Found in my e-mail, this was part of a collection of things Patrick sent me called “You Never Know.” This segment is dated 19 April 2006.
My first impulse when Stephanie died was to dump everything – after 29 years together, the accumulated baggage was overwhelming. Not only physical objects – the house was full of papers, clothing, furniture – but memories, in the form of thousands of photos and such simple things as the arrangement of towels on the rack.
One month after she was buried, after showering I still lowered the head of the shower to the height she preferred. Having a punctured eardrum she could not immerse her head. When swimming she had to use a silicon ear plug.
Out went her clothes in the first frenzy of cleaning, then certain superfluous articles of furniture, then all her books on health and alternative medicine. With her brother, the family heirlooms of interest to him or his daughter were packed to send to Cincinnati. And so on, seemingly forever.
At first, after immense grief, I felt resentment, then anger. Guilt, a sense of betrayal, regret that I had not said certain words to her brought me down again and again.
Finally, on the way to Rome it occurred to me that now, at the age of 71, I could do all those things not possible before because of our mutual devotion, our pacts of cohabitation, the responsibilities to house, festival, animals and garden, as well as, the last years, the limitations imposed by her health.
But now as an act of self-preservation, perhaps I have overcome these feelings, and with whatever love for life that is left to me, whatever resilience and strength remains, I will seek love, adventure, and hopefully meaningful work.