I have been a widow for almost three years. And yet, the early days sometimes feel like yesterday. While I have acquired skills to cope with life on my own, I have not forgotten. I share my illogical thinking during those days with the hope it will be useful to others, whether they are grieving and need reassurance or whether they want to understand the bereaved.
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On June 24, three days after Dick's death, the research center had released his body to the mortuary. Our son and a grandson took me there to authorize cremation of the man who had lived at the heart of my existence since we were barely sixteen. I chose a plain—yet elegant in its simplicity—black box, which I knew he would have preferred, for his ashes.
I saw Dick's body for the last time that day. He wasn't 'there' but I ached at the prospect of him being left alone at the end of the work day. Beseeching the staff to schedule the cremation immediately did no good. An indisputable schedule, set for July 8, exacerbated my feelings of powerlessness.
I suffered over the long July 4th holiday, thinking of him lying there all alone.
On July 8, the mortuary phoned to say cremation had occurred early, on July 3! Our youngest daughter and I rushed to pick up Dick's ashes.
Holding the remains of my beloved in the black box, another layer of awareness peeled away leaving me raw and vulnerable to despair. And yet, I felt contentment because he was no longer alone.