January 1,2010

It’s the first day of the New Year. Just yesterday, I thought I was doing well, adjusting to the loss of losing my husband. I answered a questionnaire sent to me in the mail from Hospice of the Valley.  “Are you able to get through the day without bursting into tears?” Yes. “Are you able to read a book, a newspaper, or watch a movie without dwelling on your loss?” Yes. “Are you able to be with other women or men without mentioning your husband’s name?” Yes.

But that was yesterday.

Today it all changed. The weight of my loss became  unbearable, no matter what I did. My legs felt like lead while I exercised. They were heavy and sluggish, and I felt as if I had weights on both ankles. A series of waves traveled toward my stomach and continued on up to my throat; dense waves, the ones that take over your body, tangle your legs and inners and drown you if you don’t see them coming. The ones that gather strength as they take unrelenting control of your physical and mental state and leave you lying on the floor in a fetal position crying out for something or somebody that no longer exists.

When darkness comes, I walk our dog, SiSi. I’m dressed in a heavy winter jacket, velveteen cap, and leather gloves as I travel familiar ground. We go to a park nearby my house where I sit on a bench, my body stiff.  I whistle for my dog, which is not so easy with numb lips, and then she sits there next to the bench, whimpering softly, as she presses her snout against my knees. I hear a howling sound from the bare treetops bending over as they whip to the south. I crouch down to SiSi as I stroke her head. As I straighten up, I pull the zipper toward my chin and roll up my turtle neck sweater to protect my lower jaws from the blowing cold. And in a soft voice, I cry out for my husband, feeling my tears slowing making their way down my cheeks, not caring about who might hear me, partly wishing someone might notice a stranger crying and comfort me in the darkness.

About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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