Chapter 5: TBI – The First Trip Home

Enjoying a family game, acting out a clue

Enjoying a family game, acting out a clue

I heard someone on TV last night share a quote about grief that went like this: a single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty.

There was a point in my journal writing that I noticed I was no longer just telling a story about Pat; I was actually talking to him, in my thoughts, in my words, as if I was thinking that someday, when he was better, when he was rebuilding his life, he would be able to read it and know all that had happened to him and to me, to our family.  I knew he wouldn’t remember most of it, if any at all, and I wanted to be able to share it with him down the road when we were back home and had adapted to whatever was coming.  That day would never come.

From my Journal, January 20, 2013:

I had to make a trip to Mayerthorpe to pick up my car today, which meant I had to leave the hospital for longer than I wanted to, but it was necessary. I thought I could take care of whatever mail there was at home, deal with some bills and be back on the road in an hour or so, but it took way longer than I planned. Then leaving Kate there was very emotional and I knew I was going to get back later than I wanted to and I fell apart. She had been having stomach issues since the day before and I felt so badly for her but I couldn’t do anything, and I didn’t want to leave her alone but I had to and she was crying and I was crying and I drove to my parents’ house to pick up Michael because he was driving back with me. I knew if I went in at all I would be a mess but I had to say hello and of course I lost it. Michael was trying to hold onto me and help me but I just couldn’t stop. My dad was holding onto me and I think I had some anger and frustration to get out because I couldn’t stop crying and I started to yell and scream as hard as I could until my throat was raspy. Then it seemed like I was able to breathe better. I just need you to come back to me.

I didn’t want to go home.  I knew what walking into our house that first time without Pat was going to do to me and I didn’t want to leave Edmonton where he was and be that far away from him. Michael had come out with us so that I wouldn’t have to drive myself back alone, and once it was time to head back we all faced the pain of separation.  It didn’t matter that they were adults, they were suffering and grieving along with me and we depended on each other.  Michael was trying to take care of Kate and I and being together gave us all comfort.  But I had to go, and it was more painful than I had imagined.

I fell apart at my parent’s house when I arrived to say hello on the way out of town, because the unfairness of it all and the frustration I had been choking down came out.  Pat was supposed to be there with me, he was supposed to be home, safe, forever.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Kate started having stomach problems as the day got closer because it meant that she was going home to stay – alone.  We had all been together in Edmonton for two weeks and she was agonizing over having to leave and go back to work.  She didn’t want to be away from us, and she knew she would be on the front line back in Mayerthorpe, where our family tragedy was now public knowledge.  She feared being bombarded with attention from well meaning people who didn’t understand how badly she needed her privacy to be respected, and facing random inquiries made out of curiosity.  Her fears became reality from day one onward. Thankfully, there were a few people who approached her just to give her a hug and ask how she herself was doing or if there was anything she needed, rather than to ask for information, and those kindnesses were very much appreciated.

I’ll never know what that was like for her, because by the time I eventually got home three months later, she had already borne the majority of it herself, and I was able to hide from most of whatever was left because I didn’t have to go anywhere but the hospital unless I chose to do so, and those infrequent trips to public places were hard enough.

Once I got back to the city that night, I would face my first of what would be many nights living away from home, on my own, and each of the kids would face getting back to their own work schedules and continuing to help me as much as they could, while dealing with their own pain.  After being in our house and experiencing the loss of peace that I use to feel there, I knew that nowhere I stayed would be “home” for me now because my heart – broken in pieces – was held by Pat, missing for me but still alive.

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