“Maybe I’m weak for not being able to continue on. Maybe I’m a coward because no matter how hard I try I can’t get out of this rut. Maybe I’m idiotic because I thought I would live a beautiful life. Maybe this life wasn’t the life I was supposed to live.”
I watched as they lowered Matthew’s body into the ground. I listened half heartedly to the man reciting something he would recite at any funeral. I accepted the hugs from my sisters, the “I’m sorry” from all of Matthew’s fellow cop friends, the “I’m here for you,” from Bridget. What I couldn’t accept was the realization that he was gone. My best friend for so many years was just ripped away from my life in a matter of moments on what was supposed to be the happiest day of our life. Of course I could have blamed it on the ignorant dress karma, or the fact that the universe just wanted us to stay together without bondage. Or I could blame it on the man who decided to end not only one life but two. I guess I couldn’t really blame it on him though. The selfish man decided to take his own life when he was caught. Matthew didn’t have that choice, but then again does anyone?
Bridget tried to get me out of the house, she tried inviting me to her house, she even got Diana to invite me to stay with her for a while. I denied all of their requests, denied the fact that I really did need help, and especially denied the fact that this wouldn’t all just go away on its own. Instead of dealing with things I just sat in my room staring at the photos of him. Every hope of finishing the challenge was thrown in the drain. Quite frankly I didn’t want to continue with anything at all.
“You’re leaving right now.” Bridget yelled at me one fine afternoon. I barely rolled over in bed. “I’m sick and tired of this Caitlin, we all lost him okay? I know he was the love of your life, but he’s gone. You can’t just stop your life because of that, don’t do this to me.” She pestered drawing the blinds. I tucked myself deeper into the blankets. “Caitlin. I love you so much, but if you don’t say anything to me I’m not coming back.” I remained silent. “Caitlin…. Please.” Her voice broke and I shuffled just the slightest bit. “Caitlin, I can’t do this anymore. Every time I come and see you it wears on me… I’ve worked too hard to be happy Cait and every time I come here I’m overwhelmed with grief and sadness, honey. I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.” I could hear her crying but like the selfish bitch I had become I ignored her. I peaked from under the blanket as Bridget wiped tears from her eyes, I watched her leave me. Matthew had been taken from me but I had pushed Bridget away.
It took me five days to get myself out of bed. I only moved because of hunger and dehydration, not because of some spark of motivation for living. I crept down the steps and into the kitchen, a place I hadn’t been in a good two weeks. Suddenly that spark of motivation hit me. All of the memories of making key lime pie with Matt came back, all the times he had to bend down and fix the dish washer crept into my mind craving for more. I could hear his voice clear as day in my head, his laughter tingled into his every word, I wanted to remember everything at that current point in time and I knew just how to do it.
I slipped my clothes on after a long shower of dematting my hair. Finally I tied my shoes that I hadn’t worn for over three weeks and I walked out of my house into the world. It had been ages since I experienced the sun in my eyes, the longest time since I smelt freshly mown grass beneath my feet. I walked slowly on the sidewalk taking in all of the memories of Matthew and I outside. We had built Bridget’s house in Sunset valley on a day like this, warm but not too warm. We had gone to the Spring Festival together and the flowers looked just alike. I kept moving forward.
The graveyard was quaint, unlike the stereotypical ones you see in the movies. The was no ominous fog rising from the freshly dug graves, there were no empty souls floating about, although I wished Matthew’s would be. Instead I walked to his headstone. His grave had settled by now. His body nestled down under for nearly a month now. I hadn’t come to visit him once and suddenly I felt terrible. I knelt on my knees and cried, I cried because he was gone, that I had let myself go, that I was trying so hard to remember when it shouldn’t of been that difficult. I was becoming a terrible person, I had pushed away my best friend and lost the other, I had transformed into something I had never wanted to, and I had nobody to confide in. “I’m so sorry Matthew.” I whispered, laying down on the freshly sown grass. I stared at the individual strands and closed my eyes.
“Memories are such odd things. I could remember Twinkle getting married and Scarlett being caught in an uproar of flames but for the life of me I could not remember what Matthew was in the military or his least favorite food. I couldn’t remember if he tied his left shoe first or his right. There are so many odd things that I forgot, but they make all the large things seem miniscule. Did I really know him of I forgot what shoe he tied first? Of course, but it’s the small things that make relationships flourish, and it hurt me to believe that I had forgotten these things that once made me smile uncontrollably.”
Five hours. That’s how long it took me to sit at Matthew’s grave. That’s how long it took me to realize that he tied his right shoe first, then his left. That’s how long it took my mind to tell me that his least favorite food was lasagna even though he liked spaghetti and cheese a lot. It took my mind five hours to realize that he was just an officer in the military, that he wanted to live in a blue house not a yellow one, that he adored picket fences just like I did but he didn’t especially want one. My mind needed five hours to wrap around the fact that his laugh couldn’t be described by adjectives, but feelings, that no matter what I forgot I would always remember it. I realized in that time I knew Matthew more than I knew myself. Of course I could easily say the same thing about him. I filled out an entire notebook of memories, mostly of Matthew and I, but some about my children, my experiences with the challenge. It was remarkable that we had come so far in such a short time, and that’s just when the idea hit me.
I sat in front of the computer screen watching the words flow from my mind to the screen. I wrote out every memory, every feeling, everything from the start of my challenge. I wrote about how I felt when Matthew came home, how I felt when Bridget returned from Bridgeport, how my mother and I had a rough relationship, how each father was especially different in his own way. I wrote out everything I had done in my challenge life, and some stuff in between. I wrote about how I felt when Matthew was in Iraq, how I reacted to his disappearance, what it felt like to have him back. Soon my entire life was sitting before me in a word document.
“Do you believe in Happy Endings? Perhaps you do, and maybe, you don’t! My question has always been, do they truly exist? And if they do, will I ever have my happy ending?”
“Welcome to the world Un, Twinkle, Anilisa Marie, Lucy, Maddilyn, Felicity, Joanna, Lucky, Daniel, Karter, Mai, June, Nicole, Nicki, Wilburt, Aaron, Willow, Hayden, Jacob, Tatiana, Scarlett, Ruby, Claire, Hope, Bridget, Samuel, Harry, Tara, Hollie, Darion, Dylan, Magnus, Alex, Brian, Henry, Megan, Gracie, Dani, Jon, Tobi, Terrence, Ellie, Elliot, Doug, Drew, Richard, Ian, Snow, Patrick, Mikey, Anna, Elizabeth, Cinderella, Belle, Peeta, Nandri, Apfel, Pomme, Tamil, Siyao, Coralee, Auralee, Elodie, Xanadu, Legolas, Abatha, Harold, Arnold, Hershey, Kit, Kat, Suzanne, Helen, Metropolis, Atlantis, Jei, Cana, Aki, Noelle, Noel, Nicholas, Rainey, Stormy, Kyle, Kinley, Kylie, Kat, Tommy, Dil, Suzie, Angelica.”
“Matthew?” I call out.
“Mathew where are you?”
“I’m right here sweetheart.”
I roll over and see him lying on the bed next to me, his arms caressing my waist, his eyes stare into mine and he smiles.
“I love you.” He whispers.
My eyes open to the true nightmare I live in before I can say it back.
At first it felt like I had lost him, then it felt like I had never had him.
I couldn’t tell you how hard it was for me to realize I could no longer truly remember his voice.
Or that I forgot the texture of his hair.
I could no longer feel his warmth next to me on command.
I had to watch videos to keep the memory of him alive.
He had died and he had taken me with him, but I was still breathing. Still standing on this Earth.
For a long time I simply laid on my bed, our bed. I glared at pictures of us together, smiling, happy, not a care in the world.
We were supposed to have our happy ending, but it was stripped away from us.
I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I had no children to tickle and no husband to hold dear.
I lost myself.
Bridget came over religiously but soon, even she grew tired of my weariness; grew tired of my sorrow.
In the midst of losing Matt I lost her as well.”
“In the end I killed him.
I took away his life.
I pulled his plug.
I sat in the hospital room for hours, staring at his chest. Watching it rise and fall.
He couldn’t possibly be dead, he was still breathing, his eyes still fluttering as if he were dreaming.
His organs were gone though, the important ones that were liable for donation at least.
He was merely an empty casing of what used to be.
The shell surrounding my Matt, the one I grew up with, the one I fell in love with.
I sat by him for hours hoping, praying, that he would just wake up and fall into my arms. That he was just playing some horrible practical joke on me, that everything would be okay.
That never happened.
Instead I slowly flipped the switch on the respirator, ignoring the nurse standing over me telling me it was time to say goodbye. I watched Matt breathe on his own for a mere second before the machines all lulled to a slow beep. I watched the rest of his life escape his lips. I watched as he left this Earth. I still didn’t want to believe it.”
I read the words portrayed on the screen. The book starting just as I started this challenge. I printed the pages and carefully stapled them together. I didn’t know what to feel, this was my story but not my ending. I quietly walked up the stairs and into my bedroom. I placed the book on the small end table by my reading chair, and uttered the last words the wind would ever carry, reciting them just moment after writing them, I carefully set to work.
“Unfinished. That’s how I feel right now. How did every moment of my life bring me to this moment? Well, I couldn’t tell you. Was it my ultimate happiness that brought me to such doom? Uncontrollable joy that decided to shut down my systems? Buying a cat didn’t do this to me. Having ninety children that I loved dearly couldn’t have done this. Loving someone with all of my might? Well. That was probably just the case. No matter how much I tell myself that I can get over this hump I can’t. I can’t live my life without Matthew, I can’t hardly live my life at all anymore. I don’t know what else to say, what questions I’m leaving unanswered. People are going to judge me. They will plague my children with questions that they can’t answer. Questions I can’t exactly answer myself. I’ve never been good at goodbyes, but, whatever it’s worth I’ve loved everyone in my life more than anything, and I’m sorry I’m not strong enough to live without Him. Perhaps people will tell my tale as unfinished, but I’m choosing my way out, for me my life is complete and I will welcome my next journey with open arms. I am Caitlin Murray, and I do believe in happy endings, I just don’t believe they work out exactly as planned.”
So. This is the end eh? I’ve been working on this story for three whole years. Well, let’s think back. When I started this I was a freaking ten years old guys. I started this story June third 2010 because I was ridiculously bored. I was welcomed into the community with open arms and I strived to get the entire challenge done. Of course I hit a few bumps and procrastination definitely didn’t help but I’ve made it to the end. And some people will say that I didn’t hit 100, but I guess I never really wanted to. I never really wanted her story to end because it was such a big one. I’ve grown a lot as a writer in these past 3 years, heck, I even wrote a book, but I think I’ll always remember her story. I’d like to thank all of the people who have stuck with me, I’ve gotten over ten thousand views and that’s way more than I could ever ask for. Despite me griping about feedback and thinking about quitting on occasion I want to thank everyone who’s ever even glanced at my blog because without you I would have quit writing for good. I’m sorry our story ends here, but there are always more waiting. Thanks for everything guys. I love you all.
For a long time I blamed myself. How could I go on for so long without seeing the signs? They say they’re easy to spot, they’re obvious and are portrayed in ways even children can spot, and yet I missed it and I stepped away. What would have happened if I had stayed by her side for longer? What if I would have held her hand through the toughest time in her life instead of backing out like a coward? Would she still be here to laugh with me or to at least smile with me? Would she be here with me at the benefit dinner in Matthew’s honor? Would she have been at Hope’s wedding, or at the hospital with me as I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl? Would she have been able to sit down with me and talk about all the wonderful memories we had with our adorably dorky friend? Would she have held my hand as I discovered my little girl was autistic?
I can ask all these what if questions. I can relay all of the different outcomes of my life if I had done something differently, if she had done something differently, but it had already happened, and now I had to move on. I pushed aside my past, keeping all of the good memories of Caitlin and Matthew in my mind. At Caitlin’s funeral I told her children all of the goofy things she had done, how she had totally weirded me out when I first met her, how she was stronger than me and how I didn’t know how to be strong without her. I guess now I see that she was my motivation to be strong, and now she was the only push. Now I knew exactly how to be strong, for my older children, for Spencer and I’s new child, for all ninety of her children, for myself. Caitlin taught me all about being strong. I still don’t understand how she was strong all the time, I have days where I can barely bare it anymore. These days are the reason I can’t blame Caitlin for her last decision. She had been strong her entire life. She needed her breaking point, and that was it. Quite honestly I view her last decision as one of her strongest.
When I read Caitlin’s book on her life I was filled with thrill, with hope, with sadness, with longing that her life had mapped out in the way it was supposed to. Maybe it was destiny that Matthew and her would die in such ways. Perhaps it was will that pushed them so strongly together. For one thing I know was true, it was fate that made us friends, and for the rest of my life I will trust that fate and live my life as I’ve had for so many years, loving Caitlin Murray and everything she stood for.