Rebecca Schenck of Charlotte is one of the contributors to "The Widow's Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival" (The Kent State University Press, $38 paper). Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, writes the foreword. Schenck is the widow of architectural photographer Gordon Schenck, who died in 2009: Here is her excerpt, addressed to her late husband:
The last time you were there, Mrs. Hoffman walked you to the car that I had pulled up close to her booth. A couple of weeks after you died, I took her your obituary, told the berry man and the flower man, didn't buy a thing.
The second time I went, Nise was back with her spring lettuce. When I told her you were gone, she hugged me and cried, handing me a mixed bag of red and green. She told me Lily had lost her daughter. I didn't recognize the name, but she's the artistic woman who placed the flowers beside the little vegetables on her table. I stopped to sympathize with her. Mrs. Hoffman gave me a jar of jelly and mailed me an Easter card.
Another week, I bought one tomato, one bell pepper, four yellow squash and a $2 bunch of blue ragged robins from the Asian family we liked so much. Gas prices are going up again, and I stopped on South Tryon to fill the Volvo. A woman at the pump noticed the flowers on the front seat and said they were pretty. I told her they were our favorites but my sweet husband had died; then I burst into tears. She said, "That's all right," and I said it wasn't.
Last Saturday, I went to the Farmers' Market again. When Mrs. Hoffman gave me pink peonies, I remembered your mother's talking about the peonies that bloomed the May you were born. At the plant shed I bought two Irene lantanas and stopped to tell the Celtic herb man that this year we have a full crop of his Kentucky Colonel spearmint. But you are not here. He was so sorry and handed me a pot of dill.
I came home and had what we liked best for a summer Saturday lunch: an ear of corn, a BLT and iced tea with a sprig of mint. I miss you.