Five years ago, I was Will’s Turtle; RSVP

Five years ago, I was Will Duplantis’s wife, Turtle Robb.  I was planning to change my name to Alice, but he never cared for that.   To him, I was always Turtle, and the change to Alice happened quickly after he died.  I didn’t feel like the same person without him, and to “get used of it”, as he used to say, this new name was a perfect tool.

Looking at the Alice life I have today, five years seems like it must have been a long time ago.  I’m part of a successful business that was barely hatching then, just as the economy was crashing.  I’m living in a new house, on acres of beautiful land, quite free of the run-down trailer in the moldy park where Will and I were so happy.  I’ve “finished” writing the bulk of a novel which sat in a box all ten years of our marriage.  I’m re-writing and preparing soon to publish the novel I’d written just before our coming together.  I feel “past” the worst pains of grief, “recovered.”  My best friends lately are other widows, with whom I can share sweet memories, to whom I can give comfort.  “This too shall pass,” we say.

Memorial Day, five years ago, Will wanted to go to the Peace Arch Park to participate in the veteran’s annual event drawing awareness to soldiers killed in these new, Iraq & Afghanistan, wars.  We knew it would be the last time; he was on hospice by then.  He was weak.  We walked around; he said hello to his friends.  He was such a social creature and enjoyed people, except for his occasional “enemy.”  (I count three.) Otherwise, the worst thing he ever said about anyone, even people who snubbed him for his poor grammar or weird wardrobes, was that they were “not very friendly.”  Being a Quaker was so perfect for his friendly soul.

Five.  It’s just a number, and my oh-so-practical mind says it doesn’t matter.  Every year, I tell myself that “anniversary grief” is just a psychological theory, an excuse for dramatic types to get some attention.  Then, between Memorial Day and June 5, I melt down, am a wreck, and need to huddle with myself just to cope.

Yesterday, I could barely face a work meeting with people I really like.  For years, Will was my social director; on my own, I’m a hermit. This week, I’ve had nightmares.  Last night, I woke from an exhausting dream with spooky after-images of winter trees and cemetery style fences.  I want to be open to all this, to my feelings, to the spirits, but I also want to live in peace.

I want to light a big fire down in the field to commemorate him, to invite friends to celebrate my new life.  But my social director isn’t here to invite you.  It might rain.  I feel unfriendly.  If you’re in my tribe, RSVP.  I’ll let you know Wednesday morning, June 5, if the fire is on.


Five years ago, I was Will’s Turtle; RSVP — 4 Comments

  1. alice turtle robb, most honest and true,

    i will be at that fire, whether or not you actually have one. I will be there in my heart of hearts, singing songs of love and peace and comfort to you. my body will not arrive, but everything else will. heart, love, attention, sacred long distance attention.

    to honor your dear will, yes, but to honor you, an SS, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes says (still standing), a member of the scar clan, a dangerous old woman (still CLarissa concepts here). I am listening to an audio book called dangerous old women).

    melt all you need to dear alice, you need not be friendly at all. the earth momma and i are there.

  2. wish i could be there. I hold Will’s light as brightly as i ever did and also celebrate your surviving, your growing and living and thriving. This too shall pass — and you’ll still melt with the occasional bout of grief forever (you loved him after all – it should hurt). It’s 22+ years and i still have flashes of “how can i go on?” but we do.

    Holding you as ever in God’s Light.
    paz — dps 8^)>

  3. this made me cry. So close to home. It isn’t always about special days anymore. Everyone things I must be ‘over’ the worst of grief. everyone who hasn’t lived it. I so understand you and your ‘social director’. I returned to the city because it forces me to have a social life. on my own, surrounded by more space, I’m the worst of hermits. Pete was my social director, my front man. I could count on him to chat and charm and cover my essential shyness. I conjure him by pushing the ‘on’ button that makes his crazy plastic birds start chirping–the centrepiece at the table, of the last hilarious surprise birthday party he gave me. I am having to learn to meet people on my own, and enjoy them before retreating to the safety of my personal cave. Lately, it’s not the ‘special’ days that make me cry. It’s the sudden moments that crop up anytime and anywhere. It’s nearly two years, and feels like only moments since we had to say goodbye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *