the ninth month

It was my school lunch box, the one that I had filled with cookies and shipped off to Jack in the South Pacific when I was seventeen

I wonder if I have ever been such a good friend as mine have been to me. I doubt it. They have been so patient, phoning and calling in – not giving up, undaunted by my sad face and tear filled eyes. They deserve better for their efforts.

Jack would expect me to get going with life, to be grateful for the happiness I had, not to weep for what I’ve lost. I am trying.

I have kept up with my journal, tracking the months as I told myself I would … not in incoherent outbursts but in short form paragraphs a bit like haiku:

Seventeen syllables.
Strict allowance
for my carry-on luggage.

Why? A memorial to Jack, as he has no headstone. Measuring the weight of his importance by  the depth of my loss … the way a crater tells the size of the meteorite. Or just a need to think about him.

I want to hear him say he loves me, just once more. I could never believe my luck despite all the evidence.

Only six weeks – 42 days – after he came for me at that meeting, we were married. After that we lived joyously as a family on the farm. When my daughter finished school, five years later, it was time to move to a smaller place. We slowly began to pack. One day when Jack was out- he had taken guests golfing – I started on a room on the third floor. It was a room I seldom entered; it  had been Jack’s room once, before we were married.  There was a cupboard in a space between the fireplace and the wall. Nothing much in it. some old linen folded on the bottom shelf, an outmoded radio on the second shelf and almost out of reach on the top shelf, a battered green box. Catching sight of it was startling, disorientating … like glimpsing a long lost friend in a crowd on a foreign street.

It was my school lunch box, the one that I had filled with cookies and shipped off to Jack in the South Pacific when I was seventeen. I lifted it down, felt weight shifting inside.  I opened the dented lid and there, smiling up at me as if waiting to be discovered, were our faces in the nightclub picture. It was Jack’s copy of the photograph I had cherished all these years. Under it was the children’s book I’d written, inscribed ‘to the only neighbour I ever had who helped me out of a tree’. At the bottom, wedged in the corner, was the miraculous medal with our initials engraved in it. JP.MH.

I closed the box and  put it back where I’d found it. I thought I’d ask him about it when he came home, even tease him a little. But maybe I felt that would be crossing a line, because in all the years we had left,  I never mentioned it.

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