Grief, Tears, Laughter -- Beginning Life After The Death Of My Husband

After two exhaustive rounds of chemotherapy over a couple of years, Robert, my husband of 42 years, could just not ever get warm. The heat was set up high, there were heaters in every room and we got an electric blanket for the bed.

I was walking around in a T-shirt and shorts in the dead of winter. And I've always preferred a cool... okay make that cold house. I like to snuggle under a quilt. I like to wear fleece to keep warm. Shirts, jackets, vests, pants, socks.

When I got home from the hospital that last time after Robert died, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Grief -- How could he be gone? And anger -- How could he leave me?

And the anger fueled me as I reset the thermostat to just above freezing. It was my house now, I wasn't going to be hot any longer. Then I disconnected the heaters from each room and put them in a closet. Stripped the electric blanket with all its wires off the bed.

My cats anxiously watched. They loved the heaters, the hot house, the electric blanket. "What are you doing? We will freeze!" I made a concession to my energy conservation activities and plugged in their heater bed.

They slept with me in the bed without the electric blanket for a while. But when the nights started to turn cold they abandoned me in favor of their heater bed.

I'll admit by now I was sleeping in layers of fleece under piles of blankets. And it was getting a bit unmanageable. Thought about buying a warm comforter. The bed would be so easy to make --top sheet and comforter. As opposed to what was currently involved with the multitude of blankets.

The thought stopped me cold. While I was able to reset the thermostat, and remove all the heating devices from the house. While I put pictures back up on the walls that Robert had taken down. While I put his books back onto the bookshelf. Changing the bedding seemed such a radical decision.

It is the little things that catch you. The irrational things. The unexpected common things.

I had to move forward. But I found myself stuck. The anger had burned out and I was left with grief. And grief I found was not motivational.

Eventually I committed to dealing with the bedding issue. Started slowly online and learned that while you used to be able to buy just a comforter now everything is packaged in six to eight piece sets. Shams, decorative pillows, bed skirt, comforter. All I wanted was a comforter!

Went to four stores. Found a colorful Marimekko comforter in Store Two (just the comforter alone, you would think I could take this as a sign). Smiled. It felt so happy. Brought back memories of the 70s and our early years together. And I was again stopped cold with the thought, "What would Robert think?"

Could I do this? Why was I so indecisive? How could I feel happy and sad at the same moment? I was on my own. This was my decision to make. I was entering new territory. I'm not saying I never just bought something before. But... Rob was always there. And now he was not.

Remember I said I went to four stores? I left the Marimekko comforter in Store Two. Continued and drove to Store Three. And then on to Store Four. Looked at a million comforter sets. Nothing came close. So I drove back to Store Two. Mine was still on the top shelf smiling at me.

Stripped the bed and remade it with the Marimekko comforter. It brought a smile to my face and peace to my heart. And most importantly it passed the cat test. They slept with me!