It's been a week since I've gone.
Dad finally finds the strength to move from his room; I think he hadn't been able to face the house, the memories, until now. It needs clearing up, and he's finished all the work he can conceivably do for the next few months, so that's the priority. There's no sign of mum, and the others are at Angie's house, she knew they wouldn't be functioning right after... He takes the old flowers off the windowsill. Tips the cold tea into the sink, cups unwashed. Chucks out the takeaway boxes and clears away the uneaten food. Throws out the "sorry for your loss" cards and teddy bears. Dusts off the pictures on the mantle, pauses, and straighten the DVDs on the desk. Walks through the house in a daze, probably remembering everything at once, knowing him.
Memories of a life that's been loved.
It all comes back, and he drops to the floor again. He's writing, I can see the paper shaking:
"I realize I'll never drink tea with him again really late because he can't sleep. I realise I'll never play Monopoly where he keeps winning somehow. I realise I'll never see him smile at some stupid post I sent him. I realise I'll never see him smile again. He's said before he went not to cry if he's gone but dammit there's a tear every time I blink."
Dad always was emotional, I can't feel much anymore.
Oh I'm in pieces, it's tearing me up.
He's packed up the photo albums from the funeral reception. Read the messages people left, shocked and sad. How could I think his name was more important? (It was all he ever spoke about) He is destroyed here without me, I suppose he would trade his life for mine in a heartbeat. How couldn't he have stopped me? (I would have gone whatever he said) It's killing him that he sent me off to that fight with his guns and his "blessing" (he never truly said goodbye). It's all his fault, he thinks, oh if only he knew.
A heart that's broken is a heart that's been loved.
He fluffed the pillows on the sofa, straightened the clutter on the table, picked up the remote from the floor. He has to face my room now. He pauses in the doorway, a flood of the past threatening to drown him, probably thinking about all the time I spent in there with the door closed. He goes in. Makes the bed. Stacks my clothes, they still smelled like me. He steals my perfume, my smell is already fading, apparently my "disgusting" aftershave is comforting now. It can't go… he won't let it. My God I miss him (the only emotion I have access too now, apparently).
So I'll sing Hallelujah
Laf said he'd pick the others up and wiped a tear from dad's face with his hand on his cheek.
"We don't have to go to Church bud, if you can't handle it?"
He shakes his head. He has to go. I can't stay here. He hasn't spoken since… I can't. I can't stand to see him break, it's too heavy. I am trapped here to watch my world fall apart.
You were an angel in the shape of my son
In the carpark he pauses, seeing the sign of the cross at the door. It means more now to both of us, knowing… I hope he's up there, God that is. I hope He has peace. We know He deserves it more than we do. I can't face Him having lost so much. I pray with him, that's never happened before. I pray for him, for me, and for Eliza (she hasn't left her room since… I think she hates dad now, it's my fault), and for all of us, but most of all, I pray for him.
Spread your wings as you go
They visit my grave after the service, the kids still at Sunday School. I am struck dumb, he falls into Laf again, unable to support the weight of his guilt and greif and Laf holds him. He sobs in his arms, it's so quiet, so quiet. He's disassociating. All I could hear was trees and breathing. Laf murmurs something, probably French, in his ear but I, and he are gone. Lost to the world.
And when God takes you back he'll say Hallelujah
He's gone, I realise. My brain can't handle it oh my god he's really gone now, forever… I re-emerge from my mind from my memories with a bang, I'm trapped against something inside something I don't know where I am I can't breathe my God I can't breathe I'm going to die who what I can't I can't I can't I'm going to die I am going to die like him I deserve to die like him I can't I can't breathe I am going to die I am going to die I can't breathe I can't breathe I can't hear I can't see my God help me help oh help…
Herc's voice breaks thought my panic. "Lex can you breathe for me please?"
Can't breathe can't breathe can't breathe can't breathe Can't see failing
"Can you tell me 5 things you can see? It's ok Lex it's gonna be ok keep breathing. You don't have to talk yet you're having a panic attack you aren't going to die…"
For a bit I thought… I thought that I could hear him again. I can't, Door, breathe I can't, Laf's hair, I can't, chairs, tables, breathe, Herc's jacket hung up, breathe… I fall back into his chest. I can't talk. It's not working. I let Herc wraps his arms around me like an anchor, grounding me better than exercises intended to ever could. I rest, for the first time since… I am safe here.
When I fell down you'd be there holding me up
Waking up is hard. I come back to awareness still in someone's arms like a child (comforting for some reason) and lay still, not wanting to face the world. I know they will want answers about yesterday, but I can't give them. I can't be weak. Weak. Pathetic useless weak. Childish Alexander can't even hold himself together God help no no no
I hope that I see the world as you did cause I know
"Lex can you breathe with me? It's gonna be ok just keep going bud." It's Herc again. He's always been the mum friend, I feel like a child, how fitting. "Lex, Laf is going to give you some tea ok? It's been a few hours, you disassociated, and I think you might be going again again kiddo, we don't want that."
Sure enough Laf comes with a cup of milky tea, and I sip, gratefully. I'm not sure when I last ate.
A life with love is a life that's been lived
Sirens blare past outside the window, I squish closer into Herc's chest and raise my hands "God I miss him, them, it's all my fault"
Herc and Lafayette shared a look over my head and in a quiet voice Laf asked
"Alex would you prefer we sign or speak ma petite?"
"Sign please" My hands shake slightly and I click my tongue (a stim that calms me a lot). Herc is warm and comforting to sit with, and his arm across my chest holding me provides comforting pressure. I know I am safe here, they are going to help me.
And when God takes you back he'll say Hallelujah, you're home.