Goodbyes are brutal. No matter how mentally prepared you are, those very same emotions that create an unconditional love for another person can suddenly betray you, reaching from the pit of your stomach and gripping your throat tighter than a scene from Fifty Shades Of Shit Grey. There is no safe word, not that you could use one anyway.
No matter how much I like to think that goodbyes have become easy and how my wife sees me as utterly nonchalant, trying to keep it together as I watched my wife and daughter walk away created an overwhelming internal struggle as wave after wave of emotion crashed against me.
“Hold the door!” I heard an inner voice call “Hold the door!”
As my throat tightened to the point that breathing was no longer possible, the last glimpse of my daughter smiling and waving without a care in the world forced me to choke back the lump and offer a warm smile in return. Before I could break the security line and embrace my wife and daughter one more time like something from a cheesy feel-good movie, they were gone. As I loitered around the security checkpoint with my head bowed, I witnessed a man a few years younger than myself weeping uncontrollably as he bid farewell to whom I can only assume was his girlfriend, his parents consoling him with an awkward pat on the back.
“Should’ve held the door,” I thought to myself.
Coming home to a house still full of their possessions was enough to tip the scale. It was impossible to pack up their whole lives into three suitcases, with so many things remaining left or forgotten. If only we’d known about this move sooner than 10pm the night before, maybe the packing would have been done in an organised fashion…
I know it’s exam season and all, but cramming everything in at the last minute probably wasn’t the best way to go about it.
After a month of knowing, the reality of it all had finally hit home. Queue the music. Ballad after ballad would soon drown out the lonely silence as I cleaned and organised the apartment. It wasn’t until I noticed the sound of McFly filling the air that I realised I’d truly hit rock bottom.
“This is it,” I thought to myself “This is the moment I start enjoying Coldplay and Sex In The City,”
Trying desperately to find some positive material, I began to listen to the new work from Blink-182, the Sugarbabes of the pop-punk scene. As much as i enjoy the works of Matt Skiba, it felt wrong, so very wrong. It only got me thinking how special people are irreplaceable and that I am totally uninterested in living a life without Tom DeLonge my wife.
Sorting through the remains of my wife and daughter’s possessions, I came across an item that had me in deep thought. You know there is something fundamentally wrong when you begin to reminisce about the family “sick bowl”. The cloudy plastic mixing bowl that was commandeered during a particularly rough night of tonsillitis that had me shaking half naked on the kitchen floor as if I’d just pulled through a Twilight marathon. It would soon be my wife’s daily companion as she went through the phases of morning sickness, up until the moment it was discarded by the kitchen sink, where I now stood, somehow worryingly conflicted about throwing this shit away.
It was a difficult first day with reality sinking in with every passing hour, until I finally entered my daughter’s room that evening. I walked over to her bed and looked inside, her blankets were strewn all over from rolling around in her sleep the night before. I thought about the times I put her to bed each night, how I’d organise everything from the night before, lay her gently down in bed, sing her a song and wish her a goodnight over and over until my wife was forced to push me through the door, shouting one last goodnight over my shoulder. Each night I would venture into her room a couple of hours later. She would be whining softly in her sleep, hugging her blankets or a soft toy that she had insisted on sleeping with that night. I’d lean over and pull the blankets over her once again, and I would just watch until it became weird.
Although she would not be staying here tonight, I couldn’t walk away. Like every normal day before, I organised her blankets, plumped up her pillow and pulled back her covers. Closing the curtain, I walked over to the doorway and stood with a heavy heart. I listened for her to say her fond goodnight. To call me by one of her favourite characters names. To start singing a nursery rhyme or to talk happily to her toys. Only silence. With the lump growing in my throat, I whispered my goodnight from across the ocean, wishing that in some way she would hear.
“Sweet dreams, Sweetheart. Daddy loves you,”