birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Life of the Party

My first husband was an extrovert. By extrovert, I mean he loved being in crowds, going to parties, and would have been happy to have other people live with us. I’m an introvert. Initially I though his extroversion would rub off on me, and I would get to be outgoing and at ease as he was at large gatherings. It didn’t work that way.

To get through all the social events, I would pretend to be an outgoing person. Let me tell you, that’s exhausting. I could pretend all I wanted to, but it didn’t change the fact that I’m an introvert. I love seeing people, being around people. I just don’t want to do it my every waking minute.

Our house was full of people the last five days of my husband’s life. His family, my family, friends who came to say “goodbye,” friends who stayed and saw to it that people ate, the hospice staff, and more. On the day he died, there were probably 20 people in the house. He would have loved that. Me, not so much. While I’d given up pretending to be a hostess—there was no energy left for that—I still had to be among the crowd in my house.

Then there was the visitation and having to be swarmed [by] well wishers for two hours as I pretended to be perfectly all right. It was lovely, and I deeply appreciated the kindness of people to taking time to come. But I was emotional toast. Then there was the funeral, which at least with at least 300 attended. At least we didn’t have interact with them—then.

When the internment was over at the cemetery, people started coming towards us. I tried to pretend to be gracious, but I wanted out and was literally backing away. As we made our exit, my stepson said, “Thank God dad isn’t here or we’d never be able to leave.”

No Bones About It