Patrick tried to take a moment to breathe. His face burned hot, his breaths were short and quick. His head was swimming with half spun thoughts as the primeval, visceral anger burned inside him. Pacing furiously on the little patch of grass outside the apartment complex designed for tiny dogs and tiny chain smokers, he tried to calm himself enough to formulate one coherent synapse. He stopped. The suitcase he held in his hand dropped to the grass as the world around receded and its color was lost. Patrick descended into himself, consumed like a black hole by a hideous and dangerous thought.
What if this is the end?
His eyes became glossy with fresh tears. The anger was gone now, so quickly replaced with the panic of an idea that Patrick hadn't thought of once in the 10 years he'd been married to Claire.
What if it's over?
All of the fighting, and the hurt feelings. All of the make-ups. All of the joy and laugher. All of the love they fought for.
Using his overstuffed suitcase as a chair, Patrick sat down on it and cradled his face in palms of his hands. The orange-tinged early morning sunlight failed to give him comfort as his mind drifted helpless in the churning sea of his emotions. The rage had been comforting and yet part of it was also horrifying. He had learned, as many boys do from a very early age, not to cry. Not to feel. To be a man– men fix their problems. He'd tried to fix Claire and his relationship, and things had gotten worse. But, the rage helped him cover up the pain and fear. The rage was clean and not confusing. It quieted his mind, but it also controlled him.
Patrick recalled, as a child, his mother crying after his father had hit her during an argument. Images likes this, burned into his soul, were what protected him from repeating the same mistakes as his dad. There were what kept him in check, and reminded him that he had to face the uncomfortable emotions along with the anger. And in a beautiful way, being adrift in ones emotions felt so free. Like standing in the center of a magnificently formed hurricane. All the destruction swirling around him and at its center a horrible center of silence and the knowledge that no matter what happens all the suffering will not diminish for a long time yet.
How can I fix– stop it! Stop it! That bitch is so selfish, she thinks her pain is more important. It's all my fault. The things I did are what broke our marriage. Shit. Why do I even want this to work so badly? Why does it hurt so bad? Why did we let it get this bad before we noticed?
Normally Patrick thought about how he used to call his Mom when he was upset, but she had passed away 4 years ago early on a morning like this. She had always loved the sunrise. Patrick wasn't a morning person, and hardly ever got up to witness the world's rebirth, but his mother saw it almost every morning. As a child, he remembered climbing down the powder-blue carpet covered stairs and finding his mom writing in her journal and reading her bible.
"Quiet time is so important to have, Patrick," she would say, "The first thing you should do every morning is wake up and spend time alone with God."
She had always seemed to know herself so well. She always seemed to know the answers. And then one day, she didn't know all the answers anymore. The veil in the temple of naivety ripped in two, he took a greater leap into adulthood that day than before or since. Again at this very moment he felt as though a veil had been withdrawn from a part of his life. He was suddenly aware of all the dysfunction in his marriage at once, and his fear and anger were joined by a third emotion fighting for his attention: helplessness.