I just finished reading Joan Didion’s non-fiction book The Year of Magical Thinking.
I had read it a few years ago and while I enjoyed it then, it meant a hell of a lot more to me now.
It’s about her life after her husband died of a massive heart attack while they were eating dinner at home one evening.
He was talking one minute and then he wasn’t.
It really resonated with me as I lived a similar situation in January when my husband died of a massive heart attack while sitting on our bed.
One minute he was breathing and then he wasn’t.
In one chapter of her book, Joan focuses on feeling cold after her husband died.
Not feeling emotionless, but her actual body temperature.
I, too, felt cold the moment I walked into the emergency room waiting to hear a doctor tell me that my husband of almost 19 years was dead.
I knew what was to come.
I knew the moment I saw him laying on our bed that he was gone.
The coldness came and it was overwhelming.
Now, I am peri-menopausal.
I get hot at the oddest times and sleeping at night involves wearing hardly any clothes and having a fan blowing on me until morning.
So, to be cold was something I’m not used to.
I was enveloped in a shroud of coldness for days after his death.
I even mentioned to others how cold I was.
I was cold throughout the night and positioned the fan away from me while sleeping.
A few people told me “it’s shock, you’re in shock.”
Is that what it was?
Or was my body feeling a loss so deep that it couldn’t maintain it’s core temperature anymore.
Because a part of me, my best friend and confidant and lover and the person who could finish my sentences, was dead.
A part of me died that day, too.
When I have been going outside recently in the dark and blustery Illinois evenings to close up the animals in our barn…
closing up the chicken coop
calling the ducks in so that they can waddle-run into their duck house
feeding the horse and goat one more time until morning…
I have found myself stopping and looking up at the sky when the clouds have blown away.
Looking up into the star-filled night sky and then hearing coyotes talking to one another off in the distance in the woods behind our house.
The breeze can be cold at times, other times it’s chilly but very calm.
It’s in these moments when I surrender to the elements and don’t cover my head with a hat.
I don’t let the cold bother me.
I let it be a reminder to me…
that I am still alive..