“It’s Not Too Late…” Agnes Crumplebottom’s Story
“It is better to have loved and then lost, than never to have loved at all!”
Agnes must have read that sappy sentiment a hundred times on the sympathy cards she had received after her husband’s sudden death. These well-wishers who sent their regards must never have had the horrid experience of loosing their husband on their honeymoon, she reminded herself.
And that is exactly the awful tragedy that had befallen sweet, kind, intelligent, artistic, Agnes Crumplebottom. A loner by nature, she had fallen in love with a kindred spirit whom she didn’t mind having around. His name was Erik Darling. He was so perfect for Agnes that, from the moment they met, she actually preferred being with him than being without him! This was remarkable, since most people she merely tolerated. Even her own sister, and best friend, Cornelia Goth, did not have as high an accolade as Erik Darling did in her eyes!
Erik was gentle and sweet, a kindergarden teacher who wanted nothing but a large family with Agnes. He quietly championed her writing career, and bought her beautiful paintings and statues to furnish the home that they would share. They called it “August Moon” and it sat overlooking the coastline of Sunset Valley.
When Erik had proposed, Agnes had no hesitation: she was ready to share her life with someone, and that someone was most certainlyErik!
They honeymooned at Twikkii Island. Agnes thought it the most beautiful, scenic place in the world, and couldn’t stop taking pictures! Well, it was the most beautiful place in the world, until Erik had left one morning, without her knowledge, to scuba dive alone at the reef. Why he did not wake her, she still did not know…
The next thing Agnes knew, the police were knocking on their hotel room door, and she awoke to be informed of the most unimaginable horror: Erik, a somewhat inexperienced scuba diver, had presumably lost oxygen in his tank, and had been found dead by other divers before noon that morning. Agnes hadn’t even stirred once, and now Erik was dead!
Needless to say, Agnes had been inconsolable from that point on. Not only had she lost the love of her life, the future father of her children, but she also didn’t know if she could continue any sort of a normal life without him. They had, for one brief moment, had it all within their reach, and now, Agnes was left with nothing.
Erik Darling was buried on the property, with only Agnes in attendance. Now, he could be with her always, even if only in spirit. Of course, the wake had been attended by many of Erik and Agnes’ family and friends, but Agnes had been in such a daze of depression she could not remember any of it. The only words of comfort she had now were the sympathy cards, some coming from Erik’s own students! It was heartbreaking, but she read them. After all, she had nothing else to do, she no longer felt the need to garden, or the inspiration to write. She had difficulty painting, because she only used dark, depressing colors. She already wore black, she didn’t want to paint it!
Every day became a new all-time low for Agnes. Just when she thought she couldn’t feel any worse…she did. She knew Erik wouldn’t want her to be this way. She began to feel like she was loosing her mind. Some dark and peaceful nights, when she could not sleep, she would mourn at Erik’s tombstone, and she swore that he came to her…It did not feel like a delusion when she saw him, and he, he did not feel like a delusion when he comforted her…but Agnes’ sensible side told her she was going mad! As much as her heart wanted to believe Erik really was back from the grave…And even if he was, what kind of life could they lead this way?
It was around this time that Agnes got a phonecall from an old and dear friend, Erik’s best friend to be exact. His name was Sigurd Haldane, and he had served as the best man at Erik and Agnes’ wedding.
Erik and Sigurd were opposites in most ways: where Erik was gentle in his delivery, Sigurd was bold, and no-nonsense. Where Erik was relaxed, Sigurd was active, always persuing bigger and better activities, always pushing the limit. And so on and so forth…
But, like Erik, Sigurd was smart, kind, and family-oriented. And if there was anyone who could come somewhat close to understanding Agnes’ sorrow, it was him. Both had lost the man they considered their other half. Sigurd needed Agnes as much as she needed him, and so he called her one evening:
“Hey Agnes, It’s Sigurd. Are you feeling alright enough to talk right now?” he asked her.
“Hello, Sigurd. Well, now is as good enough a time as any, since every day I grow more and more pathetic.” she sighed as she pulled at a strand of her hair in frustration.
“Oh, I know how you feel. Nobody else understands it, you know? If Erik’s folks were still alive, maybe they would, but…” Sigurd’s voice trailed off.
“My sister wants me to go to a grief group at the town hall. It’s not exclusively widows, its anyone who’s experienced a loss, I just don’t know if I can face my feelings in public yet, because then, it…”
“Become’s real?” Sigurd offered, finishing her thought.
“Yes, too real. I know it’s real, obviously, but somehow I think that maybe I will just suddenley wake up and it will have all been a dream!” Agnes paused, then said:
“ Sigurd, do you know I still see him?” Agnes said.
“Aggie, you arn’t getting any sleep, of course you are seeing him, that’s what lack of sleep does to people. I haven’t slept either, and then I work a ten hour shift at the station and I am more tired than I was before, but I still can’t sleep.”
“I know, I know you are going through all the same things, but, I really do think I am seeing his ghost!” Agnes insisted.
Sigurd sighed. Maybe she was, maybe she was not. Who knew but God Himself! Still, she was clearly still very distraught, as was he.
“Actually Aggie, Iwouldn’t be suprised if he was haunting..err, visiting you. But then again, it would be just as likely that he is at rest now, but you are wishfully thinking him back here with you. But I would be happy to help you figure it out.” Sigurd said.
“Thank you, Sigurd. But you already have enough going on, with work and…”
“I always have time for my best friends wife. No matter what. Your like family to me, Aggie!” Sigurd firmly told her.
“Well, there is actually some good news I was going to tell you. The squad has asked me to transfer to a different location, at least for the time being. And, that location is Sunset Valley. Agnes, in two weeks I will be working there everyday, but unfortunatley I have not found an affordable place to live, yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I was wondering, if after work, or even at my lunchbreak, if you needed any company, I would be able to see you. We both could use the social-time, really.” Sigurd said.
There was an uncomfortable silence. Sigurd began to think he had somehow said the wrong thing and had deeply offended Agnes, but really, she had just been taken aback. Sigurd was such a go-getter, full of life, but he really was still just as crestfallen about Erik’s death as she was.
Was she a loner? Yes. Was she anti-social? No. She just wasn’t ready to see anybody, (anybody but Cornelia, anyway) but it might be a good thing for her to leave her comfort zone.
“Sigurd, I’m no treat right now, and I don’t know if I will ever be any good again, but…I would be happy to see you every day at lunch to chat. Just don’t expect me to do a lot of the talking!”
Sigurd was relieved to know he and Agnes would be able to lean on each other to get through this tough time. Agnes needed Sigurd more than ever, and vice versa. Agnes knew that Erik would want her to extend further hospitality to Sigurd, so she did:
“And Sigurd, there is no reason for you to go apartment hunting for what may be a temporary job, and the commute is far too long. I would be honored, as I am certain Erik would, if you would come and stay with us…er, me, at our..er, my home while you are working here.”
Sigurd was suprised by the generous offer, but after just a little hesitation, he accepted.
“That would be great, Aggie. After all, that’s what friends are for!”
For the first time in 6th months, Agnes felt a little less alone in the world. For the first time, she felt a hint of hope that things would someday get back to normal again, whatever “normal” was.
This is Agnes Crumplebottom’s story…To Be Continued!