I’m not a widow, but I re-stumbled across the below paragraph from the story “Probate” by Joyce Carol Oates and cannot get over how beautifully written and poignant an excerpt it is. Her collection of short stories, Sourland, is teeming with memorably beautiful and painful quotes, but, for some reason, this one always leaps out at me.
The widow’s mistake had been, her husband had been her life. She was a tree whose roots had become entwined with the roots of an adjacent tree, a seemingly taller and stronger tree, and these roots had become entwined inextricably. To free the living tree from the dead tree would require an act of violence that would damage the living tree. It would require an act of imagination. Easier to imagine suttee. Easier to imagine swallowing handfuls of barbiturates, old painkiller medications in the medicine cabinet. I can’t do this. I can’t be expected to do this. I am not strong enough.
Joyce Carol Oates, “Probate” from her short story collection, Sourland