Old habits are hard to break

Old habits are hard to break

Lorry Myers
 |  Columbia Daily Tribune

I feel like I am a ghost of myself, haunting my own house.

I float from room to room, looming in the doorway like I am waiting for someone to notice. I jump at my own bumps and constantly turn to an empty chair. I feel weightless and untethered, like a part of me is missing.

I can’t figure it out.

I still sleep on the same side of the bed and eat my dinner at the same table for two. I wake at the same time, go to bed at the same time and my deadlines haven’t changed. Everything works the same even though nothing is the same. I still watch the 5:30 news, read the newspaper and talk out loud to someone that used to be here.

Old habits are hard to break.

Since my husband passed away, I fill my mind and my time with lists. Every night, I make a to-do list for the next day. I organized my kitchen cabinets and found food that was disturbingly out-of-date. I dug into my linen closet and pondered why I have all those tablecloths. I sorted my costume jewelry and weeded out the pieces that no longer apply to my life.

Check that off the list.

Some of what I do each day: fill out forms, provide copies of death certificates and land on hold while customer service researches what I need to move on with the rest of my life. I wait on the phone, wait for the mail and I wait for a time machine to take me back. I started file folders with labels and divided my closet by colors and, while I’m doing it, I think I hear a door open. I think I hear a familiar step.

When I am away from my house, there is this nagging need to get back. I feel homesick; like I have been gone too long and someone is missing me. When I am with others, I feel off balance and uncertain and somehow all alone. When I am at home, days turn into night and the house is quiet, organized and empty.

Only half of me is here.

That half walks through this familiar house like it is not my home. I have skillets I don’t want to use, tools I don’t know how to use and travel plans but no one to use them with. I am always listening and turning and holding my breath. I talk out loud like someone hears me and, for a brief moment each morning when I awake, I reach out.

Then I remember.

Most everyone who loves someone has considered what life would be without the person you love. You think about insurance, wills and the titling of your bank accounts. You talk about health directives and death directives and the direction for the rest of your life. There is praise for what comes next and the promise that, one day, you will be together again.

Still, in the midst of all this death discussion, there is no mention of how constant death will be. How day after day, night after night, there is no escape, no way through it but forward. Missing someone is not an act, or a choice or a game changed by the roll of the dice or a wink of the eye. You can’t fix it or change it, wish it or cry it or scream it away.

Believe me, I know.

Still the nightly news comes on the same time it did two months ago, the same time it did yesterday. The stars still shine, the moon still rises and my column is submitted the same time it was last week. Even though nothing is the same, I still sleep on the same side of the bed and sit beside an empty recliner and wander around the house, talking to someone I can’t see.

Old habits are hard to break.

You can reach Lorry at [email protected].

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