I would often meet James in town or we would go see film at Westfield after work. Date night. He’d be coming from work and I would drive and meet him there. And so when the film/meal was finished he’d get back on his bike and I would drive and he’d usually get home way before me. It usually took me 15/20 minutes to get home and I would often find myself speeding to get home at the same time as him; I realised that despite the fact that it was only 5 minutes since I’d seen him and ten more till I saw him again, I missed him. So much so that I was doing everything in my power to lessen the gap. It was the same feeling as when he’d pop into his 25 minute long showers; I couldn’t bear the missing. Most of our fights, I’d say a good 90% were caused when James was back late, usually from work. Because if he told me he would be back from work at 7, I couldn’t stand it being later, for this very reason.
So what do you do when faced with missing on this scale? That I cannot put into words because the pain it causes is obscene. There’s a scale to the missing, sometimes it’s a 3 other times a 10 but rarely does it fall below a 5. It’s a lingering ache.
One of the things I have struggled with most is the loss of tastes and smells. I will never ever be able to taste the food he cooked or smell the smells James created; this seems like an unnecessary cruel blow on top of everything else we are faced with. I miss the enormity of his presence, the way the sofa would dip when he left it and it would take a while to readjust; the weight of a body on floors, on stairs. They way you know someone is upstairs because of presence alone, like a stubbed cigarette with the last bit of smoke still lingering in a room. There is a great comfort to this and you can only know of it once it is gone.
And sounds and noise; you lose these too, not just a person’s voice but the noises they create in a room. For me this was doors opening and bike locks and running showers and someone else’s phone ringing and background cricket with that Yorkshire man with the best voice, and someone in the fridge and tops off beer bottles falling, shouting at TV screens, someone else on the phone, someone else brushing their teeth or changing the radio station. Noises you hear everyday but that someone else is making. I am devoid of all these now. A great sadness, and one I thought of when James was in hospital, was that I would never hear a key in the door, that no one would ever be coming home to me anymore; this silence particularly is the worst.
For Alex F, the kindest person I know.