It was my husband’s idea. His chess-mentality is always thinking several moves ahead. It was quite natural for him to contemplate our age, and wonder whether we would know what to do if something happened to the other one of us. A “dry run,” he called it, where we would each “die” for a week, so the other could see what types of problems might arise that would be unexpected or unprepared for.
Our daughter said, “You can’t do it.” A blanket prediction for the first week. Nevertheless, we thought we could. After all, when I get “upset” I can be quiet for quite a length of time.
Monday morning he came in the door from our son’s house, where he had babysat overnight. It was weird not to greet him, or to have him cross my littered floor (work items) to give me a kiss good morning. I usually have things to tell him to start the day, but not today–you don’t talk to dead people.
He later got his tablet, paper and whatever, and headed for his normal McDonald’s breakfast. There was no ‘goodbye,’ no ‘see you in an hour,’ just… walking out the door, driving off. I could tell this was going to be harder than I thought, but maybe it was just me, I decided. By the time he had come back home, I was gone to pick up some items for the work I do from our house, so he came in wondering where I had gone. You don’t leave notes for dead people. Upon returning, I didn’t tell him all the things I normally would, the amount I had saved on gas with a coupon, the conversation at the bank, just little common, ordinary tidbits of communication. Soon he had to leave again, with no goodbye, so I went downstairs to do some cleaning.
I rounded up a load of throw rugs, adding the ones I had kept in the car for the past two years while I procrastinated. I didn’t want to break my washer (again) from washing rugs, but making time to go for 2 hours was difficult for me. Wow–I couldn’t believe the cost of a trip to the laundromat, and would have loved to have told him! However, when I arrived home, he had left for another meeting, and besides, I couldn’t talk to a dead person.
By this time in the late afternoon, I was getting miserable. It was nice to have a clean kitchen (he’s actually quite good about it), and the Bible does say “where there is no ox, the stall is clean!” Obviously my “ox” was being quite concientious for he had not left any mess! “Miserable” had now dropped down to about a 5, and I was at an 8 or so on a scale of 10. I had run into a couple of situations that I knew were a little out of my experience, but overall it was just the tremendous loneliness that settled around me. How, I wondered, do people make it when they lose a partner who has been there for years, knowing there will never be another day spent on earth where you can sit and talk, or go out to eat.
Our daughter called a couple of times, more because she knew I was feeling very lonely than any other reason. Finally I decided to close down work and head for bed. I left a note. Laying it on the floor where he would see it, I wrote, “I’M NOT HAVING FUN! 😦 ”
Sure enough, when he arrived home, he saw it. Writing one back, he brought it into the bedroom; it asked “Do you want to quit?” “YES!” I shouted. We had not made it but 13 hours rather than a week. How do people do this? Especially when death comes unexpectedly?
It was a big learning experience. Rather than the secular incidents that we expected, we were destroyed by the need of all humans: the interaction with someone who belongs to you. It was amazing how relieved I was that we were quitting. I don’t think I could have gone another day. And just as important, he felt the same way. He said he had been miserable. It was an eye-opener for both of us! In fact, I was so relieved that it didn’t even bother me to tell our daughter we quit, so she could get the satisfaction out of saying, “I told you so!”
Will we try again? Probably not. Maybe those things are best left with the Lord, and let Him be our strength if the time comes when one of us has to leave this earth. But as for now, I will bask in having a live husband, and we each have a better appreciation of our marriage!
Lord, this has been a different experiment, but one that has taught us much! One thing we’ve definitely learned is how true–again–Your word is, as it tells us ‘don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough of its own troubles!’ So we leave our lives in Your hands, to do Your will until the day You call us home. Amen.