I didn’t know crying could cause physical pain.
We drove for a while. I was handed off to a couple officers for delivery to the station. A very nice officer met me and reiterated that I wasn’t being charged but they would need a witness statement from me. I was then brought to a hospital where I sat in a waiting room for hours waiting for a doctor to evaluate me. The entire time I transitioned between gut tearing sobs and silence. Nothing made sense.
Doctor: Why are you here?
I was confused. Why didn’t anyone tell him.
Me: Because my wife (breaking down) (recovering) my wife killed herself.
Doctor: How are you doing?
Me: My wife just died (breaking down again).
Doctor: Are you going to hurt yourself?
Me: What? No. I have kids. They need me.
And then it hit me. I have kids. Four of them. Four kids that just lost their mom and they had no idea. Shit. Shit!
Doctor: It will hurt for a while and then it will get better (liar).
I walked back out to the car. Two new officers had joined the first duo.
Police: Ben, these are good people. They will take care of you. (Turning to the new officers) He is not under arrest but must be monitored.
The rest of the day was a blur. The uniformed officers, all young and male, gave way to detectives, all young and female. In the midst of all of the madness I remember thinking how upset Christine would be if she knew I was spending time with these beautiful women. That made me laugh, drawing strange looks from the detectives.
I sat for hours, shivering uncontrollably, having awkward conversation with the detectives, trying unsuccessfully to eat. At one point one of the detectives asked if I had enjoyed my trip to Norway before catching herself.
I still hadn’t been allowed access to my phone as they were using it as part of the investigation. They told me I could call anyone but it’s incredibly difficult to find phone numbers online and the only phone numbers I had memorized were mine and Christine’s. They finally agreed to let me check my ipad for contacts. I found my mom’s cell phone number and called.
Mom: (groggy) Hello?
Me: I need Debbie’s number. You got it earlier.
Mom: Let me see if I can find it.
She gave me the number and I took a deep breath, tears pouring down my face again.
Me: Mom, Christine committed suicide last night
I don’t remember much of our conversation. Honestly the above is pretty inaccurate but it’s close. Then I dialed Christine’s mom. I told her what happened but what I thought about was how much I failed. How the woman I was sworn to protect and love had died. How she was gone forever and I wouldn’t see her ever again. I hung up.
We were waiting for a translator, difficult to come by over the holiday weekend. I found it odd because all of the people at the station spoke perfect English but rules are rules. The translator arrived and the interrogation began. The detective would look at me and speak in Norwegian, the translator would look at me and speak in English, I would respond and he would then repeat my response in Norwegian. The detective would look at her screen to get feedback from the station commander who was observing from another room and ask another question. This went on for hours. I told them about the night before, about Christine and I’s relationship, about her prior attempt. I would break into tears and the interview would halt until I could talk again. Finally they said they had enough and would release me.
A particularly kind detective helped me carry the luggage to the nearest train station so I could return to the airport. I realized after I got on the train that I had forgotten my glasses but I didn’t want to go back.
The attendant at the customer service counter at the airport was very annoyed when I told her I missed my flight and hoped they could help me rebook.
Her: Why did you miss your flight
Me: My wife died
Her: (Sigh) I’m sorry for your loss
While I waited for them to help me a group of women arrived. Their plane had come in late they had missed their tour group. The insulted and belittled the annoyed ticketing agent and then walked a short distance away and complained loudly about the unfairness of the world. I wanted to shout at them. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT UNFAIRNESS IS!!! I wanted to strangle them.
The ticketing agent came through and I was given a ticket for the following day. I walked to the nearest hotel, leaving the women to their petty complaints and prepared for the loneliest night of my life.
3 thoughts on “The First Day”
Each of these posts that I read has made me reflexively move my finger to the “like” button. Thankfully, I catch myself. Because I don’t like what you’re writing about.
But I like that you are writing it. I am a believer in the saying that a shared burden is a lighter load – pardon the paraphrasing. You’ll carry this with you always, but hopefully with the sharing, you’ll carry the joyful memories and less of this pain.
Thinking of you and your fam.
Thank you so much for sharing this. Having just lost my husband this year suddenly I know the lonliness you write of but I cannot imagine what it is like for you to lose your wife in this way and so far from home. I don’t know what to say except I am reading you and listening.
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