The incredible pain that engulfed me, froze my being, as if I was that figure in the Edvard Munch painting, ‘The Scream’. From the pit of my stomach, I just wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and never stop.
My husband’s niece, a nurse, at his hospital bedside throughout, showed me great compassion, kindly offering to drive me and the children, at my Nana’s flat, back to the Wairarapa, and stay over for his funeral. He would have been pleased, as he had a big soft spot for her. Being a strong family man, he couldn’t understand, why, as a teenager, she had been pressured to adopt out her lovely, red haired, baby boy.
Telling my little children, with no comprehension of death, that they no longer have their daddy they loved and adored, was just as bad as him dying. My dear Nana on hearing the news, told me how sorry she felt, and cried, wishing out loud, that she could have changed places with him. A thought that penetrated my blackness with its unselfish kindness.
Sitting with the little ones in the back of the van travelling home, his baby, not yet three, trying to comprehend, asks, ‘when is Daddy coming home?’ I tell her he won’t be, because he has gone to heaven. Slowly, grasping the finality of that, she asks again, ‘not ever?’ forced to say, ‘no,’ she goes quiet after declaring, ‘that’s not fair!’
The husband’s oldest son offers to make the funeral arrangements, at the Catholic church, probably because that is my husband’s, mother’s church. He would of gotten a great laugh from this, in one his many funny stories he recounted, was the time, he ran the Catholic priest off his property by the scruff of the neck.
My mother, Nana, and sister arrive and along with the niece care for the children and household. I curl up in a tight ball in my bed. In sleep, and for a brief few seconds on awakening, I forget, before the cruel truth floods my mind. The biggest heart ever, my forever, love, friend, protector, provider will never return.
Thinking the funeral would be too hard for the little ones to see, one of my marching mother friends, cares for them. One of his old mates volunteers to accompany me at the funeral, providing an arm to lean on. The church and grounds are a mass of people, the whole town appears to be here. I understand nothing of the service or the waving around of incense.
At the cemetery, on a brilliantly sunny day, my eyes see only blackness. The sky looks darkened by a black cloud, the masses of people surrounding us and the burial hole where they put my lovely man, all appear, somehow shrouded in blackness.
Afterwards, I sit at the mother in law’s house watching, unable to comprehend how everyone can eat, drink and chat, like normal, when I have just put my husband in the grave. I must escape. Crawling back into my bed, I pull the covers over my head and try to forget by remembering how we were.
On Sunday, the niece takes me to a church being held in the Hiona school hall. The people are friendly, the music bright with people clapping and dancing along, all very different from my usual traditional one. I sit in blackness, tears rolling down my face, with a glimmer of hope that their prayers will be able to get God to help.