grief journeyI was talking to Rick today when I microwaved a sweet potato for my lunch. Yes, I had a sweet potato, and nothing else, for lunch, because I live alone, I’m stuck here, and lately I find myself either too lazy to cook and foraging for food – or making a meal that’s way too big for me and eating leftovers for days.

But that was off topic. I was putting butter on my sweet potato, and I remembered that Rick used to mix adobo paste into our potatoes. He often found interesting recipes to try, and enjoyed cooking so much that he even created a “Cooking With Rick” website that I still access when I’m trying to find the recipe for a dish he used to make for us. He was in the process of redesigning the site when he got the cancer diagnosis, so it’s a half-finished hodge podge of its former self. But I can still find some of his old recipes when I’m inspired to cook one.

The adobo sweet potatoes he made for us seem like a long, long time ago. He stopped cooking around the fall of 2016, since the chemo affected his appetite – and everything else he used to enjoy. But, I digress again. I digress a lot lately. I seem to get off topic and flit from project to project around here. Hopefully it’s not a sign of some serious mental issue and just the result of a month of living alone in the midst of a pandemic. The stress, the fear, the sadness at being unable to hug my loved ones, and the seclusion seem to be messing with my mind as I spend days and days alone in this house.

The point was that, as I buttered my sweet potato, I suddenly remembered Rick’s recipe from so long ago, so I turned to Rick and asked…

Honey, remember the sweet potatoes you used to make? The ones with the adobo sauce? Remember how you used to chop up one or two of the chilis slightly, but most of what you used was the sauce? It was a little tiny can. I think you got the recipe watching Alton Brown, didn’t you?

And on went the conversation, out loud, in my empty house.

Of course, I’m not crazy enough to hear him answer me. He doesn’t – usually. Sometimes, he does answer in my head. But today, as I carried on my audible conversation with a man who’s been gone nearly three years, I realized I never stopped. I have never stopped discussing things with Rick, asking him questions, complaining to him when I’m upset, or crying to him when I’m sad. And maybe I never will.

After Rick died, I wrote many, many blogs about how afraid I was that someday I would forget him. I guess my fears were groundless. He’s still here. And now that I’m home all the time (supposedly alone), I’ve noticed the constant yammering he must have put up with for all those years he was physically here with me. I talk incessantly!

Not that Rick never pointed that out to me. LOL. One of the odder memories we all share of Rick is when he would pretend that our dog was talking. Sassy, the Blue Tick Coonhound apparently had an East Indian accent in Rick’s goofy dog conversations. Often, I would say something to Sassy, usually something like, “Leave me alone. I have been petting you for a half hour.” And Sassy (through Rick obviously) would respond with things like, “Oh, but I enjoy your petting so much, Woman Who Talks So Much.”

Yes, Rick’s goofy dog response always included my nickname, “Woman Who Talks So Much,” and try as I might, I couldn’t help but laugh each time he said it. I knew it was his (small?) hint that I am a blabbermouth.

Rick and Sassy aren’t here to point it out now, but I guess I’m still blabbing away, even alone in my quarantine state. Talking a man’s ear off for twenty years doesn’t just stop because he dies. Not when his memory is embedded in my mind and in my heart. I wish he was here with me physically right now, because the quarantine would be a sort of extended honeymoon at home, instead of a study in how to survive isolation – but it’s not like I have no one to talk to, right?

And yes, I found the recipe. It was Alton Brown. I should have known. Rick loved that show, so I spent years sitting next to him watching it every night… the initial episodes… and the reruns… and the CD compilation of the series that I gave him for one of his birthdays. I had forgotten all that. But there are people and things we’ll never forget. And out of nowhere the memories come back. Memories of adobo sweet potatoes and talking dogs, memories of not living alone. They never really go away, these fleeting memories of the time we shared.

I’d love to be watching a cooking show with Rick tonight. Maybe I’ll watch one myself, and chatter away to the empty room.

Oh yes, if you’d like to try the recipe, it’s here.


On August 13, 2017, I lost the love of my life. Rick Palmer and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary one month before he died at age 63 of complications from treatments for small cell lung cancer. He was my partner and soulmate, the love I had been looking for and finally found at age 40.

Rick was a talented writer and web designer and, in 2002, we began our own web and print design business. We worked together building the business and enjoyed traveling, writing, and playing together. Our dream was to spend our golden years together doing more of the same, but in the ten months from diagnosis to death, that dream shattered.

After Rick’s death, I quickly realized that the enormity of his loss was too much for me to handle on my own, so I began grief therapy. I also began writing through my grief in a journal of feelings, thoughts, memories, and poetry. As I navigate my new life alone, I share my journey and my efforts towards creating my “new normal” on my personal blog: The Writing Widow. I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I recently published two books about my grief journey: my poetry book, I Wanted to Grow Old With You: A Widow's First Year of Grief in Poetry, and compilation of my blog posts A Widow's Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry - The First Year." Both books are available in print and Kindle versions on