I came to know of Hyde’s misfortune from a mutual friend, and did not hesitate to contact him.
His wife and two daughters were killed in a freak accident.
I had barely made it to the funeral parlour, and felt a mixture of happiness and immense sadness at this reunion. Hyde had been a really good friend and we rarely had the chance to spend time together due to geography and work commitments.
After everyone had left, I pulled him aside.
“Hyde, listen. Why don’t you come and live with us for awhile. Martha insists, and i think you could use some company and a break of sorts.”
“I… I don’t know what to say, Carl. That’s very kind of you. Of the both of you.”
“Don’t say anything, let’s just help you pack and we’ll be on our way.”
Finally he fixed his gaze upon me. “Carl, thank you. I really appreciate it. But can we agree on one condition?” and i saw the fatigue and deep sadness in his eyes. “That you’ll let me stay for just five days. Once the five days are up, whatever it is, i must go. You must hold me to it and i will trust you to keep me accountable.”
“What, man! You don’t have to do this, you can stay-“
“No, Carl, listen. I am broken, i know that. And i could use some good company. But beyond that i need to pick up the pieces and move on. What’s happened, happened. I can’t wallow in…” here he choked, bringing his hands to his eyes, and my good friend was overcome with grief. His sobs were heartbreaking and as i embraced him, i sensed how alone he must have felt at that moment. All alone, even amongst friends and loved ones.
Upon reaching my home a new air seemed to overtake Hyde. Perhaps i was right. Maybe some distance would help him get through this difficult period. Martha gave him a warm hug and besides a lovely dinner, we didn’t do much else that evening.
The next few days passed quicker that i’d expected, with Hyde insisting on helping out at the farm, and myself quite enjoying his company (and the extra pair of hands). I’d never seen him perform manual labour but from his movements and energy, could tell he was not at all alien to it.
And finally, his stay came to an end. I was filled with a mess of emotions: trepidation, anxiety, sadness and a sense of responsibility. But he put me out of my misery by showing up to breakfast with his suitcase and dressed for the road. He gave me a smile and a wink, and we sat down for a hearty meal. By then Hyde had somewhat perked up. He was not completely his old self (how do you go back to that when you’ve lost what he’s lost?) but he was in better shape.
After a luxurious cup of coffee and chat on the veranda, he got up.
“Carl, it’s time. I’ll be on my way now. I know you remembered, and i must apologise for the discomfort that must have brought upon you. You’re a good man, Carl. Thank you. Martha, Carl, take care of yourselves.”
We embraced, shook hands, and he gave me one last smile before heading out to the taxi that had just arrived.
That was the last time i heard from or saw him.