Turning Pages

It seems I need to tell someone, so if you don’t mind, I will tell you.

There is a perfect little “Book Seller” in our town, right up Mill Street and centered between Bank and East Main Streets.

I was on my way home after purchasing play dough for Joaquin because Tuesday means Wednesday is next, and I wanted something new for us to play with. Joaquin is almost two after all…and I’m well, sixty nine.

Wednesday is Joaquins day and is written permanently on our calendars, forever.

Joan Didion’s collection of essays “Let Me Tell You What I Mean” was featured in the window and I couldn’t walk by.

Ducking in, the brilliant young man behind the counter found another copy more easily accessible, and we walked back together to finalize my purchase.

Because I have made a habit of purchasing books there for years, he looked in his files to retrieve me, and instead retrieved Alan. “Alan?” he asked, looking straight at me for a sign of recognition.

Nope, my name is Marylou.

“Will you please remove Alan’s name because I am the singular person you will be seeing from now on.”

My name is Marylou.

And so it happened. Alan disappeared from the little gray metal alphabetized file box at the Book Seller.

Now it’s just me.

Such a small thing and yet a big thing. I allowed a few tears to fall on the way back to my studio/home but no one could see.

That’s one of the benefits or hazards of wearing a mask.

We hide things, like tears and smiles too.

So now, I’ve told you.

Thank you for listening…



22 thoughts on “Turning Pages”

  1. Once my husband had his brain injury I had to change my in case of emergency person. That was difficult.

    1. I clicked too soon…..I’m sorry for you having to make that change. Seems like a small box for such a large pain. Hugs.

    2. I’m sure that was so difficult, Laurie, and it’s a reminder to me that I still have so many things to update. I hear you. Yes, today was painful, but only for a few minutes. I came home and am painting now. One baby step and then another. I am aware of needing to strengthen myself as I have this important path ahead of me. To share my work and his whispers and to do the things we would have done together. It’s an honoring of sorts. I have weak moments and then every now and again, I feel my singular and guided power. It’s going to be ok…for both of us. I know this for sure…

  2. My mother died, well it will be 2 years this Christmas. Our routine was that every evening at 7:00 I would call and visit with her. She lived in memory care so conversations were interesting but rarely accurate. For the first year after she died I had a 7:00 PM gut punch. I couldn’t call her. That has tampered down now… There are times when I am scrolling through my contacts and there she is. “Mom”. I could delete her contact information..but I don’t. I get blindsided by seeing her name which is more than a name, it is a relationship..but I am not ready to erase it. Seeing “Mom” reminds me of her presence in my life. I don’t call.. but it almost feels like I can. I just can’t close that door yet.

    1. I know what you speak of, Holly…and keeping the physical aspects of your Mom’s presence alive, is so important. I hear you. Grief is an ongoing process and somethings must be held dearly. Alan will be gone a year in October and I have been preparing myself for the anniversary. He is everywhere in my Life, most every work account is in his name so when I say, go to quick books…it says “Hi Alan.” I won’t change things, maybe never, but the bookstore felt like one baby step. An honoring of who I am and becoming but he will always be with me. We have created so much together and his whispers are a part of my every day. He is a part of my every day. We will continue down this path in some form forever. Our work, history and love will always be. It’s true…

      1. Perfect..I love your response and it resonates. I am good with someday..just not “today”. Wishing you more joy in your memories as you close in on October. Love always

  3. The moments of having to “get a new credit card in only my name”(since our account no longer existed) and having to change the name on all the legal documents, made me so sensitive about the fact that we were a unit together and now there was “only me”. I’ll never get the Honda Dealership to send their reminders to me, instead of Bob. I got really irritated because it was like I never existed, even though my name was as “Co-Owner”. I thought I was “liberated” when I was married and then I had to prove that Bob died- with a Death Certificate- so I could have my own accounts. It’s just about our patriarchal system, in which women aren’t really considered responsible (without a spouse/ husband) And all the while we are grieving all over again, because we were a team together, and now we are “not”. You are sharing volumes about the additional “little things” that losing a husband/spouse/partner, requires us to face. I know it doesn’t really help to know that so many women (et.al.), and those who are not “the Bread-winner” in a couple, continue to experience these adjustments, when few people think about how a “couple” becomes an “only”. My tears are with you in these moments!

    1. I hear you, Jean. We have gone through similar moments and they are not easy. Verizon required a death certificate because my name had never been on the account. We had been with them for over twenty years and yet Alan was the only one listed. I paid the bills. Your memories are vivid and I’m grateful you share them. I’m doing my best to tell the truth, too. I’ve always been a truth teller but protective of some things and not wanting to make waves. It seems like now is the time to be as real as I can muster. The Women and the Hourglass series, my writing and paintings will sustain me as I go forward. And I am now on my own. The fact of this and grieving are not always compatible but I’m figuring it out as I go. Thank you for your generosity again….and your tears. Love.

      1. Marylou, Thank you for receiving my comments with the love in which they were intended. I was concerned that they might be thought of by others as “complaining, and not uplifting”. I really appreciate your honesty and willingness to share the frustrating parts of “widowhood”. Sometimes people don’t want to hear about those day to day reminders that can add to our grief. My husband knew about so many financial and household maintenance things, and there is so much I don’t remember. Bob never left instructions written down. I appreciate all the comments from your friends and I agree that our life’s calling, work, and dreams and the love of friends and family will carry us through these times of establishing our unique selves and our grieving will take it’s own sweet time! I think all couples should have as much info as is needed to manage when either one is gone in a file on their computers-or better in the cloud!
        You are such a Blessing to me!

      2. I so agree with you Jean. As you may remember, Alan was suffering from dementia as well as his cancer…and so much has been left to me to decipher. I am still dealing with things I never thought I would need to deal with, on my own. That’s the reality of our situation…and yes, couples should have conversations and prepare for the one who will be left. That is the best case scenario. The fatigue of being the “only one” is real…and can be just another layer added to the grief. I am sorry for what you went through with Bob’s death…but I’m also grateful for your willingness to be honest about the reality of things. You are a blessing to me!

  4. This simple yet profound story touched my heart and soul. Thanks for sharing.

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Perfect..I love your response and it resonates. I am good with someday..just not “today”. Wishing you more joy in your memories as you close in on October. Love always

  6. I am just now watching on Netflix the documentary entitled, “Feminists”. Your story here fits perfectly with how we are often identified in this world. I felt the wounding in your words for a reason other than this. You simply miss that good man. Sending love.

  7. I had the exact same experience a couple weeks ago, wearing a mask. I cannot remember the situation. I simply remember I was grateful my mask was hiding my tears so the person did not see them at that moment and it could be private. A moment like yours would certainly have brought tears to my eyes as well. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Those are the experiences that move me from awareness to realization. The first time I did laundry after Michael’s death and how sadly there was nothing belonging to him to fold and put away….now it is just me with my tears.

    1. I Love your words, Jocelyn…”awareness to realization.” Thank you. I still notice my laundry basket has only my stuff and I’m not doing as much laundry, or cooking or shopping. I do feel your’ sadness and tears and I’m grateful for your honesty. Sending love…

  9. Beautifully expressed Mary Lou. It will be 10 years in November since Michael died. I am always surprised at when and how the memories/grief come. I miss him still -sometimes more deeply than others- and I journey on as I know he wants me to finding joy in certain things we shared together-and not. You are brave and courageous and amazing!

    1. Ten years, Anne. Time is such a difficult thing to grasp….and the passing of it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Yes, joy is what our partners are wanting for us, no doubt. Joy, peace, and immersion into life…and all that it entails. Sending gratitude and love…

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