I didn't always like it. I wanted a life beyond work and bed. Some cold nights we were snuggled under the layers of covers soon after we ate and the dishwasher was loaded. When I begged him to stay up he responded, "I work hard; I'm tired. My work is physical...'Night."
Sighing, I hugged him a bit tighter, wrapping my arm around his torso and forcing myself to sleep, when all I wanted to do was get up and play Parcheesi or sit at either end of the couch and stare at each other. Nothing was worse than coaxing your body to sleep when it isn't ready. My husband was indeed weary. Instead, I listened to his even snoring, our bodies fitting perfectly together and soon we were both asleep.
Jerry's passing at the end of October allowed me a few months to prepare for the sometimes brutal impact of a New England winter especially on the coast. Towns have been shut down for weeks with no electricity and roads impassable-a glare of ice. Winds can gust to hurricane force. Access to food, gas and medical services under these conditions can be a challenge. Jerry loved storms. He prepared as much as he would prepare for a storm. He knew where the shovel was, the candle and matches sat on the counter and a jugs of water either for flushing or for drinking was handy. I never worried about salting the steps, clearing the steps, paths or our long bumpy driveway. During storms, I read or knitted. He did all the work. So an approximate six weeks lapse between fall and winter helped me to ease into all the responsibilities that come with winter. I now do the work of two and all the while think of all that Jerry did to make life easy for me. I do the laundry, dishes, meals, clean up and take care of the dogs and cats. I tend to the wood stove, finances and shopping. I run from about 5:30 am until 11 pm. I am exhausted despite help too from family and friends.
Tonight, it is just after 8, my eyes close, my chin touches my chest and the book nearly drops out of my hand. I think back to our early evening, winter cuddles. I never imagined that this would be his last winter; the last winter of fending off his wife's cold feet and finally relenting-warming them, his body a furnace. How glorious it would be to return, if only for a few seconds;to feel the curve of his shoulders, run my fingers through his hair, and to inhale his familiar scent. I would like to sleep too.
Instead, now I play multi-roles. You understand. I am grateful. And I am plain exhausted.