In five more months it will be the second anniversary of my Rosemary’s death on December 9.
Some time ago I coined for myself the term an absent presence for what I feel when I get into our bed in the evening in the company of Niño and Niña.
Everything in this house reminds me of a life shared that is no more. Sometimes this feeling can lead me to what is the empty substance of this blog. It is a lovely empty box of Kleenex that sat on top of our bathroom toilet. Rosemary had quite a few obsessive interests:
Paper napkins, scissors, mopping the kitchen floor, leather handbags, a car with no dents or scratches, towels, blankets and sheets from the Bay, perennial and annual plants that I did not know existed, grey plants, and an ability to go to our old house with a spade to get some of the plants left behind (I did not have the heart or the stomach to go with her), her cats, taking out the garbage, worrying about our granddaughters and many more.
But when I removed the last tissue from this box and had to buy a can of shaving cream and toothpaste on my own (when her supply ran out), I was hit by a melancholy that keeps consuming me as I walk around the house.
It is about this time that a couple of little white moths happily flutter around in our garden. Are they the offspring of the ones that Rosemary and I used to smile about?
Irrationally I think, “How can you happily flutter around in this garden that used to be hers?”
At the National Convention of the American Hosta Society in Minneapolis a month back I had some chats with the cancer-ailing editor of the lovely Hosta Journal. It was Bob Olson who quite a few years ago at a convention in the 90s urged me to write for the Journal. Perhaps it was Olson who started my career in writing for money.
While very sick, Olson lives close to the Mayo Clinic. He is getting expert treatment. In my melancholic mood I told him that this was going to be my last convention as so many of my hosta friends had died. Like Jorge Luís Borges I told him that I was going to close the door to the convention and as I would look at myself in a mirror I would think, “Is this the last time that this mirror will reflect my image?”
But after I returned, I came to the conclusion that both
Olson and I have to be alive so we can meet again at the convention next year in
Ames, Iowa. And to make this even more fun, my daughter Hilary wants to accompany me, as she did to Minneapolis.
I believe that while I cannot artificially fill Rosemary’s Kleenex box I can live and start putting some substance into my vacancy.