I travel for work — some years, in excess of 75% of my weeknights are spent in hotels far from home. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and counting, and Carole and I have always managed to make it work. Carole doesn’t mind me being gone; it means she can watch TV and play a lot of Plants versus Zombies without me distracting her. As for me, so long as I can check in with her at some point in the evening, I get by. There’ve only been a few occasions when I felt a palpable, aching loneliness; for the most part, spending most of our time apart just seems normal.
As it happens, though, Carole is the one who’s out of town this week. She’s visiting Los Angeles with her parents. There’s more to the trip than that, but I can’t talk about the specifics right now. She flew out yesterday and is scheduled to come home on Thursday. And the weird thing is, even though she’s been gone only a day and a half, I find myself really missing her. Much more than I would if it were me in Los Angeles and her back here in Vermont.
I think my brain must be having a hard time coping with the fact that I’m here, at our house, and when I’m at our house, Carole is always around. Except that she isn’t. When you’re used to things being a particular way, it’s very hard to get your brain out of that way of thinking.
I still find myself expecting to see our cat Thursday lounging on the back of the living room sofa; I see something out of the corner of my eye and my brain automatically fills in a ginger-and-white kitty. But that’s impossible; Thursday died in June. Try convincing my subconscious of that: Thursday spent a big chunk of the last twelve years lounging on the back of the sofa, so clearly, on a sunny day, that’s where you’ll find her.
So, yeah, I know there’s a rational explanation for why it seems so odd to be here in Vermont and not have Carole around, but my subconscious wants nothing to do with rational explanations. So here I sit, lonely.
I’m not the only one missing an absent spouse, either. Dad told me the other day that, despite being a hard-nosed realist with little use for religion, he’s started seeing Mom sitting next to him on the bed. Since she died two years ago, either her ghost has started hanging around, or Dad’s sleepy subconcious brain is filling in a perceived void with what it thinks should be there. Who knows? Either way, Dad has my sympathy. 🙁