We had a 12 cup coffee maker at the time. I only drank one cup, while my husband would drink it all day long.
Because I would never use it, I gave the coffee maker away to a dear friend and bought myself a new one that just made one cup.
It sat on the kitchen cabinet, ready to go, for two weeks. I knew how to use it, I had everything I needed to use it, but I didn’t use it.
I must have walked into the kitchen a dozen times each morning, determined to brew me a cup, and then turned right around and left without ever touching it.
I didn’t understand why I couldn’t make my coffee until one day it dawned on me.
By making that “single” cup of coffee, I was giving up one more thing that I shared with my husband.
By breaking down and making it, I was acknowledging that I would never again walk into the kitchen, be handed a cup of coffee with a smile and a kiss and settle down on the couch to talk over what was going to happen that day with my husband.
I found that there are a lot of things that I avoid doing as long as possible.
Training the puppy for instance. The way we trained all of our other dogs to come when called was to play a game we called ‘pass the puppy’. I would sit on one end of the room, my husband on the other, and we would take turns calling the pup back and forth, handing out treats each time. It usually ended up with us laughing hysterically as the pup tries to anticipate who had the next treat, running as fast as their little legs would carry them.
Now I have no one to pass the puppy to.
Other things I try to avoid are mundane things like filling up the soap dispensers in the bathroom and kitchen. My husband always took care of that and by me having to do it, once again, drives home the knowledge that he will never be here to do it again.
Grocery shopping is another. My husband was the chef in the family and he loved going to the store to get fresh ingredients. The few times I went with him, I saw his face light up at the sight of fresh basil or a nice piece of fresh fish that had just arrived. Now I go in with a list, get what I need and leave as fast as I can.
My husband was also the one that fed the four footed furry brigade. That is something I cannot postpone and every night I dutifully gather up the bowls and feed them. It actually isn’t hard and takes about 15-20 minutes tops.
It’s not doing the task that bothers me, it’s the fact that I have to do it because he’s not here anymore. Every time I feed them, I am reminded why I am feeding them and not my husband.
It’s amazing all of the little things that we just do and never think of. For instance, our shower has one of those fancy gadgets with jet streams and waterfalls and different doo dads that I never could figure out. My husband always used a certain setting and never set it back to neutral. So before I took a shower, I always had to reset it or I would take a cold blast of water in the face. Now, I never have to reset it. And I never get a blast of cold water in my face.
I miss getting irritated at him for it.
Other things I miss are seeing the piles of trash on the kitchen counter right next to the trash can. For some reason, my husband could never stretch that last six inches to dispose of it properly. I had given up years ago nagging him about it. I just automatically threw it away whenever I went into the kitchen.
Now I just see clean, bare counters.
Shoes. My husband had dozens of them and like a little centipede, he would leave them all over the house. He was a big guy and his shoes were heavy so tripping over them was no picnic. I would constantly be picking them up and putting them in the closet wondering why he needed three pairs of shoes in just two days and asking him if they walked out on their own.
Now they stay lined up in the closet.
Each day I am reminded of the hundreds of little things that were so intertwined in our lives. Things that we each did automatically. Each time I do the things that he did, it just tears at the empty space he left behind.
I’m not sure when that will stop. Or if it will ever stop.
I do know that each time I settle in and take on another one of his tasks, the chasm between being a part of ‘husband and wife’, where I was, and being a ‘widow’, where I am now, grows wider and wider. I keep hanging on to the other side with all of my might.
Eventually I will have to let go.
But not yet.