September 11, 2014
What has just happened?
I’m sitting in my shop, the curtains are drawn and I can barely move. I have some type of flu. Breathing in, I am aware of the effort. I am acutely aware of my body. The tingling in the tips of my fingers, the tightness of my throat, the buzz in my head.
I lost my partner last night.
The fog, I feel it coming through my eye balls, hazing my thoughts. The furrows on my forehead crushing down as I search through the memories, trying to make sense of it all.
I woke this morning to be told someone wanted to put me through a tree shredder.
I think last night was the worst night of my life, and this morning was just unnecessarily random and cruel. Why, would the universe do this to me? Where is Paul? He is meant to be my protector, my partner. I need to feel the safety of his arms around me. I want to hear him tell me that everything will be all right. I want him to come and fix this quagmire, this disaster, this, oh, so obviously a parallel reality, for it is not mine. He fixes everything. Where are you? What has happened to you? My mind just swirls in panicked disbelief. I am more shocked than scared. I’m aware, that I obviously know nothing. Nothing except, I don’t deserve this.
If karma is a truth, I must be the most evil person on the planet. I don’t want to believe I am a bad person, let alone deserve this. No one deserves to feel this. Nothing makes sense. Something will make it all right again. I just need to be still. I need to breathe.
I want my bliss back. I know that’s just a state of mind. Temporary at best, and finely reliant on the synchronicity of the universe. The kindness of timings. Once experienced nothing else will do. Paul is my bliss and I am certainly his.
Sitting, staring, unfocussed, I’m suddenly painfully aware of the fragility of too much happiness. Three weeks ago, I was celebrating my engagement with the man who adored me: the man whom I adored. We celebrated our love, our future, our happiness, our fortune at finding each other. We rejoiced with family and friends at our good luck to have found each other. Since the day he met me, he had proudly announced that I made his life complete.
Now. Nothing is the same.
He spoke of electricity, of breathing as one. I was happy. We were happy. We were besotted with each other. Whirl wind love and passion. The stuff of romance novels.
“Oh my god, how lucky are we? To both love like this. To feel the counterpart to your own being in the eyes of another.” He was forever telling me how lucky he was.
The depth of his sincerity, over rode his passionate corniness.
As numb and slow as I currently feel, these flashbacks are comforting, and I want to immerse myself in them, but, just as I shut my eyes and retract into the past, I’m suddenly jolted out of the warmth of my memories as a loud, over revved car flies past the shop, startling me back from the past and hurtling me into the ugly present of the now.
The “now” that I don’t want.
There’s an irony. Suddenly I want the solidity of the past or perhaps take my chances with the hopes of the future. I definitely don’t want this moment, where the pain and shock are so great I can’t even comprehend them. Speed this up. Get this over with. Get me to the tomorrow where I may feel better.
I have become Paul wanting to rush through the present into a better future.
I smile at the irony.
My body is incapable of anything but sitting. I physically ache. My eyes flicker through the memories like a broken film roll. If I can pull it together, it may make sense. Maybe I can understand, undo, unhurt. Maybe I can fix this.
Stop threatening to feel, Katherine.
The overriding feeling about the past year, is one of awesome love. The big love. The one. My memories are filled with passion, love, laughter. Enormous highs, hugs and reassurance. Safety and security. Of being able to breathe. It was social and fun. Extreme and surprising. Fast paced, but worth it.
And challenging. It was definitely challenging. I had made it harder than it needed to be, just to fall in love and be happy. My bliss. I will always think of this year as the time I loved, and was loved like no other. We were one. Paul’s life had consumed me, and I now needed him to breathe.
How could the universe do this to us? Separate us? Put me, and my son, in so much danger. I don’t understand, but I will.
I open the laptop and go to Facebook. Yes, it happened. I’m engaged. I feel the massive solitaire on my left hand. It doesn’t seem real but there’s the evidence. It wasn’t a dream. The first 11 photos, that the photographer sent through to Paul, who immediately uploaded them on to our shared Facebook page. Our happiness. There for the world to see.
Everyone was thrilled for us. You can see it on their faces. I was so, all encompassingly, loved. We were clearly both inordinately happy.
The engagement was August 23rd and the wedding was booked for the 29th of November. Everything on speed dial. Paul rushing head long into his future, and me always a few steps behind trying to catch up. A honey moon in Bora Bora and a permanent move to New York, before Christmas. We would take nothing and start complete afresh. All Paul’s choices. He would tell me all the time, how perfect our lives were going to be.
“You’re going to love it, Princess. You deserve everything, because you ask for nothing.”
I agreed. Being with him was wonderful. The rest a bonus.
He was literally bursting with excitement. Planning our future. Listing goals. Like an impatient, enthusiastic teenager, just wanting to get on with his life, on his terms. He wanted the engagement and wedding to be bigger and better than any of my suggestions. The size of his love. He told me all the time. ‘I want you to have everything you ever dreamed of. I want you to feel how much I love you, and know how important you are to me. I want everyone to know that you’re ‘The One.’’
I struggled with the speed; the intensity. His devotion was overpowering and I couldn’t believe I deserved it. I’d said I would be happy marrying in a Registry office with just our immediate family. He was horrified, yet I had tried to convince him.
“But your Dad is about to marry Grace in a civil ceremony, and it keeps it pure; Purely about the marriage. Lovely and simple.”
“Katherine, they are old. Marrying there is a sign that they are over everything. Finished with joy, excitement and passion. I think I can do better than that. I want to celebrate and I want everyone to know that finally I have found my true love, my happiness, my bliss.”
He got his way and as a result, our engagement was over the top. Nothing was too good. He was completely involved in the planning. He would only accept the very best. He wanted me and everyone to know that I was what he had waited for. He told me time and time again. He told everyone.
I ran everything past him. The choice of caterers, Dj’s, photographers. Music, furniture hire and the venues. He chose the bigger option, the more decadent, expensive choice each time. If the engagement was lavish, our wedding was going to be an opulent extravaganza.
“Princess, this isn’t just a wedding. It’s a celebration of a marriage forever. I want to be with you till the day you die. I want the world to know, that you will make me happy for the rest of my life and I want you to always know that too. I want you to feel your worth. It is my job to make you happy and that in itself will make me the happiest man in the world. We will be amazing.”
It was excessive and effusive. It was constant devotion.
I loved him back. I hoped I deserved him. Could I really be this lucky?
The engagement night was elegant and sophisticated. Just as Paul described our future life.
Sitting in the shop, now, I just stare at the photo of us entering the foyer. Mesmerised. There’s other photos of his family: my beautiful son; my precious friends. We all bare witness. I was the luckiest girl alive.
And now my beautiful Paul is missing and I’m wanted dead. I self talk my way back into my memories. Where the answers should be.
I saw everything Paul wanted, but I just wanted him. For us to be together was more than enough.
We celebrated with more than 100 family and friends. Dancing the night away with a DJ in The State Library. Everyone looked amazing. Dressed up. The whole night was a statement of love. Paul was the epitome of James Bond. Just as he liked to think of himself. Extremely handsome, debonaire, and totally the man of the night. His face beaming. I was dressed in a flame red ball gown with a beaded, corseted, bustier. For all intents and purposes, it was a wedding dress, just red. It was epic in size and commanding of attention. Paul had chosen it. I had steered more towards figure hugging black, my traditional dress code. He had insisted I stand out. We had spent days looking for it. Finally we ended up in bridal heaven, Brunswick St, a mere week before the engagement.
“It’s your night Katherine. I want everyone to see how special you are. I want everyone to remember this night. That I did it. That I got you over the line, and then we will both be gone.” He laughed. “You can wear black any day. But, in this; This dress. Only someone as beautiful and elegant as you, can pull it off. You will stand out. It’s stunning, as are you. When we move to New York, you will be able to wear it again at the openings, and charity galas. It’s perfect. When we are on the red carpet, I will be so proud to stand beside you in this dress. You will be a crowd stopper.”
He leaned forward and sang in a whisper the Joe Cocker classic. “You are so beautiful to me.”
“Ok, ok! I don’t know if I can carry it off, but the dress is gorgeous.”
“Of course you can. Anyone who can wear the wedding dress we just designed, can wear this. I can’t wait till we get married. When Aldo finishes that couture dress, it will be in the papers. You in that dress. It embodies everything we want in life. It is the epitome of elegant and sophistication. God Katherine I want to be married to you so much. You deserve this. I deserve this.”
Paul, always in a rush. Here we were, literally still in the shop, paying for the engagement dress, to be worn in a week, and yet, without stopping for a breath, he was already moving on to the excitement of the wedding. Weeks earlier, he had taken me into Aldo Terrato, so he could design a haute couture dress. It was spectacular. My son, Oliver, had been with us and as Paul signed off on the massive deposit, out of sight, I heard him telling Aldo, that Ollie was his sole hope for the future of his little empire.
“All my dreams now rest with him. He is a great kid. Sadly my two are a bit hopeless, but now I have the chance for someone to groom. Couldn’t be happier. New wife. New life.”
I couldn’t believe how lucky and spoilt, loved, and in love I was. That Paul loved, and accepted my son was crucial.
I could hear Paul in the other room, still chatting away, while I got out of the sample dress. “Aldo, I’m going to change their lives. They have certainly changed mine. I cannot tell you how lucky I am. How much in love I am. Look at them. I’m blessed to have found them both.”
A month later, and now we were choosing this dream piece for our engagement party and he was just so full on, bursting with excitement and dreams, already impatient for the wedding. I was constantly pressing the brakes.
“Paul, I know. I know they are both beautiful, but slow down. Please enjoy the journey. Let me breathe.”
“Princess, once we get to New York, then we can relax. The quicker we get there, the sooner our lives start for real. I know there’s been a lot to do and you have had to do most of it. You need a break. I just can’t wait. That’s all. I want our lives to start. Don’t you?”
To me, I already had all I wanted. More than I needed. My life with Paul had started the day I met him. To Paul, it would begin the day we got married.
“Yes, gorgeous man, I’m excited to move and start our adventures together. I love you.”
The memories flooding in, calm my frayed nerves. Its not all reminiscing, I know the answers must lie hidden in the past. I need to relive every moment. Thankfully they are mostly wonderful, happy memories. With this awareness, I realise, that’s where the pain will be found, because it hopefully ends with me understanding why I’m now wanted in a tree shredder, at a pig farm. There must have been signs. People. Conversations. I light a reassuring cigarette and breathe in smoky courage. I let my mind wander back. Back to the engagement night.
I want Paul.