Life After Caring

Six weeks have passed and Nick is still gone.
I've already got used to having more time, more freedom, more space in my day and my head.
The to-do list looks different: "Buy coffee" "Check car insurance" and even "take library books back" but there are also bills to be paid and a foreboding pile of probate forms to fill in with the required documents - birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates, inner leg measurement, IQ and shoe size.
Boxes of his things are piled up in my room and await sorting out. Diaries, letters, bits and bobs of memorabilia, pens and badges and old concert tickets. They will continue to sit there until I can face it, which isn't just yet.

It's Saturday morning and the physical memory of our Saturdays still tugs at me - I'd get his i newspaper from the shop up the road and then walk down to the flat. The carers used to come in early at weekends to dress and give him breakfast and he'd often have gone back to bed so I'd come in, put the kettle on and wake him up with hot coffee and a crisp new paper.
Saturdays are different now. The familiar path I took then and every day, several times a day, is no longer mine to walk.
I don't miss it and that surprises me, but approaching the door there was always a feeling of dread alongside the love and devotion for Nick - what was I going to find when I walked into the building?
So it is a great relief not to have that worry all the time. I'm gradually stretching in to the new expansiveness of it. But I miss him.

On that first frozen Saturday evening when we went to the flat to feed Smokey, the first thing we saw were his poor misshapen slippers, just kicked across the room where he'd taken them off before going out to his last lunch. My Christmas present from last year: stained blue corduroy with the stuffing leaking out from his perpetual chafing and scuffing, due to be replaced - or so I thought.
I can't bear to throw them away just yet.

His favourite stripy jumper, washed thin and holey, is mine now and it still smells of him. I don't want to wear it all the time but I do think there is a need for a "grief wardrobe" (again, the Victorians knew a thing or two) where you are allowed and encouraged to wear your dead loved one's clothes like spirit arms to wrap around you. And fairy tales knew this too, this need to warm your bones with the loved one's scent.

Anyway, we go on. I'm so glad that we no longer have to worry about the carers, about the availability of medications post Brexit, about whether the medications were right in the first place and if he was taking too many, about the increased coughing and choking and continence fails, about the horrible neighbour, about all the little big things that added up to daily anxiety and stress.
I'm glad he has not had to suffer further indignities and that he finally felt so lucky and loved.
But I miss him.