the sixth month

I let someone record over Jack’s message on the machine … ‘hello … this is Jack’. I’d pay such a lot to have it back.

It’s been half a year now … half half half. What progress? There has been no grand awakening.

I’ve not yet thrown back the covers eager to meet  a new day. On the other hand, I haven’t pulled the covers back over my head and stayed in bed. Doldrums. ‘an area of low pressure where the prevailing winds are calm’. That covers it.

It’s still hard to fall asleep … hard letting myself fall asleep … hard to confront the period between letting go and becoming unconscious. In that  undefended space I might forget that Jack is dead .

Then I will have to remember the truth yet again. He is. Every night, the struggle to find the courage to let go.

It was easier when I was away. Perhaps it was because it was a long trip, from Dublin to Florida, and I was tired. Perhaps my resistance loosened in the Florida sun. My friend and I cruised the charity shops just as we had 40 years ago. We laughed about writing a guide book to second hand shops. We laughed. That was worth the journey.

Coming home. The taxi driver waited until my key turned in the lock. Could he know what a big step I was taking? Just in opening the door where no one was home.  Small as it is the house felt vault-like. Such silence. Messages on the answering machine. That was a big mistake I made. I let someone record over Jack’s message on the machine … ‘hello … this is Jack’. I’d pay such a lot to have it back. The sound of his voice. Why hadn’t I recorded a whole conversation with him. To keep like a photograph.

I have a drawer full of photographs taken through the years, never put in albums. I always planned to do that ‘someday’. Now I sort through them like someone sifting sand looking for a lost ring. I am looking for a lost face. All those artistic landscape shots … sunsets on the water, snow on the hills … of what conceivable interest are they? I sieve out to keep any that have a glimpse of Jack in them … back of his head … his hands on the steering wheel.  Why hadn’t I focussed on him more?

The most precious photograph is the picture of us together in the nightclub. It’s still in its folder … the cover reads ‘ Latin Quarter, New York’. We were side by side at the table, Jack, 22,  in his Marine uniform. Me, 18,  in my first sophisticated dress … though it’s black and white in the photo, it was black crepe with a red crepe bolero. His arm is around me – only because the photographer who took the picture asked him to move in closer. This is my copy. Jack got a copy too.  I have had 14 addresses on two continents since that picture was taken in 1945. The picture always came with me or followed along later. As if it were tied to me by an invisible string. Like magic.

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