with pleasant emotions from remembering. And then, she was gone. Hurriedly getting up and getting off the bus with purpose-driven energy.
After 33 years of marriage, Rick and I have never spent more than a few weeks apart from one another. And, today he flew back to the U.S. for a month. As I write this, it seems so silly for me to be feeling the strong emotions I have. Embarrassed that at age 54 I have never really been on my own. Embarrassed to be overwhelmed by the prospect of 30 days without him. Like the woman on the bus, I think about our habits and routines that are as comfortable as an old shoe. Our unspoken language and experiences known only by the two of us. Our natural ebb and flow; give and take. Our shared silence and quiet smiles. Living life with my best friend and lover. I am haunted by the prospect that if this is what it feels like for him to simply leave for a month, what will it be like for the one who remains when the first one dies? Because it will happen.
Today I am alone. I have decided to sit with my emotions and feel them. To allow myself to dive into the ocean by myself. To sit in the bathroom stall at work and cry; to sleep at 4pm; to ache; to smile.
Today, I am alone.