Several years ago, my step-father, a man rather difficult to like, was running his mouth in his usual fashion, in his version of a conversation with my husband and me. Most of the conversation is lost in the hazy fog of forgottenness. Actually, all of it is. The only reason I know the conversation took place is because my step-father made a comment that became a running joke between my husband and me. Again, I don’t remember the exact comment, but it was about bananas, and how the price will go up soon because there’ll be a massive banana shortage.
Each time my husband and I would pass a display of bananas, he’d say, “I guess no one has heard the news”, or “I’m surprised there are still bananas here!” or something to that effect. For years, it was our little in-joke.
Not too long ago, I half heard a news story about some problem with bananas, that they’re expected to be extinct within a surprisingly short number of years (are you impressed with my level of detail-recall here?). My first thought was that I wanted to call my husband and tell him about it. I wanted to laugh with him about this strange possibility, and discuss the idea that maybe my step-father wasn’t always completely full of stupid bullshit.
When my husband died, everyone was so nice, full of condolences and sympathies.
A piece of advice that I heard then, and didn’t really understand until now, is that no one can tell you how long to grieve. No one else can determine when it’s right for you to “get over it”.
There isn’t a way to “get over it”. A year and a half after losing him, I still want to call him to chuckle about a banana shortage.
My heart still aches when I drive past Stockdales, and whoever I’m with gives me a confused stare because I’ll comment that it would be a lovely day to eat on the patio at Stockdales… that requires an explanation too, I know. Stockdales is NOT a restaurant. But one bright, clear skied Spring day, I commented that “Stockdales” sounds like a steak house. My husband said, “I was thinking the same thing… and it would be a beautiful day to have lunch on the patio at a place called Stockdales.” Another thing that became a running joke between us.
And his hugs. My husband had the best hugs. Big, enveloping hugs. We were both huggers and gave each other loads of hugs every day.
We were that couple who walked everywhere holding hands too.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We did get divorced. And his attorney told us that he’d never seen a more pleasant couple. We walked into the court house holding hands, and after our divorce was granted, we walked out of the courthouse holding hands. Nineteen months later, we were holding hands as we walked into the county clerk’s office, to get remarried.
I miss that physical contact. I miss our conversations, hearing his voice. I miss my husband. I tried dating for a little bit, and I didn’t find anybody whose hugs come anywhere close to being as satisfying as his. There was rarely a second date. I’m really not over losing him. It finally makes sense: Don’t let anyone tell you how long to grieve. In my case, not even myself, because myself was wrong.