Last night, I got an email from my ex-boyfriend. When we broke up, his father was sliding into dementia and I asked him to keep me updated on his dad’s health if there were any major changes. He also had some elderly women in his church that I had gotten to know pretty well and so we agreed to give health updates to each other on important people.
So when I got an email with the subject line “Sad News,” I thought that his dad had probably taken a turn for the worse and that was sad but you now, his dad had lived a good life and was elderly, and this happens. But it wasn’t his dad.
It was his 13-year-old goddaughter, who had been killed by a car. Maggie was crossing the street on her way home from a dance class, in the crosswalk, with the light. She was hit by a car and died on the way to the hospital. She was almost 14.
Although I haven’t seen Maggie or her family (or my ex) in over a year, I am devastated. Her parents were my ex’s best friends, more like family to him than his family. he had been friends with Maggie’s dad since they were in 7th grade and with Maggie’s mom since their freshman year of college. He had been on family vacations with the three of them, had 13 years of photos and artwork and notes from Maggie, who referred to him as her uncle. We went for dinner there every month and he went more often. Every vacation we took together, we got a gift for Maggie.
One year we took a vacation to Veracruz, Mexico. We got Maggie a hammock, not realizing that they didn’t have trees to hang it from. My ex and Maggie’s dad stood in the living room, trying to hold up the ends of the hammock and lift her off the ground while she laughed hysterically. I had my ex buy her flowers for a dance recital a few years ago. He said it was boring and that he didn’t want to go. I said he was her godfather and basically her uncle and he had to. He said it didn’t matter because she would just take the flowers, say thanks, and go back with her friends. I said that is totally age-appropriate and one day she would remember how he came every year with flowers and how special that was. Only she never made it that long.
She was an only child. She was very close to her parents and good with adults and their lives revolved around her, but not in a bad way. I don’t know how they are even still breathing.
I won’t get to say good-bye. Unless he invites me to the memorial, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go and even if he did, I’m not sure. I’d have to bring someone with me and that’s a weird ask, “Will you go to the funeral of a child you don’t know so I don’t have to be alone?” My mind is not letting me believe this really happened. I wrote her parents a condolence card and in the back of my head keep thinking that they’re going to be so annoyed because clearly their daughter is fine. I’m exhausted from trying to make myself believe it’s real, and I feel guilty that I’m this sad when it’s not about me, I’m not her family. But I was close to it for a while.
Obviously, being depressive doesn’t help any of this. Everything feels so much stronger and sadder than it would, I’m sure. And all my grief about the break-up is coming back. I don’t want him to have to go through this alone, but he chose that.
So I guess I did have words. But I still don’t, because nothing I’ve said has made one bit of difference. It’s too much.