By Hannah Meade
My fiancé, Brian, died exactly five years ago today. Five whole years have already passed and still, I feel the heart-wrenching sadness I felt on the day he died. I find myself snuggling back up in my grey sheets, wanting a few more minutes of peace before I have to face the day. I already feel drained of any energy, and I only opened my eyes 2 minutes ago. Grief is a funny thing; it never really goes away. I think at some point I have to be numb to the pain and not feel like my insides are tearing apart at the thought of Brian. Sadly, today is not that day.
I take my phone off my wireless charger on the nightstand and open it up to view my messages from the night. My friend, Kate, has sent me a text asking me how I’m doing. She knows what today is and I feel grateful to have a friend that checks up on me. I shoot her a text back saying I just woke up and that I’m alright. I place my phone down on the bed beside me and roll onto my back, staring up at the ceiling. I take a deep breath in and let it out with a big sigh. All I can think about is Brian and as long as I stay in bed, I will continue to think about him for the rest of the day. I need to get up.
I click on the picture I have of Brian in my contacts list and watch as it dials his number. The photo is one of our engagement pictures. We had just taken them last month. He is standing behind me, wrapping both his arms around my waist.
We are both genuinely smiling and so happy to be there. I remember feeling extreme amounts of love in my heart that day. Even though the sun had been shining down on us and creating tiny sweat beads on our foreheads, it had not mattered.
“Smile big, this one is for an 8×10!” The photographer called from her spot across from us. Brian hugs me tighter from behind and whispers in my ear, “I love you so much, Lauren. I can’t wait to marry you and have an entire life together.”
I feel my smile grow at the thought of us spending the rest of our lives together. We have talked about marriage since the day we met. Even on the first day, we knew we were meant to be. Every time Brian talks to me, my heart rate speeds up a little. I have butterflies every day from him, the good butterflies. The photographer snaps the picture and I turn around to Brian. I am smiling even bigger if that’s possible. “I love you, too,” I tell him.
“Hey, it’s Brian. I can’t come to the phone right now, so please leave your name and number so I can get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks, Bye” Brian’s voice says through my phone. My eyes fill with tears, and I blink rapidly to push them back in. I have to go bury my fiancé in a few minutes. There is no time to breakdown. I click end call on my phone and turn it off. I dab at my eyes with a small tissue I find on the coffee table next to me and stand up. My legs feel weak and unsteady, but I push through into the other room. Everyone is gathered in their respective seats, silently whispering to each other before the service begins.
I find my mom in the front row with an empty seat beside her. I go sit down. She takes my hand and whispers to me, “You can do this, Lauren. I am right here with you.” I nod and smile at her, repeating those exact words to myself. I can do this, I mentally chant. Throughout the service, I find myself distracted. I can’t focus on anything the pastor is saying. My eyes and mind are on the casket. He had died in a car crash and is in rough shape, so I chose to do a closed casket. I haven’t seen his body since the day he died.
I faintly hear the pastor mention my name and I force myself to focus back on the present moment. “Lauren, would you like to come up and say a few words?” the pastor asks. I nod, standing up and walking towards the front. I grab ahold of the podium in front of me with both hands to make sure my legs don’t give out. “I just want to say thank you to everyone who is here today. I know Brian would be grateful to see all these familiar and loving faces.” Just saying his name makes my breath catch in my throat, so I have to pause. “I love Brian with all of my heart, and I am in awe of how well he loved me and everyone around us. He was such a good person, and I am grateful to have known and loved him.”
I feel my eyes start to well up as I sit back down and wait for the service to end. Lots of people stand up to greet me afterwards. I hear a lot of apologies and receive many hugs that day. The only hug I really want is from Brian, and I can’t have it. I try to smile for the people around me, hoping to show them I’m going to be okay. I hope I can be okay after this. I had planned my entire life around Brian. We were going to get married outside in front of our favorite lake, buy a house not too far from our parents but just far enough to have our own space, and at least have two kids in the future.
My entire life from this point on, is now unpredictable. I have to start over from scratch and find a new person to share my life with. I don’t even know if there is someone else out there for me. I have always believed there is one soulmate for everyone. Brian has been my soulmate for five years now and should still be.
I hope I find a love that brings me as much happiness as Brian did.
I have made plans for tonight to go out with a few friends to distract myself from the dreaded fiancé-death-anniversary. Usually, I love to go out dancing with friends. I enjoy having a few drinks on the weekend and getting out of my apartment. Any other day of the year, I would be excited to start getting dressed and preparing for tonight. But since today is what it is, that isn’t the case.
After pulling out my phone again and seeing the date, I start feeling anxious. My breathing becomes ragged, my chest tightens, my body becomes ice cold, and my head feels heavy from the pressure. I feel like I want to cry, but no tears come out anymore. I refuse to get out of my bed for the next 6 hours and instead, watch a couple of sad, romantic movies to try and get myself to cry. Nothing ever comes out. I think I had cried out my tear ducts the day Brian died, because it is impossible for me to cry now.
Around two, I muster enough energy to finally eat something. Then, I proceed to throw it back up in the toilet twenty minutes later. The rest of my day is spent lying in bed listening to sad music and movies while eating ice cream. I’m a mess every year.
Kate calls me at seven to remind me of going out. “We are picking you up in twenty minutes, Lauren! You better be dressed and ready to have fun,” she yells through the phone. I smile, say okay, and hang up the phone. I look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror; hair all astray, eyes bloodshot, and breath as disgusting as what I threw up earlier. I brush my teeth, twice, and wash my face so I look more presentable. I quickly slip on some black jeans and a tank top and I’m ready to go. I’m not trying to impress anyone tonight. Tonight, is just about having a good time with friends.
Two hours later, I find myself actually enjoying the night. I am swaying back and forth to the music playing and smiling along with my friends. Temporarily, I have put Brian in the part of my mind that I will circle back to tomorrow and deal with. I try to focus on the fun in front of me; the fun I have almost every weekend since I haven’t been seeing anyone. I’ve had a lot of free time since Brian died; I haven’t even gone on one date since that day. So instead, I occupy my time with my full-time writing job at the courier and go to clubs with my friends on the weekends.
I feel thirsty, so I excuse myself and head up to the bar for a bottle of water. The bartender hands me a bottle and I take a second to sit down on a barstool. I think to myself, I am doing this. I am actually having fun on this day, for the first time in five years. I smile to myself proudly. I can feel a small weight lift off my chest. It will take time, but I feel good. Just the fact that I got out of bed today and out of the house, is tremendous progress for me.
I scan the room once, looking at how happy everyone is dancing and enjoying themselves. I catch a guy looking at me from across the room. He smiles when our eyes meet and looks away quickly. Up until now, I have not let myself talk to another guy romantically, let alone look at another guy. My heart has not been ready for another consuming love like Brian.
My palms are getting sweaty, and my heart is beating a little faster than before. I ponder going over to talk to him, to take that first step towards moving on. My friend, Olivia, calls out to me from the dance floor just then. “Lauren, come back!” she yells.
I shake off the nervous feeling of talking to the guy and just head back to my friends. For tonight, I think I need to take baby steps. I got out of my yearly slump today and that is enough for one day. I believe I’m finally ready, though, to begin thinking of another relationship. I definitely want one now, as I get older and see the rest of my friends in serious relationships. I want my future of marriage, a house, and kids.
I can accept that Brian was not my only soulmate.
Category: Featured, Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Student