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Part One: In the Middle of the Night

March 21, 2009

“People have a very strange way of dealing with grief, Jess. Most of the time they hurt each other.”


The night we buried Hugh’s father, Hugh came home and carefully started looking through some of his father’s papers. Where was the will? What bills needed to be paid immediately? Who needed to be contacted about the life insurance? He sat at his dad’s desk, shoulders slumped, determined to start the work that needed to be done.

I stood in the door frame of his dad’s office, watching him. Hugh’s dark hair fell lightly onto his glasses – one of a hundred ways he is like his father.

A few minutes later his mother came downstairs; her nightgown was thrown on and her gray hair was brushed back in a haphazard bun. “Andrew doesn’t want you touching anything in the office,” she said nervously, referring to Hugh’s younger brother.

Hugh looked up, startled. “What? What are you talking about, Mom? I thought we were working together to help you figure things out and…”

A scream came from upstairs. Then loud crashes.  Andrew was tearing through the kitchen above, noises growing louder as he lost control.

“You can’t do this, Hugh. You can’t help. What are you doing in here, anyway? What are you doing on the computer? What are you…?” Accusations swirled up and around my husband, who sat stunned. Devastated.

I felt like throwing up. I didn’t understand what was happening. We just buried Dad a few hours ago. What was happening to this family? Why were Hugh’s mom and brother lashing out at him?

It felt like the culmination of a very long nightmare. I walked over to our thrown-together bags and began methodically putting our clothes away. Funeral clothes, new Target movies bought to occupy the kids during the long week, underwear…it all went carefully away.

3 AM passed, and the conversation in David’s office grew more painful.  Andrew came down and yelled at Hugh. I kept packing. Hugh’s mother frantically looked around the office for David’s cash. I kept packing, now taking our bags to the van.  Andrew looked through the papers until he found his father’s Blackberry, which “I haven’t seen in a while, Hugh.” I finished loading our things.

As dawn broke, I went into the office. I’ve never seen Hugh so completely at the end of himself. He looked shattered. I spoke with a strength I did not feel. “Don’t talk about this anymore, Honey,” I said, in front of his family, ignoring their angry faces and focusing on Hugh. I held out my hand.

Hugh’s eyes were old and tired. He touched my hand briefly, then turned to say good-bye to his family.

“I love you,” he said quietly.  “Let me know if you think of a way I can help you.”

He turned and walked out of the office, and out of the house.

It was time to go.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rainbow Brite permalink
    March 21, 2009 8:10 pm

    Oh Jess, I am so sorry. I keep re-reading this post because I simply cannot fathom this behavior. He is hurting Hugh and everyone else around him because he cannot bear with the pain that he feels inside.
    Can you feel that? It is the long distance hug that I am sending you right now.

  2. March 21, 2009 10:16 pm

    Oh, how awful! I’m so sorry that in one of your lowest times more pain got poured on top of that. I don’t know why we react like that when we are grieving. I guess the pain has to go somewhere.

    Just remember that you are still in the palm of His hands. Let Him close His fingers around you and allow all that negativity to just pour over and around you. You and Hugh both know that you were doing the right thing.

    This may sound hard, but when I’m having real problems with someone, I’ve learned to pray God’s blessings over them. It’s impossible to stay mad at someone (even though they COMPLETELY) deserve it when you are doing that. Besides, it’s how God tells us to handle our enemies.

    Just don’t let it poison your thought life. You are a blessing and I’m sure Hugh is too. It’s just sad that they are too blind to see that. ((((Hugs)))

  3. March 22, 2009 8:34 am

    Your story just wrenched at my heart. You may not have been feeling strong, but you showed strength by packing up and supporting Hugh. It is beautiful to be a shelter in the storm instead of making the wind blow harder.

  4. March 22, 2009 6:14 pm

    Oh my. I am speechless. And I’m praying for Hugh. You keep being the president of his fan club. He’ll need that.

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