The Love Story Part 10 - The Leaving

He sits childlike on the floor of his room besieged by suitcases and a seven-month hoard of clothes, souvenirs and mementoes. He looks up at me helpless and confused and utters, "please can you help me?"

I calmly sort things out for him. We take out his hiking boots and some clothing that I will give to charity. I tell him that it was okay not to take his hard copy of The Luminaries I'd bought him for Christmas in preparation for our New Zealand trip. I hand him an old iPad with the digital version already loaded along with all the music we had listened to during our time together.

"You can give it to your mum to use when you get back," I know she'll love it, now that she finds books too heavy and awkward to hold.

He takes a deep breath, and relief comes over him. He appreciates me coming to the rescue, as I have done so often. Fixing it so he could stream his football games live on TV from the UK, reprogramming the universal remote so we could watch The Hobbit on DVD and relive our days wandering the Matamata village.

Then I tentatively hand him the card I'd written. He takes it and cradles it in his hands, then looks up at me with weepy eyes.

"I can't read this right now."

He knows what's inside. How I love him and how I will always have a space for him in my heart. He tucks it safely into his suitcase. Who knows if he will ever read it?

On the way to the airport, in a final appeal to his sensibilities, I boldly and confidently tell him that I think he is making a big mistake.

"That may well be so, but I need to do this."

After checking in and paying the additional cash for all of those mementoes, we amble over to the entrance of International Departures. This is it. My previously stoic resolve suddenly dissolves into sheer panic. I begin to shake. My breath quickens. This is really happening.

He hurriedly puts on his face mask and adjusts it over his mouth. A barrier to any unwanted interaction.

I cup his face with my hand and run my thumb affectionately across his cheek. As I slide my hand softly away, I look longingly into his eyes, willing him to say something meaningful, something poignant. Wanting him to give me some shred of understanding about how he feels and why he is leaving. He offers...

"Smile because it happened, Nina".

Finally, I release him. He disappears from my sight and once again from my life.


I return to an eerily empty apartment, sit on the floor and sob.

When I gather myself together enough to stand, I walk into his room, open the cupboard door and let a wave of his smell wash over me. I pick up the jeans he has left behind and hold them to my face. I take a deep breath and inhale him in. 

A feeling of loss overwhelms me and I weep uncontrollably. It's as if my heart has been detached from the very veins that keep it beating. My insides scooped loose of their contents. Raw. Empty. Alone.

Then, a message pings through. My heart lurches from my chest.

"I hope you're okay. My "smile because it happened strategy didn't quite work out!"

NO!!! Sweet torment! Eternal hope. Please release me.

He does not.

Monday..."All okay with you Nina?"

Wednesday..."All okay with you Nina?" followed by a phone call.

Friday..." Had a good day?" followed by another conversation.

I never answer the okay question because I don't want to lie and I really don't believe he wants to hear the truth but encouraged by his concern and attention, I message back and gladly accept his calls.


I suffer every day he is not physically in my life.

Sleep barely finds me. When morning finally arrives, I long to hear "Niiiinnnnaaa" called from the other room, but of course, there is only silence.

I drag myself out on our walk each day because I know that eventually, after enough days, they will become my walks, not "ours". I trudge down each of the 144 steps and across the walkway where he used to give me a playful shove. I gasp, put my hand to my heart and look up to the sky, take a deep breath then carry on. I can do this.

Food no longer appeals, and my weight falls away. My autoimmune disease flares up, my body's response to my suffering. My once-beaming smile is now a strained tight-lipped grin. The sparkle in my eye has been replaced by a dull glow.

Finally, the pain is too much. I muster enough courage to tell him that I'm going away from socials for a week.  Each day without contact is an arduous challenge but after each day I know that I am one step closer to the seventh day when I am supposed to miss him less and feel ready to move on.

I refrain from messaging him, making it to the full week as promised to myself. Then, there he is on the eighth day. 

" Just checking in to see how your week went?"

He is back. We are back.



The story continues...

Read from the beginning here..

 

THE AUTHOR

Photo of Nina Beilby smiling
As it does, life took a devastating sideways turn for me. With fierce determination, I quit my teaching job, shut down my photography business, packed up my apartment, hired an agent and rented it out on Airbnb, bought a ticket to London and embarked on an adventure of discovery, both about the world and myself. I’ve learned a great deal about people, places and myself. I’m happy that you are here for the ride. Nina x


Where you can find my work...
I will be documenting my travels through photography on Facebook and Instagram. Prints will also be available on my website. If you are interested in following along, here are some of my sites.

Facebook Group - Finding Nina Adventure
Sharing daily adventures from my travels including discoveries about myself and the people around me 

An in-depth look at places I've visited with plenty of travel information from Ireland, France, UK, Iceland and who knows where next.  

Where you can purchase signed, framed limited edition prints of my work.

My professional work as a portrait photographer


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