Two weeks after the funeral, the big house and three little ones, are weirdly silent, like never before. My mother’s parting words, said, I know from concern, are to, ‘pull myself together for the children’, she thinks my husband wouldn’t want me like this. Her words, make no sense to my balled up body under the covers. Why can’t they see, the part of me that has been chopped off, I don’t think I can ever live without. I am dying. The enormity, and horror of my reality, makes me struggle to breathe and really, I don’t want to.
The teenager returns to her hairdressing apprenticeship by day and cares for the house and children in the evening. In a crazed frenzy of activity, I get up and drag another double bed from the spare room to join with mine, and spend a morning sewing all the covers together, until I have created one giant family bed. I keep the little ones home from school and we all cling together in the bed and talk our stories about our Daddy, giving him life again. Sleeping cuddled together gives each of us comfort.
My first time outside, to hang out the washing, and the sunny day strikes me as an odd counterpoint to my blackness. Losing the plot, I run around my yard shaking my fist at God in the sky and screaming out to him at the top of my lungs, ‘you’re a liar God, your world is a rip off ‘. When I see my neighbour peering through the palings on the fence, I run back inside, to crawl under my covers and blot out the world again.
Laying awake at night, my mind, unable to sleep, cannot comprehend, how someone so strong and larger than life, a once in a lifetime love, can be gone forever. I can smell his presence. His hospital smell appears often in the house rooms where I am sitting, when I feel a cool wind blowing on the back of my neck, I know it is him playing. I talk to him, telling him everything, so he will still know whats happening to his family he loved so much.
Thoughts of suicide start getting louder and louder. I am sure, I hear his voice calling to me to come, I think he needs me still. My wrists are aching and hurting so much, I want to cut them to stop it. Each night, I lock the bedroom door, so I can’t get to the knives and do it. In what I think is a lucid moment, I take a rubbish bag and put all the pills the Doctor has prescribed and every sharp knife in the house inside, then drive to the dump and throw them all overboard.
A kindly old lady, from the Presbyterian church where the little ones were christened, comes each day and knocks on the door. I ignore her at first, but she keeps coming back so finally I let her in. She has brought a cake and sits and talks paying no attention to the fact, I am in my green dressing gown in the middle of the day. I am thinking in my head, I wish she would hurry up and go, I want to crawl back under the covers.
Each day she perseveres and comes, bringing baking, and ignores she is talking with no response back. She recounts stories of her life, her husband, the book shop they had up town where the older kids used to order their magazines.
I hear how she was brought up a Baptist preacher’s daughter but changed to Presbyterian when she married as that was her husband’s church, but it is not the same and he doesn’t believe. Sometimes she talks about God and her faith. In my head, I think how come God never answered my prayers when my father left or saved my husband who didn’t deserve to go.
Slowly, his presence fades from the house and I no longer smell the smell or feel the wind, and ten months on light starts to return slowly. As if life is a big lottery, we have comforted ourselves with the thought our number wouldn’t come up again. You know the saying, ‘lightning never strikes twice’, that sort of thing, helps us to rationalize away our paralyzing fear about the fragility of life.
Security and permanence are however, just illusions we humans like to indulge in. Reality is, they are easily shattered and our defense mechanism is blown out of the water by a big red bus on a narrow road.