Tag: Memories

Today, Susan came back.

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.



 

Living in memory

You try and kid yourself, you join a bereavement group, you volunteer at the local library, you distract yourself by putting extraneous posts on your blog, you try to get back out into the real world, but the reality is you don’t have a life, you don’t have the energy, the will, so you sit in the former “living room” and you dwell in the memory of your wife, whose photos are on the mantel, and you watch old movies, often with the sound turned down so you have the silence to live in her memory, her memory is a sanctum sanctorum and you are inside it and she is still alive, and you’re smoking again and of course you drink a lot, gin in the summer and rum in the winter and Jack Daniel’s whatever the season and you oh so smoothly slip into a tolerable haze, imbued at bedtime by Xanax which helps you sleep and you sleep until noon and your first thought on waking is, five hours to cocktail hour and the beginning of the haze, the sanctum, the illusion she is still alive.


 

Cleavage

Cleavage

AND OTHER DEEP THOUGHTS

by William Mickleless


SANCTUARY

Did you ever want to jump into a woman’s cleavage?


DILEMMA

It wasn’t until I went into the men’s room at Grand Central Station that I realized I had put my pants on backwards, that is to say the fly was in the back which made it awkward, especially with a bunch of men watching and wondering what the hell I was doing trying to pee with my hands tugging at the back of my pants.


SKYSCRAPERS

It’s late summer in the canyons of Manhattan and the sun cannot find the streets — it is so damn cold down here.


CAUSE OF DEATH

A comical guy sent an outrageously funny letter to an ailing friend with emphysema who upon reading the letter laughed so much he had a coughing fit and couldn’t regain his breath and died, and when his body was discovered he was still holding the funny guy’s letter and when the funny guy went to his friend’s funeral he was snubbed and scorned by all the mourners who figured the funny guy was the cause of death.


FAME

A talented but unpublished writer was said throughout his life by friends and everybody who knew him to be always working on a novel and when he died his obituary did not mention the books he had written for the simple reason they had never been published and the obit ended by saying that at the time of his death he was working on a novel.


CONUNDRUM

What is Nothing you ask and I say Nothing is the absence of Everything in other words without Everything there is Nothing which leads one of course to the question what is Everything but it is not as simple as saying Everything is the absence of Nothing which it may be but Everything is more complex than that although one can never be sure about Anything.


WORM

I transmogrified myself into a jumping worm and jumped into an earthy woman’s cleavage and wriggled my way down into the oh so warm depths of delight.


WAR AND PEACE

I am in my study reading ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu. I hear from the living room the comforting purr of the vacuum cleaner. Ah, a wife in the house.


FABRIC

You cannot put a woolen sweater over a corduroy shirt. It goes against the grain, so to speak, the basic and fundamental law of conflicting fabrics.


FAMILY HISTORIAN

There are pieces of my life, large slices of time that I cannot remember which my wife with whom I shared most of the forgotten memorable memories and remembered non memories remembers all of them in intricate detail which is amazing to me.


DRUNK

I have spent more New Year’s Days so hungover than I cannot remember how many, in fact I cannot remember any.


SUMMER

An empty beer can on the coffee table trembles in the rush of air from the electric fan.


CRUELTY

Old age makes gargoyles of us all.


HORRIBLE FATE 

The glassblower inhaled. End of story.


Pictures of Christ

His ex-wife threw the photo albums down the incinerator. That’s the effect he had on women—he left scars.

They had been so close. They had believed their marriage would last a lifetime. That’s what the photo albums were for—to keep a record, to maintain that sense of personal history, that continuity.

She told him what she had done in a long-distance phone call. She said to keep her sanity she had to obliterate every memory of him and every memory of their life together—every photograph, every image.

After the divorce and after she turned the pictures into ashes she went back to the Catholic Church. Now, in her barren apartment, there were only pictures of Christ.

”THAT POOR GIRL”

He related the story to his mother, with full emphasis on the word incinerated.  His mother put on a reflective face. “That poor girl,” she said, “how you must have hurt her. I think I’ll write her a letter.”

Not the reaction he was looking for. He told his girlfriend and she said, “Forget about it. Stop brooding. Make a new life with me and we’ll make new pictures.”

That was the right answer, of course. Accept his loss and get on with a new chapter. Quit sifting through fading memories like a father searching for a lost child, trying to recall every detail of a photograph of his mother visiting their little family one northern winter, or of him and his wife and infant son at Niagara Falls. One picture in particular he loved, of his young son and himself, taken in a photo booth of all places. He could see it in his mind. But he didn’t have it. He didn’t have it.

He never wrote that letter, but on a trip north he took the subway out to the old high-rise and knocked on the door of her apartment. When she opened the door he barged in and condemned her. She stepped back, holding onto a chair for support. She lived alone. She was frail. Her once golden hair was already turning gray.

He gave her a sob story about how one day he would have made his own albums with those photos, and he would have had them when he was old and alone inside a small house, listening to the rain on the roof, turning the pages, studying the photographs as though each was an important piece of history.

His ex-wife turned toward a picture of Christ on the wall. From behind it she removed a small photograph and handed it to him. It was the picture of his son and himself, the one snapped in a photo booth.

“I was keeping this blessed,” she said. “But you take it. There’s only this one I’m afraid.”

SOLITARY SOUVENIR

She stood there in that same apartment with the same furniture they had picked out together, now draped with covers to hide the wear and tear of the years and he saw her pain. And he thought he understood her strange act of hiding that one photograph—that solitary souvenir of lost love—in a special place.

The bitterness left him. Tentatively, he put his arms around her. He remembered how much they had once meant to each other. Ever so slightly, she put her arms around him. She remembered too, he could feel it. There was a moment in that embrace when he believed they could have started over and the five years of bitterness could have been five minutes. But they broke apart.

He told her to put the photo back, that he would rather have it there than kicking around in his overnight bag, a vagabond like him.

He wasn’t a religious man, but it felt right for that photograph, that lone survivor, to be in that place. That’s what he wanted and that’s what he asked her to do, and, while she re-adjusted the picture of Christ, he slipped out the door.