Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
I have no idea how long we sat there, Simon sniffing back the tears and me just about holding back my own. I find it easier to endure my own pain than cope with that of my loved ones—and this is the man I love. Watching him struggle was like twisting a knife in my heart.
I was aware that some schools of psychology suggest that men and boys feel emotion more deeply than girls but have little or no mechanism to deal with it; possibly because in Western culture they are expected to soldier on no matter how hurt they feel. Men rarely focus on these sorts of issues and so don’t resolve them—they internalise them and who knows what effect that has in the long term for their health and life expectancy.
Simon was really in pain, struggling to understand what he was feeling and possibly unable to verbalise it and so share it with me, other than by my watching his agony. Who knows what it was dredging up and from what age.
I didn’t want to interrupt or interfere yet I needed, perhaps for my sake as much as his, to let him know that I was there for him and with him. I reached out and simply touched his hand. He looked at me almost as if he’d forgotten I was there, then with his face wet from tears he reached out to me and we embraced as much as we could in the front of the car.
“I’d forgotten how much I missed her,” he said after a few minutes.
“Then take some time to remember,” I counselled, “We can take as long as you need.”
“Thanks,” he sniffed, “I feel completely stupid—I’m sorry I’m such a mess.”
“Never apologise for loving your mother and missing her, at least not to me. I miss mine every day.”
“Do you?” he said holding me away so he could look into my eyes.
“Of course I do, every time I do something wifely for you or mother the children, I think of her—in some ways I seem to have become her.”
“Like mother like daughter, eh?”
“Yeah, in lots of ways.”
“I hope to God I don’t turn out like my father—or that aspect of him.”
“The infidelity bit?”
“Yes—I’d kill myself first.”
“No, darling, that would be my job.”
He looked at me possibly not having heard exactly what I’d said, then a moment later when he’d processed it, he looked at me and chuckled—“I believe you would, too.”
“I hope we never find out, husband o’ mine.”
“Amen to that, missus wife.”
We both laughed and hugged again. “You are so good to me, Cathy—my own little angel.”
“Yeah, fallen variety—phew, it’s getting warm in here—d’you mind if we open the window or door?”
“Oh sorry, babes, too rapt in my own misery to notice yours. Let’s go for a walk, eh?”
We exited the car and he wiped his eyes in his hankie, then we wandered down towards the cathedral. It only took us a few minutes but the cooling breeze helped my overheating, and I slipped off my jacket and carried it over my arm.
“C’mon, let’s do it,” said Simon, turning me back to face up the hill towards the cemetery.
“Are you sure? You don’t have to, you know?”
“Yeah, I’m as sure as I ever will be—and with you by my side, I can deal with anything.”
I squeezed his hand and he stopped and kissed me and hugged me in the middle of the street. We continued walking somewhat red faced when someone from a passing car shouted, “Get a room, will ya?”
“Charming,” commented Simon looking back at the fellow.
“Ignore him, darling, maybe he’s never been in love himself.”
“Probably not, with a face like that, his only relationship has been with his left hand,” Simon said as we strolled back to the car. It took me a moment to understand what he’d said. Then I sniggered. “What’re you laughing at?”
“What you just said.”
“Eh—that wasn’t funny, was it?”
“I’ve never heard it put like that before.”
“You did lead a sheltered life—are you sure it wasn’t in a Trappist convent somewhere?”
“I thought Trappists were all men?”
“Okay, a silent order for women then.”
“Given my record on religion, would you not consider that unlikely even taking my previous health issues into account?”
“Why do women always take everything so literally?”
“I wasn’t, was I?”
“I’m not discussing this now, let’s get the flowers, say hi to my ma and get the hell out of here.”
He opened the car and picked out the bouquet, some of the buds were beginning to open because of the warmth in the car. He took my red blazer and went to put it in the car, but I took it back and slipped it back on. “Got to be on my best behaviour in front of my mother in law,” I teased.
“Don’t worry about that, had she been alive, she’d have loved you as much as we all do,” he said and I slipped my arm through his.
I steered him to the grave where he paused and looked at the gravestone for a moment or two.
“So that’s where you’ve been hiding all these years,” he said to the stone. “I’ve brought you some flowers.” He placed them beside the stone, next to the roses I’d brought the day before.
“Hi, Mum, this is Cathy, though I understand you’ve already met. She’s a girl in a million and I’m so lucky to have found her and have her agree to marry me. We’ve got loads of children, all as lovely as my darling wife but none as special—well not to me.”
He stared at the gravestone and I saw the tears run down his face again. “I miss you, Mum, I really do. I have to go now.”
He broke free of my arm and almost ran off to the other side of the graveyard. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him walk over to the wall and lean against it his face in his hands. This was really cutting him up.
I stayed at the graveside, giving him some space. “He’s a good man, but like most men has some problems with emotional stuff—but he does try and he does listen, sometimes—and I love him. I don’t know if we’ll ever come back again to see you, but at least you know he loved you. I’ll try and take care of him for you, as much as he’ll let me. Good bye, Margaret, rest in peace.”
Simon was still standing against the wall with his back to me and the grave. It was all too much for him, confronting his pain and loss—but he’d started the process and although I suspected he had some way to go, it would enable him to integrate it into his present life instead of having it locked away in his memory threatening to break out at any time and overwhelm him.
I walked slowly but purposefully towards him, laying my hand on his shoulder as I reached him, then gently slid it down to his waist and pulled him to me. He put his arm across my shoulders and drew my face to his.
“Thanks for being there,” he said and kissed me. “An’ thanks for being you.”
“I love you, Simon Cameron, did I ever tell you?” I teased.
“No, but it’s a lovely surprise,” he teased back.
“C’mon, let’s go home,” I said quietly and steered him back towards the car.
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