On most days I miss the old Michael. Sometimes a lot and sometimes a little. I cry a little bit each day. Some days I cry a lot. I’m not used to crying. After having 12 years being happy in life and love and all things, it is tough to have spent the past two months (has it really been only two months?) crying each and every day. Some days I feel the tears come and just hate them. Even being a grief counselor doesn’t stop me from trying to stop them. I feel my old abandonment well up and I just push back against it. No this is not happening.

I know that Michael has been the one person who has understood me and been there for me, unequivocally, day in and day out. The other day I thought of him never driving me to the bus stop or the train station or being there when I get off the bus or the train and I broke down and cried. That steady something that was him is gone from my life. The person always there for me. Always waiting. With a smile and a “How was your day, hun?” It’s gone and it hurts. It’s a big gone too. I miss it more than I ever thought I would or could.

But it’s funny how the little things are the things that really bother me. One thing I miss is his appreciation of food. Big food deals, small food deals…he just loves food and is always so appreciative. He has never once in 12 years asked for a meal or expected a meal. If I’m not cooking (which is most of the time), he either orders out or makes a simple meal for himself and Gina. He has never made a remark that it would be nice if I cooked more but he just loves it when I do cook. Most times he can’t get enough of whatever I make.

He is always so complimentary…”Oh hon, this is so good…this is great hun…” even when it’s a matter of throwing a few small things together. When I was a single parent I was the queen of quick meals after work for the boys. Throw some cooked hambuger over some bowtie pasta and top with bottled brown gravy and a side vegetable. Or roasted chicken breast with Success rice and bottled chicken gravy and a side vegetable. Or tacos or some other simple dish…and he would say “Oh this is GREAT!!!” When I would work for two days on a meal he would be effusive and everything in between. When I cooked spaghetti sauce for two days I would crumble sausage into the sauce but leave a few whole ones for him to “steal.” I would put them in the sauce and after a few hours would come into the kitchen to catch him fishing the sausages out. He would give a sheepish smile and be on his way. With the sausage. It was an unspoken thing with us those whole sausages.

I remember when we were first married I would buy fresh shrimp and some chopped clams and toss it with broccoli and olive oil and garlic and serve over fettucine and he would just rave about it. He would lick the bowls clean. He was a maniac for sea food having grown up in a Sicilian family on Boston’s south shore. He ate all kinds and if you wanted to make him happy, just take him out for lobster.

I’ve always said he’s a simple guy. He likes to fish, to ride a motorcycle, to eat well. And always so appreciative of everything. He would tell me that if he had a terrible day a good meal and hug made it less terrible. So sometimes he only got the hug. But when he got the meal, he loved it. And when it didn’t, well that was okay too.

All of his weird food combinations and things he would eat (that no one else would) became family jokes and he would laugh along with it. He always tried crazy things. But then there would be some random innocuous thing he hated. Like peas. And it would be funny to me. He would eat sardines out of the can. And pigs feet. And turkey necks. But not peas. I would crack up every single time and he would too. He has this way of just shrugging things off and laughing. He finds humor in all things. Even in himself.

I haven’t cooked many Thanksgivings and he’s always up for whatever. A restaurant, a friend’s house, a kid’s house. When I graduated from law school I went to work in Dallas. He was still in California selling the house at Thanksgiving. The kids were in Boston and New York. He asked me what we were doing for the holidays. “I said, for Thanksgiving we’re renting a condo on the Cape and having dinner at a magnificent colonial inn.” I was flying in from Dallas. He and Gina from California. The boys were driving in from New York and Boston. And oh yeah, a friend of mine and her son would be joining us. AND I would be visiting with another friend the next day. “Okay.” he said. It might have been a screwy, complicated plan but he was up for whatever. Two years ago we went to a romantic bed and breakfast after eating with the kids because our 10th anniversary was November 23rd and he was in Texas (again, selling the house) and I was in New York. So we celebrated a week later. We left my daughter with one of her brothers and took off. And had a marvelous time. The breakfasts were scrumptious and he loved everything. As usual.

This year was remarkably different. He had a headache and left his usual station on the couch because the little boys were coming. He didn’t want to shush them but his head hurt. He wasn’t hungry.

I had brined the turkey and worked hard to baste it and make it moist. My daughter in law made the potatoes and string bean casserole and some pies and I made everything else and a bunch of desserts.

But there was an extra chair at the table and the kids were so excited they kept getting up at dinner and switching seats which was easy to do with an extra one. So we were focused on them–what they were doing, if they were eating.

No one really complimented the meal even though the turkey was very moist and everything was yummy. Usually the boys do that but we didn’t really get to have too many unbroken sentences with the boys climbing up and down on chairs. They were playing musical chairs and while we normally don’t allow the up and down they were doing, we were all too tired to really deal with them.

I miss them too….the little boys…we had them overnight the weekend Michael got sick and I had them once when he was in the hospital but I haven’t really seen them. I had spent all summer working on my book and was going to spend some quality time with them after it was done and then Michael fell ill. So I pretty much let them do what they want when they come over. I miss them. They miss me. And zoom there goes Derek and zoom there goes CJ. So zoom zoom.

We cleaned up some and watched some football. I was exhausted. When Michael came down I fixed him a small plate including the turkey neck and giblets. He barely touched it. I had saved them just for him and put some gravy on them. My gravy that he usually raves over. He pushed the plate away.
I walked upstairs and the words, “Great meal hun, thanks.” rang in my ears. From days gone by. No one had said it tonight and my hunny hadn’t eaten.

I miss the life companion. I miss the person who will never pick me up at the train station again. On time. Always on time. He was late once last summer and I was suspecting that something might be wrong. For the 12 years prior, he was never ever late. Always there. Like no one in my life has ever been. Always there.

And losing the one person I’ve ever been able to depend on is heartbreaking. Heart wrenching. Soul searing. Soul aching. It rips my heart and my head in two. I want to scream. I want it to be not so.

But it’s the little “Good meal, hun.” that stings even worse. In some crazy way. It hurts even worse.

It’s the terrible dailyness that Michael and I helped each other through. Raising kids. Dealing with the little things. And when I would make his day better and little less terrible, he always said thank you.

And tonight I can’t feed him. He wants no food. And I can’t make it less terrible this time. And I want to make it all go away and light up his face with a simple meal and a hug. And that’s not going to fix it. Not this time.

Not this time.