I’ve grown to accept the fact that most mornings I will half-wake up and feel like the children are cuddled up to me, like they are used to. I have prepared myself for the fact that when I fully wake up, and realise it was just a memory, I will be overwhelmed with guilt and grief and will feel knocked sideways for a bit. I accept this, and in a strange way…want it to stay this way, because I know that at least for thirty seconds a day the children will be alive again, before the present-day realistion hits me…
What I am not used to, however, is memories like that concerning Holly. I still haven’t properly accepted that she’s gone yet. I can remember holding her cold body, wiping her tears from her still face, screaming at her to wake up and refusing to hand her over to the paramedics. I remember all of this. But I still can’t accept that she’s gone. I keep half expecting my phone to ring, even though my number has changed several times since, and it’ll be her friend calling me back to say “it’s okay. We’ve found her and stopped her. She’s okay but misses you,” and I’d be able to sink with relief to the floor and say “thank you…thank you…tell her I’m coming.” And I’d be able to go to her, and put right everything I did wrong… and we could carry on our lives as we’d planned to, and I could get her away from her uncle and take her to safety where she’d be loved. I keep dreaming that this will happen, that the truth is just my head preparing me for the worst, and we don’t know yet. She’s still missing, that’s all.
But I know that’s not true. I know I was too late. I know she died thinking I hated her and that she was alone, and this tears me so completely to pieces I cannot describe. She was a beautiful soul, and had a life ahead of her…
Anyway. Occasionally my head will drop it’s guard and I’ll hear her or see her or feel her. This in some ways I find harder than seeing/hearing/feeling the children because I haven’t had time to adjust to her death, and my feelings were far different. I adored the children but was in love with Holly. It does something different to the head, somehow.
I had a night of nightmares, strange dreams and generally not a lot of deep sleep. My sleep tracker graph was frankly hilarious; all over the place. When I woke up this morning, I had my eyes shut and my head must have been lost elsewhere. My first thought was “I need to do that philosophy essay.” GCSE. I groaned inwardly at the thought. I was lying on my side, and could feel Holly’s arms around me, her nose and mouth resting gently on the back of my neck, her soft and deep breathing signalling that she was still asleep. I could feel her long hair tickling my shoulders. I smiled. She was fast asleep. I listened to the rhythm of her breathing, wondering whether I should wake her or let her sleep a bit more. I decided to let her sleep a bit more so rolled out of the bed (still not looking at her) and felt her arm gently fall off of me. Only when I was standing in my room (which I still hadn’t registered as not being mine, but then it wasn’t uncommon for me/her/both to wake up in a stranger’s house) did I turn around to face her.
Holly wasn’t there. Of course she wasn’t. Suddenly the years hit me at once, and I woke up from the half-dream. I was 20, about to start university. Holly wasn’t here. Our dreams of going to uni together and spending Friday nights studying together then cuddling up and watching a movie had been snatched from us. Our dreams of taking step into freedom together has been shattered. We’d planned our whole lives. I wondered if this was part of the reason I’d re-started my uni life – maybe this time she’d appear next to me and it will all have just been a nightmare?
No. Our life, our dreams, our hopes and our love had been snatched from us because of the effect abusers had on each of us. Her whole life had been destroyed in one second. The abusers may not have killed her, but they led me to break up with her…and her uncle raped her… although she took her own life, they were the reason her whole life seemed so lonely and painful. I blame myself, but I also blame the abusers. They as good as killed her.
I jumped back in bed, desperate to feel her again but she wasn’t there. Silently, I broke down, my face in the pillow, sobbing and hugging myself tightly, trying to contain this extreme pain. Hold myself together so the pain doesn’t literally shatter me into a million pieces. I felt her aloneness and despair building in my chest, and let it shoot through me in waves. My body shook with the waves, contorting under the pressure of such extreme emotions, as well as with my own grief and pain. In some ways her death feels the cruelest; hers was the side-effects of abusers, rather than an abuser actually putting a knife through her. But in them leading her to commit suicide, part of my soul died too.
Whilst I lay curled up on my front, hugging myself and sobbing hysterically into the pillow, I heard her whisper “shhhhh,” like she used to do when I had nightmares. She would just hold me gently and “shhhh” softly until the nightmare ended, and then hold me tight whilst I cried. I wanted to scream at this hallucinatory “shhh” – didn’t my brain realise what pain it was causing me?? But in actual fact, hearing her did calm me. And, just like with the nightmares, I felt her holding me tightly whilst I sobbed down to calmness…but this time aware it was an hallucination so it wouldn’t be so painful when I sat up.
God Holly I miss you, so so terribly. I hate how cruelly short your life was cut, and the role I played in that, and how the impact abusers can have on people can be so tragic. 😥