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!
9 thoughts on “I remember their sadness…”
Grief is so hard to communicate. A friend of mine recently lost her son to suicide. Although she struggled to talk to anyone about it she managed, as you have, to write about it. It’s called Boy by Kate Shand.
Touching, love the photo pal.
On Skype if you fance a quick chat…
Shaun x (Hugs)
Certainly not a the kind of connection we want with others, but of the most profound, despite.
Such beautiful writing, Tersia. It is amazing how much of a different perspective bereavement casts upon everything. The club to which we both belong ultimately brought us together. For those not in this world, your story illustrates exactly how uncomfortable and difficult it is to imagine it on the outside. It is unimaginable, isn’t it? The amputation of the soul is a horrible thing. But Vic is within you and you carry her when you writing with such honesty that touches others. You are very early in you grief to have such an amazing ability to do this. When I was deeply grieving, I could hardly see beyond it. You are moving forward, Tersia. Hang in there. Feel my hug!
This is one helluva story, Tersia. You sound very tuned to their sadness, not yet knowing what your future would hold. God, truly every time I visit your page the only way I can half imagine it, is losing Daniel, and I loathe such an idea. I bet they were sad, yes – a car accident would be so sudden, shocking, horrible. To think, it happens every single day and you cannot guess to whom.
I hope you are better these days, stronger, more well. I know it is so recent, but I do hope time does its trick.
Interesting that your colleague did not know what to say to you about Vic, even though he had lost his own child. I think we and other people expect that some wisdom is automatically bestowed on anyone who has been through a tragic event such as bereavement. But the gift of knowing the right thing to say to a bereaved parent is randomly given, in my experience (and not on me, I am sad to say).
Thats a beautiful story. You know, you can light candles for anyone. I like to. When my parents visited Notre Dame, they lit a candle for my mother’s deceased grandfather, and three candles for us girls back home, with a prayer that we’d be alright while they traveled. I think lighting candles is such a beautiful tradition, and such a comfort. Tonight I’ll light one for Vic and one for you, and say a prayer for you both. Or perhaps I should only light one, since you two are “one” right? :)
One is enough! Thank you kind Rachel!!!!
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