Grief strengthens the spirit.
If you live alone long enough, without the woman who made you a man, you become your own man again. The man you were when you traveled 10,000 miles on a cargo ship to get here. The man you were at twenty years old when you lived alone in a three-story walkup on 49th Street.
That man again. Time has made you decades older. Physically there has been some damage, but the mind and the spirit are still strong. They weakened to their lowest level when the woman who made you a man died. The woman who got you through an unbearable loss that you bore because she made you a man and then one day four days before Christmas you came home without her—to the same warm house—
and she was in a cold basement morgue.
That was the most unbearable loss of all—
and you didn’t have her to get you through it.
You wandered around the warm cold house in a drunken haze, calling her name, screaming, crying, you sat in the dead living room night after night smoking and drinking in an 80-proof daze, the loaded rifle not far away—
but you never used it—why?—why in the name of God or the godless name of nothingness didn’t you use it? For three years and six months you took it out of the closet and felt its weight and admired its beauty and craftsmanship and checked the bullet in the chamber, the bullet that would blow your brain to kingdom come—
but you never used it.
And then one morning, you can’t explain it, nothing led up to it, nothing foreshadowed it, no action or dream foretold it, you woke up and you felt strangely stronger. Nothing outwardly had changed. The cat was sleeping on the end of the bed, the day stretched before you with the same emptiness that was now years in the making—
but you were stronger.
You were your own man again. That young man, decades older now, in the bare-boards room on 49th Street.
If you believed in miracles you would call this a miracle. You were as alone as ever, but you weren’t alone. Grief strengthens the spirit.