Very personal memories


To listen to this post in French click below″

When Roland, my husband, died in a car accident at age 46, some fourteen years ago, I was 48 and our daughter was not yet seven. We had never really talked about cemeteries and burials and things like those, because they felt like faraway things. Roland was born a Catholic and I am Jewish, but neither of us was religious. Once, I remember saying that I would like there to be a rabbi when I was buried and he had said:
Have you ever thought that it means that we wouldn’t be buried together?
So, when he died, I remembered that conversation and understood it as a wish to have a Catholic ceremony. So I made an appointment with the local priest.
Roland had that car accident on a Tuesday, and the burial was to take place on the Friday and I had an appointment with the priest on the Thursday. Meanwhile, one of our closest friends had arrived from Boston and was helping us cope, my daughter and I. I don’t remember much of what happened on that Thursday except for a flow of friends and family in and out of the flat, the one I moved out of, seven years ago.

Voyage à Boston

At six o’clock the phone rang. Can you believe that I had forgotten all about the appointment at the church? Well, I had.
I rushed there, quite embarrassed, but the priest was really kind and understanding and we decided on the details of the ceremony. Then I went back home, and just after I had passed the door, the doorbell rang and this man asked for my husband.
In fact, two days earlier, Roland had gone shopping for us and that man was delivering the things that my husband had ordered. It felt really weird, but somehow I sensed that all this shopping he had done for us had become his way of reaching to us.
A few years later, when I was ready to move from the flat where we had lived together to the one, where I’m now living, I went to my bank and the desk clerk, seeing my name, said that there was someone in the staff who had the same name as me. I thought he must be mistaken, but it did turn out that a second cousin of my father-in-law had just obtained a job in that bank. We had never met, only heard of one another, but liked one another so well that I felt she had become part of my family.
A coincidence? Maybe. I was sure that it was another wave from my husband.

I have been turning this post into my mind ever since I read joared’s comment on Ronni Bennett’s Oh the stories We can tell. All I can say is, if you haven’t read it, go and do it now.
I have finally recorded a French version of this post that you can listen to by clicking the link above.
The photo of Roland is one I particularly like. I took it in Boston, around 1973, and although he hadn’t shaved on that day, I love the way he looked at me.


12 thoughts on “Very personal memories

  1. Oh Claude, I knew you were a widow but did not know when or how your husband died. He was so young, you were so young and your daughter was just a child.

    Any time you lose someone it is hard, no matter what age — but so young —

    I became a widow at the age of 68 – my husband was 74 and had been ill for a long time.

    Somehow we all survive and become stronger.

    My thoughts are with you.

  2. Thank you Claude, for sharing so much of yourself that I never knew. As you well know, what may seem like ordinary events to others can take on added significance for some of us. I think our senses should always be open to what, perhaps, only we may see, hear or feel. How wonderful to be able to express that experience to someone else who understands exactly what we mean. I am convinced these experiences do have meaning, even if their true meaning is only that which we assign to them.

    I appreciate the link to your post about A Sense of Place, which I read for the first time; remember reading Ronni’s at TGB some time ago, both of which begin to bring home to me the ties one can feel.

    I recall my first move at age 4 or 5, all the subsequent ones we made. Certainly, there have been others who moved much more frequently than I did. But, for me, I think I developed a sense of letting go of place, sometimes painfully. Some moves were very positive experiences, others were merely accepted with the focus turned to the new people I met.

    I think, for you to have made a move such as you did to a new apt. after all those years was incredibly courageous. I’ve found to reach out to the unfamiliar, from the familiar, simultaneously exciting and fearsome, but if I never take those risks I will never know the new found pleasures that often result. I hope you have found and continue to find that to be true for you, also.


  3. Joared comments at TGB was pure poetry. I’ll never forget it. I think the sharing that goes on in the blog world is so healing, so comforting and nurturing…and I’m so thankful for it. The photo of Roland conveys so much love—and good humor. My two favorite things! Thanks for sharing.

  4. You have opened up a part of yourself that is a treasure – like watching the unfolding of a blossom – You give so much to us in your words.
    What a wonderful smile Roland left for you.

  5. It’s very humbling to be privileged to share this memory. Thank you.
    I do so hope you find joy now.
    Your pictures and post are a wonderful addition to my life. I’ve told
    my sister about about your blog and I hope she begins with you (having never
    read a blog before).
    Peace and joy with a big hug….

  6. Such a lovely rememberance and post – Roland’s picture is beautiful. As Mille commented, you were so young a widow. It is hard at any age. Thank you for sharing yourself. Suzann

  7. Dear Claude,
    I was moved by your story and grateful for your sharing it.

    lucyd says it beautifully: “the sharing that goes on in the blog world is so healing, so comforting and nurturing…and I’m so thankful for it.”

  8. Claude, I for one believe that Roland was reaching out to you at those times. Even though your life together was cut much too short, it’s obvious to anyone what a beautiful connection you had. A marvelous picture of Roland…what a wonderful face. Thanks Claude…

  9. Thank you for the French recording, Claude. It was a significant step that you found your voice for this post. It was generous and brave of you to provide us the words with which you might speak about your husband if you were sitting across the table with a neighbor or friend. A fine tribute to Roland and to you.

  10. How tragic for both you and your daughter to lose Roland when you were
    so young. What a great smile and look he had for you and you captured it
    well in the photo.
    I strongly believe there are no “coincidences” in life. I’ve had too
    many experiences like you did for me to think otherwise. But then, we
    must be open and pay attention…or we miss those magic moments entirely.

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