Many years ago I had to travel to Paris, on business, with two male clients. The one middleaged man, advised me that his wife would accompany us. I thought it was strange but did not give it much thought. We had to attend the Eurostatory exhibition. It may sound like fun, but exhibitions are hard work!! We also had to travel to a neighbouring city to visit a manufacturer of products… One arrives at the exhibition at 9am and you leave at 5 pm. It is a lot of slow walking and standing.
Add the frustration of the Paris traffic and commuting between the exhibition centre and hotel….
Dinner is followed by falling into the bed and just “dying”…
My first thought was that this was a jealous wife who did not trust her husband on a business trip with a female colleague… the only other reason would be that she thought it would be a very sociable trip, lots of sightseeing and shopping. Oh what the hell – as long as I was not expected to keep her company or take her shopping!
About a week before we left I found out that the couple had lost their son a couple of weeks before in a car accident. I felt sad for them, made a phone call, asked my secretary to send flowers. My life carried on…
I met the client and his wife at the airport. Their eyes were so incredibly sad. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I remember telling them that the trip would be “healing”… They nodded and said nothing.
We arrived in Paris on the Friday morning. I told them that as soon as they has unpacked and freshened up we would start our adventure. We would head out to Sacre Ceour…one of my favourite places!
Our first stop was the Sacre Ceour Cathedral. We entered the cathedral and everyone was in awe of the beauty of the cathedral. They asked why people were lighting candles. I explained that people were lighting candles for loved ones who had died.
The husband and wife walked off wordlessly and went to light a candle for their dead son. I was touched and sad for them.
Over the years we have become ‘distant’ friends…we stay in contact, we exchange notes on our grandchildren, he phoned me when his daughter was diagnosed with cancer. We cried together. He said “You are the only one who will understand my fear…” He knew Vic was ill.
I saw him today for the first time in about 18 months. We spoke about business and a potential co-operation on a new project. He said nothing about Vic. He asked no questions.
Eventually, I said “Vic died three months ago you know…”
He said “I heard. I tried to phone you, but you did not answer your phone.”
“I spoke to no-one” I said
“She is in a better place you know” he said.
“So let’s talk about how we are going to tackle this project” I said
I remembered the sadness in their eyes. I remembered all the candles they lit for their son. I remember not understanding their grief.
Now I burn candles for my beautiful child!