When someone dies, we tell the people left behind “I’m sorry for your loss” because they’re the ones who have to find a way to live through this new void.
But as I sit in the quiet stillness of the night and look at my beautiful brand new baby girl I can’t help but feel sorry for Sean and his loss. Just look at what he’s missing out on- this beautiful life we created and every special moment that will come from here on out. Missing out on Luke learning to ride his bike this Spring and being so sweet, gentle and loving to his new little sister.
What a shame he isn’t here to see any of it.
If you’ve ever spoken to someone who has witnessed a horrible atrocity in their life, they may mention to you the sound they made upon learning that their lives would be forever changed.
It’s the sound a father and mother make when two police officer knock on their door in the middle of the night with news regarding their child.
The sound a person makes when they cradle their best friend’s broken body after a car accident.
The sound a twenty-four-year-old pregnant woman makes when she learns her husband has shot himself and is lying in a pool of blood behind a door three hundred feet away from her.
If you were to ask me to try to recreate it today, I couldn’t. I can remember it in my head, but there is no sound in this memory-only silence.
Try to imagine the most wrenched, blood-curdling, agonizing wail that a human being is possibly capable of making.
….it’s worse than that.
Truthfully, I already knew Sean was dead when I spoke to the soldier on the phone that told me he’d last accessed the weapons vault at 18:45, still, I sat calmly in his office chair and stared blankly at my black and pink floral leggings awaiting the official declaration. When she came to tell me, I remember falling out of his chair into a puddle on the floor, curling up into myself and just making that sound.
Over and over and over again.
I just kept doing it, but it was like I couldn’t even hear myself. I didn’t realize how long or hard I’d be screaming until I called my parents and my voice was gone.
I wonder what sound Sean made before he died.
Perhaps a sound like the one I made?
Or perhaps it was just the sound of silence.
Whelp, my due date is officially in two hours.
Not that it matters. This little womb demon (I say that affectionately) seems most comfortable where she’s at and isn’t too keen on moving out any time soon.
At any rate, I think now is a good time to reflect on my pregnancy and some things that I’m taking care to appreciate before little miss makes her big debut.
Things you take for granted before a baby comes that you should seriously appreciate more
- Being able to walk out the door, get in the car and leave within 3-4 minutes
- Being able to take a long, hot shower uninterrupted
- Eating hot food
- Sleeping through the night
- OK, realistically I haven’t done this since I was maybe fifteen weeks pregnant but it’s a nice thought
- Using the bathroom uninterrupted
- OK, realistically I haven’t done this since I’ve had Luke but again….nice thought
- Your body being…well- yours
- Lol, nope. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant it’s 110% about that little peanut.
For as long as I’ve waited to meet her, the fact that she will be here sometime in the next eight days is both the most terrifying and wonderful thing ❤
Final thought: I realized that I’ve literally not been alone in a room for the past forty weeks.
I sometimes lie awake into the late hours of the morning and picture Sean’s final moments and the aftermath in my head, replaying all possible scenarios in great detail until I make myself physically ill. The police refused to let me into the vault to see him despite my asking. Though I was angry with them at the time for denying me, I am grateful they protected me from what I now realize is something I’d never be able to “unsee”. My therapist asked why I do this and truthfully- I don’t know. It doesn’t bring me any peace to torture myself imagining the possibilities until my anxiety and emotions spill out into the toilet bowl. But I just can’t help but wonder.
When he left the house, he was wearing a red cotton t-shirt, black sweat pants and the blue running shoes he’d bought two weeks earlier to help prepare for an upcoming PT test. Why would he buy new running shoes to prep for a PT test if he’d planned to kill himself? Maybe he didn’t plan to. Maybe he just got tired and sick of fighting so hard to just be OK. Maybe he was just drunk and decided to say “fuck it” when he left and stayed in that mindset as he walked to his death.
The police report said there was a lot of blood, the same red as his t-shirt?
What did he think about as he walked the twenty minutes to the unit? Did he think about me, or Luke? Or his unborn daughter?
Did his fingers shake as he accessed the weapons vault or was he steady-handed because he was so sure of his decision?
He only put one bullet in. I wonder why.
I guess it only takes the one.
Did he sit there and mull it over, or did he do it right away?
I hope he did it right away.
How long did he lie there before we found him? Had he already started to become cold and hard?
Did he scream or cry before he did it? Did he say any “final words” aloud? I wonder what he would have said.
Or did he die in silence?
I suppose it doesn’t matter either way.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it- does it make a sound?
I read somewhere that scientifically, the sense of smell is the strongest trigger for memory, and memories are all I have now. The smell of spearmint, the smell that used to fill the bathroom after he showered because of the shampoo he used. Or the attractive musky smell of Old Spice Krakengard or Swagger. Or even the way he smelled when he hadn’t showered that day or the way his clothes smelled after he’d worn them once or twice more without washing them. One of the scents that will be ingrained in my memory forever, is the smell of my husband’s body when I kissed him goodbye for the last time. When they removed his beret (a keepsake for the family), revealing the wound that took my husband from me, I ran my thumb over it, before kissing him goodbye. His hair didn’t smell like spearmint, or even the smell of his hair gel that made me nauseous in the early stages of my pregnancy. He didn’t smell like Old Spice or even a dirty t-shirt. It was so cold and unfamiliar, the smell of the classroom where the science lab was dissecting frogs. The smell of the chemicals used to preserve a body long after death. He didn’t smell like my husband in the six years that we had spend together. And then I knew he was truly gone.
When I talk to people that don’t already know my husband is dead, how do I refer to him?
I can’t really refer to him as just my husband, that implies that he’s still alive.
My late husband?
What is he late for?
Bleck. I hate this one- it makes me feel like an old lady…but it seems most polite. Certainly more polite than referring to him as my dead husband.
Can I sill refer to myself as Mrs. Williams?
The internet says that a widow should still be addressed as “Mrs.” Unless she specifies otherwise.
How long do I wear my wedding ring for?
I guess technically I’m not married anymore- I mean, they do say “Until death do you part” but a huge part of me still feels married. Who knows if I’ll ever stop feeling that way. I guess maybe if I do, I’ll take it off then? The traditionalist in me wants to keep it on at least until I have the baby.
Is it wrong that I make my own “widowed” box on intake paperwork when the only other choices are “single, married, divorced”?
Because I totally do.
- “Are you going to keep the baby?”
Yes, someone actually asked me this the week I came back home for Sean’s funeral
- “What he did was so selfish”
No….so much no. It wasn’t selfish. In fact, Sean was one of the most loving, giving people I knew. I can’t tell you why he did it, I’ll never know. All I do know is that he must have been suffering a great deal.
- “He’s in a better place now”
Oh, really? Are you sure? Ugh, I can’t tell you how much I hate this one. I don’t care where he is now- he’s not here with me and his kids like he’s supposed to be.
- “I’ll pray for mercy on his soul”
Ok, I get the sentiment of this one and I do appreciate the prayers but implying to me that my husband’s soul has been cast into the fiery pits of hell isn’t exactly comforting.
- “I’m sure in time you’ll find someone else, you’re so young”
Yes, someone actually said this to me….also the same week as Sean’s funeral. Like, my husband isn’t even in the ground yet- can you take it down a notch please?
I could go on and on but the moral of the story here is don’t be an asshole.