Some guest posts don’t really require an introduction – they’re that good. This is one of them. It was written by my friend @katteroo_, so if it resonates with you in some way, do let her know via Twitter.
Trigger/content warning: suicide
Tangible Proof of Us
We weren’t in love. He wasn’t about to leave his wife for me; it wasn’t that sort of thing. But we had become incredibly fond of each other and over time we’d shared a lot. He was under my skin in a way that not many partners have been. There was the rhythm of daily chat that you can enjoy when you are completely at ease with each other. Each day book-ended with morning hellos and goodnight kisses, with every shade of nonsense and earnest truths in between.
Things ticked happily along until the day a voicemail arrived saying he wouldn’t be around anymore and I should look after myself. His trembling voice and the other things he said meant that I had my suspicions and fears about what had happened. But friends and my rational brain both agreed he just needed to go back to his normal life, and he wouldn’t do anything silly. Weeks of silence went by since our last contact, my messages and emails went unanswered and cyber stalking yielded no news. And then the whim to search grabbed me again and as I typed, Google’s autocomplete suggestion offered me “his name + death”.
People often describe grief in terms of a sea swell: at first you are subsumed by the storm with emotions crashing over you, and then over time, the waves that once raged gradually get further apart. They don’t ever disappear completely, but become less frequent and less overwhelming. And time has indeed moved on. I don’t hold my breath at the train station anymore, though on a low day I can’t help but stare at the unforgiving steel of the tracks. A train horn will put me right back into the depths of the swell. (The coroner’s inquest said the driver of the train that hit him sounded the horn as he recognised the gathering stride of the man on the platform; I know it’s the last sound he heard.)
But those moments are fewer and fewer, the gaps between the waves are growing steadily. When I think of him now, it’s the happy, sexy memories that linger. The first date where he declared me sexy and perfect, and after nervously sipped drinks we went down on each other on the stairs of the National Theatre. The lingerie shopping and the frantic fuck in Selfridges’ loos. The sweet sting of discovery as he took off his belt and I felt the careful but insistent smack of leather for the first time. The sumptuous day in the sunshine that pools its warmth onto my bed on a summer afternoon, the windows thrown open, decadent, wanton, careless.
And the last time I saw him. Under the railway arches, having just kissed me deeply, pushed up against the rough wall, a sneaky finger slid inside my knickers to check I was as wet and frustratedly turned on as he wanted me to be. And then he hopped on his bike and smiled as he glanced back over his shoulder, cycling away from me.
I miss lots of things about him. I miss his big hands. I miss his “dom face” stare that told me everything he wanted to do with me. I miss his grin. I miss his perfect firm tongue on my clit, pulling me to orgasm so quickly. I miss the cheeky farmer’s boy who suddenly appeared when I made him a bacon sandwich that reminded him of home. I miss those broad, enveloping shoulders. I miss my friend.
The thing with affairs (or at least this affair) is that you don’t really exist to the outside world as a couple. There aren’t any memories of dinners with friends, drinks with co-workers, there’s no shared family occasions. The people who matter to me never knew him. The people who mattered to him never knew me. There was just the two of us and the fraction of time we shared. That’s partly what made it feel special, but also what left me swinging in the wind when he was no longer there.
People commune in grief. We’ve built rituals around it, we gather together to remember, to share our memories and talk to others whose lives were affected by the deceased. But I was firmly on the outside of all of that, straining for a glimpse. He wasn’t mine to grieve for. I couldn’t go to the funeral. I don’t know where his ashes are scattered. It’s almost as if we didn’t exist. Because my memories are the only evidence that “we” ever were. Except for the photos that I still carry in my pocket, stubbornly occupying space on a crowded phone. So, here we are. This is tangible proof of us.
(PS – For anyone concerned about me showing a picture of someone who can’t consent to its disclosure, I can only assure you that he would be delighted and completely turned on by my showing it. He often asked me to share pictures of us when we were together. If he saw this out in the world, he’d declare it really fucking hot and grab my hand to feel the appreciation in his cock.)