How do I continue this story?
When Hanna and her husband Niko headed back to Germany after their ill-fated visit, there was silence. Ok, Hanna did let us know they had arrived safely and that they would be in touch. The message was curt. I wasn’t terribly surprised.
It was clear from the outset that we had considerable work ahead of us. I had actually shown my best friend the door. That is a euphemism. After a month of hell, I had more or less pushed her through it.
Those weeks in the summer of 2011 were the most stressful I had ever experienced. Within a few days of their arrival, the shower drains began clogging with hair. We were all—literally—losing it. But our friendship was so deep and so wide. We had a commitment and history most married couples would envy. As horrible as the month had been, I rested in the belief that after we licked our wounds and got some rest, sanity would return. We would talk things through to resolution.
I was wrong.
I waited to hear from Hanna, figuring she needed some down time. I knew I did.
After a while, I sent some chatty emails. I got no response. Then I sent letters. And more letters. Too many letters.
First my tone was optimistic: “Whew, that was rough, wasn’t it? I look forward to talking when you are rested.” Then the protective numbness began to crumble.
I made rational appeals. I begged. I pointed the finger, too. I followed up with conciliatory tomes. Nothing. All the while, I believed—then convinced myself to keep believing–that after all our years “for better,” our little marriage would undoubtedly survive “for worse.” It took 5 months for the Dear John letter to arrive. It was not gentle.
I had no recourse. Hanna had cut me off at the knees. She let me know she had not read anything I had sent. She pronounced us dead without trying to see matters through my eyes.
I had no recourse, so I began to write. I needed some outlet, if only my creaky old laptop, through which to vent my regret, anger, despair. I really needed Hanna but she wouldn’t have me.
Hanna and I used to process everything together with our one big brain. She was the right hemisphere, and I was the left. Or visa versa. I was inconsolable. My husband was incredible but he had a lot of thinking to do himself. My other friends were great. Still, there is a limit to how much one can unload, even to the most loving of friends, day after day; week after week; month after month. I was clinically depressed.
Tapping the bones of this story into Petunia, my decrepit but faithful pink Dell, was therapy. She gave me the voice I needed. If you’ve been reading my blog, you may understand the desperation I can feel when I am unheard*.
It’s been a few years since things blew up, and I think I’ve worked through the experience thoroughly enough to share it.
Here is my concern: What if I discover, in stirring up and fleshing out the story, that the embers are not as cold as I believe? I could end up with a flash fire. I have worked through all the predictable stages of grief, but feelings have their own logic and are rarely processed to completion. I know better than to believe they will remain quiet after a firm jab with the old poker. Yes, that concerns me.
I don’t hold out much hope that I will hear from Hanna again but I can’t know that. I still think of her often and consider her and Niko friends dear to my heart. I still love her so much. She never did tell her family anything, and I have occasional contact with her parents. I’ve known her brother Torsten since he was about 5, and he is a good friend, a brother. Maybe, just maybe….
I want to write as though she will read these words. I must do it this way or not at all.
This is a tall order, and I hope I am up to the task.
This is the second installment in The Story of Hanna. Click here for the third installment.