I lost the love of my life in a car accident seven years ago. I have spoken of her so little since that it feels weird to even open back up these wounds. I have tried to bury the memories, to move on in whatever way I could. I dealt with judgement and unsolicited opinions from those outside of our relationship on how quickly it seemed that I grieved. I didn’t find I had the energy to correct them, or somehow prove how substantial my loss truly was. Do not doubt the overwhelming sadness I have been plagued with. I have seen her every night in my dreams since. All seven years since. Every single night.
The only way I found I could cope and continue living in a world without Allison was to deaden the me who knew her. I tried to start again. I thought I could be reborn, in some sick way, and maybe then I wouldn’t ache so much. I stopped talking about her. I didn’t want to keep our moments alive any longer. I just wanted the hurt to stop. It almost worked, until I received a phone call two months ago.
I’ve been told that writing is cathartic, so my hope is that this provides something to my life that I haven’t been able to find yet. Because I cannot keep living with this inside. I realize I have been running from confronting these demons, and now, I have no choice but to face them. I’m not Catholic, but I imagine this similar to a confessional. I need this if I ever hope to find some sort of peace.
Allison had always been a private woman, and I found this enchanting about her. She placed a huge importance on us having separate things we liked to do, in addition to the life we carved together. She was independent and adventurous, often took off to a yoga retreat or would travel solo to an unfamiliar city to check out a new art gallery. She was brilliant in her fearlessness, and I admired it so much. Much of the time, I wished that I could be a little more like Allison.
But recently, I got a phone call that shattered everything. It was an area code I didn’t recognize, I live in San Diego, and later learned the phone call came from San Francisco. It was a man who spoke in hushed tones, like a nervous child about to admit to breaking his mother’s favorite set of glassware. He didn’t introduce himself, just asked to clarify who he was speaking to. I told him. There was silence. I asked him what I could do for him, and he said, “Help me understand.”
He continued speaking in circles, I didn’t quite understand why he was calling me because he just kept preemptively apologizing and saying, “I know this is difficult and hard for us to process.” I started to think perhaps I was being pranked because I had no clue what this man was talking about. He sounded crazy. And then he said her name. He said Allison.
He said he was cleaning out his house, preparing to move and was finally going through some of Allison’s boxes. I froze. Her boxes? Why did Allison have boxes there? He continued, explaining he found a photo of me. He then found a photo of Allison and me at our trip to Yosemite. He kept digging, and found a letter I had written her during a long trip she took. He Googled my name and found my phone number. He was hoping for closure and understanding, and I was completely taken aback. I asked him how he knew Allison.
“Allison was my wife.”
I put the phone down and ran to the bathroom to throw up. It was one of those moments you see in a C-list movie or read about in some trashy magazine, this wasn’t supposed to be a thing that happened in real life.
Allison had been married the whole time we were together. He continued, explaining they went through a separation for a while, and during that time she must have met me. He said they decided they wanted to work through it, and reconciled about a year later. I was with Allison for five years. Five years I was with a woman I was sure I’d marry, who was already married. Her trips were not the mark of a free-spirited woman, they were to see her husband.
I still am processing this. I am furious at Allison. I feel betrayed, and sick. I don’t even get the closure of speaking to her, of asking why she did this. I don’t get to ask her if I meant anything. Maybe I was just her escape, a bored housewife getting to live this double life with me. I am enraged at a ghost, yet filled with guilt for wanting to scream at a dead person. This woman I loved, who no longer has a heartbeat. How can I be so desperately angry, and grieve her all at once? I do not know. But I do know there are some answers I will never get. I will never know.