I woke up at 2 AM and instinctively reached for you. Of course your side of the bed was empty; you’ve been dead for three months. I wondered when, if ever, I would stop reaching for you.
Sighing, I decided I might as well get up. I knew sleep would elude me just as it had every other night. How did other wives and girlfriends cope with the sudden void in their lives? Perhaps if we’d had children I wouldn’t feel so empty inside right now.
* * *
When I started waking up every night that first month, friends told me this was normal. I didn’t think so, but they all insisted it was part of the grieving process. I was urged to go to grief counseling and every one of our friends had a small nugget of wisdom to share.
“You’ll get over this.”
“It takes time.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
I knew that no one could possibly understand what I was going through. I needed to get away and decided on Paris. Huge mistake! Every sight, every sound reminded me of our last visit to The City of Light and I cut the trip short.
Upon my return home I packed up all of your clothes and had a charitable organization pick them up. They offered me a generous tax receipt, which I graciously declined. It wasn’t as if monetary issues would ever be a concern for me again, thanks to your extremely generous life insurance policy.
Piece by piece I let you go; a painting here and a sculpture there. Because of your untimely demise, each piece sold at a much higher price than the piece before. I wondered if you knew how much more sought after your works were now that you are dead. Your adoring public can’t own enough of your works of art and most trip over themselves to outbid their competitors.
During the second month on my own, the insomnia worsened. Our well-meaning friends thought that I should move out of the brownstone because it held too many memories. I thought they were on to something and called in a reputable broker.
“Are you sure you want to include all of the furnishings? Perhaps you should hold on to some of the more valuable antiques.” I could see the dollar signs in her eyes as she mentally calculated her commission on a sale that included Darren DeLaurier’s frequently photographed antique furnishings.
“Sell it as is and make sure the condo is ready for me to move into by the time I get back.” I handed over the keys and took a cab to the airport.
For that trip I had wisely chosen Crete, a destination we had never shared. Strangely enough, I kept wondering what your reaction would be to each new discovery. I thought about its incredible beauty and wondered if it would have inspired several new works of art and possibly a new gallery opening. I know you said you’d had enough of the shows, but I knew you missed it all the same.
I came home fatigued and moved into a sumptuously decorated condo uptown. Friends worried that I might be feeling lonely and so invitations to a flurry of events ensued. No one would take no for an answer.
Sporting a glorious tan and designer rags I attended every social event that anyone who was anyone attended. Some friends tried to set me up with dates for some of these events. When I protested that it was too soon, they insisted it was for escort duty only and to even out the numbers. I knew what they meant and knew it wouldn’t work.
Night after night I still woke up and reached for you across a new bed, in a new bedroom, in a new apartment that you had never shared.
I went online and logged in to the travel website I’d used twice before. I would travel as often and as far away as I had to. Sooner or later I would stop reaching for you; I would stop looking for your face in every crowd. Or, I would go insane.
If I had known just how much I would miss you, I wouldn’t have killed you.