Fifty Steps


There are fifty tile and stone steps in my new abode, and sometimes as I trudge up and down I ask myself what in the world I’m doing here. I’m not the right age to be living alone in a house with fifty steps. I’m not the right age to be living alone. Is there ever a right age?

The year is drawing to a close, the hardest year of my life. I came here for closure, and to be surrounded by the past. And, if truth be told, to see whether that past could be made to spill into my present.

So far it’s an uneasy balance. To accept a dinner invitation means that I have to drive home alone at night, find a place to park as close to my house as possible, walk home alone in the dark. I did that last night, and it was shockingly hard to do. To print a simple page today reminded me that it was always Shel who changed the printer cartridges, who knew what should be plugged in where, what settings to fiddle to make our technology change homes and countries. I managed that too, but I missed him every step of the way.

The temperature, which was about 60° on Christmas Day, now hovers right around freezing, and the mistral is howling around the house. Somewhere a shutter is banging frantically, but I don’t know how to fix it. All I can do is wait for the wind to stop blowing, which can sometimes take days.

This afternoon I had a hard time making a train reservation to leave here in February, not because of the complicated French train website, which I’ve long since mastered, but because some voice kept telling me “just go home sooner, you know you want to, this is just too hard.”

But not long ago this place was all the home I wanted, and I could barely drag myself away. I came back to find out whether that home still exists for me here somewhere, or whether it vanished from my life when Shel did. And so I’ll stick it out, because I must, like making that walk home in the dark alone, because it’s something I have to face, like it or not. It’s medicine. I want to like it, but so far I don’t know how. I want it to heal me, but I feel so shaky.

One step after another, climbing slowly, hoping not to slip and fall. All I want is the one thing I can’t have.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

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4 Comments on “Fifty Steps”

  1. mimi taylor Says:

    It’s been 7 years since my husband died and haven’t adjusted to my loss. that fatal day plays reruns in my head. I face the same problems as you, my love did so much I don’t drive, no family,
    no friends living near. Luckily the subway is near. Luckily I have my dog, Pastis who keeps me going,

  2. Sue Geisler Says:

    It’s been quite a long time since you and Shel had dinner with Jackie and I at Tadich. He said then that every year from then on would be a gift and both of you made the best use of those years.

    You have so many skills and talents and must use them to feel whole on your own. I know that you can do it!. Find a way to help someone else and it will help you too.

  3. Elaine Says:

    It’s 30 mins to New Year in England.
    Our family has lost a close, beloved member this year as well. My good wishes go out to you & I wish you strength for the coming year. I cannot say ‘happy new year’ because it won’t be.
    But, I think your blog expresses what a lot of people cannot, & I hope it may bring comfort to those that are suffering loss to know they are not alone in their feelings.

    May your god be with you. ( If you are British, courtesy of Dave Allen !)


  4. Chele Says:

    Oh boy, what Sue Geisler said: you have so many skills and talents! And they are awesome, lady, as you are. You’ve mastered that French train website–I wouldn’t have any idea where to start. Hire somebody to fix that shutter. Hell, you know how to do things with food that I will never know. Peace, Abra. And lots of hugs.

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