It is exactly a week since Ray died. I had just stepped from the shower when Laura knocked on the door, saying “you’d better come.” I threw on my robe and ran to his bedside but he was already gone.
I have been crying off and on all morning while going about my chores; breakfast, shower, picking up, doing dishes, feeding the cat. It has been much the same all week. But what do I feel? I can’t decipher it. Sadness, yes; loss, certainly; longing of course; wondering. Where is he? What is he doing now? Does he even know I’m still here? Has he lost all interest in Earth and its drama?
And what am I to do now? That’s the real question, and the only one I can answer, though not now; not yet. Now I can only keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other, though moving that foot has little meaning.
In an effort to return to normal I went to Costco yesterday, my regular monthly trip, and half way down the first aisle I realized I was buying for one. It was like being hit on the head with a pillow; a numbing reminder. What was I doing there? Can one shop for one at Costco? Yes, one can, but not often.
Ray’s death was long in coming. I saw hints of approaching dementia as early as 2012, though I blew them off as simply aging, or anxiety, or lack of sleep. I had many excuses, and in fact such hints were far apart and not terribly obvious. It was on a trip in 2014, after a series of mini disasters that Ray couldn’t seem to handle, that I was sure. Later that year he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately that diagnosis was later changed to Lewy bodies, a combination of dementia and Parkinson’s—a double hit on the brain, as a nurse would tell me, and therefore a faster progression.
So I sit here at the computer, writing because it's the only thing I can think to do. Writing words that mean nothing without the context of the man himself, a kind, compassionate, smart, funny man with whom I was privileged to share a life of laughter and curiosity and adventure. He wasn’t perfect and I didn’t expect him to be, but he loved life and hated injustice, and he wasn’t afraid to speak his truth whenever he saw the need. I learned a great deal from him, but I will never be as good, as kind, or as funny.
And now one week without Ray is behind me, and the next one looms as empty and sterile as a waiting petrie dish. I will put one foot in front of the other because I can. And because I have no other choice.