Monday, March 6, 2017

#SOL17: Tea Time

Breathe (M.A. Reilly, 2014)


After a husband dies, living is work--arduous work at times. Nothing feels familiar, or easy--except home. And yet,  there are days when that familiarity feels difficult too. Coming home at night to find no lights on, speaks to the emptiness I sometimes feel.

On such nights, even the house is mourning.


A quick glance at the cushion on the living room chair brings back Rob's last few months of life and how when he was home, he spent all his time in that reclining chair.  At first it was simply a matter of comfort. Lying flat on his back upstairs in bed hurt too much. Too quickly though--a matter of just weeks, and the chair became a necessity as the cancerous lesions compressed his spine and he was no longer able to climb stairs, to walk, and eventually to stand.

During that time I felt like a rat on wheel--turning faster and faster and getting no where. I would buy one kind of device to help him and within days, sometimes even hours, it would no longer suffice. In the period of a few weeks Rob went from walking on his own, to needing a cane occasionally, to needing a four-prong cane all the time, to using a walker, and then to hobble into a transport chair, before paralysis and death creeped in. He spend 100 days of his last five months of life in hospitals, and each time he came home, he was less and less able.


After his death, I still make tea each night. The matching teacups remind me of the last Maine trip we took. During the 28 years we were together one of us would make tea for the other. A ritual. Regardless of what we were doing we took time to talk over the day while sipping tea. A bit of milk for me and a dollop of honey for Rob.

As I write this I am sipping mint tea from one of the mugs we bought in Maine--I have given up dairy, something Rob was after me to do all those years.

 "Your sinuses will thank you," he would tell me.

I'd like to think that in some parallel world Rob is enjoying tea too. Someday, the memories will be sweet without the painful tug at the heart.


  1. In your writing, I sense the real pain and loneliness you're feeling. I wonder, does blogging about your husband make him come back alive to you, just for a moment, and give you comfort? I also wonder if you read this NYT piece published this week: I thought it was so profound and powerful.

    1. Brian, I did read the essay in the Times a few days ago. It broke my heart and at the same time was such an act of love. Writing is a necessity. It does comfort me.

  2. Morning Mary Ann,
    You raise the issue I always wonder about. I am in my space, filled with memories but to continue to live in the house we shared together in his last 3 years... I think that would have been impossible. So, have you thought about what life for you would be in a new space?

    1. My son asked one thing of me: remain in the only home he knows. He lost his dad a few weeks after he turned 17. I will be staying put until he is ready to move on and I will do that for him.

      I do think about a different space.

  3. Tea time is a ritual of comfort for you, thank you for sharing it with us, Mary Ann. It seems a sacred time, really.

    1. Yes, it is sacred time. I had not thought of it as such. Thanks.


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