Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | June 8, 2017

sitting at a light

I am a pretty happy person these days. Life is full and rich and mostly good, with certain troubling dark clouds on the horizon, like anyone has.

My Jeff has been gone from here coming up on eight years now. This fact no longer makes my breath catch in my throat, most of the time. But every once in a while, it still hits me, hard. I expect this will always be so. Often I can predict and make space to accommodate it: his birthday, his death day, our anniversary, the date of diagnosis, any given holiday, three-day weekends when other people have their families gathered round and I’m wandering around the yard alone.

Sometimes I have no clue what is about to blindside me, sitting at a light.

The child we made, Jeff’s baby who once could nestle her tiny head cupped in his big hand, her little feet resting in the crook of his elbow, is a full-grown woman now. She carries her own grief mostly silently, single-handed and stoic, so unlike her mother, but just as her father might have done. The girl with his cleft chin and clear green eyes, his dry wit and social conscience, is working on her second college degree, and a career she has wanted for a decade. She has her eyes on the prize, and I could not be more proud of her. It is my dearest wish that he could be here to see who she has become.

He isn’t.

There are those who tell me, “He is still with you.” I usually respond that while in your world that may indeed be true, in my world he has been NO HELP AT ALL moving our girl in and out of the dozen dorm rooms and apartments she has had since he had to go.

She recently moved with her accomplished young beau to a small town 30 minutes south of here. Last night I went to a gathering at their new house. We ate grilled meat and toasted marshmallows; we added wood to the fire and watched Jupiter dancing with the moon. Around midnight I drove home.
Well. That’s complicated. I drove to the house of my new beloved, where I happily stay nearly all the time now. My girl works in the same town where he has long lived. She drives from her new home to this town every day.
As we say in Maine, “You can’t get there from here.” There is no simple way to get from one town to the other.

My husband was a cab driver in his early life, long before I knew him. He was a native of our town, and took pride and pleasure at avoiding as many traffic lights as possible. “You’re not making money when you’re sitting at a light,” he was overly fond of saying. He knew all the best routes around town, and anywhere we went, he figured out the best, most efficient way to get from point A to point B. While he was teaching our baby to drive, he passed on this lore to her. It was one of his last legacies. I love to watch her avoiding all the traffic lights, her eyes-so-like-his cloaked behind fashionable big dark glasses, a casual elbow out the window as she expertly spins the wheel of the first car I bought without Jeff’s input.

Last night I drove back from our girl’s new house to the home of my sweetheart, ready to crawl into his warm and waiting bed. Before I drove off into the night, my daughter and I discussed the best way to get from her house to his.

I was tired, content. Happy. It had been such a pleasant evening, and I was driving back to my sweet. Thinking about how to get from A to B, sitting at a light.

Our baby girl makes her way in this world, even without her father’s instructions. I was so happy. Until all of a sudden, I wasn’t. Sitting at a light.
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