The Joke’s Over, You Can Come Out Now

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At least once a day I look for Peter. I look when I put my key in the lock and open the front door. I look when I have gotten into bed and wait for him to slip under the covers beside me. I look when I go downstairs to his office. I look when I sit at my desk, waiting for him to come to the kitchen and sneak a cookie. His presence is in the house, in the pictures, in the books, in the furniture, in the very soul of our home. It is over seven months since Peter died and on some level, I still believe I will see him walk in the door and tell me “the joke is over, I’m back.”

Then reality sinks in and I remember I am alone and have to learn to share my thoughts with myself as my new sounding board. I have to learn to watch television on my own and comment to myself about how bad the Golden Globes were this year; about how good the “People vs. OJ Simpson” is; about the lunacy of Donald Trump (even though it seems we were at the University of Pennsylvania at the same time); and about how much better “Project Runway Junior” is than regular “Project Runway”!

I have to drive myself to parties — with an occasional Uber. With the help of, I can even drive to Malibu engrossed in a historical bodice ripper like “Taming of the Queen;” a Broadway theatre expose like “Razzle Dazzle;” or a gripping novel like “Fates and Furies,” which was so good I stayed in my driveway for half an hour just to finish it.

Humans are like herd animals. We don’t do well alone. We need to feel secure. With sudden death, we are thrown back to an earlier time when we were children groping with finding our own personalities. In loss we are like weak little children again, looking for our own selves to blossom. So now I must learn to find that child in me and help her to grow up emotionally and practically. I must learn to uncork champagne bottles, open stuck windows, find the fuse box in a power outage, handle finances, and most importantly make decisions on my own.

So I have devised my own Mourner’s Bill of Rights to help me cope with learning to be content with living by myself.

I have the right to mourn on my own timeline.
I have the right to discuss my grief ad nauseam.
I have the right to hide pictures until I am ready to accept the memories.
I have the right to retail therapy.
I have the right NOT to be a model griever.
I have the right to tell people with platitudes to take a hike.
I have the right to say no to a party.
I have the right to cry at any time or place as long as tissues are within reach.
I have to right to be able to take my anger out at telemarketers.
And, I have the right to eat ice cream for dinner!

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