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The quiet is brutal without Jack.

The sounds of the house are all mine and the dog’s for what has been a long thirty days into my new normal. No rattling of hangers, no drawers being knocked in their wooden frames, no aroma of brewed coffee to denote that he’d started his day. The conversations—all one sided while I crave a response— are with Annie B, who she sleeps most of the day in her heated dog bed. When stirred, she watches me with sorrowful eyes: she misses him, too. I detest the solitude and my inability to find us any solace.

I buried the vocabulary of cancer care and medicine with Jack: oncology, chemotherapy, radiation, neuropathy, amiodarone, metoprolol, senna, prochlorperazine maleate, and sulindac. When I opened the front door and pushed out hospice and morphine, the new words of the survivor came in. Awful words. I stammered over “his remains” and “Jack’s body” when I dealt with the funeral home. I leapt past “He’s dead” or “He’s died” when speaking to others; those seemed to rhyme with “He’s never coming back.” Instead, I use the more spiritual “He’s passed on.” Not “I am widowed.” Never “I am a widow.” That harsh noun stomps on “spouse” and “lover.” I still think of myself as Jack’s wife.

I cannot move his things. The dried toothbrush on the counter, the razor with a few grey stubbles caught in the blades, contents of drawers and closet, nightstand with his reading glasses, books, and get-well cards, the mini-refrig in the garage with his favorite micro-brews, among so many possessions. I must keep everything in place exactly as it was on the day he died, out of hope that he will return. What would he think to find the house half empty?

What kind of wife am I to remove what is his before I am sure he is gone?

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