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