Voices.  I hear voices.  It is 3:00 in the morning, and I hear voices downstairs in the room directly below our bedroom.  My spine stiffens as I sit straight up in bed.  The down comforter, encased in a multi-toned blue cover slides off my chest.  I sleep alone in our queen bed since Bob died six weeks ago.  Even if I try to reach over to touch his shoulder to wake him, a simple reflex, perhaps a hope, his presence in our bed is over, forever, like all the words in Webster’s that define permanent.

I can’t hear what the voices are saying, but they are below me, directly below me and they are loud, almost as if fighting.

My mind retraces the steps I repeat each night before getting in bed.  Earlier that evening, I latched the windows tightly as if to warn intruders that this home does not welcome them.  I checked the house doors, all securely locked, most double locked with deadbolts.  The door from the side yard into the garage was bolted tight enough to be glued shut.  That sense of glue holds me together each night, allowing sleep to permeate my body.  The alarm did its customary beep when I set it.   So who is talking downstairs?

I have walls and locks and alarms all around me knowing I must create my own barricade after so many years of marriage.  One gets used to having a stronger, larger person in the home.  The doors must tire of me locking and unlocking them.  The walls must tire of me more, posing and reposing the question, How did this happen?  Why did he die?  But I know the science, the medical truth.  He died from leukemia, a simple fact that reduces his life to an eight-letter word that has such power that it can tip life upside down.  Not just his life, but mine as well.

What are they saying downstairs?  These voices are loud, talking at each other, as though squabbling, jabbing, testing one another.  I shake my head slightly, tilting it to listen carefully and somehow the fogginess of sleep is tossed aside.  How many burglars would come into a house and initiate what sounds like a family feud afire?  Oh my god, it’s the TV!  Suddenly, I feel safe.  I know I am safe.  No intruder would come into a locked house at 3:00 in the morning to turn on a damn TV.

I get out of bed, walk across the cream carpeting, grasp the bedroom door handle, and listen for the pop as it unlocks.  The t-shirt that covers my body is tacky and thread-worn, and I hesitate before I begin my walk downstairs wondering if I should cover myself with a robe.  What for?  It’s just the TV!

I’m not a big fan of the HD widescreen that my husband purchased.  Not that I have issues with televisions, but TV and computer screens are like magnets with seductive spin, engaging email, and questionably fabulous facebook pages.  Screens were my competition.  My husband loved them.  To me they stole time from us, the two of us together, when there was so little time left.

The worst time thief was Fox News.  I began to dislike O’Reilly.  When Bob passed, I deleted the scheduled tapings of all the Fox shows.  I no longer turned on the set and find myself face-to-face with Glenn Beck.  I no longer had to hear Fox at a volume that worked for my husband’s fading hearing, but pounded on my own eardrums.  Perhaps the only positive about my husband’s passing is that I gained control of the remote.

My insides still ache wondering if some part of him lingers on within the walls of our home.  I hope for a sign, some simple little sign that he will stay by me to help me get through this pain. It is the way of grief.  It was the same when my first husband died.  Grief charts its own course, and those of us remaining on this plane of existence are left behind to follow grief’s path.  I prefer driving.

I begin to walk downstairs, steadying myself, holding the wood railings that line the staircase, slowly placing my white-socked toes on each step at a pace reminiscent of a stroll through a park.  Pausing at the landing, I become fully aware that I had turned off the television before coming to bed leaving the screen as black as black paint, the blue light on the Direct TV box dark.  Who turned on the television?

I listen again.  There is something familiar in the way these voices speak to each other.  Oh, my God.  I think the television is on Fox News!  My legs hesitate no more, and I walk into the family room.  Yes, it’s Fox News.  I smile, perhaps for the first time ever while watching Fox.  The remote sits on the table next to Bob’s easy chair, his pillow still plumped up and in place.  I haven’t disturbed his space, hoping that some part of him will stay close so the ache in my heart is more bearable.  I pick up the remote, watch Fox for ten seconds, and look back at his chair.  Fox News, middle of the night, loud enough to wake the neighbors?  I smile.

Okay, Bob, you made your point.

© 2012 Jeanette Reese






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17 Responses to Voices

  1. joyce ann reese says:

    I loved this writing; it is so you, Jeanette. I’m proud to be a follower of ALL your writings…..you are so very, very good!

  2. Robert Canady says:

    Jeanette, what a wonderful and well written story. I know Dad will always be in his spot watching that great big screen TV. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought back to my last visit and now cherish the nights he and I sat and watched a Laker’s game on that screen.

    In a way that TV will always help you feel his presense, however the good news as you pointed out is you’ll have control of the remote 🙂

    • Jeanette says:

      Thanks, Robert. I am so pleased you liked Voices. It is so Bob! A “larger than life person” – apparently even in the next life. And I’d trade control of the remote in a minute to be able to sit there and watch that big screen with him! 🙂

  3. Bill Harris says:

    Very well written… Bob always told me you were insightful as well as witty in your approach to life. Part of Bob will always remain with each of us who knew him well… that is particularly true of those he called friend and mentored. It occurred to me that I have known Bob 36 years since he was President of PKE 35 … our MBA Program at Pepperdine. He was the only one at Pepperdince who could have handled our class in a way that we all got something out of it inspite of ourselves. My world has certainly been a fuller experience with Canady in the mix.

    • Jeanette says:

      I know how much Bob enjoyed PKE 35. I have had the honor to meet a few of you, and you touched his life as well! And it is nice to hear what Bob told you about me … thank you for that. Jeanette

  4. Janet Hunter says:

    Wow, Jeanette! I never knew you had such writing talent. I am glad you will be published in AARP, but I think you could go on to much bigger and better things. Possibly a book?

  5. Cara LaGreen says:

    I love this story. It reminds me of when my mom said after her mom past she received a message from her on her answering machine. My dad is very much into fox news as well so I can surely relate. My mom and I laugh because it repeats itself all day and we keep saying we saw this story already. Not to mention my dad then tells us all the stories as well and repeats them over and over. At times I may think of that as annoying but reading your article makes me realize I will miss it when he’s gone and I should cherish the time we have together fox news and all. 🙂

  6. Lora says:

    good one Jeanette – you had me. I was as scared as you were!

  7. Frank Cornell says:

    Dearest Jeanette! It’s Frank’s “better side” as Bob always said, Sherry. lol 🙂 I want you to know that Bob is still as playful and compassionate as ever …. Frank had just shared your last log “Astoundingly High” with me and of course we were reminded of the passion between you (as always it rekindles the passion between us and others). Fighting with heartfelt tears we revisited “Starting Over” and “Voices.” As I was reading “Voices” over again Frank’s attention was diverted to a small scrapbook I had kept on our new home in Palm Desert … The first page he turned to was a photo of you, Bob and Frank on the front steps of our home! There was Bob, shining with that award winning smile that was so contagious ….. we are now smiling, tears and all – but the pain we were engulfed in just seconds before was eased immediately with the revelation that he’s never going to be far away from any of us! Keep up the great work, it is helping all of us more than you may be aware Jeanette, with much love, Sherry and Frank
    p.s. now instead of getting “so tired” of trying to pull the remote from my sleeping husband’s bear grip on the remote as Fox News is thundering in our bedroom at night I will sleep more soundly knowing he is there and Bob is probably getting a real kick out of the scene….thank you for reminding me of the little things that are so much more important than we would ever otherwise consider.

    • Jeanette says:

      Loved reading what you wrote. We really enjoyed time with you – as you can see by the smiles. So glad you found what I wrote meaningful – and trust me, Bob is definitely getting a kick out of “who has the remote”! I’m still laughing at your comment.

  8. Larocco says:

    Wow, cool post. I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a great article… but I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get started.

  9. renee brazil says:

    It was such a blessing taling with you the other day and your stories here are amazing. May your light always shine onwards towards the great person you are. Good Speed!

  10. Aj Bates (Elder Bates) says:

    That is sweet. I really like that. I dont remember the other one you wanted me to read tho.
    aj bates.

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