‘What should I do with the ashes?’
‘Does my daughter need counselling?’
‘Should I keep those rank, greying boxer shorts with the hole in the crotch that I found at the bottom of the washing basket after He died?’
The scope of the questions to be faced after the death of a spouse is relentless and seemingly without limitation. Which is probably why many bereaved partners choose to ignore them and drink alcohol instead.
Yesterday I found myself face-to-face with a decision I took in the immediate aftermath of Mark’s death and as per, I’ve spent the past 24 hours in a purgatory of self-interrogation.
It started with an innocent observation by a six-year-old child I was in the process of teaching. Six-year-old children tend to scrutinise adults from the head down, and this little girl was no exception.
“Are those your wedding rings?” she asked, pointing at the pendant swinging from my neck.
“My gran wears her wedding rings around her neck, but just on a chain. Not like THAT.”
“She did it after me granda died. Why have you got yours like that?”
On this occasion the bell went and I was saved from having to explain that, like dear granda, my husband was dead, but I decided to have our rings welded together and an emerald fitted between the two to represent our daughter (it’s her birthstone).
And in a further adulteration of our wedding bands, I had the inside of my husband’s ring engraved with the words: ‘MLB – you complete me’.
And to add more insult to injury, the jeweller had renewed the rhodium plating, thus eliminating all trace of it ever having been worn by my husband. I might as well have selected one from the display cabinet and been done with it.
Why had I done this? Why hadn’t I kept it, like granda’s ring, with its scratches and its DNA, on a chain alongside the locket which holds Mark’s hair?
At the time I convinced myself that by creating a whole new piece of jewellery it would somehow help me to come to terms with the grave new symbolism of the bands we had exchanged just under six years previously.
But yesterday, I faltered under questioning and now I’m not so sure.