This Friday night wasn't so different from many Friday nights of my marriage. I spent it alone. But unlike back then, there was no waiting for sound of the garage door opening, no hoping for a few shreds of affection, communication...something....anything. I knew I would be alone tonight and settled in on the couch to watch Sleepless in Seattle. I saw this movie with Mr. Ex when it first came out and was only moderately taken by it. But tonight it got to me. "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while," says Sam Baldwin when he talks to a radio psychologist about the death of his wife. Under the blanket of holiday angst that has fallen over me, it's easy for me to remember my year or so of breathing in and breathing out. It was a lot of breathing and there were days when many of those breaths were delivered with a searing ache. I have it pretty great & perfect right now, but I think it's good to remember the ache, feel the remnants of it, and wear it for a little while. Like Sam Baldwin, I have a dead spouse. Oh sure, there's this guy Mr. Ex. still trudging through life--but he's not the guy I fell in love with. He's not the guy I weep for when the hurt throws itself over me. That guy is dead and it's sad.
My dog Layla tries to help when I cry. She falls all over herself rushing to me and hurls her 55 pounds into my lap and pokes her pointy collie nose into my chest as if she's giving me some kind of canine CPR. But she seems to know the difference between the wails that tore out of me when I was still struggling to get out of bed every morning and the phantom grief I feel every now and again these days. "It's okay," I told her tonight and she settled right down. But I wonder if she misses Mr. Ex when I clip her leash to her collar or pour a cup of chow into her dish. If she's sniffing for the scent of the guy who used to do those things and she wishes would come back. I'm glad Mr. Ex hasn't returned my calls or emails about taking the dogs. It's probably better that way--if he's dead to them, too.