Thich Nhat Hahn once said that birth and death are just a game of hide and seek. And I get where he was going with that; life is transient, and its very nature is that things appear and then disappear. But, back when I was a kid and a game of hide and seek was going on for too long, we called “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” and everyone returned. We reconvened and called it a day and promised to see each other tomorrow. Death isn’t like that. Not everybody gets to go home for dinner and a bath.
To me, being a widow is more like having an imaginary friend. I find myself muttering out loud, telling my soul mate the millions of thoughts and questions flitting across my mind. I imagine him shaking his head at my pathetic attempts to feed myself. I pretend he is sitting next to me when I watch a film or curl up tightly on my side of the bed. And this is the point where he becomes ever more imaginary. I can only pretend to know what a healthy Michael would be like now, in this moment. I can’t know what a 49 year-old Michael would be like, or a 60 year-old one, or an 80 year-old one. I can’t know if he would have lost his hair, or learned to love cuffed pants, or would have developed some new odd tic that would sometimes drive me to distraction. (Actually, I am pretty sure that last one would be the case.)
It’s like a never ending tea party, with Michael sitting next to the teddy bear in the tiara and the Raggedy Ann doll that’s a bit worse for wear, and I am holding down the conversation for all of us as we sip at empty cups and nibble on Cheez-It crackers. And I guess the trick is to pull myself up and away from that tiny little table, and go have tea (or other things) with other friends. I guess that to be brave is to put myself in a situation where somebody else is helping to direct the conversation, too. I can always tell him all about it when I get home, while I have my dinner and take my bath.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.