Janice bought the farm.

My wife croaked. We’d only been together 22 years and then she went and kicked the bucket, and now she’s everywhere.

Janice and I were together more in the last year than ever before, and for long periods it was mostly just the two of us, a situation we hadn’t been in for more than a day or two since our honeymoon. We still liked being together, even in cramped, tacky quarters in Mesa, Arizona.

Twenty-two years is time enough for several ups and downs, and I don’t think we missed any. Janice and I mated, like geese, and our pair bond kept humming along even when we didn’t like each other much. That happened, too.

We reared fine young men—no soldiers or cops—which surely counts for something, at least it does with Janice and me. I guess I mean “did” count with Janice and me, but I’m not convinced that the past tense is altogether warranted. I can live with inconsistency for the time being.

This sadness is unpredictable and irresistible. I can be doing something or other and my eyes fill up and there’s a new lump in my throat, and if I’m driving I have to pull over. I don’t multitask worth a damn anymore—probably never did—and tears are compelling. Sometimes I’m too sad to do anything but be sad.

I distract myself with whatever I can stand. On this table where I’m more-or-less working now there’s a Large Print Crossword Puzzle Omnibus, a New Yorker, the New York Times Sunday Magazine from September 23rd, the day Janice checked out, and Horoscopes for the Dead, a collection of poetry by Billy Collins. I tried a couple of novels that turned out to be well beyond my attention span, and now poetry and crosswords—the best of which are poetic—are my go-to lit.

Caring for someone is a privilege if you know it. I loved doing for Janice—moving her to another apartment and another apartment in Arizona, carrying things for her as she got weaker, answering the bell I gave her to ring when she wanted me, figuring out how to get her in a comfortable position when she couldn’t do it herself, holding her whilst she could walk, and wheeling her when she couldn’t. I loved holding her hand as she died. I’m deeply grateful that I got a chance to do all that for her, for anyone really and especially for Janice. Now all I can do is miss her, so I do.

Posted Thursday, October 25th, 2012 under appreciation, Janice.

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9 comments

  1. Thanks for writing this, Tony. It explains a lot that wasn’t evident on the surface. I never heard relationship talk from you guys and you’re nothing if not subdued. I think of you often. Best always, Bud

  2. Dan Nordley says:

    man, keep tearing. keep writing. keep blessing your time together. it will never pass and it will never make sense that our brilliant mates were taken, and we get to stay and deal with the injustice of it all. thank you for loving her so well.

  3. Kinshasha Kambui says:

    Nice writing Tony – Thanks for sharing it.
    .
    I hope we all have our own Tony with us to hold our hand when we are preparing to and when we leave the planet.

    I see Janice everywhere – spend more time with her now than I did when she was on the planet.

    Much love to you, your family and to sweet JP.

  4. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I missed your presence and had lost track of rhe nature of your relationship. This said so much.

    My very best to you and would love to see you soon.

  5. Bev Roberts says:

    I can see her too, here on Sheridan Avenue.

  6. Janice loved well. I felt it the moment we met. I visit with her most days through her art work and words and memories of our times together.
    Janice was and is well loved. Peace.

  7. Please miss Janice as long as you need, probably always. It may be a tired metaphor, but our loved ones really do leave holes in our lives, holes in our souls. My grandmother has been gone almost 14 years now and she’s just started skipping (at least) cameo appearances in all of my dreams. Feel sad for a while, that’s only human. Just don’t isolate yourself completely. Keep in close touch with your boys, your friends and your extended family. Remember her well, speak of her often.

  8. Perhaps we’re lucky, here on Sheridan Avenue, you and Janice and the boys left many years ago. That long absence leavens the sadness I am feeling now because I have been missing you all of those intervening years.

    Of course I look through a different and misted lens at the two pieces of Janice’s work – “Vessel” and “Clown” – of which I am privileged to be the current steward.

    I read your essays that way too, now, knowing the several sadnesses you have long been carrying have been nudged over to make room for this new one. I know you will carry it with the same dignity and courage you have always offered to the universe.

  9. I’m so glad you were able to be with Janice until the end and hold her hand as she exited this world. As you say, she is now everywhere, and I see and feel her influence on my little part of this world so often. I feel for you and the family and my very best wishes are with you all.

    I feel incredibly blessed to have had janice as a friend. love, Carla

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