I was supposed to end up divorced, not widowed.
|The call came this afternoon that I have been both expecting and dreading for a year. My wife's ex-husband and father of my step-sons went to check on my wife because no one has heard from her in a couple of days. Both not hearing from her for several days and him being the most nervous about it are not unusual.
"I think she's dead, dude."
"Are you at the apartment?"
"Yeah - I think she's dead, dude."
"Have the boys seen her?"
"Good - don't let them. I'll be right there"
Several incidents of felony speeding later I'm at her apartment. Fire and police are already there, talking to the ex.
I walk up to them and the ex introduces me as the husband. Several confusing minutes later they understand which one of us is which, where the boys are living (with the ex), and that neither of us were living with her.
I'm officially notified of her death and we briefly discuss the likely outcome of the ME's report. They go over standard procedures and tell me both what to expect and how long it will take.
As I'm talking to the police, the ex tells the boys and starts making the family phone calls. As I finish talking to the police, my wife's sister calls my cell and I let her know what has happened. This takes several horrible minutes that feel like years.
The older boy is pacing the sidewalk. The younger boy is rooted to the sidewalk. I walk over to them, fresh tears on my face from talking to my sister-in-law. I hug the younger and he breaks down. I feel empty knowing I can't make this right for him. The older boy comes over to us and we're both crushed by his tearful embrace.
"I'm so sorry. It wasn't supposed to end like this. She was supposed to get better and get you guys back."
The crisis counselors arrive about then and start talking to the ex. I walk the boys over to them and we re-do the confusing introductions. I let them concentrate on the boys and their father - that's the family unit now.
I start to go through my cell phone contacts and make calls. I get a lot of voice mail and disconnected number recordings.
Somewhere in the list I call my work team's lead. "My wife died - I don't think I'm gonna be available to work the change I have scheduled for tonight." "Fuck dude, we'll get it covered - do what you need to do." My job sucks absolutely but the people are first-rate.
My brother-in-law calls me to make sure that I know. I tell him I was called, that I'm at my wife's apartment complex, and that his wife is on the way here. He's got the boat coming home from the lake and he'll meet up with us as soon as he gets home and gets unhitched.
I go back to making calls between filling in details for the police.
"She has a dog, is it okay - can we take it? Did any of you see the cat? It's probably hiding in the drawer of the bathroom cabinet - there's a carrier on the porch. Yeah - we'll take them and give them homes."
The police bring the dog down to us. The crisis counselors produce a water bowl and box of dog biscuits for her - bless them for this. She drinks a bit but won't eat. She looks surprisingly good for 2 or 3 days with no care. She's upset and it's another soul I can't bring comfort to. My sister-in-law will take good care of her and their dog adores her.
My sister-in-law arrives, wet cheeks and red eyes. The police get her first.
The cat yowling in the carrier comes down next. He's going home with the younger boy - they're best friends.
The police finish with my sister-in-law. Another tearful embrace - this is going to be my life for the next several days. She confirms that she will take the dog (not that I had *any* doubt) and we go talk to the ex and the boys.
The police are pretty much done with us. The crisis counselors talk to the sister-in-law for a while and suggest we get the boys outta there before the ME arrives for the body. We all agree and the ex loads the cat into the back seat of the truck. I hug my step-sons goodbye and uselessly apologize again.
My sister-in-law and I discuss dinner - I'm in no hurry to go back to my apartment. We meet at their house. Her husband and their younger son are back from the lake and cleaned up. Someone called their older son and his wife to both let them know and invite them to dinner. While waiting for them to arrive, we start to talk memories and frustrations of failing to be able to save her from herself.
I found myself in a Village Inn re-bonding with in-laws I lost when I threw my wife out 6 months ago. They're good people and I've missed them. This is a shitty way for us to get back together.