This past Sunday, I took my children for a walk in a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of our small New England town. Sunday marked our ninth day of preventative quarantine from COVID-19, and after a busy week indoors adjusting to online schooling and working from home, we were ready to get outside in the fresh air. A shock of wintery weather had passed through Boston, so we pulled out hats and mittens, bundled up, and headed out to the Atlantic Ocean.

When we arrived, my four kids tumbled out of the car and went ahead of me down the trail. They ran and played, swatting each other with grasses and zigzagging off the trail to race through the meadows. As I stood for a moment and watched them, I closed my eyes and drank in the silence as the ocean wind carried away my children’s voices. Then it hit me, like it has so many times over the last eight months: My husband is dead, and I’m here alone.

Only a year ago, my husband Rob brought me on a date to these meadows. We bought cherry hand pies from a local grocery store and sat eating them as the sun set. We enjoyed the companionable silence that comes with 17 years of marriage. As birds returned to their nests in the dusk, quiet rain began to fall. It was a moment out of a Robert Frost poem: Come over the hills and far with me, and be my love in the rain. But for all my wishing now, Rob will never be here again with me.

When he died last July in a tragic hiking accident, I discovered a dreadful aloneness that I’d never known before. In that moment when the chaplains came to tell me of his death, I lost my partner, my confidante, my co-parent, my lover, my advisor, and my best friend. I’d always been an independent person, an introvert, even, but I never wanted ...

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