They’re all gone, John. They were all there a minute ago, invading the house, nibbling canapés, sipping wine, buzzing, chatting, eyeing your favourite bronzes and wondering about the will – why, even your cousin James came from Australia so he must have had hopes in this direction.

Oh sorry I forgot, I’m forbidden from speaking ill of your family.

Every room was full of people – your relatives, the ones I can suffer and the ones I can’t... your work colleagues past and present and a few faces I would have been hard pressed to place – your golfing partners, I suppose.
As for your... secretary, we politely avoided each other – don’t worry, it was very civilised.

Oh I told them the right things, don’t worry. That you didn’t suffer. That it was better this way. That you would have preferred a swift departure to spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. And yes, I said it on the right tone of voice.

You reduced me to the status of badge wife, yet today I realised I could have been an actress. Why, I must have some ability – you should have seen the show I’ve put on.
Well we have been putting on a show for a while, haven’t we? Today was just the grand finale.

Every single person offered me their condolences and I accepted them with the proper tilt of the head and tone of voice, as if I was broken inside but putting up a brave face. I looked sad. I actually managed it. At some point I toyed with the idea of going to the lavatory and wetting my eyes so that everybody would believe I had cried, but I decided that was over the top. Quit while you’re winning.

When really I’m feeling... nothing. Just a bit of relief.

Of course, I had to feed them all. Yes of course the catering came from Fortnum and Mason’s. It cost a small fortune which would have given you a... oh yes, you’ve had a heart attack, haven’t you.

Gosh, you’re dead.

How long had we been married, John? I had stopped marking the anniversaries as I for one had nothing to celebrate. You didn’t seem to bother either.
Well we did have to invite your family and mine for the tenth anniversary, and yes we had a bit of a do last year as well, but we both know whose benefit that was for, don’t we?

Sixteen years. Funny how for the past... well let’s say six years, shall we? For the past six years we’ve studiously ignored each other. You would conveniently disappear into your study if I was in the kitchen – actually, that was the nicest thing you could do for me.
I would suddenly decide to do a spot of gardening if you wanted to be in the living room.

But now you are nowhere to be avoided!

I think I’ve managed to fool everybody, your sister included. Unfortunately she’s given me a leaflet for this young widows and widowers self-help group and I know for a fact that I simply must join – you know her, she’ll check.

It’s called Onwards and Upwards, OnUp for short. Apparently they meet up for tea and other outings. I am assured to meet people “who understand what you are going through.”

Looks like I’m going to have to keep up the act for a little while yet.