For eighteen years, I have held to myself the pain and sorrow of being a young widow. Well, as close to one as can be.
We weren't married, but we were building a life together, decorating a flat together, choosing baby furniture and awaiting the arrival of our baby. Life was good. We had our differences, like all couples do, especially considering the age gap between us. The interference of mommy dearest and other external influences, but for the main, we were happy.That was until just before Christmas, 1999. We had been fighting a lot, mummy dearest was threatening him with police action if he let me move in with him. I was sixteen and old enough to know what I wanted. What I wanted was to be free of my mother, to move away from her oppression and bullying, her lies and her games. You see, ever since I could remember I was verbally, mentally, and physically abused by my mother and her husband, my stepdad. Never sexually—I must stress that, but the only bones that were never broken were my fingers, but I digress from one story into another.
We had been arguing about whether or not we could ever be happy when mother decided to turn the screws and try to involve the police. As I was over the age of consent, they refused to intervene and advised her that she would not be able to interfere. That Christmas, she gave me a choice: my family or my future. I was devastated. How could I choose between my brother and sisters and what I wanted...escape?
So I didn't. I stayed home with mother and continued to be the main role model in the home. While she got wasted and partied with her mates, I cooked for my siblings, kept on top of the housework, and was a real life Cinderella to my mother and her selfish ways.
That fateful Christmas, I had told him that I had to be there for my brother and my sister, as I expected he had no idea why, he felt that mother should take the responsibility and grow up. I mean, she was thirty six and still acting like a teenager, whilst I was old before my time and doing what she should have done.I remember that New Year vividly; the arguments that we had, mother telling me that she would never let me see my siblings again if I left, and him telling me he just couldn't do it anymore. He didn't want to be second best to a family that wasn't his own, and he felt it would be best all round if we agreed to stay friends for the sake of our child, but he just couldn't watch my soul being crushed by my bully of a mother.I was destroyed...This man had been my hope for the future and, despite agreeing to be friends, I became bitter towards him and the uncomplicated life he had.
We saw each other every day from New Years, not that it counted for much. He showed me the new car that he had gotten to replace the transit that he always drove, so he could put a car seat in the back for his baby.
One afternoon, he snuck me away so that I could see the progress he had made with the flat, then he took me to his dad's flat so we could talk. I don't know if it went to plan for him or not, but for me, spending the afternoon talking, holding hands, cuddling, and watching Hell-Raiser was the best afternoon of my life to that point. It was short lived. The closer it got to going home, the more disconnected I became, and we argued. Two days into the New Year, the New Millennium, it was like nothing had changed. The pressure was still there, the anger was still simmering, and the desperation to get away was still very much alive in me. So, we went for a drive in his new BMW.
It was the fifth of January 2000. We had been driving for a couple of hours that afternoon before the arguing started. It wasn't even a new argument, it was the same one we had been having for weeks. He didn't understand the blind loyalty I had to mother, didn't realise it wasn't her I stayed for, but my siblings. So round and round we went again, throwing insults at each other, trying to hurt each other. Finally, I got out of the car, screaming at him that I hoped he wrote off his new pride and joy, his car, slamming the door I stormed off home while he screeched off with tires spinning.
I walked home, each step making my heart heavier and heavier. When I reached home, mother was wasted and in her bedroom with her latest man.
I hadn't the energy to deal with the games, so I went to sit with my baby brother, nine years my junior. We had an unspoken agreement that, when I was upset, I would sit with him while he played on his playstation. We wouldn't talk, just sit together. We had always been close, even when I started crying, he barely looked up from his game, just looped his arm round my neck and continued to play.
After a time, I composed myself, wriggled out of the headlock I was in, kissed my brother on the head, then went downstairs to see what my sisters were doing and start tea.
An evening no different from any other.
I made sure that the kids went to bed at a reasonable time and then settled in for the night myself, but I didn't feel right at all. My stomach was in knots and I kept feeling sick. Even being pregnant, I had never felt sickness like this; my throat was dry and I couldn't seem to settle at all, so I sat up most of the night. I tried to reach him on my phone but it kept going to voicemail. I didn't manage sleep that night and I had to go out with my stepdad in the morning.
We were due in Leeds the following day, so I had to go buy a new dress for the wedding of my uncle, one that would fit over my bump comfortably. I was dreading the trip and the ceremony. I hated mother's family, apart from granddad, so I was secretly wishing for an excuse not to go. Little did I know.
Getting home, I spent a few minutes showing my new outfit to mother before the phone started ringing off the hook; a mutual friend...
He's dead. A drunk driver. Run off the road. Left for hours to die. Alone.
From nowhere, I could hear screaming. I thought it was me, but then I realised my mouth was dry and my throat was numb. There was no way I was making that sound.
She was screaming about losing her best friend...she hated him.
She was crying about how she didn't know how to deal...how do you think I felt?
The selfish woman didn't even think about me; what she had cost me and my child with her spite, the wedge she had created destroyed us, the future for me and our child...gone.
Everything I had hoped for had been stolen from us firstly by mother and her selfishness, secondly by a drunk woman too tight to pay for a taxi home.
Overnight, the world became a colder and darker place...all I could hear echoing through the darkness was; " I hope you crash your car."
Words said in anger that can never be taken back, and a life that meant so much to so many extinguished in an instant.
In the darkness, the days, they seem to drag by so slowly and forever, but the years? The years have flown by so fast for me and our daughter. This year we look at universities, we look to her future, and I know she will always be your greatest gift to everyone that knew you.
About the author
I'm 35 and on a mission in my life, not for me but for future generations,to try and stem the need of people for things and replace it with love for people again,to try and show compassion where it is needed and help others like myself