I just had to stop and write my post today, The award for having a dead husband goes to, because I finally caught up on last week’s episode of Offspring and felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard.
If you don’t know about Offspring, it’s an Australian comedy/drama centered around 30 something Nina, who’s an obstetrician with a slightly chaotic family. At the end of last season, she was left widowed with a baby girl after her partner passed away. (Sound familiar???)
Photo courtesy of Sunshine Coast Daily Media
Well as i’ve mentioned before, this season seems to be eerily similar to what happened to me. So, please admit here if you have submitted a manuscript of my life to the producers of the show, no hard feelings, we can split the royalties!
Slight exaggeration, not all of it is life imitating art, i’m no doctor, but the last few scenes definitely were.
In it, Nina attends a 20 year school reunion and things don’t quite turn out as she planned. She is asked to give out awards for most interesting career since school and student who travelled from overseas to be there, when the last award is reserved for her, for being so so resilient since the death of her husband!
She graciously accepts and then tells her sister to ‘get her out of here!’ because she’s not really fine, even though she is telling everyone she is.
Here’s my version of events:
Around 5 months after Nick had passed, I was invited to an awards night for my work. They had been so supportive with everything that had happened and even though I hadn’t been there, in about 18 months (having had maternity leave for Claudia, then discovering Nick was sick, and taking further leave) I still felt apart of the team.
So, when the invite arrived, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get out for the first time and be around people that wouldn’t be asking if I was ok, every 2 minutes.
I mean, they were work friends, we had work stuff to catch up on, like who was doing who etc. I wanted mindless chatter to take my mind off my situation for one night.
Plus, knowing it was a national award night, there would be heaps of people there I didn’t know and new faces to meet, after my 18 month hiatus.
When the night came, I bought a new outfit, and made my way into the city.
Just like when Nina first walked into the reunion, I felt like all eyes were on me the minute I got there. There were nervous looks my way, as they noticed me and the look of surprise that perhaps I was even there.
But, I was calm and cool and said my hellos, some asked after Claudia and some asked how are you? in their saddened tones but I was fine.
I was surrounded by a group of about 8 good work friends, at one stage, when they asked me about Nick. I reeled off the story with ease, as I was so well versed in it. It came with all the usual questions and murmurs, ‘why?, how’d you know?, i’m so sorry I didn’t make the funeral?’ I had expected some talk about it, and thought that I was done for the night.
I excused myself and went to the bar (alla Nina) when there I was approached by a new team member who I hadn’t met yet or been introduced to.
She started on me straightaway, ‘she had lost her father in law to cancer, she knew what I was going through, I could talk to her if I needed’, I barely knew her name and wanted to say, ‘it’s not the same, you have no idea what i’m going through’.
I got away only because we were asked to make our way to our seats, happy to have an out from this woman.
Phew, that will be it now…or so I thought!
Finally, sitting with my old work friends, I was comfortable once more, I started to enjoy myself, a glass of wine in hand, convincing myself it wasn’t a bad decision to be here.
A presentation started on the overhead projector, photos and slides of team member achievements, babies born, houses sold and renovated, marriages etc. As I started to watch and ohh and ahh along with everyone, a good friend of mine, crouched down besides me and whispered, ‘I hope you don’t mind, we’ve included photos of Nick at the end’.
I was speechless! I did mind!
I didn’t want my photos put up for 200 people in the room to ogle, of which 180 of them had no idea about my circumstances.
For one night I just wanted to forget about what had happened, but I was powerless to stop the presentation now, so all I could do was smile politely, skull my wine and wait…
And then it came, under a banner of lost but not forgotten, or something to that effect, photos of Nick, Claudia and I from her first birthday flashed across the screen, as well as a couple more of him. Photos I had emailed to some of my work friends when i’d updated them on our progress.
Heads turned to locate me in the room, people started whispering and all I could do was give an awkward wave from my seat down the back.
A wave that signaled, ‘yep, that’s me’. I didn’t know whether to get up and do a little curtsy with it.
In that minute I became that girl again. The poor, sad widow, who had lost her husband. So much for anonymity, now everyone knew my story, in a flash of just 3 photos.
I spent the rest of the night talking about it, every where I turned people stopped me to pay their condolences.
I went on about Nick, the cancer, how it unfolded, the last days, the funeral, how are you coping, you’re so strong. The sympathy, paired with sad eyes, was the last thing i’d expected, but in hindsight, what did I really expect ?
I left early that night, when my friends were kicking on at a bar down the road, I just couldn’t. I was emotionally spent and just needed to get out of there.
Like Nina, the excitement of heading out, turned into another night of Nick. I was fine when I left, but once home to my empty house, I cried and cried.
I wasn’t fine.
I cried for Nick and the life we lost and for the knowledge that no night out would ever be a moment without him. I cried because i’d foolishly believed I could escape the widow in me for one night. I cried because I missed him so much.
But, I couldn’t escape my past, it was apart of me.
The inclusion of Nick in the presentation was thoughtful and kind, it wasn’t meant with any malice. I just wasn’t expecting it and the impact it would have on me and the rest of my night.
In another way of thinking, it showed how touched they’d been by Nick’s passing and how respected I was at work, that they wanted to show their support.
Again, trying to turn a negative into a positive.
That’s it for today’s story, I was going to save it for another time, but I couldn’t help myself after watching Offspring’s version!
I’ll aim to post again this week keeping with the actual timeline of events.
Thanks for allowing me to share this memory out of sequence with you.
Til next post, Michela x