Thursday, December 5, 2013


When I awake tomorrow morning, it will be five years since my beloved Ivaan left the planet. It does not feel like five years.  It feels like about half an hour. Despite the number of times I've heard people tell me that time heals all wounds, I can say with some authority that it does not. Our friend Jirina once wrote something to me which resonated deeply at the time and has stayed close to my heart ever since:

In times of sorrow, love heals.

I've had lots of time over the years to think about those words, and many occasions on which to reflect on the ways we try to comfort others in times of sadness.  And as often as I think of Jirina's words, I think of my friend Patricia, who once said two simple words to me which, literally, carried me one bleak day.  It would be impossible to say something more gracious and enduring than this to someone with a broken heart:

I care.

Tomorrow morning, I'm heading to the cemetery for a visit.  I'm bringing the usual:  some fresh bread for the birds and squirrels, some dried lavender, some pine boughs to cover the grave for the winter, and a pebble from somewhere I've visited recently - in this case, from the new Aquarium.

Since Ivaan's death, I've encountered plenty of things I could cheerfully live without:  suggestions that I stop signing cards and gifts from "Ivaan & Eya" , queries about why our phone listing is still in his name,  when I plan to remarry (almost always followed by, "you know, for companionship"),  why I wear both our wedding rings, the look of discomfort on some people's faces when his name comes up in conversation, as though speaking about a deceased person is a breach of etiquette.  I'm not crazy about the W word, because I'm still very much Ivaan's wife.  And, perhaps most of all, sentences that begin with "Ivaan wouldn't have wanted you to...", as though Ivaan, from his place in the next world, had appointed an emissary to tell me what I ought to be doing.

But this is not about the things I could live without.  It's about the things I miss.

I miss laughing my head off ten times a day.  I miss falling asleep with my head on Ivaan's left shoulder.  I miss the pleasure of watching him enjoy eating something delicious.  I miss making sure his coffee is exactly the way he likes it.   I miss his nicknames for me, I miss reading to him, I miss the fabulous birthday and anniversary cards he drew for me, I miss hearing his conversations with pigeons, squirrels and our dear old cat Pinky, I miss the mischief he and our nephews, The Pyromaniacs, got up to, I miss the early days of our marriage when I'd be busy around the house and he'd call out to me from wherever he was and say, "I love hearing you singing".  I really miss dancing with him.    I will never, ever be able to sleep on his side of the bed. And I love that, at least in his eyes, I was the most capable, resourceful genius in the entire world.  It is nice to have had someone in your life who is so utterly, unabashedly (and often unjustifiably) proud of you. 

Ivaan, my beloved husband, it is nice to be your wife. 

IVAAN, August 2008, by Slava Lukashenkov

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