Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

Signing ‘our’ mortgage papers

WEDNESDAY, November 25 – Feeling terrified by the howling wind. It’s stormy this morning and even the dog is edgy. Dry leaves blow up all around her and invisible gusts of wind attack her from all sides. It gets to me, too. Weird thoughts enter my head. What if a huge branch were to fall from that tree? What if an entire tree gets blown down? My own vulnerability is palpable. The boys aren’t the only ones to feel it. In a matter of seconds, it could become reality and I fear an early death that’s just around the corner.

15:20 – I am writing this entry with a brand-new pen that I snitched from the bank where I signed the new mortgage papers.  A dozen or so initials and one full signature. I don’t know whether I was even in the neighborhood of the lines, since I was blinded by tears.

I couldn’t see the last few pages. It’s possible that the document was ultimately sealed with tears of love.  Two months before, Jennifer and I sat in here together, in that same bank building in Amsterdam, joking about the number of papers we had to sign in connection with the life insurance clause.

Fucking bizarre – pardon my French – to be sitting there again, the same two chairs positioned in front of the desk, one of them occupied by my briefcase. Conflicting emotions.  On the one hand relief, since our American Dream – a house of our own – was going to come true after all, but it was also excruciating painful because that dream had been blown to smithereens, making way for a nightmare.

Changing residences without Jennifer. Each stroke of the pen on the revised mortgage papers felt like a shovelful of sand falling on a coffin.  Each time I formed those two small initials, I was deleting Jennifer from her own life. She was getting closer to becoming an administrative procedure, in settlements of something that once was. She’s dead and that fact is brought home to me with every breath I take.

Tears of sorrow, of relief, of love?  Who knows?  Tears, buckets of tears.

The woman at the bank, who had gone to a great deal of trouble to make it all possible after the whole deal had almost fallen through, asked me if I’d like to be alone for a moment. I’ve already been alone for a month, I thought, but she meant well, so I just shook my head. When the tears had dried, I broke the silence by taking over her role:  ‘Well, Mr. Overdiek,’ I purred, ‘congratulations on the purchase of your house.’

Even a gruesome joke can do wonders.

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