Without even seeing her face, I knew. The doctor could barely hide the pity in her eyes. And so, before she could even open her mouth to speak, I quickly found my voice. “If your face is showing all you have to say then please leave. I’m leaving as well and will be back in … after some time. Then, we’ll deal with the formalities.” My voice is choking with the unshed tears and the doctor just nods before walking away. It’s a feat to not run, not that anyone cares.
You promised me we would always have each other. That’s the only thing I remember thinking as my body automatically makes it way to the one place it recognizes as safe. And yet, as the door to our apartment shuts behind me, I cannot find anything that feels even remotely familiar.
The smiling couple in the pictures on the wall seem to have been a dream. The way the place has been decorated feels like a stranger lives here. There’s nothing in here that feels like him or me. I move to the heart of the place and find myself in the bedroom. And once again, I’m stuck feeling like a stranger in the place where I have made countless memories.
And so, I sit on the bed, half expecting a stranger to walk in and demand an explanation for what I was doing here. But no one comes. And outside the window, I see the sun go down the horizon with no emotion at all. He has already left me, why should I worry about you leaving as well? And it is that thought that finally breaks through the haze.
He has already left me. The sentence echoes within me as the tears finally erupt. And the crying sounds like the ugly and dying final sounds. Because that is what I feel, like I’m dying. Tears keep falling as I cry and scream where I sit but soon, the dehydration stops hem and makes my throat feel raw. But nothing snaps me out of the grieving. He has already left me. Why should I care what happens to me when he didn’t?
But my mind rebels at the thought and redirects me to the memories of the last night – God, was that only last night? – when we had made plans of him and me and our unborn child. My hand automatically drifts to the – so far forgotten – child in me and I feel the urge to cry once again as I remember the happiness and the excitement on his face.
“I cannot wait for him or her. You’ll see, I’ll spoil the kid rotten and you would have to bring the discipline to the house.” He had commented while we had snuggled in bed last night. “I’ll be the best, coolest dad ever and you will all see!” And then, he had tenderly added. “And we’ll never let him or her think that we are not there for our child. Our kid won’t grow an orphan.” But you did leave and our child will feel like an orphan. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try to be the best parent we never had.
My body once again then resorts to functioning on itself as I rehydrate myself and eat some tasteless food and improve my appearance, even if unsuccessfully. And then, I make my way back to the hospital. This time, everyone who couldn’t be here in the morning is now present and I am swallowed by this new family of friends the two of us had created so long ago that it feels like another lifetime. I drown in their sympathies and feel fatigued when I’m finally let go. Some tears still break loose at the thought of him gone but it is not in me to breakdown in public. And nor do I break. I take care of the formalities and the paperwork and send off each and every single one of my family off while trying, and failing, to give an act of being able to hold it all together. And then, my oldest friend hugs me before leaving and what she says breaks through the façade.
“Prepare yourself hon. Tonight is going to be the worst day you’ve ever gone through. And though we don’t want you to go through it, someday you have to. So we’ll give you space tonight. But know that we’ll be here. Tonight, tomorrow and any other time you need us. So don’t hesitate to call.”
And so, despite a few traitorous tears, I manage to get to the bed without a breakdown. And that’s when the loss strikes the worst.
The quiet is so strange, so distracting, so overwhelming that I cannot focus on anything but it. And the coldness on the right of my bed is so painful that I don’t even pretend to try to sleep. Instead, I stare at the pillow that still has the indentation of the back of his head. Every sound is amplified, every thought is buried. And all I can feel is the loss. I check my pulse and am surprised to feel it when my heart seems so cold that it might as well be dead. I silently cry, and even the realization hurts when I remember how he always knew when I needed him but wouldn’t reach out because I wanted to suffer alone in silence.
My body yearns for his embrace, breaking further into despair as only coldness envelops me. “Come back, please come back.” I beg to no one in particular but even I know that’s not possible. And then, the thoughts of tomorrow penetrate. Oh god, I can’t do this. Go through this loneliness over and over again a thousand times in a few seconds for the rest of my life. And so, I pray. To whoever is listening. To God. To him.
“When tomorrow comes… I do not wish to feel anything. I will raise our child and I will make him happy but I don’t want to feel anything. Not the pain. Not the grief. Nothing.”