The news was numbing. Just last week, I had told someone that the closest person to me that’s died was Cory Monteith.
I couldn’t say that anymore.
I had answered the phone call with happiness and joy, with a “Hey!”. I was under the impression that he was calling me because he missed my voice. I walked to my sink while I waited for him to respond. When silence greeted me instead of him, I got an uneasy feeling. I thought I was just being paranoid, but as I heard him struggling with words, I immediately stopped fumbling with my contact case.
“What’s wrong?” I dreaded the answer, but never anticipated how awful it would be.
My boyfriend breathed in a calming and collecting breath, bracing himself. The words came quietly and in awe, almost like they weren’t real before this moment. “He’s gone.” I stepped out of my room for some privacy and walked down to the end of my hallway.
“What do you mean? Wait, I don’t understand.” I had heard him, but what he said couldn’t possibly be true. Stuff like this didn’t randomly happen in my life. This was something too hard, too much, for God to have thrown in our lives. I sunk down to the ground against the wall, feeling my chest constrict and my eyes burn. “What happened?”, I asked after it was clear this was real.
“He had a heart attack.” There were sniffles on the other end accompanied with a crack in his voice that broke my heart. Though he hadn’t said who, I knew who he meant. His father had been having medical problems lately -knee pain and back pain-, but I never thought it would come to this. He was only 48 years old for God’s sake. “Wait, but he was so young?” I was incredulous. It was unbelievable.
We were both silent for five minutes. Me, sitting in my dorm’s hallway in Austin, Texas with silent tears falling down my cheeks, and him in his house, alone, three and a half hours away in Houston, Texas, and too far away for me to comfort him and his aching heart with my own. It was silent for so long that he asked me “Are you still there?”
“Yes,” I responded, “I’m just… processing.”
This was last night, and I’ve spent the last 24 hours forgetting and remembering the situation. I kept on thinking to myself that the paramedics in the ambulance must haven’t done their jobs correctly. They revive people on TV all the time; why couldn’t they do it this time? My boyfriend was supposed to come visit me this weekend. I missed him like crazy, but I understood that the situation was different. I found myself being selfish and asked him to come anyway, but as the day went on, I knew I wasn’t doing what was best for him. We pushed the visit to next weekend.
My first class kept me busy and I forgot about it. But then… I realized his father will never get to meet his grandchildren. Or ours, if I married his son. He’ll never see him grow up and become a man. Never see him learn from his mistakes. Never get to say, “I’m proud of you, son” ever again. There were lasts that shouldn’t have been lasts, and firsts that hadn’t happened yet. None of it was fair.
And even worse was what came after. How do you move on from a tragedy like this? How are you supposed to go back to a normal life and when are you supposed to be okay? How do I honor his memory? Is my normal life supposed to change? I don’t think so, but I feel like something should be different. The world has changed after all, there is one less person on this earth, unfairly taken away.
I suddenly felt bad for wanting to continue with my plans for the weekend. There was a party on Saturday that I still wanted to go to, and I after I realized this, I asked myself “Is that bad?”
His death made my head and heart wander into unknown territory that no around me could help me with. I was forced to think about it, but not show it. I didn’t know who to talk about it with, and I didn’t want to put my boyfriend through anything else that’s stressful or sad.
But as much as I was heartbroken, I knew his son must have been even more so. I couldn’t even comprehend. For about five seconds, I thought about how I would react if our roles were reversed, if my father had died. But it was hard to imagine; the idea wasn’t one formed by my brain enough for it to believe. It was a mirage, short-lived and obviously false.
In the end, it wasn’t my responsibility to figure out how to act or what to do. My job was to be there for his son, to comfort him and to tell him that I loved him. I wanted him to know that this wasn’t changing any time soon, and that he could rely on me.