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I do have to say that, overall, I’m doing pretty well and am very lucky.  I have a wonderful family and many friends.  My family consists of two devoted children, their spouses of whom I’m very fond and with whom I get along well, and 3 incredibly adorable grandchildren.  My friends fall into two categories:   “good friends” to whom I can tell just about anything, and know that they are listening and care.   And other friends with whom I enjoy spending an afternoon or an evening going to movies, the theater or out to dinner.  The women’s organization, TTN, of which I’m a member, has been enormously helpful in creating networks of other women who are widowed (or divorced, or never married).   I’m in pretty good health (so far), and am very active.  I have a small business creating art objects which provides an outlet for my creative energies.  Also,  I’ve been auditing one class each year, and am about to take a class in making art with an artist from a local museum.  I’m very active as a volunteer in trying to raise awareness (and funding) for research to help find a  treatment for PKD, the kidney disease that was responsible for my husband’s death.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t bumps in the road when things aren’t always hunky dory.  The emotional triggers are always situations when I sense my husband’s absence acutely, even 7 years later.  I had one of them recently when I saw a young couple walking down the street, holding hands.  It’s something my husband and I did all the time.  There’s something about walking down a street and holding the hand of someone you love that’s almost magical.  You are two against the world and nothing seems impossible.  Sometimes, I’ve even walked along and held my hand out, expecting, and hoping, it would be grasped. It obviously never is now and that really does make my heart ache.

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My husband and I first met on a blind date at the end of final exams  in our Junior year of college.  It was the end of May 1966 and our first date was a dinner at Butler Hall, a  fairly formal restaurant for the Columbia University neighborhood.  It had white tablecloths with a single rose in a vase as the centerpiece.   We didn’t actually start dating until the fall of our senior year and then we became inseparable.

Sometimes he would wait for me after a class and we would go have coffee.  Although we didn’t live together, just about every weekday night we would have dinner together.  We spent most weekends together.  Although I lived in a dorm, he had an apartment, and so we had much more freedom than many other couples in 1966.

Wherever we walked on the campus, we held hands.  It was something we continued to do throughout our 41 years of marriage.

I’m living now in the same neighborhood around Columbia.  I see many couples in their 20’s walking around and holding hands.  I ache for the feeling of his larger hand enveloping mine.

I’m now 5 years into widowhood, and 2 and a half years living in this Columbia neighborhood, which everywhere contains a map of our college relationship.

I often think it’s surreal being here as someone much older than my 22 year old self.  It’s especially surreal seeing young couples, walking the same streets, sitting in local restaurants, holding hands.

The merging of the present and the past keeps my husband with me but when, occasionally,  I extend out my hand for his, it’s with the realization that he won’t be there to hold it.