Well. It came. The day when everyone returned back to their normal lives. I hadn’t realized that the world was still turning. I wasn’t ready, not even a little bit. I knew this was the night I would put my kids to bed, and I would go to bed, alone. My mother had to go back home. Everyone had to get back to their own lives . . . back to the normal they had always known.
My neighbor Auna was like a second mother to me through everything. Just weeks before Emmett died, I had shared with her my fears about what was going on with him. And then when he died, I texted her just hours after I found out about what had happened. She was nine-months pregnant, but she came over in the middle of her sleep. She made food for everyone who was already gathering. She sat and rubbed my feet. And every day since Emmett’s death, she had checked on me.
Now on this day, she said she would be coming over to get me off the couch and work out with me. As soon as my kids were in bed, she was at the door, ready to break a sweat. I didn’t feel at all like working out, but I did appreciate the thought that she could help me get through some of the hours I would be spending alone in the silence.
We started our workout. Auna turned on the TV and noticed that I had a few episodes of the television comedy The Office that were recorded, and hadn’t been watched. She selected the first recorded episode.
The minute the theme music from the show began, my mind went back four years to the first time Emmett and I had watched The Office. Teage was just a few days old, and my stepbrother Grant and his wife Heather had loaned us a copy of the show’s first season. While trying to get Teage to sleep in the early evening hours, we would turn on an episode and laugh and laugh. We had found a new favorite show.
At every family get-together, and every other chance we got, we tried to “sell” the show to everyone we knew. They just had to become as obsessed as we were with the best show ever! We exchanged The Office souvenirs with my siblings for Christmas. I even did a Dundee Awards ceremony one year with actual “Dundees” I made from bowling trophies from Deseret Industries, our goodwill store. The Office was our show, and we never missed it.
Every note of that opening theme-song was like a flashback of the hours Emmett and I had spent sharing the show. I couldn’t enjoy it without him there. I didn’t know how to watch it without him. I didn’t want to watch it if he wasn’t with me.
My heart hurt. I wasn’t sure how it could be, but somewhere under all of my pain and anger towards Emmett . . . I still missed him. My chest got tighter and tighter as we did our workout while watching the episode. We must have talked a little bit afterwards, but all I remember is walking her to the door. As the door shut and I turned the lock, every good memory I had of Emmett surrounded me.
I ran to my room. It was quiet. It was empty and cold. I was alone in that room. Nobody was there to pick up the slack that night. I was the only person my children would wake up to when the clock hit seven a.m. the next morning. I fell to the floor, and it jolted me when my face smacked the carpet. It was a physical reminder that all of this was real, and I despised it. This wasn’t a movie. It hadn’t been a dream. The carpet smelled clean. It was soft on my cheek . . . but I couldn’t move.
My heart ached for the man I had married. I yearned to hear his voice. I thought about calling his cell phone just to hear his voice ask the caller to leave a message. Then I remembered the detectives had his phone.
I lay face down on my floor . . . waiting for someone to come pick me up. I cried for all the years that had slipped away. I wept for the man to whom I had given my life. I screamed for the fact that no one was there to hear my anguished cries. I didn’t understand. I was so mad at the man who had taken something so sacred and shared it with another woman, but I still longed to be held by that same man who had shared it with me.
I thought about the day Emmett and I first met. I was just a young twenty-year-old working at the gymnasium at Utah State University. From the first moment we met, I knew this man was different. The first time we kissed, I felt safe in his arms. We had everything going for us. We knew exactly what we wanted, and we were both bull-headed enough to accomplish our wildest dreams. And we had the same dreams. Through the coming years, we watched those dreams come true . . . one after another.
I remembered the day we got married. We were so excited. We couldn’t wait to be together in the temple. We planned it all. It was exactly how I always thought it would be. It was an amazing day, and we felt a bright future just waiting before us.
I pictured the day Emmett proposed to me. He had the ring in his pocket when he took me to a bridge overlooking the place where his childhood home used to sit. Now, it was just a beautiful field with a stream and a bridge. The bridge was covered with snow. It was freezing that night, but I was so excited, I didn’t care. He got down on one knee and told me all the reasons why he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He promised that he would give me the best of everything. He assured me that I would always be the woman of his dreams.
I pictured every Christmas we had shared. All the New Year’s holidays we had spent with our good friends Emily and Evan. I thought about every birthday. Every Easter dress Emmett had picked out for our girls. Every Valentines Day card he had ever written.
I pictured driving to the Oregon Coast on our honeymoon. It was a perfect week. I thought about all the choices I had made to keep myself pure. I had saved myself in every way for him.
I thought about the birth of each of our children. The hours he spent holding my hand. All of our babies had picked us to be their parents. They were all so unique, and yet they were right where they belonged. Each child brought something new and exciting and completed us as a family even more.
I thought about watching Emmett on his skis doing flips off a ramp the first weekend he took me to Bear Lake to meet his cousins. He was such a show-off, but he was so talented in everything he did. It was so adorable the way he looked at me to see if I was watching. And I was . . . I didn’t want to miss anything he did, and I wanted to be a part of it. I loved being his partner and feeling like we could conquer the world. That is all I had ever wanted: to love and be loved in return. I thought about all the years I actually lived that dream.
But now, here I was . . . face down on my bedroom floor . . . ALONE.
Memories. That was all I had left. I wanted to text him to remind him of all the things that had made us so special. Remind him of the moments we had shared together . . . but he wasn’t there. On that night, reality hit me like a rock. The man I had loved was gone, and for the first time since his death, I truly allowed myself to miss him. No one was watching. Nobody was there to see. Just me. All alone, missing his love. Missing his laugh. Missing the funny things he said. Missing the moments we stood together. Missing everything about him.
I knew he wasn’t a perfect man when I married him, but I loved him anyway. He wasn’t always the perfect husband, but he was my husband. Even in those months before he was gone, when I knew something was wrong, I never stopped loving him.
The pain in my heart didn’t allow me to get off the floor that night, but the love in my memories filled a little bit of the hole that was left in it. But that didn’t change the fact that I was still . . . alone.