It snowed here yesterday. Green grass is covered by a blanket of white and the yellowing tree leaves are glistening with slivers of frost. The air is crisp and cool enough to chill, but not cold enough to burn your throat. There are clouds of conversations floating between people as they converse.
There is a warm rush that hits me as I enter the Milk, Bread and Honey coffee shop. A smell of fresh baked bread and cookies causes my mouth to water. I don’t plan to get anything as I wait for my colleague to order a freshly baked cheese biscuit.
The place is full and busy with people in common clothes and business attire. Families with small children, friends out for coffee and couples are sitting at the square tables enjoying warm drinks and snacks.
There is a couple sitting in the back corner of the coffee chop. A male, eagerly leaning forward, smiling as he faces the female across from him. She is fidgety; nervous maybe. They laugh together as she plays with her long dark brown hair and he shifts his body in his seat. They look like a newer couple, comfortable enough; yet still excited and nervous. Just falling in love. At least that’s the story I tell myself.
There is something about the colder weather and coffee shops that bring me back to the early days when I first started dating Anthony. Seeing that couple made me both nostalgic and wishful. Nostalgic for the days of our youth together, the days of simple, intentional but innocent flirting. Cold evenings downtown sitting in Esquires drinking specialty coffees while we watch street goers hop on or off busses, window shop or just walk by. Wishful that I may again have that one day. Someone to enjoy a coffee with while we nervously exchange conversation and hide our excitement about just being in each others presence.
We leave the coffee shop and my stomach flutters with that familiar feeling of grief. I still can’t believe he’s gone.
It’s been 2 years, 4 months and 23 days since he’s been gone. Since his illness convinced him it was best he no longer existed.
I haven’t written in a while. I’m really trying to live. I’ve succeeded in some aspects and I’ve failed in others. I keep learning. All that matters truly is the kids and I are moving forward and through. We’ve survived another anniversary, a birthday and are heading steadfast into another Christmas without him here. It’s hard, it’s messy, but we are doing it.
Bipolar wasn’t present in our days of coffee shops in winter. Or at least not that I can specifically recall. He was happy; I was too. We were both blissfully falling in love with each other and blissfully unaware this disorder would tear us apart years later.
The affects of the loss of someone you love by suicide are forever lasting. I’ve come to terms with this … I think. I’ll never truly know what he was thinking or how he was feeling when he made the choice he did. What I do know is the hole he left is with me daily, I’m just learning how to rebuild my life around it. I know there are family relationships that were torn apart by the disorder, people I’ve forgiven but know I will never be able to let back into my life. I know my children are forever affected and miss their father daily. I know those days in the coffee shops with him are missed desperately. I’d give anything to have one more evening to sit with him on a snowy day wrapped in the comfort of the warmth, and the smell of baking and coffee. I’d give anything.
When we left Bread and Honey today, I looked around the corner and caught a glimpse of the Esquires we frequented. Only, it’s empty. It’s doors closed, it’s insides dark, and the dark wooden tables that were scattered on the checkered floor are no longer there. Grief. It’s closed forever. It’s no longer there and the nostalgia I feel is stronger than before.
Ironic I think to myself as we walk away from the city centre, my favourite coffee shop is gone and so is my favourite person. Yet here I am continually moving forward and away from those days and continually making small efforts in keeping my promise to him.
As much pain as I feel still, I am mostly ok with being alone. I’ve gone for a drink alone, I’ve gone to the movies alone, in spring, I even went to a concert alone and sung one of our favourite songs alone at the top of my lungs. My life is forever changed by him, by bipolar and by suicide and at the same time I’m growing, changing and building my life and confidence. It’s a glass half full, and half empty. It’s my reality.
As I head back up the stairs to where I make my livelihood, I promise myself I’ll buy a coffee at the Milk, Bread and Honey on the next snow day…. I’ll sit alone and bask in the atmosphere that is unique in a coffee shop when snow is covering the ground… maybe I’ll even sit and watch the street goers.