"Delayed mourning"

That’s what I called it when Cheryl asked me what was wrong. It’s about the stupidest phrase ever, because it makes no sense.

“Mourning? Over what?”

“My apartment burned down,” I said. By this time I was struggling not to cry.

Cheryl launched into a speech about how nobody could do anything about that, and she wished she could but she couldn’t. All I could think was Duh, so you shouldn’t have pressed me about it. Why couldn’t you have just left me alone? But I just nodded and did my best not to start wailing in the middle of the stupid driveway. “Why today? What’s wrong?” she said.

“Yesterday they said that people couldn’t go in and get their stuff because it was too dangerous, and I’d been hoping my hard drive would be in there, and everything I’ve ever written was on it.” I was being brief because I was about to burst into tears, especially there towards the end.

“Nobody’s found anything?”

“I haven’t heard anything.”

“Cry, honey, just cry,” Cheryl said. I did not want to cry. She started saying the usual crap about letting it out. Well, that’s great and all, but I want to cry on my own terms. That’s why I was out in the middle of the driveway in the first place. I was trying to move stuff around, to exert control over my environment. I was trying to get rid of the clothes that people had donated that didn’t fit or weren’t quite our style. I had been going to put them in my car, and Cheryl had followed me outside because she’d meant one box for the Abilene Church. And then she’d just sunk her teeth into me until I was struggling to keep from collapsing.

I’m not the type to bawl in front of other people. I’ve done it, but I don’t choose to. I did not want to cry in front of Cheryl. There’s nothing wrong with her, and I love her, but I did not want to cry in front of her. But she kept telling me to.

“I’ll do it later,” I said. She finally backed down and we put the box of clothes in the garage. Then a neighbor appeared and I was able to escape.

I cried a little in the bathroom and in the guest bedroom, but it wasn’t enough. I just can’t cry here. It’s not my space.

Maybe sometime tomorrow I will drive off somewhere private and cry in my car.