Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Mourning the loss of someone close is the hardest thing about living alone. There are many difficulties that come with being on your own, like falling asleep alone each night, the echo of your solitary laugh at an evening sitcom, the fear of being seen unaccompanied in a restaurant. Nothing can compare, though, to the day when you learn someone close to you has died – from the moment you receive the news, to coming home to an empty apartment that evening, to dressing for the wake, to climbing the steps to the chapel, to reshelving your emotions after it’s all over.

I’ve found over the years that I prefer being alone. I’ve grown to savor the feeling of stretching out in bed and wrapping the entire blanket tightly around my body, and I’ve even gotten comfortable being seen around town by myself. I’ve learned that the best way to avoid the empty feeling of your single laughter is simply to watch The History Channel and Animal Planet instead of Seinfeld or Friends. I’ve even discovered the beauty of simply ignoring the debilitating ache that fills my heart and forces me to sadly sigh each time I see people happily being together. I’ve found out that it is indeed possible to triumph in sadness rather than work to overcome it and that a somehow-pleasing apathy waits just below the surface of loneliness.

And although I’ve perfected the necessary tactics to staying home alone on a Friday night, and I’ve cinched pretending to read a book while I pray no one sees me sitting alone at Sunday brunch after church, the one thing I can’t seem to master is how to deal with the death of someone close. The drive home is possibly the hardest part of the entire process. Tonight, driving the short distance from the funeral home, I couldn’t help but think that mine would be the next unexpected death to shake this small town, having perished in a horrible car wreck because my eyes were so filled with tears that I couldn’t see clearly behind the wheel. When I did, in fact, make it home, I tried to laugh at the absurdity of my dramatics, but it only made me cry harder. I turned off the car and sat a moment, trying to collect myself. The moment I finally made it in the door, I collapsed against the wall and dragged myself up the narrow staircase. I looked around, angry that I lived here in this aging house and angry that I had conditioned myself not to care enough to do anything about it.

After I had closed and locked the door behind me, I didn’t know what else to do. I looked around the living room expressionless and walked into the bathroom. I brushed my hair, staring at my splotchy face and glassy eyes in the mirror. I changed my clothes, finding the same worn sweatshirt I had slept in the night before and pulling a pair of trackpants from the hamper. I laced up my tennis shoes. And I went for ice cream.

1 comment:

Frema said...

I would have gone for ice cream, too. :)