July 21, 2015

A Letter to My Widower Husband.

Photo: Ian MacKenzie https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_couple_in_love.jpg

“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was…” ~ Henry Scott Holland

My Dearest Husband,

This morning, I found a prose poem by Henry Scott Holland in my Facebook news feed.

The words were so comforting and soulful that in reading them, it occurred to me that—should the terrible circumstances they speak of occur—these words would be a great help to me.

The words of the poem forced me to think of how much I would miss you.

Not only the wonderful physical you—the always there for me in so many practical and emotional ways you—the hardworking, good-food-loving, opera loving, symphony whistling and ever so droll you—but also and mostly, the who-you-are you.

The “you” that comprises your uniqueness. The energy that surrounds your bones, your blood and your sinew—giving your heart, mind and body the shape that comprises you.

I would miss your “you-ness.”

And so, when I read in Holland’s poem that I didn’t have to miss you—that I could just think of you as having “slipped away into the next room”—it comforted me.

I thought that I could act as if you weren’t really gone, but that you were just not there in the same way, and as the poem said—I could still have you.

I could call you by the old familiar name, speak to you in the same easy way and laugh as we always laughed. You would have just slipped away into the next room.

“What is this death,” I would say, “But a negligible accident? Why should I put you out of my mind because you are out of sight?”

I was so moved by the words of the poem—and happy that it had given me a road-map for the unknown—that at breakfast, I asked you if I could read it aloud to you. You said I could, so I did.

Then you asked me for a copy, saying, “Can you e-mail me copy of that?” 

And that was when I knew.

I knew that in just that one tiny second and with those few words—that even as I was reading them—the words of the poem had evoked your first wife to you, and that it was she, not me, you heard saying them.

“I have only slipped away into the next room,” she was saying. “Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?”

And by the time I finally figured out how to e-mail the poem to you—by the time I had cut, pasted and done whatever it was that needed to be done to e-mail it to you—I realized that the poem wasn’t one I should have read to you in the first place. I realized how true it was indeed, that when someone dies they really have just “slipped away into the next room”—the next room in someone’s heart.

I realized it wasn’t my poem to share with you—it was somebody else’s poem.

I needed another poem—a new one. One that was written exactly for me, a woman who married a widower. A widower who loved me indeed, but who had also been married for 48 years to another woman, and who loved her still as well.

By the time I had clicked send and e-mailed the poem to you, I realized that in order to find such a poem—a new poem just for me—I would probably have to write it myself.

By the time I had clicked send and e-mailed the poem to you, I thought that a new poem written just for me would probably not come to me on Facebook and that, using the pen of life, I would have to write it myself.

Then I realized—no, I wouldn’t have to write it myself.

You and I would have to write it together.

Which is, in fact—exactly what we are already doing.



Comparing Yourself to the Ex-Wife or Girlfriend Only Complicates Things.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: WikiMedia Commons

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