Going Solo

The first time you decided we must end things, you emailed me explaining why. One reason you gave was because if our colleagues found out, we would be vilified and hated. We’d lose friends and life would become difficult. The very next time I saw you, you seduced me and suddenly we were back on again. This happened 3 or 4 times: you’d end it, and a maximum of 36 hours would pass before you’d find a reason to contact me and suddenly we would be back on again.

I know this was because we were drawn to each other, soul mates, more in love than it is possible to explain. I couldn’t function without you, and vice versa. But each time, I took a step closer to depression. Sometimes I got strong and told you to get out of my life this time, find a new job and let me move on. I suspect this hit you hard and I know that one time when I did it, you ended up in the psych unit, although you never confirmed it was part of the reason why.

But now you are dead, ashes in an urn somewhere, and I am here, trying to live without you. Ostracised from our work colleagues for exactly the reasons in your email. Watching them meet up and have happy times on Facebook throws so many conflicting emotions at me, and it makes me feel so low sometimes that I am strongly considering closing my account.

They are moving on, living life, and I am not. I should, but I feel I shouldn’t because I think they think I shouldn’t. I’m sure they hate me, I know at least one blames me for your death. I’m sure they wish it was me under the train. Part of me wants them to know how ill I am, that I am suicidal now and that I take the same drugs you did. But maybe that will make them think that I should be like this, “serves her right”. I’m sure they don’t think of you the same way they do me. And that’s purely because you are dead and I haven’t done it yet. But it takes two to fucking tango. You pursued me. I defined that fucking line and you pushed to cross it. I’m not saying I was pressured or non consenting, but it all came from you, and yet I am the one vilified, hated and wished dead.

There are two things I would do if I could turn back time, and one is that I would stand strong behind that line and refuse to cross it. Refuse to give you my address when you asked for it. Locked the door and not let you in when you arrived. Not given you a hug when you gave me your gorgeous sad eyes. And not looked up when you kissed my hair and said you wanted to do more. June 15th. I should have been strong and not let any of that happen.

But the fact of the matter is, SM, that it was one of the best days of my life. Or, as you described it, wonderful.

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Worst Month of My Life

One month ago, you shattered many lives, mine included.  I don’t know if you truly realised how final death is.  I know you thought that no one would care, that everyone thought you deserved it, and that the world would just carry on as normal the next day.  Whereas, in fact, I fell apart.  Your best friend fell apart.   Your family fell apart. Your colleagues fell apart.    I use that order as it is how it went for me; I imagine the first three fell apart as much as each other, give or take.

And in that month, this is the impact that losing you forever has had on me:

I am suicidal – ranging from needing to do it, to having in the back of my mind as an option.  DEFCON 2-4.  I’ve had to tell people this, and my plans, so that should life get too much, I can be found – in time, I hope.

I take antidepressants – the same ones you were on, although a lower dose, I think.  As such I don’t feel emotions any more.  What a relief – I couldn’t cope with the physical and mental pain your passing left me with; it left me unable to function.

I exist.  I don’t enjoy life; I am not living it.  I take care of my children’s every need, drop them off at nursery, and bumble through the day.  I cannot see more than a few days in advance.  I don’t enjoy doing things like I used to.  Showering is an achievement in itself.  I am 32 years old; I should have another 50 years left on this planet, at least.  I have no idea how I am going to last that long.

I take the blame for your decision to commit suicide.  If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have broken your marriage vows, fallen apart mentally, hit rock bottom and refused all help.  Therefore your death is my fault; the pain and suffering that everyone who knew you is feeling, is my fault.  This is why I am suicidal.

I am fearful of returning to work.  Everyone knows about our affair and that I caused you to kill yourself.  I have been blamed for it by a mutual friend.  I can’t cope with the judging eyes, seeing the pain I have caused.  I also cannot bear to think that people have judged you for cheating on your wife.  Even though you pursued me, you wanted to cross the line that I defined, it is me who was in the wrong, because you are dead and I am left to take the blame.  And I want it that way.  I am in so much love with you that no one is allowed to think badly of you.  It is me, only me.  You used to say that it was all you, not my fault, I should hate you, no one would see it as my fault.  I disagreed, you got angry, we had to drop it.  You were wrong and I can’t tell you “I told you so”.

I am turning to superstition and OCD.  I count magpies and am fearful of how my day will go if I only see one.  I look out for the moon at night, as I see it as symbolic of you looking down on me.  I talk to you via it, take comfort in its presence: your presence.  If I cant see it, I get low.  I am fighting my zombie phobia as your promised me that you would protect me should it happen (do you remember, you even gave me an escape plan once as I was nervous about going to London?) and now you are not here to do that.  Who will save me now?  Maybe I should let them get me; it might answer previous thoughts.

One month.  One month of doing everything I can not to hit rock bottom and never get off it.  One month of knowing that’s all I want to do.

I’d give my life so that you have yours.

In Deep

“It’s funny. I held back telling you I love you for so long. And now I’ve said it, I just can’t stop saying it.”

I smiled when you sent me that. I understood totally why you held back; I did too. What we were doing was so wrong, so much betrayal. To make it all the more serious by admitting it was love just seemed a taboo too far. We both knew it though, and had almost said it, skirted round it in other ways.

I really, really, REALLY like you.
I want to say more, but I shouldn’t.
I’m in deep. Too deep.

Then on the evening of my last day in the office, last day before maternity leave, you text me. You were a bit all over the place, worried about my leave, losing me, the start of an unknown chapter. I felt odd too, but we didn’t know why.

“Fuck it. I love you”
“I love you too x”
“Don’t respond, it makes me an awful person”
“Too late”

I was so happy, but scared as well. Suddenly what we were doing, being together, became more real than we could’ve imagined. This wasn’t a fling that would fizzle out (although we knew that really). This was serious, and neither of us knew how it could end. 2 partners, 4 children: two not even born yet. How could life have thrown this at us?

“If we break up, this will end very badly for me”

I thought you meant you’d lose your only confidante. I don’t think either of us thought it would end like it did. The ultimate tragedy.

I love you, SM x

Gone

Even now, I still can’t believe you aren’t here anymore.

The realisation hits me daily, each time a strange tingling sensation somewhere in my body. That’s the drugs; it’s how I feel emotions now. I can tell how strong I’m feeling by how big the sensation is. When I read the order of service for your funeral, it was shoulders to feet, and almost painful.

I console myself with the fact that it is what you wanted; you are happy and peaceful now, and I run over some of the last messages you sent me in my head:

I crave death.
It’s all I want.
If I had a gun, right now I’d be dead.

But the fact that I knew this and still couldn’t save you from your demons is one of the reasons I can’t face life right now.

Last Day

It was almost comforting to find out that Sam also wonders what you did on your last day. And I find it very comforting to know that I was the last person you know to see you alive. There’s probably no relevance to it really, maybe that’s just how your last day went. But perhaps, just perhaps, you planned it like that. And perhaps that was because I was significant to you.

Well, I know I was significant to you, I was the one that broke your marriage. I was the one you confessed to having an affair with, and falling in love with, two days before. What I mean is, perhaps that was the only way you could express from the other side, that I meant to you what you mean to me.

So what did you do after you left my house? I know you got the half seven train back home, and you would have been back in the area at around 9:30 – 10:00. That’s the time Sam started searching for you after Peter raised the alarm over the texts you sent him. Did you buy an 8 pack of Stella and sit by the railway? Did you go to the pub? Had you decided at this point that today was your final day, or did you slowly get to this point throughout the day?

I was calling your phone for hours after you found the end you craved. My last WhatsApp message has never delivered.

When Sam confirmed you had gone, I switched off the tv, dialled Mel and collapsed to my knees on the floor. That’s where she found me ten minutes later, sobbing.

I cried all night. When I couldn’t stand to be in bed any longer at 4 am, I went outside and cried in the light of the full moon. I held it together in front of the kids, dropped them at nursery, went home again and cried. When my mum and sister arrived, I was still crying. It’s only since being on medication that I only cry in severe moments. The relief is immense.

Being emotionless is the only way I cope now. I told you months ago that if you did it, my world would fall apart. Even I didn’t realise quite how apart it could fall; quite how broken it is possible for a person to be. I’m just existing now. Waiting for the time the grim reaper calls. When I’m feeling OK, it’s years in advance in a slow, natural decline. But when I’m on a low and the DEFCON level rises, it doesn’t seem so far away. And that doesn’t bother me.

In fact, I just can’t wait to see you again.

I Know It’s Not Enough

I know it takes two to tango.

I know I made sure it was you who made the first moves.

I know that, as a grown man, you were more than capable of making your own decisions.

I know that, ultimately, it was you and you alone who decided to listen to your demons and step out in front of a train.

But I still blame myself for everything that happened and the pain it subsequently caused to everyone in our lives.

I still blame myself for not stopping you.

I am so, so sorry for everything.

Which is also the last thing you said to me, face to face.

At Peace

I was dreading today.  When I found out when your funeral was, I crashed.  The lowest I’ve been since on medication.  DEFCON 2 suicidal level – i.e. want to do it, but not got the courage just yet.  Cried even, and the drugs don’t let me feel emotion.  I don’t even know quite why; after all, you’d met the end you craved just over a fortnight previously.  Possibly it was the loss hitting me all over again, possibly the pain and self-hate at the lives I have helped ruin by being the reason you wanted to end yours.

But actually, today was OK.  I felt good enough that I nearly forgot to take my pill – usually I’m starting to feel the effects wear off in some way, shape or form, and as such I’m desperate to knock back the next one.  I put on an outfit you liked, ate a breakfast I knew you’d choose, delivered the kids to nursery, avoided Laura apart from a “Hi!” in passing, and went straight home again.  The demons started to pull me down at this point though, so I ended up on the sofa, comfort eating my favourite crisps, watching TV.  I fought the demons enough to put on a subtitled TV programme, so I would have to concentrate and therefore not think about you, life, what I’ve done, wondering if people care, worrying that they do, death, living, what should have been.  Then my sister text her arrival time, so I finished my film, checked myself in the mirror (I don’t really care what I look like these days, I just didn’t want to look bad enough that Helen would spot it and worry, nor too good so that she’d spot I was overcompensating) and drove to Guildford to meet her.

I thought about taking the train, but, even though I have since you went, I’m not comfortable around them, and should the DEFCON level escalate, things could go very wrong.  So I drove, and tried not to think about the time I met you in Guildford, just an hour or so for a coffee, chat, and a kiss and a cuddle in the car.  Not about how I’d been feeling jealous and low because I knew you were on annual leave with your wife for the rest of the week.  Not about how you patiently explained that this is how it was going to have to be for now, and if I couldn’t cope with it, perhaps we should reconsider things.  Not about how I said that I knew that, and that I would get used to it.  Not about how that, looking back, I was probably on an undiagnosed low and using you as Citilopram.  Not about how I ran my finger up and down the inside of your upper arm, delighting in your shivers as I did it, and the smile on your face.  And especially not about how you had to ask me to stop, as the shivers had gone straight to your cock.

Helen and I had a nice day, browsing the shops, then lunch, more shops and a coffee before parting ways and heading home.  We talked a lot.  About you; how I was coping; how I was finding the drugs.  We made loose plans to visit the spot, your last place on Earth, so I could say all the things I need to say to you, feel close to you and hopefully start to find closure.  We discussed my shitty relationship with Graham and how it linked in with you. And then, as a parting shot, she reminded me that it is OK to not feel OK, and no matter where or when, I can text her just to tell her that if I need to.

I left Guildford feeling OK.  Unmedicated, I might have even felt happy.  The traffic to get out of town didn’t annoy me, surprisingly.  And as I hit the A3, the golden rays of the setting sun nearly blinded me, and I smiled.  It was beautiful: oranges, yellows and a few pinks, following me all the way home.  And it reminded me of you.  It can’t have been co-incidence, or, as you once said, “it’s just weather, Tilly!”.  Why would there be such a beautiful sunset on the evening of your cremation, when this has such significance to you? 

What Should Have Been: Barbecue

It’s 3:30pm on Friday.  I look outside across the garden, to our fields beyond.  Our empire, as you call it, that we worked so hard to have.  The sky is blue and still, the sun still so hot, high in the sky.  Just then, the kids run across the garden, shrieking and laughing.  There’s only one way to end the day, and I fish my phone out of my pocket and dial your work number.

“Hey, Hollywood,” you greet.  I know from this that you’re alone in your office.  Should it have just been a friendly “Hello”, your boss would be present; an overdramatic “My darrrrrrling, for what do I owe the extreeeeeme pleasure of this call?” would mean it was just your peers, as always competing over who can answer the phone to their other halves in the most soppy way.

“Barbecue?”

“Yessss!!!  Perfect.  I’ll get texting.  Bring a bottle and a salady thing?”

“Yep.  Arrive as and when; I’ll be in.  Camp over if they want.  What time will you be back?”

“Fucking now.  Well, should be able to bugger off in the next half hour.  I’ll grab meat, anything else?”

“Err, crisps, rolls.  Anything else you fancy.”

“Awesome.  See you soon.  Can’t wait.  Love you!”

“Love you too, SM.”

I hang up and immediately text our local friends, kids’ friends and family.  “BBQ at ours tonight.  Bring a side dish and booze.  Kids, dogs, grannies welcome.  Turn up any time and feel free to camp over.  Look forward to seeing you!”

Within minutes my phone starts buzzing and as luck would have it, most are free.  An hour later and cars start arriving, kids pouring out and happy voices fill the air.  Ladies hustle in with food, men with beer and wine.  “How are yooou?”,  “You look well!”, “What a brilliant idea!”,  “Garden looks amazing, David’s work?”.

Everyone knows the drill.  Alcohol in the buckets of water on the patio.  Salads on the kitchen table.  Kids in the treehouse, messing around on the lawn, darting past adults on the patio.

You arrive on cue, laden with shopping bags, and walk straight towards me at the counter, throwing together a pasta salad.  Without putting anything down, you kiss me, a little too passionately perhaps, for such a public moment.

“Muuumm!  Dad!  Aaargh!”

We pull away, smiling, but don’t care.  Every time I see you is like the first time, and I can’t get enough of you, ever.

We launch into the swing of things, marinading meat, stoking up the barbecue you bricked in yourself, full of pride.  I get the paddling pools out and the children immediately jump in, splashing and squealing.  The adults run the opposite way – experience suggests the chances of being splashed or thrown in are very high,  More people arrive, the music goes on, and everyone forgets the stresses the week has brought, relaxing in the sun, atmosphere and good company.  The wine flows; the food is devoured.  Gradually, the sun starts to set.  I excuse myself from the conversation I’m in and start to look for you.  I know where you are when the cry of “Bastards!” is heard, followed by a huge splash.

“David!” I shout.  “Children are present!”  I head over to the paddling pools, where I find you lying in one, and Sam and Peter, your best mates, laughing next to it.  I cant help but laugh myself.  You probably deserved it, and three children have now launched themselves on you, knowing that you’ll stand up and whirl them around to shake them off.

“Sorry dear!”, you apologise.  You look up at me.  “Time for fire?”

“Yesssss!”, squeal two of the children, and all three promptly let go of you and run to the fire pit.  It’s just a large bare patch of earth, but you’ve christened it a fire pit, and nothing will change that name in your head.  Ten minutes later, it’s alive with logs and flames, and our remaining guests slowly gather round.  Marshmallows and sticks come out; toasting begins.  You feed me the first one and we cuddle up as you start toasting the next.

Our children start nodding off, so I get up and herd them inside.  Pyjamas are thrown on, and they fall into bed exhausted but very happy.  Ten minutes later, I’m back in your arms, watching the flames dancing.  Only the campers are left now, and it has been decided that drinking games should be played.

Hours later, completely wasted, we stagger indoors and up to bed.  You flop into bed on your back, and I cuddle up to your side, head on your shoulder, one arm over your chest and one leg over yours.  You wrap your arms around me and kiss my hair.

“Could life be any more perfect?”, you ask.

“I really don’t think it could,” I reply.  And with that, we drift off to sleep.