There was no one waiting for her at the airport and her heart sunk when she realized that there wouldn’t ever be. She had no family, Ryan had no family and she had no friends left; Sarah and her sister were her only friends and now, Sarah was dead and she couldn’t bear looking her sister in the face. Thankfully, one of the flight attendants noticed her struggling to get around and came over to help. He grabbed her bags for her and called for a taxi who took her to the home she had shared with Ryan.
Her body felt like it took a sucker punch as she pulled into the driveway; this place had been a cruel chamber of torture for her and when she had escaped, she vowed that she would never return. The driver brought her bags into the house for her and then helped her up the stairs to the hallway. She handed him the money and turned to stare at the door; how was she going to get through this if she couldn’t even bring herself to go inside. Feeling the old anxiety and fear start to creep in, she felt like she couldn’t breathe and she leaned against the doorway for support as tears streamed down her face.
It took a few moments before she was able to step across the threshold and close the door behind her. Looking around, she noticed that Ryan had changed nothing since the last time she had been there. She took a few steps into the living room and noticed that their wedding picture still hung up above the mantle and suddenly, she was furious. Taking one of the crutches, she slammed it against the picture, breaking the glass and sending the whole thing to the floor. Using the crutch to help her, she made her way around the room, smashing everything in sight; at this point she wanted nothing but to erase everything around her. She didn’t stop until everything was broken and there was a huge mess in the living room; she found herself not caring about what was lying around her as she sank on the couch and started to sob. Her cries shook her entire body and she let everything out that had been building inside her for years. She was so drained that she eventually cried herself to sleep on the sofa.
A few hours later, she awoke and was startled to see her old house. It took her a couple of seconds to remember why she was there and to register the mess around her. She could just imagine Ryan’s face if he saw what she had destroyed and, for reasons she didn’t understand, she began to laugh. Just as hard as the earlier sobs rocked her body, her laugh began deep down inside and just came flooding out. Ryan was never coming back and at this point, she could smash whatever she wanted and no one would be there to demand she clean it up or to beat her because she had broken something.
After she settled herself down, she pulled out her phone and made several calls. The first was to Ryan’s lawyer, who told her he would be over the next morning to discuss what could be done with the house and any money that had existed. Her second call was to the funeral home; she explained that it would be difficult for her to get around so the funeral director offered to come to the house to discuss the arrangements. She really couldn’t care less if they stuck his body in a pit somewhere but she knew that she had to go through the motions of at least burying him with his parents.
Thinking she should make herself something to eat, she made her way into the kitchen and found the fridge and cabinets emptied. Ryan had been gone so long that there was no food left so Sam dug out the phone book and found a pizza place that delivered. She wasn’t hungry but she couldn’t take her pain pills on an empty stomach. Not wanting anyone to see the living room, she pulled the French doors across its entryway, cutting out the destruction she had found so liberating. She ate dinner that night in the kitchen instead of the dining room they had always used and slept in the guest bedroom on the first floor. There was no way she would spend a minute in their master bedroom and, even if she had considered it, the stairs would have been too much for her.
She woke early the next morning and showered in the small bathroom attached to the guest room. Dressing in a pair of jeans and a warm sweater, she made her way to the kitchen to wait for the lawyer and the funeral director; the latter arrived first. They discussed having a small memorial service a few days later so that his “friends” and co-workers could pay their respects. He had suggested burying Ryan in the same plot as his parents and Sam agreed as long as he was cremated and placed in an urn. There was no way she could explain this to the older man and thankfully, he didn’t push her about using a casket. She needed to know that there was no way Ryan could ever return even if it seemed foolish to everyone else.
She had a few minutes of reprieve before the lawyer showed up with Ryan’s will. He had brought the document to go over with her and she expected to go quickly as there was nothing she was entitled to. However, what he had to say surprised her.
“Everything is yours Sam.” he told her. “The house, the accounts, all of the contents.”
“There is NO way that can be right. I know Ryan had everything in his name and the last will we had done left everything to some school.”
Her husband had told her awhile ago that he was leaving her absolutely nothing; he said he planned on outliving her and, if for some reason he didn’t, he was hell-bent on leaving her penniless. He had actually laughed when he told her he was going to leave it to his alma mater so they would name a building for him; he was bound and determined to be remembered forever.
“That’s not the case. Everything that was in Ryan’s name is now is yours.”
“How did that happen?”
“When Ryan’s parents died, they left everything to h…”
“I know, he made a point to tell me that.”
“Well, apparently he forgot to mention that his parents left everything to both of you. The condition was put into the will by his mother to ensure that both of you would be taken care of. If Ryan was to outlive you, he would own the house and have access to all of the money. However, if you were to outlive him, everything would transfer to your name.”
Her mind was swimming; she had thought that she would just be here to clean up before someone took control of everything. It took her a bit to digest the fact that she could do whatever she wanted with his things and the house. The fact that his mother was looking out for her reminded her of how, as much as she hated their son, she had loved them like a second set of parents. However, none of those feelings changed what she wanted done.
“I want it sold.”
“You don’t have to decide that rig…”
“I want it sold. As soon as possible and for whatever you can sell it for.”
“Sam, you should get the best price…”
“No, I don’t care anything about the money. Sell it to the first person who wants it.” she demanded. “I don’t care what I get for it.”
The lawyer could see from the look on her face that she wouldn’t budge from her position. He jotted down notes about how she wanted things done and that she wanted everything in the house to be sold with the house itself. She also gave him instructions to set up a bank account in her name that could be transferred to another bank once she decided where she would be settling. After giving her the name of a cleaning crew that could come in and get everything straightened up, the lawyer made a quick exit, telling her he would have all the information for her in two days.
Once he was gone, Sam made her way back to the guest bedroom and lay down gently on the bed. Her leg was throbbing and she just wanted to close her eyes, shutting out everything around her; she was asleep a few moments later.