We found that this attitude made it easier to bear some of the difficulties we encountered. It meant that we both knew there was someone who would get the absurdity of the everyday. Yes, there were things about it that were specific to us both being storytellers and writers, but mostly it meant we weren't alone.
A big part of what I found so difficult after Kevin died was losing this specific connection. I no longer had the single person in my life with whom I could communicate so much through a glance or a simple phrase. This isn't unique to me, I think it happens to most widowed people. My mother is experiencing it now in the weeks following my father's death. Kevin and I just had a catchphrase.
The last few days have brought that phrase to mind again. In the last 36 hours or so I've had a number of notable experiences that reminded me that being open to the world is part of the storyteller's work. They include:
- Finding out that a friend had an encysted twin which was causing a variety of health problems. Now that it's gone they are in much better shape.
- Performing a wedding ceremony in a jail.
- Listening to stories about Szechuan province, learning about Chinese opera and hearing a traditional Chinese love story, all told to me by the owner of a wonderful Chinese restaurant who was so happy that a non-Chinese person loved his cooking and his brother's recipes.
- Having a conversation with two Indian Muslin men about the best brand of tea and how their mothers taught them to brew it. They both wanted me to know the best way to make tea and fully expect me to come back and tell them which method I prefer.
- and more. But I thought these examples were enough.
Maybe some of these events will find their way into a story. Or maybe not. What all of this really tells me is that I am alive. Missing him is part of being alive now. I am still part of the world, even though there were times in the first year of mourning when I thought that would never be and I never wanted it to be.
All of this tells me that, as long as I keep living this life, it will be one of stories told and others hidden away with a small smile. It will be one of remembering Kevin and keeping him in the world by saying his name, by sharing the things I know would delight him, even if no one else will quite get why and how. It will be a life of story and sorrow; humor and horror; wrenching pain, even in moments of joy; laughter, even in grief; life, even after death.
(c)2016 Laura S. Packer