I was 6yrs when they started dating. I’ve no memory of the widow without him next to her. He would tell an engaging story, fold some paper, do some magic. She enthusiastically edited and annotate his stories. They talked, behaved so smoothly, as if they were one.
The front door opens as I walk up the garden path. With a smile and short wave of her hand she beckons me in, while she puts on her coat. Piles of papers and boxes of things are neatly arranged around the edges of the very clean lounge. I’ve been wondering what to say to her. What do you say to recently bereaved people? She places a photograph album on my lap. Her step-children made the album for her from photographs they printed to the wall at the wake. Her coat is nowhere to be seen as she talks me through the photographs, boxes and piles of paper. The photographs are all of her husband, she’s in almost everyone, his smiling shadow.
Her conversation flows easily and is fascinating. It’s easy to listen to her, asking a few questions. She seems to be pouring out all the stories that have built up in the new found silences of living alone. Her conversation is mostly on topics that have arisen because of his death, practical things like dealing with finances, probate, the single-person supplements charged when you’re planning a cruise holiday for one, and learning how to cooking for one. She says ‘as you know’ whenever she talks of being single, talking to me rather than at me. She comments in passing on the difficult emotions; not being ready to box or clear-out his things, trying to help with her step-daughter’s persistent crying, depression.
The days are alright. The sun is out and I’ve plenty to do. He would be on the computer all day, so we didn’t spend them together anyway. It’s the evenings that are difficult, when it’s dark. We spent our evenings together.
I pretend that he’s at a (Masons) lodge meeting, he often went out for them, so that helps.