Alan and all of his friends know he isn't one to entertain loneliness. He doesn't know anyone else who thought of it in this way- that you can ignore loneliness. Some people find it infuriating; slightly ignorant. But since his wife had died ten years before and his kids had already flown the nest and begun their adult lives, Alan made the conscious decision to make some kind of peace with lonely.
And he doesn't feel ungrateful. Not at all. His eldest who lives three hours away with his kids and lovely wife visits at least twice a month; his middle kid making it big with her writing in London calls every night; his youngest boy living some kind of bachelor life Alan doesn't need to know about is always at his table for Sunday lunch every week. And Alan visits his kids and grandkids as much as he can- offering any help he can. His family is his life. But the rest of his life is full of hours which he does fill with emptiness.
He made a promise to his wife Katrina. A promise that even if he couldn't find love again when she died that he would be happy... For her; for him.
So, every week Alan falls into a routine. A routine Alan is happy to buddy up with. As soon as the sun rises on a Monday Alan goes for a jog. Despite being careful of his ageing knees and not being nearly as fit as he was once upon a time, he finds happiness in the friendship his feet find with the field he runs around. The rest of Monday is devoted to snooker with his friends at the club. He doesn't drink much but will nurse one drink on a Monday. Tuesday is a day for gardening. Wednesday is for cooking a fancy dinner- like a dinner he would make for his wife every Wednesday when she was alive. On Thursdays Alan plays golf with his best friend Mike. On Fridays he is invited round to Mike's house every week without fail to eat dinner with him and his wife, Angie. On Saturdays he has a lie in and reads a newspaper over a fry up. He watches sport on the TV and takes a long walk. After Johnny leaves following Sunday lunch and a catch up Alan will catch a film at the local cinema or watch the sunset if the sun is to set early in the evening.
One thing that rarely changes is his evenings. He places himself on the sofa next to the ghost of his wife and he watches TV. Some might call these evenings lonely but he is just making space for Katrina to come home. He knows that she's not coming home but spending the evenings how he and his wife would brings her back to his heart. He'll sometimes do a crossword or a word search to fill the space where he and his wife would play board games. Or he'll read a book; a book like they would choose to read together. Every Saturday they'd pop into town and buy two copies of the same book and without fail they would finish it by the end of the week and chat about it on one of the evenings that followed. A promise he made her without even asking is that he would keep this tradition and tell her all about the book on his weekly visit to see her. Although he never uttered the word "grave", they both sadly knew what he was referring to.
The life he lived with her might not have been sophisticated and exciting to some but it was his favourite life. The most fulfilling life he could have ever dreamed of. Before the kids, during the kids and once the kids had all left, Alan and Katrina had a beautiful life. They adored watching them grow into the wonderful humans they truly are and cherished their grandkids with all of their hearts. And as soon as the kids left they settled into this evening routine and it excited Alan every day.
For her and for him, Alan leads a pleasant life. He could choose to feel lonely when darkness drops and there is an empty space behind him, but she really is there. With him. Every step of the way.
Have a lovely Saturday!
Crosswords & Board Games,
The Girl in the Moonlight.