The Widow

The ancient willow tree’s leaves seemed to be caressing the roof of the shed that stood at its base. It is a very rickety little building, been there for who knows how long. The door is impossible to open, unless you’ve got the strength of a bull, something which I do not have. I think my arms would fall off before I’d get it open. The shed is the same colors of the main house, my house now, no longer ours.

Barn red with buttercream wooden accent boards around the door frame and the two small square windows that flanked the door. From my house, the shed didn’t look to be in bad shape. Get a little closer and you’d see the paint chipping, moss blanketing the roof and the foundation crumbling. That stupid little shed had always made me angry. It was an ugly little thing, which ruined the view of the rolling hills of our property. No, not our property. My property, now.

Yesterday, the smiley weather woman had forecasted an overcast day, with a strong chance of showers. But this morning a clear sky greets me. The sun is rising over the pine trees, casting an orange-pink glow. Yesterday, the sight of the shed would make me clench my teeth. How I wished that it would just blow away with the wind! But today the sight of the leaves brushing the rooftop of that little building makes me smile. The warmth of the fire behind me feels comforting. It took me so long to get it started. There had always been a draft that comes down the chimney, making the task of making a fire so difficult. The heat of a fire just wasn’t worth all the work. This morning I laughed after all my failed efforts. Laughed! When was the last time I had done that?

I stepped away from the window and faced the fire. There was one picture frame on the mantle face down. I’ve seen that picture day in and day out for so long, it feels good not to see it. Their house, my house now, was very old. It probably outdates me! It is poorly insulated, too hot and stuffy in the summer and uncomfortably chilly in the winter. A two story house, big for two and too big for one, but it’s all mine now. It has a damp basement and a drafty attic, both echoing empty spaces that make me feel oddly like I have everything in the world.

I can hear myself breathing, my wheezing inhales and exhales. For the first time in a long time: peace. My doctor told me, not too long ago, that going up and down the stairs is a bad idea for an elderly woman. Moving into an apartment seemed like a good idea after he told me the news, but it was inconceivable. Now the possibility looms in front of me and I feel no desire to move. The creaking stairs which drove me crazy from the first day now seemed to make music as I climbed them slowly. Really, the creaking isn’t so bad.

The sun was now higher in the sky, shooting beautiful rays of warmth into my bedroom window. It suddenly seems like a different room, no longer the dark gray room of the past. I saw a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and stopped short. Thinner than I’d like to be, my jowls were all I could see when I looked into the same mirror yesterday. Today, I’m standing a bit taller, my eyes sparkling. A smile spreads across my wrinkly lips. I’m ready to face this bright new day, knowing my “beloved” decreased husband has been reduced to nothing but a pile of ashes in a stupid little urn, tucked into a corner of that rickety little shed. I’m ready to face this bright new life.

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