Sometime in January the visual display on my cell phone began distorting and I knew I had mere days before it would have to be replaced. We live in a world now where things don’t get fixed, they get thrown away. It was a few weeks after I had left the Boy but before the shotgun incident. I was spending the better part of every day in tears, not just gentle weeping but screaming in pain. I had made the worst decision of my life and was regretting it with every breath I took. A malfunctioning cell phone was not something to be borne; the phone was my only remaining link to the Boy, I would not live without it.
I dragged myself to the Verizon store to get my phone checked out. It was indeed dying. The clerk handed me my SD card and told me it would be a few minutes while he swapped over my address book. I remember the moment when I realized what that meant: I would lose my text messages. I reached for my phone on the counter and felt my chest tighten and my body start to tremble. I could barely pull in a breath and I was biting through my lower lip to keep back the tears. I had humiliated myself so many times in the previous weeks; I just could not lose it at the Verizon store. I also could not lose the only remaining words of love he had spoken to me and that I had saved in my locked text messages.
I consider myself rather techno-savvy but I had not been myself in awhile and I ridiculously asked the clerk for a pen and paper so that I might transcribe those meaningful words. I could have emailed them to myself but I didn’t think of it at the time. I sat on the floor and began writing. I scrolled back to the beginning to his first declarations, through promises and plans, and finally to fights and betrayals. It was impossible for me to hold back the tears, I was reliving our entire relationship with an audience of retail cell phone employees and I didn’t even care. Humiliation was the least of my problems. I finished seven pages of the legal pad, folded them in thirds and put them in my purse.
It is possible that words mean more to me than to the average person. I would tell you that I like music but what I really like is lyrics. My high school crush wasn’t really on Elton John; it was on Bernie Taupin, his lyricist. I listen to my favorite movies in bed at night with my eyes closed, drifting off to sleep with dialogue rather than pictures. My alarm clock is the voice of Stephen Frye as my personal butler, gently clearing his throat and waking me with witty words in his British accent. For years I lost myself in the richness of language in historical romance novels. I’ve committed to memory the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Carl Sandberg so that they flow off my tongue unrestrained. I don’t know where it would leave costuming, but if I felt I’d had anything to say, I would have been a writer. The ordering of words from chaos to poetry would be an enjoyable occupation for me. It only stands to reason that I would treasure His words. Those seven pages would become night time reading material, the most important words of my life. Now that I ponder it, seems I have plenty to say these days.
That day, out in the car, I pushed the seat all the way back and lie down. When I could breathe again, I called him. I babbled out my story through the tears and listened to his response. He said, “You know I said those words. That’s all that matters.” I knew he was right, that I would never forget one syllable but I still felt their absence. For months I could flip open my phone and read “wont” and know that it was his answer to “don’t ever leave me.” It gave me comfort and made me feel like he was still there.
I pulled out of the parking lot and pulled into the sporting goods store down the street. I got out and went gun shopping. I’d done my internet research and had my heart set on a Charter Arms Pink Lady. I was the kind of woman who had a mani-pedi twice a month; I certainly wouldn’t end my life with a less than stylish weapon. Unfortunately, I was also a retail store manager and lived by one simple shopping rule: if you didn’t speak to me when I walked in your store, I wasn’t buying anything. I expected to receive the kind of customer service that I gave in my store. That day I left without a gun simply because no one waited on me. In the bigger scheme of things, perhaps God tipped them off; perhaps it wasn’t my time to go?
I was not considering suicide because of the electrical impulses of my LG ENV3. I just thought I’d had enough. Earlier that week my Husband, who had gone back to work a few months earlier, was in an accident at work. His head was caught in a machine and part of his face was crushed. He would require a couple years worth of bone grafting, implants and reconstructive surgery. The icing on the cake: The company fired him three days later. Before you become filled with righteous indignation on our behalf and demand that we call an attorney, I will tell you that we already have. Seven. In the state of Virginia you cannot sue for a workplace accident or for wrongful termination, had we known, we would not have been living in the state of Virginia. One attorney had the audacity to say, if my Husband had died I’d be a rich widow but since he lived, nada.
Maybe I could handle everything God threw my way but at the time, I wholly disagreed. I considered myself a strong person, those layers of steel served their purpose and I did not fall apart as I got that late night phone call from the emergency room for the second time in two months. I stood at the foot of his hospital bed while the oral surgeon picked shards of bone and pieces of teeth out of his face and dropped them onto a stainless steel tray. It goes without saying that I had caused my Husband much pain in the preceding weeks. Even though we had our problems, I certainly never meant to cause him any pain at all. I can ask forgiveness but I know my Husband and he is not the kind of man that can forget. I just thought my dying would be better for everyone.
I went home that night empty handed, the Pink Lady still locked in her display case. I thought of all the different ways to die and could only commit myself to one plan: no matter what happened, His face needed to be the last face I saw in this life.
When I sat down to write today I had intended to talk about the deliciousness of falling in love with the Boy and of how I fall in love with Him all over again every time I hear his voice. About the magic of last summer and how he plucked the last of my steel petals and set me free. But we live in a world now where things don’t get fixed, they get thrown away and that’s exactly what happened to us. It’s been five months and the pain of it is still as raw as it was last winter. I’ve been told to get over it. He wasn’t worth it. I need to move on. Cliché after cliché, but if the pain is all I have left of him, then I will live with the pain.