There was something wrong…surely there must be? Why didn’t she feel any sadness? She had laughed across the boardroom table with her colleagues. They had been enjoying the light relief of ridiculing their entitled, psychotic clients who were so busy sweating the microscopic issues of the day that they were laughable. Meanwhile the team was straining under the stress, and the humour was necessary.
But, how could she feel that way?
Suddenly she realised, as she walked away from the meeting, that she had been functioning normally for a few days now. When was the last time she had thought about him?
Feeling sombre for a moment, she sat down at her desk and checked her schedule. Dammit, another meeting in five minutes.
Maybe because she didn’t have time to grieve? That couldn’t be healthy.
“Hey?” enquired her colleague from over the partition. “You ready?”
“Yup. Absolutely,” she confirmed, leaping to her feet and grabbing her laptop.
Days slip by…
How long had it been? How long was it that the planet had been bereft of his presence? Back in his house, there must be a physical hole where he used to be, a vacuum, empty slippers, a ticking clock, a tapping foot, time and space wondering what else was going to fill it. But here of course, where she lived, thousands of miles away from his home, everything was as it had always been. Except perhaps for a new presence, his presence now as it was; sitting at her side in her car, standing with her as she waited for the train, drifting around her as she worked out. At yin yoga class that evening, the atmosphere swelled with something. There was the sense of being watched, calmly. As she breathed deeper and stretched a little more, she could see the back of her own neck, where the hair was gathered up into its pony tail, a few stray strands pulled out around the nape. There was a sudden rush of overwhelming love; she could feel it, pounding through the space, directed at her, filling her chest until it felt it would burst. Tears welled in her eyes as she pressed her forehead to her hands. Her breath felt jagged as it raked at her throat and she tried to control the welling sob, hurtling up from inside.
The right memories
The insects sang in the soft dim of the evening, and the stream behind the trees trickled quietly over the rocks beneath. She stood on the balcony and inhaled the silken air, full of leaves and perhaps the first hint of earthy autumnal-ness. How he would have enjoyed the peace of this.
How long had it been?
Suddenly she was in the hospital again, staring in bewilderment at the impossible array of tubes, lines and machines he was wired to. His thin frame so frail, his shoulders so wasted under her hands. …His hands, the knuckles painfully predominant.
Tears rolled down her face.
A sob gasping from her.
Where did that come from?
The ‘no’ was insistent. It came firmly from inside.
Suddenly she saw him jumping at the volleyball net, high above the ground, suspended in mid-air smashing the ball on its terminal trajectory into the court of the opponents who rushed and dived to block the inevitable. It was a picture she had marvelled at as a child - her Dad, strong and powerful. His crazy long hair flying behind him in the air, the number on the back of his shirt, stripes on the sleeves, leg muscles flexing. His team were county champions that year.
That was how he wanted to be remembered - Athletic and powerful; active his whole life.
The end was the end, and it would not dictate or discolour her memories of what he truly was.
“This is unacceptable!” raged pin-stripe prat at the other end of the phone.
It was Monday afternoon.
She shrugged and sat back in her chair, apathetic.
“We need a full explanation and updated schedule by 9am tomorrow!” ranted mr sweaty .
“A full schedule update won’t be possible by then,” she responded in a flat tone. She didn’t care.
The anger intensified in her ear, but all the sound and fury was nothing but a collection of inconsequential bleating. She listened, catatonic, waiting for a lull in the noise. None of it meant anything. It was the misplaced madness, the obsession of an idiot, desperately trying to manage what was not his to manage. It was so far from important on her current scale, they might as well be discussing a nameless gaseous particle floating along the shores of pluto; so far off and minute as to be infinitely insignificant. Didn’t he realize how much bigger life was? He was missing all that was truly meaningful, and sweating blood over the negligible. Seriously, was this man even awake?
She scrolled to the messages on her phone from her brothers and sister; evidently it had been a hard day for all of them.
She too had taken herself out for a walk at 11am, too emotional to focus on the mind boggling cost report. Who gave a damn? When there were so much more substantial and significant things in life? She swallowed at the hard lump in her throat and glanced out of the train window, eager to distract herself, and most importantly, not break down into tears amongst the strangers, all jostling, shoulder to shoulder in the same space, holding on as they rounded a bend in the tracks and crashed over the points, the carriage leaping.
She swallowed again and looked up at the digital display above the doors, where the clock read; ‘16:17’. Her vision glazed and she felt dizzy for a moment, grasping the pole in front of her, a surreal sensation of drifting overcoming her. The afternoon light streaming through the windows faded to a foggy dim of evening. ‘21:17,’ said the watch on her wrist… She was on UK time. The wet sand was cool beneath her feet, and a magical efflorescent glow suffused over the beach, like every stone and grain of sand emanated its own energy. With the sun sunken beyond the horizon long before, the soft blue of evening throbbed over her.
How was she there? She was standing on his beach; the one on which he had played and lived as a child, where his family home perched at the top of the slumping cliff. She hadn’t been there for years, yet the view, the sounds, the very scent, told her where she was. She waved her hand in front of her face, wondering how real it all was, and it swept before her vision in slow motion, splitting momentarily into tiny fragments, like the grains of sand on the beach, before rejoining and settling once again. She looked to her right, and he was there, staring contentedly out at the water, tracking the outline of a ship on the far horizon. His blue eyes easy and restful, and his face relaxed. That familiar tilt of the chin, the slant of the brow, the flat end to the nose… Just as he had always been. He was in his place, and he had brought her there.
The sun swept around, turning the light up to the full of day. The ground beneath her feet vibrated as the train continued its charge along the tracks. She startled awake, gripping the grab rail and looking around. How long had she been gone? Had she been sleeping? No-one around her looked up from their phones. She rested her head against her hand and breathed, her heart filling her chest, bulging full of light and a sudden knowing. Her throat tightened again and her eyes prickled hot with tears. How long would the emotions in public places go on? She was deranged, swirling through her days in a detached fog, like a patient on meds who shouldn’t be out in the community.
Maybe she was drifting between the physical plane and the spiritual, rooted in neither…
Experiencing death of a loved one is a surreal, complicated, heartbreaking experience which can have one drifting through days as though in a drunken fog. Sometimes numb, sometimes inconsolable, sometimes angry…All the emotions you could possibly feel bubbling up at any time. Slipping in and out of reality. It’s a time of transition for all affected, and can even bring about psychic experiences which can change the way you view life and death.
Just be with it, and allow it to flow.