My Dear William

It was quite hard for me to grasp that William wasn’t coming back. Friends told me, so many months after the fact, that it was time to move on, as if it was as simple a thing to do as pouring a glass of water, but what did they know, they still had their husbands, and they had yet to go through what I had. Loss.

I’d put the television on for noise to fill the void-like background. Maybe Radio 4 during the daytime. And whilst I’d found immense amounts of time for housework, getting a toothbrush into the nooks and crannies along the top of the skirting boards, it never worked up much of an appetite inside of me. Maybe the odd cucumber sandwich, the odd biscuit, cups of tea. Josephine from the knitters circle at the local club made a point upon how gaunt I had looked, sat with my crochet needles, untouched china cup filled with tepid, milky tea to the side whilst I made little, mistake filled circles of wool which were of little to no worth to anyone.

What is one to do when they find themselves alone after so many years, decades of the same companionship? When does the singular lose all sense of its own identity and when do you not see yourself in the mirror anymore? Why is it your keen, culinary hand can no longer cook for one alone, and you take no pleasure in the things you did alone, even when you were ‘together’? And your mouth can’t speak for knowing a familiar voice won’t encircle you in response? When did you notice the individual smell of that person was no longer there, that it disappeared into the ether, despite how closely you clung onto the last traces in their pyjamas, curled up like a baby in your arms at night? When did it all happen?

I can’t remember Susan nor Michael sitting beside my bed, not well enough to remember neither the words they said nor the lines on their grown, tired faces. They lived so far away and yet I wasn’t even enlivened to see them here, beside me, in this bright white room. The smell of disinfectant and illness still familiar from when I was sat next to my dear William, not so long ago.

And as they held my hands, withered to skin no longer supple, and fragile bones so close to their own fingertips, I didn’t realise that my last breaths exhaled so quietly and reminiscent of a summer breeze, warm and welcomed in the heat of a July afternoon. The otherworldly beauty of the climbing jasmine filled my nostrils and I remembered walking with William in the scented air of a Spanish night, and as he stopped and held my hand tighter than anyone had before, he pulled me closely and kissed me upon my young, unspoken lips.

And then my loss was no more.