After her conversation with Hattie, Bridie lay down on her bed but could not ease into sleep. She heard the door snick as Doug came into the house. She could not muster the will to lift her head. He paused in the doorway, unsure whether to join her or leave her undisturbed.
“I’m awake” Bridie said softly, her voice husky from a day full of tears.
“Ah, my little Bird…” was all Doug was able to get out as he joined her on the bed. He wrapped his tall, muscular frame around her and buried his head in her neck. Bridie sunk into his embrace and they curled together on the bed.
For a long time, only occasional sniffles broke the silence of their unspoken grief, a grief that had no language, no words.
In a halting but robust voice Bridie broke the spell. “Everyone keeps talking to me about the kids. How are they? How will this affect them? How sad all this is for them…what does all this mean to them? I get that but can someone once, just once, think about me. What does all this mean to me! How am I? How sad this is for me! I won’t see my babies grow up. I am losing them”.
“You are right” was all Doug could say. “I am so sorry Bird; so sorry for all of us”.
It was strange today Doug. Hattie, the counselor I saw last night, called and we talked about me. I haven’t taken the time to think about me in all this. It’s so much easier, more natural, to think about everyone else”.
“That’s what you do. That’s why I love you”.
“I thought you said you loved me because I had a nice ass?”
“That too” Doug replied unable to suppress a small smile as he stroked his dear wife’s hair. “…That too”.
“Hattie contacted the St. Germaine oncology team and connected with the social workers who will meet up with the kids. She said they will talk with them separately then all together. All except Lynne….” Bridie’s voice broke. Lynne was far too young at four months to talk to anyone.
“I’m here for them Bird…you know I will always be here for them. Doug whispered behind her ear.
“I know. You are my rock. You will be their rock too… Hattie wondered if you need to hook up with someone, you know, to talk about it…all this”.
“Not now Bird. Not now. I don’t want to talk about it, all this, at all. I really want it to go away. I want to wake up tomorrow from this nightmare and carry on with our life. I want to go back to arguing about the toilet seat and my underwear beside the hamper. I want to go back to shouting at the boys to be quiet and behave”. Doug’s voice trailed off and tears welled in his eyes.
“Well, why don’t we do that? Let’s be as normal as we can…for now”. Bridie rolled over to face her husband. “And by the way, it hurts when I bend over, can you pick up your fucking underwear for once!”
“I love you” was all Doug could manage to reply, simply and quietly.
“This is a long way from over Honey.” Bridie stroked her husband under his chin. “This is just the beginning. Its not going to get any better and the ending won’t change. The only thing we can change is what we think about it and how we respond to it. We have to control what we can and manage the rest.”
“How did you get so smart?”
“Ha! I’m in therapy!” They both laughed out loud.
“Maybe” he mused aloud “I need therapy too”.
“Been saying that for years!” Doug knew Bridie would use humour to get through these moments. She was his rock too, his anchor. He had no idea how he would manage without her.
“I’m going to go pick up the kids. You wanna come along, or get some rest?”
“I’m coming with you! I can’t spare a minute”.