Throughout all of these bad choices I’d been procrastinating my way through some things only I could do, mostly bringing Christine home.
All of this is going to get somewhat graphic. It’s hard to write about. I’m sorry if it’s hard to read. I want you all to know some of the external things that led to my need to escape the emotional roller coaster I was riding. This isn’t an excuse, not at all, but it is a reason.
Any suicide in Norway must undergo an autopsy. During the first week, when I was struggling through putting shoes on, I knew my wife was halfway around the world preparing to be… to be autopsied.
Correction. My wife’s body. I know she’s gone. But it was still terrible to think of. Her, going through this all alone. It’s still terrible to think of.
After the procedure was done I had to release her body to a funeral home for preparation to return to the states. The police helped me find one that would work with someone in the US. Then a couple weeks of back and forth as we worked out details.
Did I want her cremated? This was so hard for me. We had talked about cremation but I couldn’t remember for sure what she wanted. Also, if she was cremated in Norway I would never get to see her face again. This killed me. I would never see her again.
I finally decided to go with cremation but I asked them to send me a picture first. Just to see her one last time.
Them: We will do that, but I warn you, it isn’t like the US.
I received the email and opened the attachment. There she was. Kind of. She was wearing a white dress and her hair was spread out on a pillow. It looked thin and unkempt. Her mouth was slack and I could see her teeth through her lips.
It was terrible. This was the final proof Christine was gone, that she wouldn’t jump out from around a corner at any moment and shout ‘Surprise!’. She looked so lifeless. So totally opposite of the girl I knew. That passionate, beautiful, girl I loved so deeply and missed so much. I will never share that picture with another person. It isn’t her.
At the same time I had to take care of a lot of things that required a certificate of death, something I couldn’t get. I had to work with the American embassy in Norway to get a Certificate of Death Abroad. They were very nice.
Them: First, let me just tell you on behalf of the United States of America we’re sorry for your loss.
Then they told me it would take 8 weeks to get the certificates that were holding up closure on so many things. There’s still a lot of these things I haven’t taken care of.
I needed to figure out transportation for her remains and her belongings. They still had her phone and iPad and of course her wedding ring.
I wanted those pictures, those potential pictures from her phone. I had no idea what was on it, but I hoped it was something. You see, after she left me I spent hours obsessively looking at our pictures. Something I quickly discovered… I had no video of her. Or at least very little. I didn’t have many voice recordings. I’d deleted almost all of my voicemails. Why in the hell did I do that?
There were a couple recordings left that had somehow avoided the purge. One was her yelling at me, mid fight. Another was this:
Christine: Hey honey, I just wanted to say hi and that I love you and miss you and I hope you had a good flight annnnd hope I get to talk to you at some point. You can call me no matter how late it is just to say hi. Alright. Hope to talk to you later. Love you, bye.
I listened to this message obsessively, over and over and over again. It was one of the few places I could hear her voice and the only place I could hear her say she loved me.
So I hope this helps you understand where I was during all this. Not just facing grief, sadness, loneliness but also the horror (in my mind) of the manner of my wife’s death and being forced to face it every moment as I worked to bring her home.
This is when I really began hiding myself from Christine. Putting her in box to be taken out only when I needed something from her. Dehumanizing her, turning her memory into happy pictures and loving voicemails. Making her what I needed her to be.
It’s when I convinced myself it was OK to talk to other women. It would be fine, I was ready. Besides, Christine left me. Left me with a gaping wound and I needed someone to fill it.
This is where the first girl came in. As mentioned in the previous post we had been texting each other on a regular basis.
She messaged me at one point asking to facetime with me.
Her: OK, I just had to make sure you were real, not some weirdo that doesn’t look like their pictures.
She hung up. She was pretty. It was cute and funny.
We talked for a few more days. Now we were calling each other every night.
I hate talking to people on the phone as a rule, but during those few minutes each day I had someone. I could just talk. I mean, sure, she only wanted to talk about herself and the clothes she bought, but someone was talking to me.
She said she wanted to come up to Seattle and visit. We made some plans.
We spent a weekend together. I took her to a restaurant that was supposed to be awesome. She was wearing a small, tight red dress and tall heels and looked good. Really good.
Quick sidebar: I’m just a little bit pretentious. I like to dissect meals and talk about the food, both good and bad and everything I’d do to improve it. I also like to enjoy wine and be a bit of a D bag and swish it in my glass and pretend I know anything at all about what I’m drinking.
This girl didn’t do that at all. She was just… unrefined.
I know I sound like an asshole. Unrefined is OK. I’m not a super classy guy by any means and Christine was probably the most off color person I’ll ever meet, but we watched tons of Food Network and learned to cook together. We had so much fun diving into the ups and downs of every meal. It was a thing. This girl wasn’t Christine (#shocking).
This girl? No. She just wanted to talk about buying stuff. Her closet was so full she couldn’t fit anything else into it. She owned $800 shoes she had never worn outside. She liked to vacuum in her mink coat and wear those shoes around.
At the end of our weekend together she told me she liked me. I told her I liked her. We agreed to spend more time together but it would have to be weeks in the future. I was busy with kids and trips and couldn’t drop all that stuff and take weekends away. She was disappointed but said she understood.
We kept talking at night. Now she was making plans for the future. She would look for jobs in Seattle, move in with me, she wouldn’t date for more than a year without an engagement.
That came up a lot. She had never been married and really wanted that to change.
She pushed to come up again and see me. I relented, but it could only be for one day. I spent that time hearing about how my new house didn’t have enough room for her clothes and she would need the bonus room for additional storage.
There was a lot of communication between Christine and I during this time. Well, I talked to her a lot. I had come to the conclusion that this new woman was going to be a big part of my life because I needed someone and she was there. I was trying to convince my wife it was a good idea, which is ridiculous because Christine would have hated her.
We scheduled a third trip. Now she was talking wedding plans. Detailed wedding plans. Type of church, the service would be in Spanish, etc. I booked a trip to Hawaii for us a few months in the future. I was going all in.
In the days leading up to her next visit I realized something. I just didn’t really like spending time with her. I should be with my kids. Grieving with them. I didn’t have to marry anyone. Even if this is the last person to ever show interest in me (this is how I think) I didn’t have to be with them.
We still spent the day together and this only cemented my feelings. This person, while there was nothing wrong with her, was not for me. I needed to be with my children.
I told her this. I told her it wouldn’t work. She kept trying to contact me. Telling me she’d be in Seattle for the night or calling. She still reaches out to me today. I don’t respond anymore.
I felt somewhat renewed. I had purpose. I was going to be the best dad in the world and be there for my kids. This lasted a few days.
And then the loneliness set in again.