I remember standing there and looking towards him, the rest of the room seemed fuzzy. It’s not that I was purposefully ignoring you, our family and the rest who stood in the circle around him and I. It was more I was simply fixated on Todd, who looked wonderfully handsome on that day. That tailored suit made him look so smart, in both ways, and his cleanly shaved chin made him appear fresh and crisp. Being able to lock my gaze on Todd and take in his autumn eyes and heart-warming dimples made me less conscious about all the attention that was being placed on me. Yes, I know it was meant to be my day but that’s a silly sentiment. If anything, it was our day. Anyway, as rehearsed, Todd took a deep bow and then stepped forward. He took my chubby hand in his strong and weathered one then pulled me close. We wrapped our arms around each other, in a promising imitation of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and then we began. Todd stared at me intently whilst his lips moved as he counted the beats to the music. He was always like that. Trying to make sure he had everything perfect, not missing a step, especially when he had so many people watching him. He led me around the floor, twirling and spinning me, and all the while mouthing the rhythm. Eventually, you and the rest began to join. The video footage of that day shows you and Douglas being the ones to lead everyone else on to the dance floor.
I’m certain you remember Douglas. After all, it looked like you two were very close at one point. And I can understand why. You and he are brave, caring and loving individuals who love your drink and your board games to, if I dare say, a fanatic extent. I’ll never forget the day that you both met. Douglas was a special man. And I, very much, wish he hadn’t travelled to Iraq to fight in the war, and to die in that crash in Tallil. He was a great man and I still miss him. But the news of his death affected Todd much worse. That deep, dimple smile of Todd’s didn’t often come out after that. He stopped joking as frequently and the Todd I had fallen in love with seemed to have faded. I wouldn’t say he… It wasn’t that… The old Todd was still there, but you really had to scratch the surface and hunt to find him. He would spend hours locked in his study, reading over newspapers and searching the web for news. There was this one time that I checked his internet history. It wasn’t wiped, nor did it contain the sordid material that I know riddles a few poor wives’ computers, but there were an obsessive number of pages about the war, politics, army helicopters, and the geography of Iraq. He would spend more time on that wired-up piece of junk than he did with the children or me. It hurt. It was as if he’d already started digging his own eternal resting place, right where my internal organs should have been. There was one day when I was playing snakes and ladders with eight year-old Ashley when, abruptly, she asked: ‘where’s daddy gone?’ I still don’t know what I should have said.
Heather, I’m sorry. I wrote this all down because, well, I thought it would make it easier. I thought it would create some distance from reality. I just… I don’t know how to say this. With Todd’s changed temperament I didn’t know what to do and, there were times, when I would imagine the worst. That I would get home one day and that would be it. Our marriage would be over. He would have, you know… I’d check my phone to find a new voicemail left by him. I didn’t want it to be like that. Obviously, I didn’t want those thoughts in my mind to come true. It’s just that… Alright, I’m sorry. I really can’t write it down. Could you come over? I need you right now. Maybe I could tell you when you get here?