the second month

How long does this pain last?

Two months have gone by. Spring flowers. What a chaotic surprise. It should not be spring. What makes them think winter is over?

Tears have caught up with me, though not the tears I expected. I thought I would be shaken by sobs but no, tears spill softly down my cheeks like water sliding over sand … they flow during a bus journey, my walk to town, washing the dishes … even, unfortunately, a first dinner out , with a friend, an event meant to cheer me up. When I was young, people in mourning wore black armbands and moved in a bubble of whispered consideration. I need a black armband to speak for me.

My sister has returned to London, my daughter to Kenya, and I am alone. Curiously I am not lonely though its the first time in my life that I have been the only living soul inhabiting my house. But Jack seems very near.

I am grateful for my friends. They call in, they bring food, we don’t have to talk. Neighbours have been kind too. I appreciate their kindness, all the more because I know it is in memory of Jack. He was the one who taught their children to drive, carried their groceries down the lane, fixed a toaster or mended a doorbell … while I worked upstairs at my desk editing a medical journal. About lung disease. Once I told him that every time I saw him light up, it felt it like a nail driven in my heart. After that he lit up just as often but now in another room or in the garden or walking the dog.

We joked that the dog would die of smoke inhalation. She didn’t, she died of old age.

Jack had been smoking since he was 17. He joined the US Marines the day after Pearl Harbour.

He served in the South Pacific … his last engagement was Iwo Jima. “Often we wouldn’t have food,” he’d told me.”But they always dropped cigarettes.” He had smoked at least two packs a day ever since. Trying to stop, he tried acupuncture and nicotine patches and a staple in his ear … even all these at the same time.. and still he smoked. I thought of his nicotine addiction as his war wound. He didn’t die of old age, He died two weeks after his 69th birthday,

I never expected to share a single day with Jack. In 30 years together, I never took one day for granted. If I had, how I would have regretted that now.

This month I bought books about grief … they outline the stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance … but they don’t tell me the only thing I want to know: ‘how long does this pain last?’ Not to know is in itself torture. Even prisoners know how long they must endure before they are freed … if only by death. I keep track so someone else may know how long it was for me.

Copyright Maryalicia Post
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One month later ...

Maryalicia Post

Maryalicia Post is a travel writer. When her husband died, after 30 happy years and a lot of travelling together, she knew her hardest journey would be learning to live without him.

She chronicled the journey though the first year of grief in a poem called ‘After You’ which was published as an illustrated book by Souvenir Press, London.  Recommended by the British newspaper columnist Bel Mooney, After You is also one of the texts ‘on losing a partner’ suggested by Cruse, the UK bereavement support group.

In this series of postings, written for the readers of, Maryalicia describes how her book took shape, in a month-by-month journal of that daunting first year.

After You is available through Amazon.
Her travel website is at