Like most nights I had gone to sleep last night around 2.30am. And like most mornings, I was depending on the trusty marimba to get me out of bed this morning, lest I sleep until the kids start yelling that they're late for school again. But this morning I woke up unaided at precisely 7am, all bleary eyes and confusion. As I sat up in bed half staring at the clock and trying to work out what day it was, I suddenly realised the significance of this particular hour and this particular day. It was 7am on the 7th December - exactly four years on from that moment in time when my life was forever changed.
Being told something over the telephone when you are still half asleep is never a coherent experience. Your brain is still trying to compute such things as its surroundings and how to open its eyes, let alone process any significant information that one may be asked to call upon later. And so as a general rule, I kindly ask all early bird callers to phone back at a more respectable time when my mind can articulate the strange sounds their voices are making. But when my phone rang at 7am on the 7th December 2007, I just assumed that it was my fiance calling to wish me a good morning. He was living in Texas at the time where it was late afternoon, though he would sometimes forget the smaller details, like the fact that we lived in different time zones, and call me at all hours to tell me he loved me or just have a chat.
I dragged the phone under the covers where it was still warm and cosy, expecting that we would have a nice morning in bed together - which is as good as it gets when your partner lives on the other side of the world. Hearing a woman's voice caught me by surprise but hearing a woman with an american accent kind of made me panic. It was his cousin. I had only met her once or twice. My first thought was that he had been involved in an accident and was lying in some hospital in Texas. 'What happened?' I yelled, jumping out of bed as though standing upright would somehow make the news more bearable. 'Chance passed away this morning' she said. I grabbed the phone and ran down the hallway and out onto the deck. It was 7am and the neighbourhood was asleep, as were my two children. 'What the fuck did you just say?' I yelled again and again and again.... There was no easy way for her to say it. 'Chance is dead'.
"FUCK YOU, I screamed... "Why are you doing this to me!?" Though I continued on like this, yelling at her for tricking me with such a cruel, despicable lie, somewhere deep inside of me I knew it must be true. I hung up the phone. I fell to the floor. I screamed a scream that pierced the perfect sky.
The phone rang again. My children were standing on the deck wiping tears from their tired, frightened eyes. "HELLO?" This time it was his mother. "Misha do not hang up again." You need to listen to what I am going to tell you okay?... Chance is dead." I dropped the phone. My son's father picked it up. I could hear him talking and taking details and I could see the look on his face but now everything seemed so far away. I was already disappearing. In a heartbeat my life had changed forever and there was no way of going back.