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DSC_0149I’ve been wandering, ever since my husband Ted died at the end of September. It’s a stunningly weird time, without balance, without direction. And in the physical and mental wanderings, I begin to remember the tiniest of things, the almost-forgotten stories, the funny situations, and the most painful grief. It often plays itself out in unexpected places. No, cancel that. It almost always is unexpected. A key unlocks a door, a box, a tiny glimpse of memory. It happened today, at about 4:40 in the afternoon, at a Chinese restaurant Ted and I had gone to many, many times in the thirteen years we were together.

It was around 4:30 in the afternoon. I remember that, because in my wanderings today, in looking for answers to questions about car repairs and maintenance that Ted would have taken care of, in inquiring about insurance plans that we would have done together, I took an afternoon walk at the nearby shopping mall. It was just past 3:45 when I started to feel hungry and realized I’d had nothing to eat since my morning coffee and a few crackers with creamed cheese and olives on it, which may be my new favorite breakfast. I called the restaurant.

“What time do the lunch specials stop?” I asked. Four o’clock, I was told.

I had about ten minutes to get out of the mall, walk to my car, drive across the street, and get inside. I made it with four minutes to spare.

It was my first time eating there without him. I had stopped in a couple of weeks ago, to let our friend who worked there and whom we’d known for years, know that Ted had died. I didn’t want to show up one day to eat there and have to explain it then. So having already done that, I felt pretty confident that, armed with a column to be edited and today’s newspaper to read, I’d be able to enjoy a late lunch.

Chicken with cashew nut, rice, soup, icy cold soda…it was very comforting. I read the paper, overhearing a conversation about bad drivers that made me wish I were sitting across the room – one of those voices that penetrated my ears and my fears, as I’d been contemplating a road trip at some point. But, trying hard to shut out the Voice of Doom five feet from me, I suddenly recalled one of the earliest times Ted and I had gone to this place to eat. You see, at the beginning of the meal, when you first sit down, they bring a bowl of “chips” – homemade, light, crunchy things that we would both happily attack. We often had to ask for a second bowl, even before the soup would arrive. At some point, I’d commented to Ted that I liked the lighter colored ones. It was another couple of visits there before I noticed that he always seemed to eat the lighter ones, leaving plenty of dark chips for me. One day I called him on it.

“Oh,” he’d said. “I thought it was the dark ones you liked!”

He thought he’d been doing me a favor. And it turned out he liked the dark ones just as well, so it worked out. He cheerfully indulged my choice of chips thereafter.

This afternoon, as I recalled that memory, I started to chuckle quietly. I played it and played it over in my mind, smiling, amused…until the tears – and the hurt – began. Where was he, and why wasn’t he here with me? It seemed so wrong. And it stung so painfully. I wiped my tears with a napkin, trying to get yet another public crying jag under control.

“What’s wrong?”

I looked up to see my friend from the restaurant, who had seen me come in earlier, smiling.

“I’m thinking about Ted,” was all I could say. Then I told her the chip story.

She picked up my hand and held it, listening to me.

“So much love,” she said, and continued to hold my hand, as I sat at the table.

There were no platitudes, no fixing, just holding my hand.

OK. I can go back there again.



Published inThoughts from ME


  1. Chris Freinberg Chris Freinberg

    I’m sure your blog is very comforting to both you and others who have experienced the loss of a great love. You both were so blessed to have had such a love in your lives. This will never end it is only in transition.Sending you a great big hug!

  2. My husband died after 56 years together this year would have been 63 I miss him but after 7 years not as intense…Time and the love of family and friends surely does help.

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