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The After – Part 3

The After – Pt. 1

The After – Pt 2

As Drew recollected his last few encounters with his father, his pace slowed.  He was drawn into uncharted territory, a place within where regret resided. His mother was ill and the elder had pleaded with Drew to visit.

The preoccupied and ever busy Drew had managed to make the final visit. Unfortunately, only after she had succumbed. He’d taken the time she had for granted. Even toyed with the naivety that she would get better. Yes, her death was eventual but not in a manner of months. Diagnosis, treatment, and death under thirteen months was swift and cruel.

Constant talk of impending death had frightened Drew. It was as though it was his own mortality up for discussion. Scared, not only for his mother but for himself. He feared death.

His mother, thankfully, had endured and made it to his wedding spectacle. It was an excessive marital ritual, both economically and emotionally. Drew felt Becky manipulated him by using his mother’s illness to get closer to owning the ring. Becky would never know that Drew saw their marriage as a frivolous ride he could not get off.

Becky seemed to take Drew’s mother’s illness too casually, like picking a holiday destination and purchasing a new car. Having this perception made him even less accommodating of his wife. Convinced it was just another ploy to get to control him he withdrew rapidly. With Becky he refused to discuss his mother. Becky called it ‘denial’, her diminishing patience eventually lead to her desperate conversations of their problems.

All Drew wished was to make his mother comfortable and marriage to Becky seemed to fit the bill.  He spent whole afternoons in his old bedroom crying and poring over old photographs, letters and notes from his precious mother. Even in the realms of marriage he felt absolute loneliness.

No one was to ever know or see the hurt it caused knowing that his mother was ebbing away. His inability to reach out to take away the pain rendered him helpless. Drew found all of this unbearable.

Drew sat prematurely mourning her death until he shut himself off emotionally. Self-contained from his mother’s illness and all associated business to do with her demise.

Drew grew evasive especially conversations which included his mother’s treatment and her progress. His father was waning and would spend nights away from home. Drew could not and therefore did not offer support.

Opportunities would arise when he wanted to explain how he pained but looking at this stout manly figure of his father, Drew thought better of it. His father’s patience grew thin and he stopped contacting his selfish son altogether.

Unknown to his father, Drew had attended the hospital regularly. Mostly at night to avoid other family members. She being heavily sedated, Drew would forever wonder if his mother was aware of his evening visits. Or if she knew who held her hand late into the night. Her hand did not have the same grip. Remembering the grip that could execute that an acute pinch was rendered almost useless now. 

Towards the end he was forced to attend her bedside less as his father was in attendance more frequently.

The day of his mother’s passing Drew was, on his fathers orders, humiliatingly day marched out of the hospital by his uncles.

This was the day he ignored all of Becky’s calls. Without reading he deleted each and every text as they alerted his phone. Could she not see, at this time, he needed to be the bereaved son and not the flawed husband.

The only place of comfort was back at the office. It was almost the end of the day. So he just sat at his desk and openingly wept.

The temp tapped lightly on the door and breezed in to the office in a figure hugging skirt. Silently offering a much needed distraction. Her fiery red hair held full flirtatious curls which brushed his shoulders as she leaned in to pick up a pen. She was aware that he required no sympathy. None was offered as she pulled up a chair, squeezed his thigh and scribbled on a Post-It Note, ‘Wanna chill?’ 

At this Drew, nodded. Turned off his mobile. Grabbed his overcoat. Then followed the temp out of the room.

After two days holed up in a plush Battersea apartment, overlooking the park Drew switched on his phone. His phone vibrated furiously to a backlog of texts and voicemails. He showered. Thanked the temp and departed casually. Destination home. 

At home Becky was in her usually state of frenzy. Fuck it, she was always mad. Drew went straight to the bedroom with all intention of packing. Then an image of his mother surfaced. He locked the door, crumpled and sobbed. He got in the bed and pulled the covers over his head, hoping that the darkness will extend some temporary ease. It did not. His mother was gone.  The loss felt raw yet the cold world kept relentlessly moving on. There was no structure or sequence to his thoughts, everything was random and meaningless.

One thing that remained constant was Becky’s scratchy voice penetrating through the walls delivering hourly updates of why he was such a self serving bastard.

Over the next few days Drew’s father still refused to speak to him but sent messages through Becky of the funeral arrangements. This was taken as an insult, not backing down Drew replied with the request to be told personally.

Two days later the personal call from his father came. At which time Drew was too pissed to care. He ignored them. The calls turned from direct orders to pathetic pleas. Drew felt vindicated. He was glad that his father was hurting. Still that did not solve the problem of having to face everyone. He knew the funeral would be too much pressure that he would find intolerable. So he made the decision not to attend.

A day after the service a letter arrived from his father telling him he no longer considered him his son. End of story.

So why now did Drew feel disappointed at his father’s non attendance? How could the elder not show his last respects, after all Drew did all his father’s dirty work. Drew could not understand where this rush of affection for his father had sprung from. At any rate Drew knew his father was elsewhere.

Gabrielle was aware of him approaching, the man with the distinct eyes yet she couldn’t take hers off her married lover at her graveside.