Six Months in a Leaky Boat…

I don’t know how much longer I’ll continue to count in months. Maybe up to 24, like a baby? Probably up to 12. We’ll see.

It’s not like I’ve been drowning in sadness. As I’ve said before, it’s still me. I still laugh. I still have fun. I still see, text, and talk to, my family and friends. And for someone who carries a tune as badly as I do, I still do an awful lot of singing out loud when I’m alone. Much of the time, it involves changing the words of songs to incorporate the names of our cats. But don’t worry. If that sounds like I’m losing it, it’s been going on for a long time.

(Speaking of songs, if you’re not around my age and don’t know it, the title of this post comes from a 1982 song by Split Enz … though I always liked this one from 1980 better.)

Still, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. I know that there’s an underlying sadness, probably even depression, pretty much every day. Not enough that I don’t get out of bed in the morning, but certainly enough that I don’t get started on anything in much of a hurry. (Not that I ever really did!)

The sadness can still strike at almost any time. These days, it’s often when I’m cooking something we both used to enjoy. We shared a lot of kitchen duties, so I’m always aware of it when I’m doing the parts that she used to do. And, I’m way more likely to tear up when watching a movie or TV show. I mean, The Kominsky Method was great, but it doesn’t help that Alan Arkin’s wife dies of cancer in the first episode. Seems like an awful lot of people are dying on TV, in movies, and plays these days. I guess they always were, but it didn’t used to affect me the same way.

It’s hard for me to believe it, but yesterday marked six months since Barbara died. Tomorrow will be the first Valentine’s Day without her since our first one together in 1993. Now, I’ll admit that Valentine’s Day has always struck me as a Hallmark holiday … but that doesn’t mean we didn’t do things to mark the occasion. Barbara always believed in marking occasions!

Since we both worked from home, we began to go out for long, late lunches on February 14 instead of going out for dinner. It became a new tradition that we liked a lot. We’d often have the restaurant to ourselves, and it was lovely. This year, I expected I’d, literally, be by myself. Turns out (weather permitting), I’ll be having lunch with one friend, and dinner with three others. Obviously, it won’t be the same. I’ll be thinking of Barbara, and it’ll be strange. And sad. But that’s not always so terrible. As I’ve read a lot lately, “Grief is just love with nowhere to go…”

Over the years, I signed almost every card I gave to Barbara the same way. Didn’t matter if it was a birthday, an anniversary or Valentine’s Day:

“I Love You … Now and Always.”

I do. And I will.

Pretty sure this is the first present I ever gave to Barbara. Valentine’s Day, 1993.

Us. Much Younger. Very much in love. My brother Jonathan
and Sheri’s wedding at our family cottage in 1997.

Us. Older. Still very much in love. Amanda and Brent’s wedding, in
the hospital in Owen Sound. This is the last picture of us together.

These are the cards we exchanged last year on Valentine’s Day.



25 thoughts on “Six Months in a Leaky Boat…

  1. Kathy and I gave up on Valentines cards, feeling that it was just too much of a “Merchant’s crafted” event — or as you pointed out Hallmark’s. After this, and the previous Road Again issue, we may just change our minds.

    Hang in there. Reading your commentary, it is clear that you have the very best memories of a marvelous person – better than many.

    Six months?! Impossible!

  2. Eric, this post was very touching. I can easily identify with what you say. For me, I’ve been without my soul mate for almost 12 years. It’s never easy. But you have a lot to offer and I’m glad you are keeping busy. Sending hugs, Linda

  3. I’m always touched by your writing, Eric. Please keep at it and share as you see fit. Hope to see you in May. Roger

  4. Eric, not many in this lifetime will experience a love like you and Barbara shared. Your posts reminds me of how much I take for granted with my wonderful husband. Your writings and letting us into your heart can only serve to make us better. Thank you for that and Happy Valentine’s Day❤

  5. For some reason I always thought that snow globe was mine! Probably in the way that all kids think everything is theirs, and for their enjoyment; objects, people, animals, snowglobes. Glad we will see you next weekend, and that you, me, Josh and Brent will be together again so close to the 6 month anniversary.

  6. Good to hear from Grey County’s resident wordsmith again. As others have indicated, you’ve given a refreshed meaning to this Hallmark occasion. Keep the wind at your back, and keep writing, good sir.

  7. Barbara’s untimely death was an example (to me) of how joyous and unfair life can be. You had the privilege of belonging and deep love, and the tragedy of profound loss. Six months is not a long time to grieve such a loss.

    No one would expect you to ever forget the joy you had with Barbara. I hope that in time you can begin to weave a new acceptable way of life around the sad spaces.

  8. Very emotional, reminds me of my thoughts just recently after a baby shower when I realized just how many, or should I say, how few relatives are left on my father’s side of the family…….warm hugs from me to you

  9. OMG Eric you’re making my Steve or most men look TERRIBLE! Were you always such a romantic? She was just such a lovely sentimental person who knew what was important….every moment…valuing time . You were both so lucky. That’s why this sucks! How’s that for profound?!

    1. Pretty profound, Eleanor!
      But I would say, no. Barbara always knew that I loved her and admired her and that I liked her too. There’s romance in that, but I know that she’d have liked it if I’d been more demonstrably romantic.

  10. Ever the romantic, Barbara found her match in you, Eric. Thanks for sharing…

    Warmest best wishes to you on Valentines Day and always,

  11. There will be many special moments like this one, when your deep loss hits you. We all grieve with you, but only you can feel the terrible ache that comes with missing your beloved Barbara. She will always be your Valentine….no matter how many years go by.


  12. I can’t write much through the blur of tears, Eric, but I want to thank you for this extraordinary and extraordinarily moving piece. I love, love the snow globe! I am so happy that you and Barbara’s children are such a strong support for each other.

  13. Beautiful post Eric! And you really are a true romantic! And a strong man too.
    I used to buy cards for husband Paul years after his death….at first it ‘worked’ for me; then it became odd….not right anymore.
    And I always signed cards to Paul “Love always & forever”….guess I’m an (old) romantic too!!
    Love the first gift you gave Barbara! So sweet!
    Wishing you easier days little by little.
    ((hugs)) Sherri-Ellen
    P.S.: I listened to your interview from a few weeks ago. You did another great job; you have a good radio voice!

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