So if you’ve been following me previously this will be a slight change of direction, not quite as light-hearted as posts about expat life and foodie reviews but unfortunately i’ve been shittily rebranded by grief so that was me before and this is me after my boyfriend died, after losing the person who I came to rely on most, spent all my time, lived and planned a future with.
As much as i’m nervous putting myself out into the ether and being as honest as I can about the hardest, most traumatic time of my life, writing things down has been a release and as much as i’ve read and listened to whatever I could find on grief the past few months, i’ve found little that I can relate to on losing a boyfriend, which is a particular kind of grief in itself; not only mourning the loss of your person and all the memories and life you did share but also mourning the potential of everything that was to come, the unfulfilled milestones – the engagement, the wedding, the kids and the years of building a future life together that have to be processed, held tight and then let go of. In every way, the worst, I feel, has already happened so if I can share my story to lift myself slightly or comfort someone else who might glean some recognition or validation from it if they’re going through something similar then it’s worth it.
I was woken on the morning of the 25th February by my friend crying, saying ‘Chris is in the pool’. I ran outside to find my love in the swimming pool with an explanation that is frustratingly still inconclusive.
Even now, five months on, it’s the worst feeling to relive those first moments running outside, seeing Chris there, jumping in, lifting his cold body to the surface and trying to bring him back, dredging up any basic knowledge I had of resuscitation whilst trying to quiet my screaming panicked brain to remain calm and clear are seared in my memory with such clarity it’s as if they happened just this morning.
The brain must have some weird self-preservation shutdown mode because what followed when something subconsciously clicked that nothing could be done and that he wasn’t there anymore, without the full weight of that realisation settling on me yet; standing in cold, wet clothes, whilst paramedics were called, I went and had a hot shower, called my mum at what was 4am UK time (no good calls happen at this time) and texted my boss to say I wouldn’t be coming in to work the next day – in hindsight how I moved through this all on autopilot I can’t explain. It’s impossible to understand my thought process for those first minutes and hours. The paramedics and public prosecution arrived to confirm what I already knew. I sat beside him and held his hand until they took him away.
You can have an idea about death and what feelings it might evoke but I hadn’t ever considered the awful practicalities surrounding it, the deadmin that no one else can do but you – calling his mum to tell her that her son, her only child had died; discussing freight options at the Embassy for repatriation and being told to be wary of certain ‘clearance agents’ because they put extra weights in the box to make it more expensive (yes that happened, thank you Middle East) being told by the consulate that there was an issue because I put ‘girlfriend’ on the form and where we lived that didn’t give me any rights to make decisions; the hours on hold and emails back and forth with insurance companies; arranging an open house on Facebook to sell our carefully selected possessions that we’d chosen together and having strangers haggle over a few quid in your living room; calling the shipping company to arrange the packing up of our life which took years to build up, and only a week to pack away into a load of cardboard boxes.
As hideous as that all was, it did keep driving me through the next week and a half until Chris and then I left Bahrain, kept me focused and held the full tumult of what had happened at bay. I’d spent 4 years in Bahrain, arriving alone with a backpack and a suitcase. We’d met there, fallen in love and made a life together, only for me to leave the same way four years later having no idea of the road ahead.