Nola Dlepu

Echoes of Loss 

The late morning is beginning to warm up; the early winter sun producing a weak heat. Roseanne walks through the glass doors into the warm and welcoming reception area. Two red high-backed sofas meet at an angle. A small table holds a vase of fresh flowers and a selection of health and organic lifestyle magazines. The tiled floors, the cream walls, the framed art, all match harmoniously. In the corners of the room, plants in big pots seem to breathe life on their own.

Roseanne takes it all, wrinkling her nose at the spicy smell of a flower whose name she cannot remember. Lately, it has been like this, finding it difficult to remember simple things. Her mind is like a bustling noisy machine, difficult to turn off.

The receptionist greets her with a friendly smile.

‘I’d like to join a class,’ Roseanne announces, too shy to say much more. She fills in the forms. She will join the 12h30 group. As she walks into the studio, she feels a sense of belonging.

She’s been seeing a therapist over the past year, trying to untangle her entangled spirit. She can’t believe that she’s finally reached this stage.

Roseanne sits in the small studio coffee shop and orders a cafe latte. It tastes better than the one she had last week at a posh coffee shop where she had met Zoë – their regular Thursday coffee date, usually filled with superficial chitchat.

But last week’s meeting had been different. Roseanne had sat, filled with nervous anticipation. She had an important announcement to make.

‘I’m leaving.’

“What do you mean, you’re leaving?” Zoë had asked, the surprise in her voice carefully controlled. 

‘I know it seems like a drastic move,’ Roseanne said. She had to handle this delicately, carefully. She didn’t want to offend Zoë. But she did want Zoë to see her point of view, not think she was taking an easy escape route. She really liked Zoë, but sometimes she felt her friend was blinded by all the glitz and glamour surrounding them. They had met through their husbands: lifelong friends, hard-working men, making dough in buckets and flashing it too – expensive gifts and ostentatious German sedans.

Over a year ago, she had told Zoë about how unsettled she felt – that something was missing in her. She couldn’t give it a name – all she could say was that it was a strong nagging feeling. Zoë had been taken aback. She couldn’t understand it. Roseanne had everything: a mansion on an estate, a wealthy man, a 4×4. She even played golf on weekdays! Not to mention that she was one the first customers Liz & Jean phoned when a new batch of designer clothing hit the boutique.

‘You’re so ungrateful, Roseanne, such a grouch,’ Zoë had said. ‘How can you complain, when you have a life made in heaven?’

After that, Roseanne had decided never to raise the subject with Zoë again.  Instead she decided to seek professional help.

Last Thursday’s meeting had been different though. She was feeling confident, ready to face the reality of her feelings and speak to her friend candidly. ‘Just let her know how you feel,’ her therapist had said, ‘and take it from there.’

‘I’m leaving,’ Roseanne repeated the words. ‘Leaving Russell. Actually I have left, already. Left it all behind.’

Zoë was dumbfounded, her mouth hanging open in amazement.

‘His lifestyle, our lifestyle. It’s not what I want, Zoë. I felt so empty, unloved.’ She looked at her friend.  ‘I tried talking to him, several times. To tell him how I felt. But he couldn’t understand what was bothering me; he was always too busy to sit down and listen. He felt we were living the dream. And whenever I said “It’s a lifestyle and I want life”, he would look down in a patronizing way and say, “What’s the difference? It’s life with a style”’.
Zoë’s eyes were still fixed on her. ‘And then, I thought maybe that’s it; maybe that sort of style makes me profoundly unhappy. And once I’d worked that out, the only thing I could was to leave him.’
‘I can’t believe what I’m hearing, Roseanne,’ Zoë said.
‘I know you probably think I’m being stupid, and believe me, I’ve asked myself a million times if I was asking for too much, but I couldn’t continue living like that.’

Roseanne scooped the last teaspoon of froth from her latte. ‘The only times he seemed to need me was to make a grand appearance in a designer dress for a work function, or,’ she laughed wryly, ‘when he wanted me to show up in a fancy negligee. Even when we were on our so-called holidays, he was busy with his cell phone and laptop. “Business,” he would say. “Business that lets us afford us this holiday and all the luxuries back home.” But you know what, Zoë?’ Roseanne spoke fiercely and firmly, ‘All I ever wanted was love, companionship, sharing. What I wanted has no price tag, and all the money he makes could never buy it. And that’s where the misunderstanding lay.’

As they were leaving the coffee shop, she leant over, and kissed Zoë on the cheek. ‘I hope we can still be friends, Zoë? Let’s try to keep in touch.’ And then she had walked away, leaving her friend staring after her, still slack-jawed.

Roseanne finishes her drink, and walks towards the dressing room. She is smiling, pleased with the new beginnings. Therapy, and now a yoga class – good start. Zoë would never understand her choices. But for the first time in years Roseanne feels a sense of fulfillment; she has found herself – her soul.