No One to Do Nothing With

When my life mate/soul mate/best friend died two and a half years ago, people often compared my loss to the death of a pet or an aged grandparent or a sibling (all the while snug in the comfort of their own marriages). Some people compared my loss to their divorce. A couple of people even mystified me by comparing my loss to their struggles with alcoholism. Although these comparisons seemed insensitive at the time (I had previously lost both a sibling and my mother, and those losses in no way resembled what I felt after my soul mate died), I now understand people were reaching out to me, trying to comprehend my grief and to put it into a context they could understand.

The wound where his presence was ripped from my soul no longer gapes as widely; the feeling of his total goneness doesn’t haunt me quite so much; the anguish and physical distress has ebbed to an underlying sadness. This easing of grief has unmasked more subtle feelings of loss, and suddenly I can see how this itch to see him once more is comparable to the struggles of an alcoholic. We both  have to live — forever —with a deep craving that can never be satisfied, both have an empty feeling that can never be filled, and we both live in a world where others routinely enjoy what we can’t. (Like all comparisons, this one falls short since those who give up drink have to do so from sheer force of will, while my lack is simply a result of fate.)

I hadn’t realized until after he was gone how much I counted on his very presence.

The sound of his voice filled my ears and my mind. From the moment we met until the cancer metastasized into his brain, we talked and talked and talked. We talked about everything — history, books, health, truth, all the many and various things we researched over the years. Though we said everything we needed to say, I still wish for one more word from him.

During silent times, his smiles nourished my soul. Even at the end, in his moments of lucidity before either the pain or the morphine swept him away, he still managed to smile at me. And oh, how I wish for one more smile.

A couple of days ago I wrote about my growing soul hunger, an indefinable need his presence had once satisfied, and now I wonder if that need is . . . nothing. Although we worked and played and talked for more than three decades , we often did nothing together. Were just there, a presence in each other’s lives. As his dying became the focus of our lives, and we couldn’t do much of anything together, not even carry on a conversation, we could still do nothing together, and we often did.

Although I am finding others to fill some of the roles he played in my life, this last is the role no one can fill. I have people to do things with, but I have no one to do nothing with. And, like an alcoholic, the one thing I need is the one thing I can’t have. He was a presence in my life first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. He was a presence in the kitchen when we fixed meals together. He was a presence when we watched movies or ran errands or did chores. He was a presence in my thoughts — because we had spent so much time together, discussing history and current events, our ideas developed in tandem. And we didn’t have to explain ourselves or our state of affairs — we were there and saw the effects life had on the other.

I understand that this sort of companionship is rare, and I feel greedy and perhaps insensitive for even mentioning the lack of his presence in my life, but this is my truth, my experience, my sorrow. No matter how much I wish things were different, these circumstances will never change, but I will. I am becoming more accepting of my situation, more respectful of the soul hunger, more grateful for what I once had. It’s possible someday I will even get used to having no one to do nothing with.

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16 Responses to “No One to Do Nothing With”

  1. worldweaverweb Says:

    I have one of those men in my life. He is quite a lto older than me and it is inevitable that one day I will face a day when he is no longer with me. ANd I dread it.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Who compares the death of a loved one to a pet? I know people can get attached to their pets, but it’s still not the same as losing the person who completed you in ways no one else could. And if someone got a divorce, you’d think they’d be glad to get away from their ex.

  3. Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

    Hi, Pat. My heart aches for you and your pain. You are right – we all try so hard to relate to your loss through our own. I can only imagine not having my love with me for all the little “nothings” we do. That is one of the best parts of being married, just hanging around each other with no plans, cooking, watching a movie. And knowing there is someone who actually gives a damn what happened to you that day. Sigh. If she goes before me, I will need your counsel. Praying we go on the same day many years from now, but as we all know, there is no control over this stuff. Big hugs for you to continue in your healing. Your blogs are wonderful testimonies to the love you have for him. God bless you!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Aaron, that’s the truth of it — we who are left behind can find people to care about the big things, but no one but a spouse truly careds about the small the things that happen to you during the day. You might get a moment’s sympathy from a spouse for a paper cut, but you can call and tell someone about something so minor, and it’s certainly not something you can expect sympathy for.

  4. joylene Says:

    October is a bad month for me. I know it’s coming, and every year I promise myself I’ll get through it fine. But then it arrives and I’m deflated. I can’t sleep. Last night I was up every few hours afraid I was going to throw up. I can’t keep doing this, but there’s this big black cloud hanging over my head that I can’t shake. My DH tries, but he’s tougher than I am. And I hate being like this. Yet, I’m determined. So what happens? My neighbour, a lovely 50 year old woman dies at home Monday morning alone with her husband in Alberta working. And I’m so distraught over her being alone. But who knew, eh? Breaks my heart that life is so sad sometimes. But I also understand that I’m a survivor. And then I think if something happens to my husband, OMG. I can’t even go there.

    For what it’s worth. I think all we can do is cry, then carry on. I’m off to vacuum.

    Hugs, Pat.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joylene, you’ve had more than your share of sorrow. I don’t know how you managed to survive and to help others so graciously along the way. As for something happening to your husband — truly, don’t go there. It’s impossible to imagine the truth of it, so it’s best just to live each day with him as best as you can. In the end, through good and bad, that’s all that matters — being together however you can for as long as you can.

  5. Heather Ramsey Says:

    I lost my husband, best friend and soul mate just over 2 years ago. He died 9 weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Thank you for putting into words the sheer desolation, emptiness and loneliness I feel. Its a tough journey we are on, love to all who share it with us xxx

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry about your husband. I don’t know what would have been worse, having him die so quickly after the diagnosis, or having him linger for a couple of years. Either way, it’s desolate, empty, lonely.

      Sometimes it seems as if the entire world is grieving.

      Wishing you peace as you continue your journey.

  6. Tracey Kelly Says:

    Hi pat , firstly im so sorry for the loss of your wonderfull soulmate. I lost my husband / soulmate nearly eleven month s ago, and everything you have just described is so how i feel, its the worst pain i have ever experienced in my 48 years on earth, and i pine for his presence every minute of every hour of every day, and only those who had a close , loving , relationship , when they lose their soul, mate will feel how we feel and totally get what we are going through. I miss him more than i could possibly imagine . He died within 6 month s of being diagnosed with lung cancer , and the shock of how quick it all was, has been unbearable. Such a cruel and painfull illness and death, but he too managed to smile and keep his humour. I will miss my wonderfull man till the day i die and can be reunited with him once more.
    My thought s are with you as you continue on with journey without your other half. Massive hugs. xxxx

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m so sorry about your husband. That’s really rough, and losing him so short a time after diagnosis makes it even rougher. I never felt such pain, either — I never even knew I could feel such pain.

      I don’t know how any of us get through this, but somehow we do. Wishing you peace as you continue this terrible journey.

  7. Tracey Kelly Says:

    Hi Pat thank you for your kind words . I do appreciate them.
    I too wish you peace as you continue your sad journey like me. xx

  8. Val Boothman Says:

    A good friend of mine lost her husband last year. She is very active and sensible and has lots of friends but she recently told me of your quote “No one to do nothing with” and said how it helped her to explain her grief. My husband is recovering from cancer and it made me think how precious life together is and I understand how she feels. It is truly a wonderful expression and must have helped a lot of people. Val

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Val, for your kind words. We can learn not to take the special things of life for granted, but it turns out that those “unspecial” moments of doing nothing are the most precious of all. Wishing you a lifetime of such moments. Best wishes to both of you.


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