The past came rushing back today.
For the past nine months, since the death of my wife, I have been stumbling around the empty rooms of my house, usually drunk, babbling my mantra: I want my Susan back.
Today I received a phone call from one of my wife’s friends from back in our Miami Beach days 30 years ago. For thirty years I hadn’t heard from her. I had thought about her, and my wife and I had talked about her from time to time, but she seemed to be, as many old friendships, lost in the past.
We talked for an hour and 10 minutes — 70 minutes, each minute for a year of Susan’s 70 years. I do like the symmetry of numbers.
We talked about the three of us together in Susan’s high-rise apartment on Collins Avenue, getting drunk and stoned with me filming high-as-kite moments on my camcorder (do camcorders still exist?).
Susan’s friend said I liked transforming things — like renaming Susan’s cat to a name I thought more appropriate, turning the spare bedroom into a study for myself that our friend described as “interesting and masculine.”
At that point in the conversation I said I often worry about things like that, that I was too high- and heavy-handed and wanted to run Susan’s life. Feelings of guilt about many chapters of life together are known to haunt the bereaved.
You could be that way, said our friend, but don’t worry about it. Susan loved you. The times you were away — [visiting my mother in Australia and my son in Canada and generally going walkabout] — all she talked about was you. We’d be out at a bar and she would say, I have to get back to the apartment, Bill is calling from Australia tonight.
I did not know that, I said, in fact I never knew how she really felt about me — Susan, street-wise gal from Detroit, not given to displays of emotion.
Her friend, like Susan, is a person of faith, which I pray to be, but without success. I told her I miss Susan every waking moment of my life, because she brought stability to my vagabond ways, she was my strength, and, when my son died, my savior. I do not exaggerate when I say she saved my life.
Susan knows all that, our friend said, and her spirit is now your stability and strength. If you could believe that and stay firm, you will be together again.
As I noted, for the past nine months I have been going around the house saying over and over, I want my Susan back.
For an hour and 10 minutes today, I got part of her back. Thank you, Renata.