His funeral was awful. I stood in the pew looking at the coffin, trying to rinse myself clean of selfishness, willing myself back to the day I had met him. I saw myself walking past where he stood and smiling at him, stopping to chat, realising what a man he was and would be. And then walking away.
I lie awake at night dreaming about his life with someone else, the perfect woman who would laugh at him. She'd wake up in the night when he coughed and help him back to sleep. She'd have liked the same films as him and never doubted that his soul was the one for hers. She'd have been the sort of woman to believe in souls.
They played music at the funeral in spite of the fact I had no one to dance with. I couldn't watch him sing along, he lay back in the box while we ate vol au vents and people asked me if I was ok. His family told me how happy I made him and I swore at them in my head because they couldn't see his other widow. She sat next to me all day, the woman he should have been allowed had I not kept him. I kept him because I wanted him, permanently terrified that wanting him and adoring him were not the same as loving him.
I missed him more that day than I knew you could hurt, my throat ached with the effort of holding my head up and the vol au vents in. His other widow, the one who would let the house get messy if it meant they could lie in bed together an hour longer, she hadn't even brushed her hair for the funeral.
She is still mourning 3 months later when I have gone back to work so that I don't have to stare at his shoes any more. She can't live without him. I am living without him and I want him back. I want him back so I can tell him to go, go and be with someone better. If I'd known he had so little time I'd never have kept him, I'd have let him off the hook to swim upstream and do something else.
People like me shouldn't keep pets or people like him. We're too frightened. Continually scared that we'll break them, and in the act of never hurting them we forget to touch them, forget to make them feel alive. We watch them as both of us get colder and more inactive. Then we weep.