Her Widow excerpt 17

Published October 1, 2018

 

 

Dear Readers:

It has come to my attention that excerpt 16 didn’t get posted last Monday.  I have posted it today along with excerpt 17,

The book will be released to the public on November 15, so Excerpt 20 will be my last.

I will send the entire, electronic book FREE to the first ten people who request by email to jalden444@gmail.com, a free electronic copy of Her Widow if you will do me a great favor on November 15, post a short reader review recommendation of the book to Amazon on my book page.  A couple sentences that recommend the book is all that is necessary unless you feel inspired to write more..  If Amazon gets your note and review on the release day, November 15, you will start me off on the  right foot..

Thank you in advance for doing that.

With gratitude and respect,

Joan

 

HER WIDOW,  Excerpt 17.  Three more to come!!

 

This first day of summer is overcast.

Dear Catherine,

A book arrived in the mail today and I thought, I wrote books once, when Catherine was alive and I was that other person who had something to say.

Friends come over looking for you in the backyard weeding along the blue stones to the garage; in the kitchen, stirring a pot of spaghetti; in the stereo closet, putting on music; and looking for you in me, making them laugh.

I am unable to entertain them as you did.  I realize now that I will survive your death, but the life I lead might be a dull one. I am a dull person.

Cleo has started up again, racing for the door with her tail wagging, scooting past me on the walkway and, not finding you behind me, racing back into the house and galloping up the stairs to your closet. My heart takes the same urgent path.

I know it is futile to miss you so. I can’t sit here for the rest of my days and mourn.

Did you just say, go out for a walk? Sometimes I hear you speak as my characters used to speak to me. The words don’t feel like they are coming from my mind, the product of my thought. It is not easy to explain the difference except to say when it is not me it feels like someone at the fringes has jumped into the conversation.

 

There is no wind at all today and I’m dripping wet from my ears down to my toes.

Dear Catherine,

I look down at Caleb, lying across my bare foot, asleep, and I feel such a rush of love for him that for a moment I forget my pain.

I see you come out of your office building and walk toward the car where I am sitting, and I think how incredible that you are approaching me with that smile.

I watch you dress for work, tuck in your shirttail, hook your belt, and look up at me with a beguiling smile.

I see your body thin and aged as I bathe you. You are a natural beauty with excellent architecture. You look up at me and wink.

I know we are spirit in a body for a short time. I wish I’d had more time with you on this physical plane. I think about the plans we had to eventually move out on Long Island to Orient Point. And the summer we planned to rent a cottage in the Adirondacks, and the dream of crossing the country from small town to small town, you photographing the place and the people and me writing the history and the story of a single family. All that will be in another time now, another life. Or could we have already taken those trips and our planning was our memories?

 

A soft rain brings relief to the grass and garden.

Dear Catherine,

I wonder if you have memories of me. Do you recall our afternoons in the yellow guest room? We went there when we needed cheering up—the room where the sun always shined. We lay on our backs in the afternoon’s pink glow, holding hands, and I asked you, “How should we live with the time we have left?”

There was so little by then.
Rather than answer, you asked, “Can I make love to you?”
I said yes, but I was worried I might not respond as you wanted or needed. And then you touched me. I loved you for doing that for us, bringing us together as lovers again.

“That is how we will spend the time we have left,” you announced.

But it was our last time naked and entwined. We never made love again, not in that sense. Yet, in a greater sense, that is what we did with all our time left.

While you brushed your teeth many times a day, I stood beside the bed and held the plastic dish for you. You took your good time while I stood there waiting for you to spit, my legs and hips starting to ache, and a devilish grin appeared on your face. That was the expression on your face when we went on walks together and you stopped to take a photo while I waited, sometimes impatiently. I learned to always have a book or a magazine in the car to read.

On more than one occasion, sitting in the car with a book, I saw you come off the trail, head straight for me in the car, and stop when you saw me look up, and veer off the path and lift your camera to your cheek for one last photo. I might have complained more if your photos hadn’t inspired me.

The time arrived when you couldn’t leave the house, so you took interior shots of the house: the large Oxford dictionary open on my desk, a doorknob reflecting the morning sunlight, our bathrobes hanging on a hook on the back of the bathroom door, or me, soaking in the tub.

And then you stopped taking photos.

One night you ran to the bathroom to throw up and had to pee as well. You leaned over the toilet to throw up in it and peed on the floor. You were forlorn and ashamed of the mess you had made that I had to clean up. You cried softly and then hard, as hard as you had ever cried.

Oh, Catherine, what I wouldn’t give to have one of those moments back, to clean you up and get you settled back in bed.

What strange things I wish for, and then tell myself you are better off if I don’t get my wish.

You would have continued to throw up every time you ate because of the blockage in your bowel, so a stomach tube was surgically inserted through your chest wall into your stomach to remove everything you ate.

One morning after eating some chilled melon cubes, you asked in a soft, sad voice, “Do you think I am getting a little nutrition in spite of it?”

I couldn’t lie to those steady blue eyes that had grown even more dramatic as your face hollowed out. Shaking my head, no, that day was the first of many times I thought, this is the hardest thing I will ever have to do.

When you first saw the gallon jug of “black soup” tethered at the end of the stomach tube, you cried, “It’s awful. I don’t want you to have to empty that.”

I marched away with the jug to the bathroom and taught myself how to pour its contents into the toilet without gagging. When I returned to your bedside, you were crying.

“Don’t be sorry,” I said. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life!”

You thanked me every time I did anything for you. Twenty times a day, day after day after day. It is easy to take care of someone who is deeply grateful.