Black Despair

I lost it last night.

As I’ve been emptying out the house, I’ve come across all sorts of things which remind me of Connie; photos of a younger version whom, tragically, I never knew, old awards for some job excellence, thank-you letters from grateful clients and so on. Some of the things elicit a wry smile, some a strangled sob, and most a simple, “Oh, sweetheart.”

The kitchen has been the absolute worst. You see, amongst all her other achievements, Connie was a superlative cook, a cross between artist and artisan, and any of my Readers fortunate to have been guests at our dinner table will attest to that fact. Her spice “rack” (two overhead cupboards’ worth) overflowed onto the counter into four actual racks, and her utensils, from Le Creuset pots and pans to a wooden tortilla press — you don’t think we bought tortillas, do you? — were like the woodworking tools used by master craftsman Norm Abram: a means to create works of peerless quality. And unlike so many women, cooking for her was never a chore but a delight, just as long as she wasn’t asked to make prosaic stuff like sandwiches (I was deputized for that).

Back when I was working in Corporate America, I was in a meeting in my office with two of my subordinates when I got a call from my secretary: “It’s Connie; she apologizes but she has an important question for you.”
So I hit the speakerphone and said, “You’re on speaker, and I have Jim and Kenny here with me, so keep it clean.”
She laughed. “What do you want for dinner tonight?”
“I dunno; maybe just a salami sandwich?”
Icy silence. Then: “Hmph. Your choices are: Beef Burgundy or Banana Chicken Curry.”
“Oh. Okay, the curry sounds good,” and after the farewells I hung up, to see two pairs of eyes staring at me in astonishment.
“What’s the occasion?”
“No occasion.”
“You mean, she does this — cooks you this kind of meal — all the time?”
“Pretty much every night, unless we’re going out. But she doesn’t like to go to restaurants unless she’s tired.”
“Why?”
“She says she doesn’t like the way restaurants — even the good ones — screw up the food.”
“My God.”

So last night was Kitchen Night. I got about halfway through — tossed the spices which neither I nor the kids wanted or needed — but when I got to the copper saucepans,  crepe cookers and ebelskiver pans, I ran into a wall. “I can’t do this, sweetheart… I just can’t do this anymore. It hurts too much,” and I collapsed against the counter, weeping like a little girl. If the earth had opened up and swallowed me at that moment, I would have welcomed it.

The kids (Daughter and BF along with Son&Heir and Canucki-Girlfriend) will finish the kitchen today and tomorrow. Without them, I would have just left the house, never to return. As it is, I could barely write this blogpost.

Sorry to unload on y’all, but I did warn you that there’d be days like this. Today, the isolation is not so splendid.

26 comments

  1. The, in my case, “Oh Honey”, moments will probably continue for the rest of your life. Every time you become frustrated with whatever you would normally seek her advice/input/understanding/support/ or hug and smile, the pit will open and the bottom falls out.

  2. My heart breaks for you, Kim. My sweetheart made his own rubs for grilling etc. His handwriting on the jars. His handwriting on everything. I still have the wine bottles he used for dregs of assorted reds and whites for cooking, in my fridge. His handwritten labels on them.

    I used to spend my weekends cooking for him. I have over 100 jars of spices and should throw them out. Haven’t cooked in 3 years.

    Yes, there will be so many “Oh, Honey” moments in the years to come.

  3. Damn Kim, I’m sorry.

    There’s something, for lack of a better word, unnatural about a man outliving his wife. Especially for those of us fortunate enough to have found out soul mate.

    I pray to God I never have to go thru that, I’m not sure I could maintain any sort of dignity in the process. I’m strong, but not that strong.

      1. No argument.

        The worst disservice people do to people who are mourning is tell them “You’ll get over it”. You don’t, you just find a way to deal with it. Sometimes you still curl up in a ball and cry (I still do for my mother who died in 1990 or my father who dies in 1988). It becomes less raw with time, but if it ever goes away it takes longer than I’ve had, and later this year I will have lived longer without my mother in my wife than I did with her.

        Still the thought of losing my wife scares the crap out of me.

        1. The thought of losing my husband scared the crap out of me. And then it happened. Somehow I made it through to the other side, but there were dark times indeed.

          I wish I could comfort you by telling you that Connie is nearby, just the other side of the veil, Kim.

  4. Too much a realist to believe in an afterlife.
    Too much a romantic to say there isn’t one.
    Keep walking, friend.
    …just a few more miles on this road with the rest of us and you’ll meet back up with her along the way.

  5. Loss. It is the hardest thing Humans have to deal with.
    Here is hoping you have a better day soon.

  6. And in another way, I’m reminded of Connie’s impact on me. I’m a much better cook due to her direction when I’d offered to assist.

    You’re not the only one feeling it, Kim.

  7. The black despair passes, sort of, eventually. It helps a lot if you make sure you have something to do. It still comes back, now and then, but you get better at shouldering it while it’s there, and letting it move back on along its way sooner.

  8. Apology accepted, but not necessary. Do unload. That is one of the reasons we are all here. And yes, it will be the little things and shared moments that blind-side you and bring you to your knees. It’s been some twenty years since my dad passed away. At the time, he had already mailed Christmas gifts for my three young kids. When the gifts arrived, I began to try to explain that they were very special gifts because there would never be any more. Never got the words out, just went to my knees and sobbed. Looking back, there probably wasn’t any better way to tell them.

    Time is what heals, or at least makes bearable. In the meantime, we are with you.

  9. We’re on the same piece of hard road. I lost the love of my life at 48 to breast cancer three years ago. There are areas of the house that are still difficult to spend time in, and many unopened boxes.

  10. I’m so very sorry for your loss, sir. I watched my aunt wither away in the last six months of her life from breast cancer, and sat by my mom as it broke her heart. My mom wanted to enshrine nearly everything her little sister ever touched.

    1. I am still so very careful of which dishes I cook which include garlic because I remember so clearly Connie’s rant years ago about the overuse of garlic in cooking. I would imagine that cleaning out Connie’s kitchen would be so very difficult, I only hope the pain lessens for you in time, I know it will never go away but I am glad you have us to share with so you are never completely alone with the pain.

  11. Hang in there. Take it one day at a time.

    Someone once said that there are things we never really get over, we just get used to ’em. Tincture of Time is the only medicine.

  12. I have an idea you started blogging again as a catharsis. This post is part of that process.
    Don’t apologize to us for anything. Keep writing and let it all out. Anything and everything you want to share is up to you.
    Peace.


  13. “I can’t do this, sweetheart… I just can’t do this anymore. It hurts too much,” and I collapsed against the counter, weeping like a little girl.

    You’re going to have these moments while grieving. They don’t stop, but they get to be less painful. Trying not to grieve is the worst possible action.

  14. I wish I could say it will get better. In many ways, it will not. As I mentioned a while back, my wife died in August. I had several people help me with the packing for my move. I could have stayed living in that house, but the GHOSTS would have eaten me alive.
    Because of all the land mines when I tried to do all the culling, there was a lot still left when zero hour hit. Now I am, several months later, still finding landmines as I unpack.
    Then there are the mental landmines…

    But, I have come to realize the alternative is far worse. The landmines are little painful bombs of love. They tear at your very soul when they explode, but it is still the love you share bursting in a way you were unprepared for. The alternative would be to realize there was not love. That Sir, is never going to be the case, but just imagine if you were able to dispassionately wade through all those things. Imagine if you didn’t find a little or large scrap of love with each item and their associated memories.

  15. Like Bobby, your reminiscences remind me of interactions I had with Connie, the particular one to hand is about dishes. There are two notes intertwined. A few years ago, Toni and I bought a whole set of Fiestaware dishes. I blog posted about it with pictures and remember Connie commenting how she loved Fiestaware. And we had a “me too” discussion about washing dishes — properly done with scalding hot water, so they dry quickly. The other day, I was washing a sink full of the Fiestaware and those two exchanges came to mind. The impact on me was probably not so powerful to me as yours was to you. But it was there. ::sigh:: Not to be a dark cloud, but, it may never go away. Only diminish some with time.

    M

  16. I have a bowl, a cheap glass Pyrex kitchen bowl, that belonged to my mum. It’s scratched on the inside from where she used a fork to make her Yorkshire puddings. Whilst hers were like pancakes, mine rise so big and could stay up for a week.

    It’s the only thing I have left, after gradually giving away or discarding everything. Each piece that went, went in its own time – when I was ready to,let go. That didn’t happen every day, every week nor every month, but it happened. You are having to force the pace due to your move, Kim, which makes it harder. But, if there are things you can’t let go of, then don’t. Not yet.

    Keep them until you are ready – and you will be. The number of things you keep will probably be very small and the time when you are ready to let go may be long, but you will be ready. If there is one thing you cannot bear to let go, keep it always and use it mindfully.

    I did. I have used it every day and thought of her every day since she went – it’s a tactile memory.

    She’s been gone over 20 years.

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