The look in my father’s eyes when he drove away from the home he built for his family almost 25 years ago was enough to silence me for several days.
And silence is not my forte.
The last time I couldn’t speak, the man I committed my heart to was murdered. And no words seemed good enough.
My throat refused to tolerate mediocre, polite expression.
I have changed in the last two months.
Some of these changes were conscious. Some merely evolution. But all were unavoidable if I was going to look forward, and no longer wish that 5 September 2015 had taken me with it when it left.
I have no intention of making you laugh.
I don’t really want you to feel anything.
I wasn’t even going to blog, but Guy Fawkes is a significant day for me. At least it was. As my entire life feels as if I should refer to it in past tense while I explore limbo.
In November 2012, I stayed in a little cottage in Lakeside. It was around the time of my mental honeymoon, and I remember being outside, hanging the washing, looking at Lyle through our bedroom window.
The fireworks on Muizenberg beach were visible overhead.
He looked up from whatever he was doing and saw me staring at him.
He smiled at me, and made his way through the kitchen to the front yard.
“So, are we getting married or what?”
I didn’t even take him seriously till he showed me the blue, tanzanite ring from Sterns.
I laughed and hit him.
“Are you versin?”
I had immediately forgiven every single thing he had done up until that moment.
“I was going to ask you at the beach but you looked kak reg through the window”.
He really understood me very well.
“You asking me to marry you in the yard? I’m wearing a tracksuit, Lyle”.
I remember this conversation verbatim.
We had argued earlier that day and he disappeared for an hour with my bankcard. I knew he was at Toad on the Road, though. Standard bank kept notifying me of his whereabouts.
“You still kwaad?”
“I don’t smaak for the beach. Light a enchie”.
And that pakkie Princeton accompanied us from the yard, watching the fireworks, to the crackling in the fridge… to the first time we made love as fiancés.
I didn’t know that in three years, the fireworks would be over.
The dreams are the most difficult part of this transition.
A few weeks ago I had an evening without the kids and took the time to reflect with a glass of wine, in the dark. I must have fallen asleep around ten.
I was back at Muizenberg High School, sitting in the quad.
My phone rang, and it was Lyle’s mother.
“Shana, they lied to us. Lyle isn’t dead. You need to get here and kiss him so he can wake up”.
I jumped up and when I looked up I was in Strandfontein, in the road next to his, but someone had built walls at every intersection.
I spent hours, in real time, trying to jump the wall to give Lyle the kiss of life.
I remember wondering if he would like my uniform.
When I woke up, for the first four seconds, I laughed, because I thought I had dreamt that everyone thought he was dead, and I was relieved that he wasn’t.
I didn’t get up that day.
Sidney came into the room a few times and I couldn’t speak to him.
I didn’t cry though.
I have felt hollow since the unceremonious Whatsapp from his mother, and I still hate Friday nights, because I have to wake up on Saturday mornings.
“Os moet pak Shana”, my mother was standing at my door with black-bags in hand.
I opened the one side of my big brown cupboard and reached over to the side that wouldn’t unlock.
I haven’t looked in this cupboard in two months.
This isn’t coincidental.
I dragged my hand across the wooden bottom of the cupboard, and grabbed blindly at the hoodies and beanies I stole from Lyle over the last few years.
I only noticed a few minutes in that I was holding my breath.
I stretched my hand a little bit further; expecting to grab a jersey and my fingers hits something hard and glassy.
In the last month of his life, Lyle showed up outside my garage and said he wanted to give me something.
“I want nothing from you, Lyle”.
He put his hand in his pocket and took out an I-pod.
The screen was cracked.
He was embarrassed.
I liked that he was embarrassed.
[I am embarrassed at writing this, at my desk. This is the first time I have cried in Milnerton].
“I know it’s old and stuff, but I put the Cranberries on it. You can listen on the bus or something”….
I declined thrice before taking it.
I closed the garage door before he left.
I pulled the I-pod from my cupboard.
[…”We’re not broken just bent…” on repeat in my ears at my desk, I had to take a break from writing this to you guys.]
I wanted to add the last email he sent me two days before he passed away, but that would mean I would have to read it again.
I hardly look directly at my screen when I type his name.
The cracked I-pod was a lovely metaphor.
I stuffed the black bag with everything I wanted to take with from my old life.
A black bag filled with things I never wanted from Lyle, is now the only black bag I packed to take with me.
To my readers: I haven’t written in a long time because I haven’t had anything worth saying.
I promised you that I wouldn’t speak about Lyle, but I overestimated my resilience. I am going to take a break for a while.
I want to come back to you with the same passion I felt when I started this a year ago.
I have forgotten my motivation.
I have forgotten a bit of myself, really.
And right now I cannot even try to plan a weekly 2000 words.
I don’t even know how I am going to speak to my kids today.
I don’t even know how I am going to survive the fireworks tonight.