A hard aching lump is nestled about 4 inches from my throat somewhere in the middle of my chest. It refuses to budge, to rise upwards and outwards, to erupt into a cry. Instead it stays fixed inside, forcing a smile on my face, pushing me ever on to do all the million and one things that are asked of me at the moment. Officialdom, paperwork, decisions, insistent phone calls.
A few people commented on my previous post what is blindingly obvious, when you think about it. Greg didn't die a few weeks ago: he died five years ago. I lost him to something else a good while ago. Not another woman, but something more dangerous, more subtle. The person he used to be, the one I fell in love with, disappeared off the radar eons ago. I have been on my own, dealing with the minutiae of everyday problems, making decisions, bringing up Kay, socialising on my own for some considerable time. Nothing in the last three weeks has changed in that sense. The only difference is when I come down to the kitchen each morning I am no longer met with the smell of cigarette smoke before I enter the room; no longer faced with the image of him sitting at the breakfast table with his half-empty whisky glass; no longer forced to watch when he later slumbers half-on, half-off the sofa or on the floor. No more watching him retch first thing, before he takes a drink to still his rebellious stomach. No more whisky runs at the supermarket. No more emergency dashes to the hospital. How can I miss these? But the kind-hearted individual, husband and father that he once was is long gone. I grieved for him in my tears by the bucketload over the last five years.
The funeral is next Monday. Family, friends old and new, and many work colleagues will be there. They have been phoning, writing and emailing about what a wonderful man he was, how proud he was of Kay and me, what a difference he made to them. A man they still remember as he was. They did not see the Greg that was left behind once the whisky had done with him. They did not know what a slave to alcohol he had become and how it sucked him in and spat him out on an intensive care bed.
I see my mother and my daughter watch me like hawks. They try to protect or to hover when a subject comes up that might make me waiver. They look for a wobble in my voice or tears in my eyes, but that aching lump stays firm in my chest and refuses to budge. I just cannot cry.