The Reality of Martin’s Death

It was never real. It never felt real. It never seemed real. Any of it. 
The morning I received the phone call to say that Martin was missing, I knew that he was dead. I honestly knew it, as I put the phone down and decided what needed to be done, what I needed to do, I planned it all knowing that we were too late, he was dead. Yet it still didn’t seem real when the police car pulled up, as the policeman entered the house and pleaded with a reluctant, frightened and shaking me to sit down. As he spoke the words I knew I was going to hear, it didn’t seem real. Almost like I was an outsider looking in on somebody else’s life, somebody else’s pain, somebody else’s misfortune. This wasn’t real life. No way. And as the days blurred together but somehow moved on, it still wasn’t real to me. He’d be back, he wasn’t gone forever. No way had that happened. And because it didn’t feel real, I didn’t feel like me. I was a different version of me. Ghost like. I was emotional yet numb. I was a million and one conflicting feelings. I couldn’t think or concentrate like I had done before. I was different. It had changed me. I didn’t feel real either.

It was a few days before his body was released and lay in the chapel of rest at the funeral directors. A few days of waiting. Waiting until I could see him, the father of my children. The man who I had once loved enough to want to marry, the man who I had loved enough to create life with. The man who had very much been alive in my world. A few days of waiting before I could finally believe, with concrete evidence in front of me, that it was real. That he no longer breathed the same air, that that heart I had once believed belonged to me, no longer did it’s job of keeping him alive. That he had gone.

But that didn’t happen, I didn’t ever get my evidence. I could have argued and demanded that I saw him, they would have had to have let me, but they didn’t want to. The funeral director was honest, she didn’t want me to see him. She could see no benefit of seeing Martin looking like he did. He had been in the water too long, possibly as long as three days. He was no longer the Martin that I remembered. It was a very hard fact to accept. I had prepared myself for seeing him, knowing that it was something I needed to do, but that chance was taken away. I wish that I had asked to see his hand, the one with the stupid Indian ink tattoo he’d given himself at school. His hand would have been enough, I’d have known, without any doubt, that it was his hand. I could have held it one last time. I wouldn’t have needed to see anymore than that, his hand would have been enough. I would have held it, one last time, whilst I said goodbye and let myself finally believe that it was real. I’d have seen with my own eyes that he was really gone. I regret not thinking to ask to see his hand.

I can’t be sure how different things would have been had I seen Martin’s body. I’m not sure if the nightmares would have been a bit kinder, because I’ve seen Martin in those, in all sorts of different ways. Some of them disturbing, my imagination deciding how he would have looked and then presenting him that way in my dreams. There were other nightmares too, where he wasn’t really dead. I’ve had a lot of those, a big misunderstanding or an elaborate plan to fake his death, me finding out and then waking stressed, angry and distraught. They were the kind of dreams I had almost every night for a long time after his death, maybe I’d have been spared a few of those restless nights had I had the proof that his death was real.


As time has passed I have learnt to accept the reality of Martin’s death. I can’t understand it, I never will. There are just too many questions left unanswered for me to ever understand why. I still ask those questions, to myself, to friends and family. I still try and put the pieces of a never ending puzzle back together, but now I do it with an understanding that I will never be able to solve that huge impossible puzzle, no matter how hard and how long I try. For me there’s a kind of peace in finally accepting that, and in facing up to the reality that he really has gone forever. 

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