It struck me that she was beautiful, my client’s widow as she cried on TV. An upstanding member of society, he left a hole in his family, his circle of friends and the community who loved him. I didn’t breathe, the air held stale in my lungs as I realised in the same moment that my regular client had died, and that he was important enough for his passing to be newsworthy. Much unlike me, really.
This isn’t the first client I’ve lost, but the first time I was confronted with seeing a spouse, and the emotions it stirred in me were new and unusual. I disconnect myself from my client’s personal life when I’m with him. I assume many are partnered or married, but I don’t think about it. I see the ring and think nothing. My rational brain understands the complications of monogamy and relationships, I’ve been there myself. I don’t ask and I never tell. I just don’t think about it.
I notice that I look nothing like her. I watch her, poised with a sad beauty about her, an Emma Thompson lookalike and I wonder what the hell he was thinking, seeing a wretch like me. She clearly loved him, and he had beautiful young children who look just like him. He had everything a man, or I, could dream of.
I know, that the carnal desires of the flesh run deep and ultimately that is what drives men to see me. But, we had so much more than that, the sex part of our time together was minimal and he cared for me deeply, I know. And I know most importantly, it is none my business, what his marriage did or didn’t entail. That was his other life. But I grapple with what void I was filling, nonetheless.
I watch her, mesmerised at this secret part of my clients life, public and on show. I am the real secret of course, kept at a distance, watching grief from the outside, unable to tell anyone, unable to confide. I am terribly sad in this moment, to lose a client is such an unusual feeling. There’s grief, even if we only perhaps saw a small side of them that they chose to present, there’s loss of income, and also a sense of helplessness and isolation. We are irrelevant and silent in their passing. The range of emotions we feel wash over us and we swallow them like wine, unable to reach out, offer condolences or to cry with those who knew him.
I turn off the TV, feeling too much like I’m prying, and I pour a glass of red, just how he liked and I toast to him. Grateful for what we shared, the ways he supported me, and that he shared with me a part of himself so different to the News. He’d have liked this Shiraz - a passing thought tinged with sadness. I choke back the tears as my work phone goes off. Another married man wants a secret.