Bringing Barry Home

Part 11 – I originally wrote this post on 9 June 2006, however, I realise now that it should be part of My Story so I have reposted it and deleted the original post.

On 8 June 2006, I wrote a post about preparing to collect Barry’s ashes. Today, I’ve been putting off writing my account of the day. Why? It was most definitely one of the worst days of my life. However, my partner, Gary, tells me that it was, in fact, the worst day of his life.

In the car we both felt sick in the stomach. This was coupled with a terrible headache for me and backache for Gary – stress. As we drove closer and closer to the memorial park, the pains in my stomach tripled. I felt physically sick. A feeling of dread came over me when Gary parked the car and we began walking towards the building.

Inside the small office, Gary was calm, while I was shaking with the emotions running through my body. The paperwork only took a few minutes, and then the woman said, “I’ll go and get him”. Tears sprang to my eyes as I prayed that she would do just that – walk through the door with a living Barry in tow. It didn’t happen. Instead, she re-entered the room with a bag. Inside the bad was a plastic container.

Upon seeing it, my resolve left me. I found it difficult to see the remaining form, let alone read aloud the number that identified the container as my son. It was a cold act that no parent should have to face. Once it was confirmed that we had the correct container, the woman placed the bag within Gary’s arms. None of us spoke a single word. We left the office.

As soon as Gary and I stepped out of the building the flood gates opened. We both broke down. It would be a long time before either of us would be able to talk, let alone drive home. We managed to get to the car, I sat in the passenger’s seat and Gary placed my son on my lap. The plaque from his coffin – Barry Andrew Henderson, Aged 18 years – shone up at me, blurred by the tears that wouldn’t stop flowing.

We sat in the car for the longest time, sobbing. Gary, the man who had bravely carried me through the last three weeks, finally broke. Everything came crashing down, and he lost all control. It broke my heart to see him like that, just as much as it broke my heart to be holding my baby in a tiny, grey box.

I don’t know how long we sat there. I do know that we never spoke a word. We drove home and came into a cold, empty house and I felt that’s how my heart had grown. Home again. My son was home again, but not in the way I wanted and needed.

For a while, I stood in the kitchen hugging the container close to my heart. Sobbing continually. Gary grabbed my shoulders and guided me to Barry’s bedroom. We placed him on his bed, surrounded by the things that he hadn’t thrown away.

No words can truly describe the anguish we both felt. The pain was as raw and open as it could be. We cried on and off for eight hours, before the tears finally subsided and gave way to exhaustion. The emptiness that I’ve felt for three weeks finally claimed its hold on Gary. He said that it felt like he was carrying a baby and that nothing on Earth could have separated him and Barry during that short trip to the car. He said that he realised how much he had come to love Barry in the years that they knew each other. He realised that the pain I have been feeling is much more intense than he could ever imagine.

Click here to go to Part 12: The Police and the Letter

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5 thoughts on “Bringing Barry Home

  1. Your blog has touched me. I was dating a young man about 12 years ago that committed suicide with a gun. I am married now with three children, but Jim is always with me. I still talk to him and think of him and wonder why. He tried to call me the morning he died and I didn’t answer the phone. I was trying to put some distance between us and he wasn’t happy about it. He was a second year med student, and an only child. His parents blamed me and came to my home and were confrontational. It was all devastating. I thought I would never be happy again. I got some counseling, and I wrote a lot. I made myself believe that Jim must have been in such terrible pain and depression that he felt this was the only way. Why why why. I still wonder. The passing of time is an amazing healing thing. But I am not the same, I’m very aware of depression in others and I talk to people about it. I tell people that it doesn’t just affect them. I think it’s wonderful you’ve found a blog to help you release your pain. I am praying for you that you will find peace again.

  2. Thank you for the prayers. My family needs all the help we can get right now.

    There’s a girl in Barry’s story too, but we don’t and won’t place the blame at her feet. She didn’t know that he was serious about ending his life and, besides, she didn’t make him do it. It was his choice.

    However, the first reaction is to find someone or something to blame. But why waste the energy going over and over these things? It doesn’t change the end result. It will never bring the loved one back.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. At this early stage, I need to know that “the passing of time is an amazing healing thing”.

  3. The Prayer of Father Bede Jarrett

    We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us;
    Yet as thou dost not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return.
    Not as the world giveth, givest thou, O Lover of Souls.
    What thou gavest, thou takest not away,
    For what is thine is ours also if we are thine.
    And Life is eternal and Love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
    Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further;
    Cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
    Draw us closer to thyself so that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with thee.
    And while thou dost prepare a place for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where thou art we may be also for evermore.

  4. Thank you for sharing that, Helen.

    It’s strange. Before this happened I could easily call myself “non-religious”. However,after this terrible thing happened, I didn’t find any comfort in my beliefs. As the days passed, I found myself thinking and saying things that didn’t fit with my non-belief either.

    I don’t know what I believe now, but I do believe in something. I need to know that Barry is safe and being looked after. I actually sat on Barry’s bed crying one day, and found myself telling God that my son was a good boy and I begged Him to protect Barry until I was reunited with him. Later, I reasoned that if I truly was a non-believer I wouldn’t have done that.

  5. I don’t know what I believe in either, Karen. Obviously I believe in God but when I analyse my beliefs, they don’t really make sense. Maybe it’s better to go by instincts and what we feel rather than what is “rational”. What I like about the Father Bede Jarrett poem is the line that goes: “and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” It makes me realise that there is so little I understand and the universe is a much bigger more complicated place than any of us know about. I do believe those who have died live on in some way we don’t yet understand. I believe Barry is with God and God is protecting him.

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