Sunday, September 02, 2007

Learning Alone

This weekend, had my husband Pete lived, we would have been married for 35 years.

Considering that I remember the details of our wedding day as though it happened last week, that is a mind-boggling stretch of time. By the time I was the current age of my son, who is my younger child, I had had both of my children. In the all-encompassing activity of raising a family and earning a living, the decades evaporated with startling speed. As Wordsworth put it so well,

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

Time is now inching towards the two-year mark since Pete’s death. I’ve learned to do many things on my own that I used to rely solely upon him to do. I know the schedule for curbside recycling pickup. I can mow the yard, find tools in the garage, fix a broken gate latch. I schedule appliance repairs, drive round-trip hundreds of miles, and affix the new DMV registration to my license plate. Although these may seem like trifling tasks, they are everyday things I have never done before. In doing them, there is a certain sense of progress in surmounting life’s inevitable sorrows. In this fact, there is something strangely comforting.

One thing I have not mastered is missing Pete’s counsel in my day-to-day life issues. He could neutralize my angst as no other person on the planet, excepting perhaps my long-gone father. I can usually figure out what Pete would have said to me in any given problematic situation. Imaginary conversations that I hold with him are better than none, but they are far from the reality of actually unloading my troubles to him and hearing his insightful responses.

Just a few days before he died, Pete told me with calm certitude, “You’ll be okay. You can take care of anything.” That remains to be seen. But, thus far, it is true that I am managing my life alone.

Yet I know I will always mourn the loss of my best friend, wisest advisor, and most loyal supporter. In this fact, too, there is something strangely comforting.