Finding Love after a Broken Heartbykmillerk1©
Thanks to k5vreed and TesoroMio for editing.
As always public and private comments are welcomed. :)
April Fools, I thought it was an April fool's joke. A few members of my department walked into the courthouse. I was assigned there for the month. It is okay to be an officer in the court room, but I would prefer to be out on patrol.
As I said, a few members of my department walked in and they asked if I could come with them. The Judge wasn't happy that his courtroom was disrupted. But when the Captain wants to talk to me, what am I supposed to do? One of the other officers stayed in my place.
"Tony, there is no easy way to say this," the Captain started. He looked down and then I looked at the other officers and they were all my close friends.
"What is going on?" I asked.
"Freddy is gone," the Captain stated.
"What do you mean? He headed to work this morning when I did."
"Tony, Freddy is gone. He was killed this morning," the Captain responded.
"This better be a joke. Come on, tell me you are joking."
"Tony, I wish it was."
I looked at my Captain then at my friends and I could see that it was the truth. "John, tell me it is a joke, please." John just shook his head. "No, tell me it is a joke, please. He can't be gone. Ryan please tell me." After looking at them all shaking their heads no, I asked, "How?"
"It was a traffic accident on the freeway this morning," my Captain responded.
My world fell apart, "He wasn't going to take the freeway this morning. He said it was always backing up. You have to be mistaken. Please, you have to be mistaken." Tears were streaming down my face, what was I going to do? Freddy was my everything, my rock.
I remember asking to see him, and they took me to the morgue. He had been cleaned up, mostly; I could see blood in his hairline and all the contusions. They had him on a gurney; they didn't pull him out of the drawer like you see in the TV shows. They have a large walk in fridge they roll the bodies into. I caressed his forehead. He looked like he was sleeping, and then I buried my head in his chest and cried. I don't know how long they let me cry, but I remember telling them when they pulled me away that I needed to stay with him.
The next few days are a blur. I remember people coming into our house. I remember going to the funeral home and doing all the stuff to get the funeral set up. I don't remember sitting there. I don't remember the funeral itself, but I remember watching his casket being lowered into the ground. They wanted me to leave, but I needed to see it. I watched as the backhoe pushed the dirt in on him. I stood as they took everything away from me. My life was gone the moment Freddy was lowered into the earth.
John somehow was able to get me back to our house. There were tons of people there, and food everywhere. I didn't feel like eating. A plate was pushed into my hands, but when they weren't looking I tossed it in the trash.
Freddy was a picture taker. He loved taking our picture whenever he could. He had pictures all over the walls in our house-of us at the beach, backpacking, or working in our back yard. He loved taking pictures. Looking at them killed me. I was on autopilot. I took a box, and I just started removing the pictures from the tables, mantel, and walls. Everyone was watching me, but I couldn't stop myself, I had to remove him, from everywhere. John and Ryan tried to stop me, but I told them I couldn't look at him. It was killing me.
Another friend stepped forward, Chuck. I remember seeing Chuck before the lights went out. I woke in the middle of the night in my bed. I hadn't slept in my bed since they told me. I couldn't; it smelled like him, and when I woke, I thought he was there and reached out and there was nothing. I started to bawl, and I heard someone come into the room and hold me, but I still don't know which of my friends it was. I know that Chuck, Ryan, and John were around the house all the time; they didn't leave me alone for even a minute.
A week went by. The Captain stopped over and I begged him to let me come back to work. He told me to take one more week, and I argued with him, saying I couldn't just stay in this house, that I had to have a distraction. He allowed me.
Work was a distraction; I put my heart into my work. I think I was writing more tickets than I have ever written in a month's time. No one received a break from me, old ladies or teenagers; I even pulled over a Priest and gave him a ticket. I was doing my job. The Captain pulled me aside one morning and told me to ease up on the tickets, that they were getting complaints about me. I did but didn't, I let a few people off a day, but still continued to pull people over. It was my job, traffic enforcement.
A month, then two and three had gone by. I never slept in our bed after the time they drugged me to sleep. The couch was uncomfortable, but it worked as a bed. I didn't even go into our room unless I had to; his smell was still there. I know most people take comfort in the smell of their loved one, but it killed me to smell his cologne, to smell how our bed smelled after we had slept in it.
My friends would alternate and come by and see me, keep me company in the evenings. I had to send them home because they wouldn't go. I think they were afraid that I would commit suicide, the cops' way of killing oneself with their service weapon. I would never do that. Freddy would be extremely upset with me. I think that is why I haven't done it, knowing that Freddy would be mad that I took the easy way out, to leave my pain behind.
Living day by day was hard, but as long as I didn't go into our room, I was okay. I had put the box of photos in there. I opened the door long enough to push it through with my foot and shut it again. I had Ryan one day grab all of my clothes out of the closet and dresser.
When October came around, I was standing in the kitchen and I don't know what brought me to our door, but I was standing at our bedroom. It took me forever it seemed to reach out for the handle, but I finally did and opened the door. Freddy's smell instantly filled my senses but I continued into the room and sat on the bed. It had been six long months without him, six long lonely months.
I had been sitting on the bed when a conversation that I had with Freddy after we had married came back to me. We had been lying in this room, in this bed together.
"Would you start dating someone, if I ever died?" Freddy asked.
"No, I wouldn't want to live without you."
"Tony you have to; you can't stop living if I die. I will be honest; I would, if you were killed." I remember looking at him in shock. "Don't get me wrong, Babe, I love you, and I would be devastated that you were dead, but I would hope one day I would have the courage to move on and start dating someone else."
"I don't know if I could."
"Then you have to promise me, if I ever pass away before you, God forbid, but if I ever do, you have to move on. You can take your time, but at the six month mark you have to start to move on."
"Why are you giving me a time frame? Shouldn't I be allowed to grieve in my own time?" I asked.
"Tony, I know you. You will just sit on the couch and never leave the house except for work, and you would never move on. So you have to promise me three things."
"One, you can't commit suicide. I will haunt your dead body, do you hear me?"
"Yeah, can't commit suicide."
"Second, after six months, you have to pack up my things. I know you won't be ready or able to do it by yourself, so asked Ryan or John to come and help you. Hell, make it into a party, a cleaning out of Freddy party."
"Do we have to talk about this right now?"
"Yes, we do. Promise me that you will do this."
"Okay, I promise." I was getting angry at him and he knew it.
"Third." I sigh. "Yes, Tony, third. I want you to move on and date someone. I'm not saying it has to be just after the six months, but don't let it take you over two years. Someone is going to catch your eye sometime; take a chance and love again."
"Really, why are we talking about this? I'm the one that has the dangerous job. I should be asking you this, not you."
He started laughing at me. "Honey, I had to convince you to date me. You were so standoffish, it wasn't funny. I had to ask Ryan and John constantly if I even had a chance with you. They just kept telling me to stay in the fight and that one day you would come around, that you were interested in me, but were too stupid to realize it."
"Oh, did they now?" I was laughing, too. Yeah I hadn't known something good when it hit me square in the chest.
"I love you, Tony, but you know you can be a muscle head sometimes. I thought sometimes when I was dating you that you must have dropped more than one weight on your head, because you were such a blockhead at times."
I laughed at him and pulled him closer. "I thought you loved my muscles..."
The memory just stopped like that. It was like Freddy was telling me it was time. It had been six months and I was sitting on the bed crying again. To be able to do it, I did need Ryan and John's help. I would never be able to pack up the room without help and maybe with someone here, I wouldn't cry as much.
I'm glad that I have friends like John and Ryan, and that their wives are very understanding. Sarah and Anna have put up with me since we were all teenagers when I was too stupid even to come out to myself. I didn't date, but I didn't want to admit to myself that I like guys either. I was amazed when John and Ryan stuck by me when I finally realized, and they are the ones that kept telling Freddy to keep trying.
It took a long Saturday, but with John, Ryan, Anna and Sarah we packed up everything of Freddy's. I wasn't ready to part with some of it, but we did take his clothes down to goodwill. I put some of the pictures that he took back out on the walls, mantel, and tables-not all of them but some. The rest I put in our walk-in closet on a shelf. I never did move into another room in the house. I kind of just had my clothes in baskets in the living room. So I brought my things and put them back in the closet and the dresser.
The first night staying in our bed was the hardest; I didn't sleep at all that night. The next few days it became a little easier. Over the next few months I was sleeping the entire night in our bed and not dreading it. Christmas was hard, but with the help of my friends, I made it through. Then it was April Fool's Day again, and I went down to the cemetery.
I spent a lot of time at the cemetery during the first few weeks, then I couldn't stand being there and wouldn't show up for months. I continued in that cycle. I was in the off part of the cycle when the first of April came around. But I needed to go; I needed to put his favorite flower on the grave. He loved tulips not roses, so that is what I would bring down with me. I even was allowed to plant some in front of his stone.
I sat next to his stone and talked to him for a long time that day, told him that I loved him, and that I was going to abide by his wishes. That it wasn't going to be anytime soon, but I would move on. I made that pledge to him the following year also. I couldn't see myself dating anyone a year after losing Freddy. I didn't think I could see myself dating anyone after Freddy at all.
Then one day I saw him.
Every morning, while walking into the station from the parking lot, there he sat on a park bench. There is a square that is set up with the courthouse on one side, the police station on the other, and parking lots on the other ends. There are beautiful flowers that line the walkways and benches every twenty yard or so. And each morning he would be sitting eating his breakfast on one of the benches.
I knew of him. He was a clerk in one of the many departments in the courthouse. I wore my sunglasses every morning so he couldn't see my eyes, but I would watch him as I walked up and past him. Once I would get to the front doors of the station, I would glance back to see if he was watching; he always was.
"When are you going to go over to Chad and just ask him out?" Ryan asked me as we were walking in from the parking lot. I was staring at Chad again. I could see him looking, but trying not to be obvious about it.
"Why do I have to make the first move?" I laughed. "I know. It's because he has been watching me for over three months, and he can't make a move, either."
"Yes, and you know Freddy would like you to start dating."
"I know, I know. It has been almost three years now."
"Almost, Tony? It has been over three years."
"Three years and a few months," I conceded.
"Then when are you going to ask him out?" Ryan repeated.
"I don't know, one of these days."
"So you are going to just keep torturing the poor guy?"
"No," I smiled. "Not really." Then I looked at Ryan. "Okay, I will stop in his office today."
"You are coming by tonight for the game, right?"
"Yeah I wouldn't miss it for the world, and it isn't like I could avoid coming. Remember you moved in next door," I laughed at him. "Anna would come and drag my ass over if I didn't show up."
"Yeah, she would," He chuckled. "She is waddling more than usual these days. So you would really anger her if she has to waddle over to get your ass."
"Maybe I will have to not show up to see that." We both laughed as we walked into the station, I glanced back at Chad before walking through the doors. I could see him getting up to head into the courthouse.
I never got around to stopping off at Chad's office during the day, and when I was almost off shift the duty sergeant asked if I could work a half shift and I told him no problem. I let Ryan know and was sent back out in a patrol car for four more hours.
It wouldn't have been a bad night getting off at seven-thirty, but I had someone that decided to resist arrest after I took him into custody. I pulled him over for a no-turn-on-red and ran his license. He had warrants out for his arrest. Yippy. So I had to call in a backup unit and then take him into custody. As I said he was fine until I got him to the station. Then when I was getting him out of the car, he decides to resist. He head butted me in the face, hitting my right cheekbone and breaking my sunglasses.
Thank god there was another cop around or I think I would have put this guy on his ass for doing that. I knew I was going to have a nice shiner in a few hours. After getting the suspect booked, and filling the new charge of resisting, I was about to clock out for the night when the duty sergeant, said he had called for an EMT to look at my face before I could leave. It was either let an EMT look at it or go to the ER, so I was glad he was bringing in an EMT.
When Paul showed up from the fire department, he looked me over and told me I was going to have one hell of a bruise by morning. He didn't think I fractured my cheekbone, but he told me if pain continued, I should get it checked out. I thanked him. The duty sergeant was happy, and I clocked out for the night at eight. I knew that the poker game would be in full swing by the time I got to Ryan's that night.
When I pulled into my driveway, I could see that there were a lot more cars than normal at Ryan's. I went in and took a shower and just pulled on shorts and a t-shirt. Apparently it wasn't just a poker game tonight; it was bring-your-wives-and-be-social night. I always feel like the odd duck when they do this to me, but I always stay. If I hadn't, Anna would have been on my ass. I could see a card game going off to the side in the family room and people coming in and out of the backyard, when I walked in.
"Hey man, what the hell happened to you?" John asked when I walked into view of the poker table.
"Resist." I looked around. "Deal me in when you get a chance."
"Where's your money?" Eric responded.
"Then, hell no. You bring your money, then we'll talk."
I threw sixty bucks on the table and they all smiled and handed over some chips to me. "Good. We needed some new money on the table; the new guy is cleaning us out," Eric stated.
"New guy?" I inquired. Both John and Ryan looked away from me when I asked.
"Yeah, Chad, from the courthouse, Ryan invited him. He is in the backyard probably talking up one of the wives. He asked to be dealt out these next few rounds, so he could grab something to eat." I just looked at Ryan and shook my head. He knew I wouldn't get around to asking him out, so he was going to make sure we got together.
I went out the backdoor to grab a beer from one of the coolers, and Chad was in the corner of the yard talking with a few of the guests and looking sexy as can be. He didn't see me. I just walked back in and sat down at the table and waited to be dealt in.
A little while later Chad walked back in and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me. I just happen to be looking up at the door when he came through it. "Hey, he's back to try to win more of our money," Eric said. "Come sit down, then Tony won't be winning so often. I don't know what the hell you do, Tony."
I laughed, "I count cards and I have a few extra taped to the table." I looked up at Chad. "Hey come sit here, I will grab another seat from the basement. I'm out anyways on this hand." I threw my cards at Eric and I got up and walked around the table and nudged Chad toward the chair. Where my hand touched the small of his back felt just right and I panicked.
Instead of heading downstairs to get another folding chair, I headed out into the garage. Ryan must have heard the door and followed me out. "Tony, you okay?" I looked at him and he was looking at me with concern.
"I'm not ready yet." I was breathing in short breaths. "It's not time yet. I'm not ready. I can't be ready yet. It's too soon." I kept repeating over and over. I was shaking and my intakes of air were getting shorter and shorter.
Ryan rushed over to me. "Tony, calm down. Tony, look at me, calm down." I was looking at him, but I couldn't control my breathing. "Tony, sit here and put your head between your knees. Shit man, you are going to pass out, if you don't." I did what I was told. He had pulled over a little stool on wheels and I sat down and put my head between my knees. "What happened in there?"
When I could catch my breath I looked up at him. "I just touched him, and it felt right."
"And what is wrong with that, Tony?"
"It hasn't been long enough."
"Tony, Freddy has been gone for three years and three months. He would want you to move on. You know he would have." Tears came to my eyes when he said Freddy's name. "Man, we all know you loved Freddy and Freddy did you. But you need this, Tony. You need to open up to someone again and live. You haven't been living these past few years. We can all see it." I just looked at him. "But we all noticed when you saw Chad."
"What do you mean?"
"You were happier in the mornings, when you saw him on the bench. It was John and Mark that noticed you one morning. They were standing in front of the station when they watched you coming from the parking lot. They noticed when you came into view of Chad you puffed up, like a peacock showing off your feathers. They told me about it, and I smiled and laughed. I didn't believe them until one day I was coming behind you from the parking lot and witnessed it for myself."
I just laughed. "A peacock, huh? Do you know I deliberately came in one morning to run before work, just to see the look on his face when I ran past him?"
"So you were trying to kill the poor guy."
"My heart is telling me it is time, Ryan, but my head keeps telling me I need to wait."
"Tony, it's baby steps. Talk to him. Take him out for coffee or a drink. You don't have to go all gung-ho, just take steps."