It had been two weeks since the funeral and Sarah was slowly beginning to feel almost human again. She’d had visitors every day since her husband had died, mostly her daughters, and her son, for which she was so grateful. They’d cajoled her and persuaded her to leave the house if only to do some shopping. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
Paul visited at the weekend and he brought his son, her grandson. She doted on the boy, and for a few hours, she was happy, laughing and giggling with the little lad. And he loved the attention that he received from his gran, and she loved being with him.
Peter told her that he, his wife, Mel, and their son were going to London for the weekend and they wanted her to go with them. She moaned and said that she wasn’t up to it, not yet.
“Oh, mum. Come on. Of course, you’re up for it. And it’ll do you good to get out of the house.”
She shook her head.
“It’s too soon Peter.”
He looked at her.
“You’re wrong mum. It’s not too soon. The break will do you good.”
She shook her head.
Later that night both Becky and Amy called her and badgered her to go away with Peter. She fought them, she didn’t want to go.
“Have you spoken to Michael mum?” Becky asked.
There was silence on the other end of the phone. Becky tried again. Still no response.
“No honey. I haven’t.”
“Why not mum? You do know that he was at the church?”
Sarah wasn’t aware but inside a part of her was grateful that he’d come. She shrugged.
“It’s too soon Becky. Your dad has only,” Becky stopped her.
“Mum. Dad was happy that you had found Michael. It’s not as if you were skulking around behind his back. He knew. And he not only accepted it, but he also approved of it.”
“I can’t Becky. I just can’t”
Two weeks turned into three, then four, and she had rarely been out of the house. And when she had it was either to go shopping or to the doctor. She managed to get out of going away with her son, much to her family’s disappointment. And on the fifth weekend since the funeral she was at home, where she was usually found these days, sat at the kitchen table hugging a mug of tea. Even Michael had stopped calling her. There are only so many times that she could ignore his calls before he finally gave up, and he had. He’d reasoned that his attempts at contacting her were bordering on the harassment, so he stopped calling, messaging and emailing.
It was Sunday morning and Becky had come to see her mum. Not unusual, but this morning she was a woman on a mission. After hugging her mum and asking how she was she sat opposite her at the kitchen table.
“Get changed mum. You, me and the rest of the family are meeting at ‘The Salmon leap’ for lunch. It’s not an invite, it’s not a request, you’re going.”
Sarah looked at her daughter, she didn’t want to go. But she could see the look in her eyes, she wasn’t getting out of this one easily. She tried every excuse that she had used in the previous five weeks. None of them worked.
“It’s either that, or they all come here for lunch, and you have to cook it. It’s up to you.”
She knew when she was beaten. She slowly got to her feet and walked towards the stairs.
“Oh, mum. Guess who I saw in the coffee shop yesterday?”
Sarah nodded and kept walking.
“He was having coffee with a woman.”
Sarah hesitated at the foot of the stairs. She turned to Becky.
“Good. I’m glad that he’s moved on.”
Becky glared at her mum.
“Argh! Mum! What the fuck?”
Sarah stared at her daughter. She rarely heard her swear.
“I don’t care mum! He’s a good man. A lovely man! I know you don’t want to hear it mum, but dad’s dead. He is. I wish that he wasn’t, but he is. And Michael is just right for you, he’s right for this moment. And you are just going to sit here and let him slip away.”
Sarah shrugged and turned away and slowly walked upstairs.
To her great surprise, Sarah enjoyed her lunch with her family. Young David sat beside her in a toddler’s chair but ended up sat on her lap for most of the time, as she fed him and herself. She had to admit that she had a great time. It was lovely to see everyone together, and they all had a good time.
That night she sat in her bed with her phone in her hand. She scrolled through her photos. There were lots of her family, of her grandson, some taken that day. Then she scrolled through those that she had of Michael, and a few that they had taken during their brief time in the Lake District. She looked at how happy she looked, how they both looked. She sighed.
“Well. At least he’s found, someone. I would like him to be happy.”
She felt a tear roll down her cheek. She wiped it away. This time the tear wasn’t for David, it was for Michael. She put her phone away and slipped into bed.
Life slowly improved for Sarah. She still spent most of it at home, but she did see her family more often and even spent a few evenings babysitting for her son and his wife. She felt sure that their requests were mainly to get her out of the house.
She visited her husband’s grave every weekend. It gave her a little peace. She’d spend some time cleaning up, and then she’d sit on the grass and talk to him. She’d also ask for his help and guidance, she had no idea how to get on with her life without him.
She lost all sense of time, and before she knew it, she woke up and it was three-months since David had died. It was the weekend, and she opened her eyes and looked around her bedroom. The sun streamed in through the gap in the curtains. She sat up and sighed.
“Enough. Enough now Sarah.”
She showered and dressed. She even put on some make-up then made her way downstairs and had some breakfast. Breakfast done, she grabbed her coat and her car keys and headed out. She was headed to the town centre. It was time that she started to live again. She had no idea how she had arrived at the decision, she just knew that she had, and she intended to see it through.
It was still quite early as she walked along the main thoroughfare. She visited several stores, she loved to window shop. She was feeling a lot better and even bought herself a nice sweater. She even managed to hold it together when she bumped into an old friend of hers and David and they chatted for a while.
She spent a couple of hours walking around. It had been a while since she’d been out, and a lot of the stores had new displays and she had enjoyed her time out of the house. She made her way back to the car and that was when she saw him. He walked towards her, she felt her heart rate quicken. He hadn’t seen her yet, she glanced around, searching for a way out, a way to avoid him without making a scene. She looked up once more, hoping that he’d not seen her but as soon as she did their eyes locked on each other. He’d seen her. There was no avoiding him. They closed until they stood before each other. She was lost for words.
“How are you, Sarah?”
‘Oh god. His voice.’
“I’m fine Michael. Thank you. And you?”
“I’m good. It’s good to see you.”
There was a nervous pause, neither of them knew what to say.
“I was just heading for a coffee. Care to join me?”
She looked nervous, she aimlessly checked her watch.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Do you need to be somewhere?”
She shook her head. She didn’t, and besides, one coffee wouldn’t hurt.
“No. A coffee would be nice.”
They walked the short distance to the coffee shop where they’d first met. The same shop where Becky had seen him with that woman a couple of months ago.
She sat down as he ordered and waited for the coffees to be made and then brought them over. He sat and asked her how she had been. They chatted. It was awkward for her. She felt so bad about the way that she’d treated him. They hadn’t spoken properly since he’d dropped her at the hospital after driving her back from the Lakes.
“Look, Michael. I want to thank you for getting me back to the hospital so quickly.”
He nodded and said all the right things.
“And, I want to apologise for the way that I’ve been since David died. I’ve behaved very badly. You deserve a lot better.”
Again, he made the right noises. He told her that he understood what she had to deal with her grief in her way. He took nothing personally.
She smiled and sipped her coffee.
“I’m just glad that you’ve found someone.”
She stopped, she realised what she’d said. She blushed. He must have thought that she had been spying on him. He looked at her, he had a confused look on his face.
“Found someone? What do you mean?”
She tried to explain that she wasn’t spying, it was that Becky had seen him a few times with a woman, in the same coffee shop that they were sat. He smiled and lifted his cup to his lips. He looked at her over the rim.
“That was my sister. She’s been to visit me a few times.”
She was blushing so badly as she realised that she must have looked like a mad, jealous woman. She started to apologise, he stopped her.
“Sarah. It’s okay. I told Becky that I wouldn’t give up on you. And I haven’t. I told you that I loved you in the Lakes. That hasn’t changed. I know that it is a difficult time for you. But I am prepared to wait. As long as it takes.”
She didn’t know how to react. She was embarrassed, ashamed even. But she was also pleased. He hadn’t given up on her. There was still a chance for them if she could pull herself together and permit herself to at least try to find love again. She was trembling as he reached out and placed his hand on hers. She closed her eyes as she felt his fingers stroked the back of her hand.
“Just tell me that there is still a chance for us Sarah.”
She opened her eyes and looked at him.
“I’d like that Michael. It’s just,” he squeezed her hand.
“It’s okay Sarah. That’s all I need. Nothing more.”
He let go of her hand and picked his cup up again.
“That’ll do for now Sarah.”