Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | April 17, 2012

Counting on my fingers

Warning: gratuitous questionable language


It’s the seven-fucking-teenth again.

April. 17th, 2012. I have to stop and count the months now, instead of always inherently knowing how long Jeff has been gone from us. This year in February, the 17th slipped by me: a first. I didn’t even realize it until the next day. It felt peculiar to have forgotten, but I had been understandably distracted by airlines and suitcases. But then I missed it on March 17 also. Distracted by St. Patrick’s Day? Uh, not really.

My body used to tell me the date was upon us even if my mind was not so aware. The pattern was ever thus: I would have been trying to chug along in this new empty windswept prairie of a life, and around the twelfth of the month, inexorably my engine would slow, sputter, then stop. Oh. It’s the fucking seventeenth again. The 17th kicked my ass, month after month after endless fucking month.

Some months this pattern reminded me in reverse of the chemotherapy schedule we got to know so well. He’d be chugging along, in his new diminished way, doing helpful little chores, spending time with his girls, eating what he could, reading a page or two of a book, enjoying the birds and flowers in the yard. He’d spend his time and reduced stamina doing the small daily things that turn out to have been the important ones after all.

He’d have the treatment. The clear plastic bag of bright red poison that the nurses must not touch would drip into his veins for hours while he dozed. That day might be okay or it might not. The steroids would kick in and there’d be a bit of energy, perhaps tinged with a hint of not-so-helpful mania. He might have some appetite – always beneficial. Then the crash would come. The next two or three or four days would be lost, on the couch, sleeping or staring into space, the deep miasma of illness and fatigue. Then slowly, relentlessly, as soon as he was able, he’d start to climb out of the chasm. He would start his laughable exercise routine: once, twice around the yard. Maybe down to the end of the street and back. Go, baby, go!

He never, ever gave up. So who am I to consider it?

But enough about him.

In the early days of being recently widowed, we like – minded ones felt like new parents, guarding our grief like little children, knowing and caring about the important dates and details of each others’ tragic stories. Keeping track of the days, then weeks, then months. A year. And still the months do keep ticking away.

I met someone the other night who asserted she was hopeful she was beginning to get over it, get better.

She is at almost one whole month out from losing her sweetheart.

I would not willingly go to that place of  ‘one month out’ again, not for all the riches in the world.

She has no idea yet what she is in for.

She probably won’t even remember this first month at this time next year.

I thought when I hit 24 months without him, two whole unthinkable fricking YEARS, I’d suddenly be cured and stop counting. But it was months longer than that before I let go of the numbers, and when it happened, I didn’t even realize it. But today I know: it is the seventeenth again.

I’m not even particularly sad today. Not yet, anyway. Who knows what the body and mind will conspire to allow later on? I just wanted to make note of the date.

So now it is….33? Yes. Counting on my fingers, I note that it is thirty. Three.  Months.  Since the dark morning that  ….fuck….I can’t even type it.

Godspeed, baby. Thanks for setting such a good example of how to keep on keeping on. Regardless.







  1. After 3 1/2 years sometimes when the 10th passes and I realise it after it always surprises me that I didn’t think of it on the ‘day’. Leading up to it I am not quite myself (whatever that is now) and then hit hits me THE 10TH!!!!! I think I am less tolerant of bullshit and the stupidity of people around me. Much quicker to anger.. no filter.
    Carolyn, this fucking rollercoaster ride is getting so damn old. Is this it ?? Is this how it is going to be until we die? I try really hard to read inspirational sayings and upbeat , looking forward stuff. It’s not really working so good. Slump right back easily into the darkness. They say it’s all up to us to ‘move on’.. ‘move forward’.. screw that I want my life back.!!
    You have a way with words and I look forward to it when I get a e-mail .
    Thank you
    The other Carolyn


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