There is a lot of anxiety in my life lately. Things are happening in the world. Frightening things. Scary things. School shootings, ISIS, bombings, possible war, so much unrest and just crazy terrifying stuff. I have found myself tied up in knots a lot of days over these things, or sometimes unable to let go of anger and rage at these things or at other people's opinions on these things. At first, I couldnt figure out why this was. And then it hit me. I don't have my person. I dont have my person to anchor my thoughts and to come home to at night and say: "What do you think of all this, Boo?" What the hell is going on in the world?" I dont have my person to be scared with, to hide from the world with. He was so logical and smart, so comforting yet realistic. He always made me feel safe in a world that was sometimes unsafe. And I dont have him here anymore to do that. It makes me sad - but more than that - it fuels the fear and the rage and the thoughts of terror inside me. It brings out the beast, the impatience, the tension. It stresses me out. I dont like it. Because I cant talk with my husband, I find myself more affected by all the other opinions out there on social media or in life. I am unable to put them aside and be gently calmed to sleep by his voice, sending me into a place of reason. In short, it sucks. Id like to re-post part of a poem I wrote about a year ago, because Im feeling a lot this way tonight, right now. It's called "Talking to the Echo." 

There is a space where my husband’s voice once lived,
a big empty hole that sits in the center of my hours,
my days,
my years.
It mocks me by following me wherever I go,
And it feeds off of it’s own nothingness,
Sipping on the hollow void,
A cruel silence where there used to be sound.

It follows me everywhere,
But it is most cruel whenever I try to be my creative self.
I can write something,
Perform something,
Shape something,
And in that creative process,
I still look into the air, thin as a wafer,
And ask my husband,
“How does this sound?”,
“What do you think of this, Boo?”
There is a pause that lasts ten thousand years,
And then nothing.

Where he used to help me write,
And add his humor to my scripts,
There is nothing.

Where he used to sit in the crowd,
And clap loudly,
His big and wonderful laugh,
Being heard above all the others,
There is nothing.

Where he met me after the show,
Outside of the club or the theater,
Sometimes with flowers or cards in his hand,
Wearing his pride for me in the pupils of his eye,
Saying, “I’m so proud of you, Boo”,
Twirling and hugging and holding my hand,
There is nothing.

I can fight the nothing
With the opinions of other caring people
In my life.
My parents, my friends, my counselor.
Sometimes that helps.
But most times,
Try as they do,
They do not respond in the way that I am searching for,
In the way that I long for and need,
Or they arent always there,
At the ready,
Waiting to be the response
to words
that I speak.
That is what a partner does.
Partners are there,
And they say the thing that you long to hear,
And they make your ideas shine,
And they put the period on the sentence,
Or they suggest that maybe it needed a comma,

The nothingness where my husband used to be,
Causes me to feel so much jealousy,
When I am forced in a room with couples,
With marriage or long-term partnerships,
And when I hear the literal words
Of a wife saying to her husband,
“Honey, what do you think of this?”
It is like a slow stab,
And it pierces my insides,
While nobody notices.
And it hurts.
Oh boy, does it hurt,
To witness the simple thing,
Of somebody saying words,
And somebody saying words back.

The nothingness where my husband used to be,
Makes me needy,
Much more needy,
than I ever thought I would be,
than I ever wanted to be.
When I write blog posts,
like this one,
I need to hear and read the comments,
Or I feel worthless,
Like I am talking to that thin air,
Or talking to myself
Again and again,
And again.
My constant status updates,
On Facebook,
are a helpless and desperate plea,
to seek out connection,
and fill the gaping wound,
that cries,
in that space,
where my husband used to be.

It is almost like,
I need to fill that space,
With 200 comments,
A thousand voices,
To make up for that one voice,
I can never hear again.
And since none of those voices,
Are his voice,
And none of those people,
Are him,
It does not fulfill,
What I need fulfilled.
It helps.
It helps in the same way,
That throwing a raisin into a manhole
Would help to fill the space
Of that manhole.

But it hurts.
Oh boy, does it hurt,
Because nobody is him,
Nobody ever will be him,
Not ever again.

And I try to remind myself,
Or ask myself,
In those moments,
“What would Don say?”,
Or I will attempt
To hear him
And listen for his voice,
There to complete my sentence.
But there is no sound.
No feeling.
No hint of his essence.
And with each new moment of silence,
The memory of what he might say,
Becomes less certain,
And it drifts away in a rowboat,
Leaving me at the shore.

There is a space,
Where my husband’s voice
Once lived.
I cannot stare at it,
Or find it,
Because it is all around me,
But I feel it.
I feel the nothingness,
And this is why,
I am terrified of finishing things,
Of things ending.
Like when this book is finally written,
And a box of them is sent to my door,
And I open the box,
And it is filled with my dreams.
Books that I can look at,
And touch,
And know that the words inside are mine,
And the stories inside are mine,
And I will look into that thin air,
And say out loud
To the nothing,
“Arent you proud of me, Boo?”

And yes,
I know he is proud,
But that is not the same,
As hearing him say it,
And instead,
Hearing the loud roar of silence,
That comes just seconds,
After my own shallow voice,
In a room filled with people,
Or alone,
Always alone,
Talking to the Echo.


Showing 10 reactions

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  • Christina Calhoon
    commented 2016-12-14 18:46:13 -0800
    That silence, that nothingness, that echo, is so difficult. I miss my husband’s thoughts and words and views on things, the bug things or small, everyday things. I’m raising our kids on my own now and I sometimes I feel so lost. I want his opinion, his patience, his “we’ll get through this” attitude. But instead there’s nothing. I also try to hear his voice and think of what he would say, but no, it’s not the same. Thank you for writing this and putting into beautiful words what is so hard to explain.
  • Diane Taylor
    commented 2015-11-23 05:14:27 -0800
    Hi Kelly – I cried thru every word of this poem. I lost my 24 year old son March 1, 2012 – he was very much my cheering squad in life. My support. My world. Of all the things I’ve screwed up in my life, he was the one thing I had done right. He is my only child – and the hole he left behind when his apartment caught fire with him inside….well, it’s the grand canyon time a billion. I could substitute “my son” in your poem where you talk about your “boo”…and it would make a lot of sense. I know losing a child is NOTHING like losing a spouse. But for the last 3 plus years, I have been drawn to the writings of Widow’s Voice. So many times you all are DEAD ON with how I am feeling. This post and this poem is one of them.

    Thank you,
    Diane Taylor (mother of Jonathan Paul Daily)
  • Carol Johnston
    commented 2015-11-22 17:49:50 -0800
    “Talking to the echo…” so very much understand. It’s like you reach down into your soul, Kelley, and not only find your own thoughts, but also what each of us wants to say…. you finds the words we unknowingly search for and you put them in a beautiful context that brings understanding to our fear and our sorrow. Our “person” is no longer here with us physically…our sounding board, our safe zone, our favorite one to be with. Our comfort.
    “…And yes,
    I know he is proud,
    But that is not the same,
    As hearing him say it…”
    Oh, to hear that voice again…what joy, what comfort we had…
    Thank you, Kelley.
  • Judy Kaan
    commented 2015-11-21 16:53:27 -0800
    Thank you for posting your beautiful poem – so eloquently stated. Talking to that echo – for me dealing with my parents issues – and talking to my husband who always had the right answers – always kept me calm – always there for me when I would be upset.
    My heart feels for you and thank you for sharing with us this beautiful poem – Talking to the Echo.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-11-20 17:09:02 -0800
    Thank you everyone for your awesome thoughts on this. So glad Im not alone in these feelings. Yes, Karen, it is scary to feel so needy and then ashamed of those feelings. I hate it too. It feels like theres no anchor anymore, and it makes all the other voices sound louder.
  • Karen Sutherland
    commented 2015-11-20 14:23:43 -0800
    To always feel that nothingness, that void is the worst hell on earth. I have not one single person outside my widow friends who can help me feel a sense of safety and security – and even then we can’t always be there, in person, to hold one another close and give reassurance. So the neediness, the anxiety, the panic attacks, the reels that spin in my head that are so hard to shut off – the neediness makes me feel ashamed. When I am scared and alone I often wish I could send out a mass e-mail and beg someone, anyone, to please send me a hug. “Always alone, talking to the echo…” ; me, too. I fucking hate that. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your feelings and re-posting your incredibly resonant poem, Kelley.
  • Stephen Hochhaus
    commented 2015-11-20 10:01:45 -0800
    Void? Oh hell yes! It’s so hard to go home when the voice of reason, calm, and support is silenced. I never realized how left with my own untempered thoughts, I am scared shitless.
    You nailed this one Kelley.
  • Sharon Wall
    commented 2015-11-20 08:52:00 -0800
    Absolutely, Kelley Lynn! All of it. I so valued Brian’s understanding and analysis of what was going on in the world. There is such a void where his voice used to be.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2015-11-19 23:42:28 -0800
    Wow Kelley such universal truth for all of us. No one or nothing fills that void. No one gets me; totally understands what I need, want or feel like my husband did. I think that’s the ache I feel in my heart that won’t go away and the loneliness I feel among a thousand people. Thank you for writing this. I agree with Alison, it means so much to know someone else totally understands.
  • Alison L Miller
    commented 2015-11-19 21:40:28 -0800
    Oh, God, Kelley-yes, yes, yes, to all of this! Chuck was very much my person who helped me make any kind of sense on a daily basis, never mind when the world was falling to shit. He was active duty during the First Gulf War, and civil service on 9/11, working at McGuire AFB in Jersey and I didn’t see him much during those times since he had to be at work, but I knew he was near, and the minute he put his arms around me, I was always ok. My heart goes out to you, it breaks for all of us who have to deal with the shattered silence of missing-ness. Nothing replaces the voice of our someone special, the one who made us feel special on a daily basis. Thank you for your words, for writing what is in my heart, for just being present, so that I know that there is another widow somewhere out there, who knows this agony. May you be blessed, always~