Tuesday, March 21, 2017


                                                                          Winter Sea

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.


Rita said...

I am sorry for your loss. I can only imagine your exhaustion on so many levels. I often think about how much my husband does for me and how much I take for granted. Your post reminds me that I need to not get annoyed when he falls asleep in the recliner after a long day at work. He wants to stay up and watch a show or talk over the day, but his tired eyes just won't let him.

travelinma said...

I am certainly grateful for all thaty husband did.....no wonder he was tired!

Linda B said...

I hear you, Barbara and admire you that you are doing all of those things that were not your tasks before.You've written a good lesson about walking in someone else's shoes. We rarely understand until we do.

Mary Ann Reilly said...

It seems impossible to understand what is lost and the nature of loss as you are living. And hurray for that. Imagine had you not those winters before? Or worse, you had them as possibility but worried about so many other things that you missed the love? I'm so glad you had the marriage you did. It seems so rich and caring.

One line catches in my throat: "During storms, I read or knitted..." Here in northern NJ, we get the occasional Nor'Easter that brings wind, rain/snow/ice and often brings down power lines. After Hurricane Sandy we got a generator and that has been a huge comfort. Rob and our son did the outside work "during storms, I cooked, read, photographed, or painted."

#Sigh. Wishing you peace.

travelinma said...

Linda,As hard as this all is....I try to live in gratitude for the life I had and recognize the new life I am creating alone with our children. I wish it was different, but it isn't. I recognize the deep love and all that Jerry has done for me and I am grateful.

Mary Ann,Cooking, reading,photographing and painting....all the things I like to do too. Sounds so comfy and secure. No worries. A whole different game now, right?

Maura Lynn said...

Wow. Your strength is inspiring. I'm so sorry for your loss, from your description of your husband he sounds like an amazing guy. Your ability to do it all without him is impressive and really shows what a strong person you are! No wonder your exhausted and it definitely puts my "being tired" in perspective! Also a great reminder to be grateful for those we have in our lives and all that they do for us. Thanks for sharing.

Robert Hamera said...

It is hard when one person takes on the responsibilities of two. Last year when I had my heart surgery my wife took on all of my responsibilities plus her own. A few years ago while she was recuperating I did her tasks. It gave us a whole new appreciation for the other. I understand how tired you are.