Chapter Four: The Journey Begins
The Ruin of Gibraltar
With every new day that passed, it seemed more and more challenging to get out of bed. I was exhausted running from something I didn’t understand. I found little joy in anything anymore. There was nothing to laugh about. The world was no longer beautiful. I was no longer beautiful. The weight of the world was upon my shoulders, and I was crumbling from beneath it. My body ached, and my legs felt like lead when I walked. I had fallen into a deep, dark pit with no way out. I felt more like Eeyore than Piglet anymore. My emotions came and went like the tide, and their intensity varied from hour to hour and day by day. When the tears started, the anguish in my heart would soon follow. Any little thing made me cry even if someone just asked how I was or say “I’m sorry for your loss.” Their words would rip the scab off the wound in my heart, exposing an even more overwhelming sadness that dwelled in there. My insides felt tornaway, leaving only an empty shell. I felt utterly and completely lost, discombobulated, and alone. Everything I’d worked for, aspired for, and hoped for all died with him. I kicked myself for my stupidity. There was no future—only a black empty space. No one would ever care for me the way Mark did. I felt like an orphan more than I ever had before.
All I felt was pain and sadness. All I could think about was
that day and nothing before. I didn’t want to celebrate any holiday or anyone’s birthday or life in general for that matter. And the more I felt sorry for myself, the more I beat myself up for feeling the way I did. Eventually, I decided that I’d had enough and made a plan. The plan was to drive to the Aurora Bridge about one in the morning, when there would be little or no traffic, make myself drunker than a skunk with an entire bottle of vodka, and gun my car as hard as I could over the bridge—right into Mark’s waiting arms. I was convinced death was the only way to relieve the overwhelming pain in my heart and the only way to be with Mark again. I became fixated with the plan. It clouded my judgment and reasoning. I didn’t even consider my children. I believed they would be better off without my ever-increasing moments of instability. I believed my absence would spare them from being dragged down into a bottomless abyss of sadness and despair.
The night of the plan, I kissed and hugged Dale and Lexi more than usual as I put them to bed and waited until they were sound asleep. I pulled out the vodka from the back of a kitchen cupboard, put it in a paper bag, and crept silently out to my car. While I traveled south on the interstate toward the bridge, the thoughts nearly screamed for me to visit my mother before I continued. Bewildered but compliant, I pulled off at the exit toward her place. I knew she would still be up, sitting ever so peacefully in her easy chair, and totally absorbed in a Harlequin romance novel. She was quite surprised when I rang her security phone. When I reached her apartment, she was already at the door waiting for me. She knew something was wrong. As I guided her back to her chair, she repeatedly asked me what the matter was. Lost for words, struggling not to cry, I could only shake my head as the tears broke through my will to detain them. Once seated in her chair, I knelt beside her. Nervous, she lit a cigarette. As if I were seven years old again, I rested my head in the security of her lap and cried, oblivious to the suffocating smoke that swirled about my head. Seeing me cry made her cry too. With concern and desperation in her voice, she pried at me to explain the reason behind my unordinary and unexpected visit.
In between tears, I told her that I had come to say goodbye. The moment she understood my intention, shock and fear
overshadowed her seemingly ageless face as she took my face into her hands. She looked me square in the eyes and pleaded with me not to even consider such a thing. Fearful, sliding from her chair, she knelt beside me and gathered me into her arms and held me as tightly as she could. She rocked me back and forth desperately and cried repeatedly, “No no no, Lissie!” I told her that I couldn’t go on with the pain anymore—that it was too much. “But,” she sobbed, “don’t you see, I can’t live without you! Who will take care of me? All I have is you. We all love you, Lissie! Me and the children, we need you!” With that, she cried and sobbed like I never heard her before—the same kind of animal cry that comes from deep within you when you fear something the most, the same kind of cry I had cried for Mark. Her body shook as she
sobbed. Her tears soaked my hair and my face as she repeatedly kissed my cheeks. “Mommy’s here, baby, you just hold on to me when you can’t take it anymore. I can’t fix it, but I can hold you. Please, Lissie, don’t. Please don’t do this thing.” I scared her and hurt her, and I hated myself even more. We hugged and rocked each other for what seemed an eternity. “It’s okay, Mommy. I won’t. I won’t. I’ll keep trying, I promise.” Sometime later, I left with the promise to call her when I got home.
And I did go home.
After a call to reassure her that I was home and all right, I crawled into bed with Lexi, curled up next to her, whispered that I was sorry for thinking such a thing, and silently wept myself to sleep.
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