This will not be a comfortable read, don’t bother if you’ve not the stomach for it.
I cannot pretend otherwise, the grief I am enduring is unimaginable. It’s around me always, like a shadow. It’s always with me. I’ve no real experience of depression but I’ve heard tell of a ‘black dog’. I understand this now. My shadow of grief is an ever-present brooding, sometimes snarling, spectre. This my friends is a new manifestation of the malignant motherfucker that has wreaked so much pain, chaos and despair.
It is seven days since Nicky died. This time last week I carried my sleeping children to their own beds and enfolded my darling wife in my arms for the last time. I curled around her. She’d not been conscious for some 15 hours by this time, the morphine driver imperceptibly twisting, bringing relief to her and a sense of inevitable anguish to me.
“Sleep baby, if you want to, let go love.”
She died in my arms, although I could not tell you when. As day dawned and wakefulness returned I reached to touch her head. Her porcelain perfect skin, youthful and clear, was china cool.
Seven days. Shock has metamorphosed into something much darker..
Often these days I am making funeral plans and my shadow is polite enough to respect my busy body trifling. Busy Busy Busy. The spectre bides his time around the house, brooding over her diary entries, flicking through our photo albums, absent mindedly examining the kitchen cupboards or contents of her drawers.
Ding Dong, it’s the door again.
Visitors and friends arrive to hug me and tell me I am loved. Contrary to their desired intention this often serves to rouse my shadow from its temporary ambivalence. Tears, hugs, ‘I’m so sorries’ and reminders of the good times are, let me tell you, music for a grief demon and at once he begins an unmerry dance around my head. Firmer hugs and a few good laughs will eventually tire him, thank god.
But other times he’s far less accommodating and (when the mood takes him) the ferociousness of his attack is physical. I am bent double, I lose breath, focus and balance, and then the shadow envelopes me as thick and black as treacle. I teeter in the edge of a precipice, below me an abysmal infinity. It is very very very dark in here. Nicky was the brightest light. I loved her unequivocally. She was my soulmate, my lover, my best friend. My loss is profound.
From the many cards and messages i realise she was a light to many many others. So it seems everyone around me is in mourning too. We meet and reach out to one another like drunks at a disco, as each of us I guess is dancing with our own kind of grief demon.
I fear for myself, and I fear for the girls. How must it be for them? I’ll do my best, and am doing my best but I’ll always fall short. Nicky was an exceptional mother, with infinite patience and endless love. How can I ever match or replace her? And what is their loss? How much more profound it must be for them. In every movement, look and smile they make I see Nicky’s face and grace, and what must they see in me? I am at a loss. Betsy Bubble is hiding in corners, angry yet unable to find a voice to vent it. Tilly weeps each night, and is, like me, swept up in a hideous ballroom with her own grief demon to a relentless tune she neither knows, nor understands. A Dervish has her ‘in hold’, poor sweet Tilly.
We burn Nicky Barber ‘s remains on Friday. Perhaps then I will find the strength to wrestle this evil, foul breathed, merciless, cruel malevolence from our house. Or maybe I will just get used to him. An uninvited houseguest, unwelcome and wearing his muddy sodding boots on Nicky’s new grey hearth rug. Someone please tell him to get the fuck out.