Missing Piece

May 14, 2010
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He sat in silence and wondered what he had done wrong. All around him were his memories, the pictures and letters from her glory days, some her favorite clothes, books and music, were all scattered around him on the floor and on her bed. The room was exactly the same as she had left it, clean and crisp, with everything in its place, not a dust ball on the floor or a hair on her brushes. Everything was the same, except the room belonged to no one now; it certainly didn’t belong to her. She had chosen to leave its warmth and comfort, never to return again.

How had this happened? Why had this happened? She was his life, his heart, his whole world. Everything he was was her. After he lost his wife and had to make it on his own, she was there, his pillar of strength, his loving daughter. She told him everything, her secrets, her fears, her dreams. The most important thing in his world was her. But she left him.

It hit him like a brick someone dropped on his head. He didn’t even see it coming. She showed him nothing but love and kindness, even at the end. He believed that she would always be there to take care of him, just as she had when they both had to pick up and go on. She was there; she knew how to run the household (he didn’t). Every morning, they sat and had a cheerful breakfast, every night a pleasant dinner. Things moved smoothly and with a system that hadn’t worked when his wife was around. Everything was perfect.

Looking back, there were some things, towards the end, that were out of the ordinary. Her constant desire to sit in her room for hours on end, staring at the walls, listening to the same country songs over and over. Her changes in mood, going from happy to depressed in two seconds flat. Her love of depressive books and poetry, with stories about suicides and death. She loved to tell him about them. She could sit at the dining room table for hours and discuss with him the reasons for the character’s self-destruction of these books she read. What was happening in the character’s minds and their mental states just before their demise was a fascinating topic for her. He should have known, but he missed them all.

That morning burns in his mind like someone branded it there. He remembers it with perfect clarity. He was just coming home from his morning jog and he listened for the signs that she was awake (she usually was by the time he got home). But that morning, there was nothing. He walked up the stairs, his shoes squeaking a little, and listened for the familiar sounds coming from her room. Again, there was nothing. He knew that she must have overslept (she did that once or twice a year) and he would just have to go in and shake her awake. Knowing knocking would do him no good, he simply opened her door, expecting to see her lying dead asleep in the bed. Instead, he found her hanging from the rafter near her bed, a rope tied roughly around her neck. The knots did not look good enough to have been done very easily (she must have already had the rope around her neck). He wondered exactly how long she had been hanging there, and how long she had needed help. In a flash, he remembered all of her books and conversations and lunch and dinner, and how she must have been trying to tell him, but he simply was not listening. So, she had no choice but to send him the loudest message she could: death.

The funeral had been a blur him. He remembered walking into the church and seeing her coffin there, covered with flowers, lilies, her favorites, and all of the people dressed in black. Such a depressing color. (He himself had chosen navy blue to make himself feel slightly better about all this.) His ex-wife came up and spoke to him about how she can’t believe her baby girl did this and did he know it was coming, and all he could do was nod and look remorseful; he was too choked up to say more. The preacher, some family and a few friends said some words of mourning, and then it was his turn to speak. But though he had a speech written out, none of those words came out. All he could muster were a few standard words about how his daughter was a terrific kid and she did not deserve to go this way. When he took his seat, he was sure there were whispers throughout the church. They buried her in her little corner of the cemetery, and he was left to simply go home and sit in his empty house, surrounded by lasagna after lasagna, and brood about his life.

Finally, he had decided to clean out her room. It sat in pristine condition for nearly two months when he decided it was time to move on. With her things scattered around him, he once again allowed the memories of this smart, beautiful girl who was once full of life to come flooding back to him. He touched picture after picture, letters, clothes and books, and he could have sworn she was sitting there with him, helping him move on. Overwhelmed by the emotions of it all, he sat back and let himself do what he hadn’t done in three years: cry. He cried for himself, and for his baby girl: this wonderful tower of strength who wasn’t strong enough to overcome her biggest challenge: pain.

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