53. Bananas for Harry

53. Bananas for Harry

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

Bananas for Harry

When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.

~Author Unknown

It seems that the little things in life pull at your heartstrings the most. Who would have believed that buying bananas at the local suburban Philadelphia Shop Rite would have a fifty-three-year-old woman in tears? But it does every week.

My husband of twenty years, Harry, died last year of congestive heart failure. We were together twenty-two years and we thrived on being together. We shopped, cooked, laughed, traveled, argued, embraced, loved, and planned for a future with our six-year-old son — our miracle child — together.

And now the first thought when I am awakened by a loving and rambunctious child each morning to get him ready for the school bus is that for the first time in decades, I am alone. The quiet in my four-bedroom house is deafening. The sadness that enveloped me is enough to make me double over in physical and emotional pain.

Well-meaning family and friends give advice: sell your house, date, don’t date, buy a new couch to replace the downstairs bed where Harry convalesced for three years after a near fatal car accident, stop crying so much, have more fun, smile more, redecorate, take some of the photos of him down, talk more about him and the fact that he has died to your son, talk less about him, pack up his clothes to donate to charity, find a new life. And most of all — stop buying bananas.

My husband loved bananas. He did the grocery shopping before his car accident and I did it after he became ill. But we always had three to six ripe bananas sitting in a blue bowl on the kitchen counter. I don’t really eat bananas. But I buy them each week at Shop Rite, bring them home and end up giving them to friends and neighbors.

If I stop buying bananas, it would mean that he is really gone. And while I saw him in his hospital bed for the last time, I said goodbye, arranged the funeral and watched his casket lowered into the ground, the thought that he is never coming back — for a hug, a loving kiss, to admire my new haircut, to help me buy new appliances, to fix my computer, to give advice, to take trips to the Jersey shore, to cheer our son at his horseback riding show, to put our son on the bus for his first day of kindergarten, first grade and more — is all too unbearable to imagine.

I have learned a few important lessons from Harry’s death. You plan and God (or whatever higher power you believe in) has his own ideas. When one door slams shut and spins you around, another door or window may not open for a very long time. Nothing prepares you for how sad and overwhelmed you can feel when the love of your life is taken from you. Sleep is now a battle. Keeping the TV on at night is like having a new friend. Making new friends at my age is difficult — and who would I hang around with? Families? Couples? Single moms? Younger people with six-year-old children? Older people with grown children?

I wish I could report after six months, nine months, more than a year later, that the crying has stopped and that my heart will feel whole again — but none of this is true. All I know is that I want and yearn for Harry as much as I did twenty-two years ago, ten years ago and the day before he died. Maybe more.

My new and unimproved life and world will never be the same without Harry and his many idiosyncrasies. The trips to his favorite diner, the mall, a beachside resort, and others may one day become less painful. But I will still hear his advice, and love and concern.

Yes, I was lucky. I found my soul mate, my one true love twenty-two years ago. And dating services will never understand that we loved one another in spite of our differences. I watched James Bond movies, House and NCIS and he watched endless romantic comedies, The Good Wife, and Desperate Housewives, because that’s what you do when you want to spend time with someone you love with all your heart.

Harry and I believed in unconditional love, which makes watching fairy tales of any kind so much more painful than I ever could have imagined.

So I will keep buying bananas. Maybe I will eat one for breakfast, make my own banana chocolate chip muffins, or my son, now seven, will develop a taste for them. But it actually makes me smile through my tears to buy them and remember bringing them home to the man I loved.

~Debra Forman

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