It’s tradition, amongst the generally non-devoutly religious people I know, to take all your Christmas decorations down before the end of the year, before January the first. It’s something I’ve adhered to as long as I can remember. I like it- the concept of pulling down the old year, vacuuming the tinsel from the carpet, beginning all over again.
I’ve never been more grateful for it, loved it more, than I do right now.
Christmas was over in the Purple House, by the time Tony’s birthday rolled around, by the time everything fell apart. Thank goodness. I remember thinking, maybe after he died, maybe while he was still in the ICU… “Christmas was only two weeks ago. How was Christmas only two weeks ago?” The toys Santa had bought my children, they looked old and faded already. Part of a life that was ending, closing, maybe already gone.
It’s good, though, a blessed relief. Christmas is seperate, a lead up but not a part of what happened. That’s good.
My husband has been in the ICU for 20 hours. It is the morning of the Day After, and everything is different. My mind is a screaming, jerking, sizzled pile of pain and trauma and disbelief. My body is coiled, pounced like a spring. My emotions are live wires. I jump at every sound. Tears flood my eyes every few minutes. I am unable to sit down, sit still.
I think this is how I end up at the police station; because I can’t do nothing. I am too electrified, too angry, too insane to sit next to my husbands bed. I can’t look at the rope burns on his neck. I can’t look at his eyes and wait for them to open. And all I can think is THISISNOTMYLIFEANDITISNOTHAPPENINGTOMEANDITCAN’TBEANDIWANTTOWAKEUP.
I want to know what’s happening, what ramifications this will have for me, for my children. I want to know if the police really intend on charging my husband, the crime of attempted suicide, when by all accounts they will have nothing but a vegetable to press charges against. (They have to, they tell me later, but the officer I talk to you is all sympathy and I can see his pain for me in his eyes; and when he has nothing left to say he looks at me and holds open his hands and says “What a selfish bastard, hey?” and I think he’s trying to make things better and it only makes them worse.)
I walk in and they know who I am. One of the officers must have been at my house yesterday and he whispers to the officer behind the desk, and I sill explain, words tumbling from my mouth that I am that man’s wife; and I know they all know. I am not being paranoid… this story spreads far and wide around the emergency services in my area, and I know that as fact.
It takes them forever to get the right person to come and talk to me, and I pace and pace the tiny waiting room. People come and go, police and the public, and they take one look at me and then avert their eyes and I’m glad. I feel like I have lava boiling up in my legs and if I sit still to for too long it reaches my heart and it burns.
Hanging on the window in the police station is a green Christmas bauble, a decoration left over when all the others have been taken down. It infuriates me with every pass I make, I time I pace. It is not Christmas anymore, it is light years from Christmas,.. Christmas was a life time ago.
After 15 or so passes I can no longer take it and I reach out and the grab the ugly, stupid thing off the window and slam it down on the desk, expecting it to shatter and my hand to spurt festive blood. It doesn’t. The officer at the desk looks at me, eyes wide and face white. I can see him teetering behind telling me off and saying nothing. The crazy-lady look in my eyes must be enough to convince him to say nothing.
My next stop is the church across the road. And I pray.