No Ted for a week while I travel to Scotland and back to Ashridge for work. He’s staying with Carole and David and I know he’ll be happy there. Even so, I can’t wait to see him next Saturday. We got so close while we were on holiday that I talk to him constantly, providing his answers myself if he doesn’t respond. In Ted’s absence, I miss Chris even more than usual and I lay in bed this morning wishing I could speak with her, feeling very sorry for myself.
Joan Didion wrote in A Year of Magical Thinking that for a long time after her husband died, she unconsciously acted as if he had just stepped outside and would return at any moment. She didn’t get rid of his shoes, for example, because she knew deep down that “he would need them.”
Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand how long it takes for the reality of their absence to sink in. I know Chris has died and that she’s not coming back. It’s just that I sometimes forget that she’s not here. I turn my head to talk to her (always over my left shoulder for some reason) and often I’ve spoken a couple of sentences before I pull myself up short.
On holiday in Brittany this summer I realised the futility of these one-way conversations, so I wrote her a love letter instead. The French postal system was unable to guarantee delivery and found my own way to share it with her. This morning, I wondered if a postcard would have been simpler: nothing fancy, just a Penny Plain.
If I could send a postcard
it wouldn’t have a picture
of children eating ice-cream;
there’d be no saucy caption,
no view of Blackpool tower.
I wouldn’t write to tell you
that the weather here is bracing
or that we’re having fun.
There’d be no newsy scribblings
scrawled upon the page.
No, the message I would send you
is simple and it’s clear:
I don’t know where you are, my love
but I wish that you were here.