I was at work when I heard. If I remember correctly I was doing a report for my boss, something to do with the new shipment of pens being delivered to one of our most important clients. I was discussing the matter with my superior, how numbers fitted together in order to make greater profits. My secretary barged into the office and told me Isabelle, my wife, had died in an accident and my daughter was hospitalized.
I left of course to go see my daughter, nobody was going to stop me. My boss gave me the keys to his car so I wouldn’t have to wait for a taxi. He told me to him and his wife would be around. I never felt closer to the man, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was a charity case in those moments. I took it gratefully and within half-an-hour I had beaten traffic and my baby girl saw me before she closed her eyes.
I returned the car to my boss’s home and he invited me inside for a drink. He told me that I had full support at the company and I could come back anytime I wanted. I didn’t know how to thank him and with his wife there it only felt more broken and awkward. I didn’t refuse the drink, but I refused to speak much on the news. I left on foot and made it home an hour later. It had been years since I cried so hard, been years since I felt so empty.
I would like to say that the next days were spent in the most healthy way possible, but when you felt as sick as me you couldn’t do anything healthy. I mourned through misery. No escapes into alcohol or drugs or anything that would numb the pain either. I face the music, revelled in the grief with old photographs and home videos. It was a misery that only a father and husband felt when he lost it all. In those moments I felt more clueless than sad. What would I do now?
We as humans have worked towards a goal, an ambition and I had it all. Everything that I did since I created a family was maintain that joy, than happiness and yes, even the struggles we faced. It was familiar, it was home, it was my heart and then it as gone. So, yes, all I could about in the days that followed was my place in the world and whether I still fitted in it.
When I grew tired of grief I truly felt empty. Depression has been described with sadness, that is one major part of it, but the other part is not feeling anything at all. Once more, the prospect of drugs to feel something came t o mind, but I had already been set in my ways. Days to weeks, weeks to months and eventually a year passed and I returned to work. I wasn’t so much welcomed by other employees, most faces I didn’t recognize and the hug the boss gave me upon my return didn’t paint a great picture of me.
The boss noticed and I figured he had gone out the way to set things right with the other employees. Either he told them what happened to me or told them off for their negative attitude towards me. Once more, I felt like a charity case, but my boss was simply a good man. I knew if the same had happened to any one of them he would do the same. Settling back into work wasn’t so hard and for the longest moment I thought I would never feel a good feeling ever again.
I was fortunate in some ways in the years that came after. I grew out of the plague of guilt I felt, the misery and breathing...I cannot tell you how difficult it was to breathe for so long, but I soon drank the air. Some would call this the final stage of grief, acceptance. Perhaps it was, but I still felt like I had difficulty moving on. That was until I found a woman who had been through the same situation as me. In the years that I lived alone the sorrow ate at me, leaving gaps and voids in my very being and this woman who lost her husband seemed to have been eaten the same way.
We fit each other, that much was all we needed. I loved her, truly, but I think we both knew that we weren’t as happy as we were with our first spouses. I didn’t blame her nor did I blame myself. The first marriage was meant to last forever for both of us and I think it was cruelly taken away from both of us. I didn’t want to have a child, I didn’t have the heart anymore, but she did. The solution we came to was not the one I wanted, but I was in this relationship now.
She adopted a child. A small baby, passed from birth mother to a her. I didn’t hold the child. All I saw was my daughter in her eyes and it killed me all over again. Another relationship ended, once more far too soon, but I knew she was happier this way. Me, I still couldn’t get used being alone and after that damaging relationship disguised as therapy, I decided to give up on people for a long time.
Instead of hoping someone would fix me I decided to fix someone else. I paid a visit to the animal shelter and took the most beaten down dog they had. I gave him a home, I showed him warmth and I cared for him as if he was family. That’s exactly what he became in time and he ended up showing the same love in return. It was the most healthy thing I did to accept what happened to me. I stopped making time for other people who I thought would save me and made time for something that was less human. Dogs were easier than people.
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