Second(13)By: Chantal Fernando
“Looks so good,” I say, opening the container with the strawberries. “This is the best idea you’ve ever had. Fuck my sandwiches, this looks amazing!”
He chuckles and says, “I’m sure yours would have been great too, but I didn’t want you to have to make them. I wanted you to just enjoy. You’ve been through hell and back, I think you more than anyone deserve to be spoiled a little. I’m only here for a little while, so it’s the least I can do with the limits you’ve allowed me.”
Our eyes connect and hold, hazel clashing with green.
“You’re a good man, Dean Amore. Next time I won’t believe anything the magazines say about you.”
He laughs and pops an olive in his mouth.
Then we demolish the entire spread.
I’m feeling down again by dinner time. When I have nothing distracting me, the pain returns. My mind remembers what happened, what I’ve lost, and I start to fall back into that hole. It’s hard. I can’t be doing something every minute of every day, although I can try. And I know when Dean leaves and I’m alone in the house again it’s going to get worse. Maybe I should ask Tara to move in with me for a few weeks.
“I’m going to help you pack up all of his belongings,” Dean says, making me jump. I didn’t even know he’d entered the room. He looks around what was my and Ben’s bedroom, but is now just mine. His clothes are still in the wardrobe, his shoes in the exact place he left them in the corner of the room. His toothbrush is still in its holder in the bathroom, his bathrobe hanging on the back of the door.
How am I meant to get rid of all his things, like he never existed?
“I don’t want to,” I say in a small voice. That makes it real, and I don’t want this to be real. No, I want this to be a dream, and when I wake up, it’s going to be in his arms.
Dean sits down on my mattress, the spring creaking under his weight. He glances around my room, then says, “I know you don’t want to, Sabina, but you need to. It doesn’t mean you forget him, you don’t, but you can’t pretend that nothing has changed either. It has.”
I know this, I do.
Still, I don’t fucking want to deal with it.
“Do you want me to do it all?” he offers, studying me with a blank expression on his face. “You don’t even have to be here. You can go for a walk, or go to see a movie or something.”
Did I want to be here for it? Will going through all his stuff be closure for me, or will it just make me miserable? I don’t really know. I do know that I don’t want to deal with it right now though.
“What will you do with all his clothes and stuff?” I ask him.
“Why don’t you take whatever you want to keep, and the rest we’ll give to Kate,” he suggests. “She can decide what she wants to do with everything.”
“Yeah, okay,” I murmur, glancing around the room, wondering what I wanted to keep with me.
Dean stands and leaves the room, giving me space, and I’m thankful for that. I walk to our his-and-her wardrobe, open it, and look to the right, to his side. His clothes stare at me, and I lift my hand and run it along them. After a few moments, I take out four of his favourite t-shirts and the suit he wore at our wedding. I reach on top and take down all of our photo albums, and put them all on the bed. There’s no way I want to lose any of those. I keep his signature cologne bottle, a little creepy, but the slightest whiff of it reminds me of him, and I think that could be comforting. Everything else can go.
I guess it doesn’t belong here without him.
“I’m glad you’re out and about,” my best friend says, wrapping her arm around me. “I’ve missed you.”
I glance away from the TV screen to look at her. “I’ve been struggling.”
It’s hard to admit out loud, even though everyone knows it to be the truth. I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want anyone to think of weakness when they think of me. I want them to think of strength. Of a woman who can’t be pushed down to the ground without getting up. A fighter. I am a fighter. Even the strongest of people have their moments. Losing someone you love isn’t easy, especially when you love as hard as I do. I love with everything I have, and give my all to those I love. I was all in with Ben. What happens when the person you give all of yourself to is gone?
You grieve, you absorb that pain and carry it with you everywhere you go. That is strength: the ability to go on and push forward, no matter how long it takes you to get there. It’s not a race. Everyone heals in different ways, in their own time. I don’t know when I will, but I do know it will happen. I’m hopeful, and hope is a powerful thing.