Despite my disappointment at her surprising decision not to stay with me moving day, Emily did spend the next weekend with me. But she seemed somehow uneasy and distant. By then I had a vicious sore throat. No surprise there, the classic immune system shut down after a stressful event. And it wasn’t just the closing and moving my office and house to the new location. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Emily was drifting away. This move to Bridlewood was not shaping up the way I had hoped.
Saturday morning we had work to do. We unpacked boxes and boxes of books and bedding and kitchenware. We left all the pictures in their bubble wrap; I wanted some time to think where they should go once I had settled in to this new place. And since Emily had helped me wrap them all, I wanted her there when it came time to unwrap them.
I took her home on Sunday evening. My sore throat was constantly painful, but I was floating, and it wasn’t from the analgesics.
Over the week, we continued our usual texting and love talk. We texted all Saturday afternoon and picked up where they left off Sunday morning. I invited her to come over to my house to do her laundry but she declined. And I didn’t hear from her the rest of the morning.
As the day wore on into evening and I had no word back from her, I felt increasing dread in my mind, and in my stomach.
Emily phoned me early Monday morning. I ignored it, but texted a reply instead:
I see you’ve phoned me. I don’t think I can talk to you right now. I’m too upset. I just don’t understand.
I could no longer deny to myself that Emily’s unexplained absences were because she had never stopped seeing Rick, her boyfriend. The pattern of alternate weekends was there to see all along. I knew I had been willfully blind.
Three days later we agreed to meet at a park near the river. We walked wordlessly to a bench by the shore. I sat, staring at my feet.
‘It’s true what you think,’ she said, ‘I was with Rick on Sunday.
‘I know I told you to stop thinking about him, so I wouldn’t have to lie. But you are too smart and you knew things didn’t add up.
‘I have been seeing Rick all along. I couldn’t stop saying yes to him, even though you asked me to stop. And he never asked about my whereabouts when I wasn’t with him.’
I continued to sit mostly in silence, staring at the grains of gravel beneath my feet.
‘What have you decided then?’ I asked.
‘I’ve decided I can no longer see you,’ she said.
‘But I’ve also decided I have to quit seeing Rick too. I don’t deserve either of you.’
I absorbed this for a few minutes. It was not the answer I expected. Certainly not the answer I wanted.
‘That doesn’t make any sense, Emily. Why would you drop both of us? Why not just choose?’
After another long silence, I said, ‘I guess we’re done here. Come on, I’ll take you home.’
Later that evening she texted me.
I lied to you, I hurt you in a very bad way. Saying ‘I’m very sorry’ doesn’t mean anything to you anymore. But I’m hoping that day will come, it’s not any time soon but it will.
You will never look at me the same way again. Things will never be the same again.
They say: trust is like a glass, once it’s broken you can’t fix it.
I drove to Markham for a planned visit with Shannon. And against my better judgment I told her the whole story. When I told Shannon that Emily said she would break up with both of us, Shannon harrumphed.
‘That’s a classic female ploy! She’s not going to break up with Rick. She just told you that to try to make you feel better.’
I knew she was right. I knew Emily would not have the courage to break off what had been a safe relationship for her. I just hadn’t seen it through the eyes of another woman.
Shannon asked, ‘You say she has a large following on Facebook? But you’re not ‘Friends’ with her?’
‘That’s right,’ I said, ‘I think she is ‘Friends’ with Rick on Facebook and I presumed she wanted to hide me from him. Oh, and she blocked me from the beginning from seeing her page.’
‘That’s because she doesn’t want you to see her other life,’ Shannon declared.
‘Let’s look now. Unless she has set her privacy settings I should be able to view her page.’
Shannon found Emily’s page right away.
‘Oh Dad,’ she said, ‘there’s a picture of her and a little kid, and a big man, must be Rick, on her cover page! and it was posted at 8:43 tonight.
‘I’m so sorry.’
I was devastated as this information penetrated my brain. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move, my brain was closing in on me and I could only see through narrow slits in my eyes.
The next morning I drove back to Ottawa. I drove to the cemetery to consult with Marlene, but she had nothing to say to me. In the fog of my grief I had hoped Emily would be the answer to my next stage of life. Now I felt completely alone. I was a mess, an admixture of anger and anxiety, possessiveness and petulance.
I packed the crystal wine flute Emily had carried carefully to my new house. I deliberately chose a box that was too small for the glass to fit. I carefully placed the flute on an angle in the box in paper towels. Then I took my small hammer and smashed the stem. I laid the stem across the flute, packed it with a bit of bubble wrap and closed and taped the box.
I texted her:
I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to this text:
I want to know if there is any chance at all to salvage our relationship. Is there anything I can do to get you back?!?
But there was no reply.
Talk is better than text. I phoned her. We talked for three hours. We laughed, we cried. We said it was great to hear the other laughing. I told her I was crazed and vengeful when I saw the pictures on her Facebook page, but I just wanted to have her back, and to move ahead with her. I declared I would do anything she wanted. I knew she had said she would never marry but I said again I would marry her if that is what she wanted. I told her that I could not promise her many years, given my age, but I promised her it would be the most exciting years of her life.
Tuesday morning she texted me and told me she had decided to stay with me and would tell Rick it was over. Her sister supported her.
But the next day she texted me again and said, Until when are you giving me time to make a final decision?
Three days later she texted me again:
Please understand that I can’t be with you, and so we can’t be together anymore.
I was shocked. It confirmed my worst fears; I had felt the familiar distance returning since Tuesday but when she delivered this fateful blow I was devastated.
I begged her to reconsider, to explain why she ‘couldn’t be with me.’ But I knew my entreaties were falling on deaf ears.
I waited all weekend for a reply from her but none came. I retrieved that box with the broken crystal chalice. I drove to the local postal station, addressed the box and had gave it to the clerk. Emily would get it three days later.