Everyone is on time for the next session. Rosamie looks pale and fragile.

Callum thought long and hard about whether to bring up his indiscretion, but decided against it. He would address it if it came up.

“How are you doing, Rosamie?” Callum asks kindly

“Not so good. I know I should feel better that something found, but I not.” She bites her lip so she won’t cry. “I go to give my daughter-in-law Antonio’s wallet, but she say she don’t want. This make me very sad. She say she no longer wants me to see her as her new man doesn’t like it. I cry all night. She so hurtful.”

The tears Rosamie so desperately wants to keep inside start to flow again.

Yvonne makes a loud clicking sound and a sigh.

“Do you want to say anything, Yvonne?” Callum asks

“No…yes…no…forget it.” Yvonne crosses her arms defensively.

“I sense some anger there,” Callum says.

“I sense some anger there,” Yvonne repeats mockingly. “Why can’t you guys talk normally.”

Callum waits patiently. Yvonne stubbornly ignores his question. The group is silent except for Rosamie quietly crying.

Finally, Yvonne speaks, “I don’t mean this nastily, but should Rosamie be in this group still? She’s got her closure. If I knew what happened to my husband, I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting in this fucking chair.”

Amanda hisses, “Stop being such a bitch, Yvonne. Rosamie only just got her husband’s backpack from the mountain. They haven’t found his, you know, remains yet.”

“Look, all I know is that this group is supposed to be for people that don’t know where their loved one has gone. She knows now, they’re dead, so she shouldn’t be here.”

Amanda stood up this time. “What a callous bitch! No wonder your husband left you.”

Yvonne got up and went for Amanda. Dale stood up and tried to intervene. Callum quickly got up and forced himself between the two of them, keeping the women apart.

It’s like a scene from a bad sitcom. “How did this happen?” Callum thinks to himself.

“Okay, let’s all take a few breaths here, please,” he shouts as he gently pushes Yvonne back in her seat. Dale is holding onto Amanda’s shoulders, afraid to let go. Reluctantly, Amanda sits back down.

Callum stayed close to Yvonne in case she gets up again.

“Right, Yvonne. You are clearly upset, so let’s dig a bit deeper here and tell us why?” Yvonne nearly spoke, but thought better of it. Defiantly, she turns her body away from Amanda and Callum. Yvonne says nothing.

“Okay, how about if I guess what might be happening and you can tell me if that’s it?” Callum didn’t wait for an answer.

“I believe, Yvonne, that you are upset, angry, frustrated, not with Rosamie but with your situation. Rosamie has some tangible evidence of what happened to her son and husband. There is no such relief for you. Am I right?”

Yvonne turns to face the group, tears running down her face. She doesn’t speak, but fiercely nods.

“It’s okay to be angry; however, it is not okay to be negative to a group member.”

Yvonne was openly crying now, her hands covering her face.

“I would like you to do a forgiveness exercise with me, all of you.” Callum sat back down on his chair.

“This is a Hawaiian prayer and can be very powerful. Everyone, please repeat after me; I’m sorry.” He waited until everyone joined in. “Please forgive me (please forgive me); thank you (thank you); I love you (I love you).”

“Yvonne, if you could break this down a bit further,” Callum said.

“What do you mean?” she asks in a croaky voice.

“Direct your message to Rosamie. You can say something like, ‘I’m sorry Rosamie for upsetting you. Please forgive me. Thank you for being a member of this group. I love you.’”

Yvonne takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry Rosamie that I was a bitch. I’m just upset you’ve found closure and I haven’t…what else?”

“Please forgive me.”

“Okay, please forgive me. I have a big mouth. I love you.”

“Thank you, you must say thank you.”

“Sorry. Thank you Rosamie for being in this group. I love you.”

“Now, Amanda, you’re turn.”

“Oh, alright. I’m sorry, Yvonne; I called you a bitch and said no wonder your husband left you. That was nasty. You could say the same thing about me and my daughter. Anyway, please forgive me, thank you for being a member of this group and I love you.” Amanda then goes to Yvonne and both women hug each other. They then got to Rosamie and hug her.

“I feel left out,” Dale pouts. They all go to Dale and hug.

“That was very powerful. Thank all of you.”

“Don’t you have something to say?” Yvonne asked Callum mischievously.

Callum blushes. “If you’re referring to the last session, yes, I’m sorry I farted; please forgive me, it was very crass. Thank you for being understanding and I love you.”

Everyone applauds and Callum laughs.

“To get back to this session, we do have to address some issues that have arisen with the discovery of Rosamie’s husband and son’s backpack. I feel personally that Rosamie should stay in this group until its completion. There is a lot of grief for Rosamie to process and many of the tools that we are learning apply to all kinds of grief. There is also a need for more complete closure for Rosamie and I’d like to suggest a field trip.”

Callum outlines a trip to the mountain to a spot where the backpack was found or to the area that the two men were known to have snowshoed. A remembrance of sorts could be done; laying of flowers or a burying of some item of the men; perhaps a cross put up in their memory and some sort of speech given.

They would have to get permission from the mountain, but Callum didn’t think there would be a problem.

Spring was coming, but it had not yet arrived. The mountain still had some snow. The group pick a weekday when the mountain is less busy. Permission is granted to put a small cross to the side of the snowshoe trail. This trail was frequented by Antonio and Rodrigo. It was not where the backpack was found, but that area was too difficult to access. Rosamie also said she was going to put a plaque up at the start of the trail, commemorating her son and husband. This was to be done at a later time when the weather was warmer.

The group is allowed to ride the gondola by themselves. The weather forecast is for rain and rain it does. This makes for a difficult hike to the trail. The course is slushy and slippery; luckily, everyone is well equipped for the cold and rain.

Out of breath and flushed, the group arrives on the snowshoe trail. Rosamie places the homemade cross a few meters away from the middle of the trail. Dale has a small hammer and he pounds the pointed end into the ground. It simply reads “Rodrigo and Antonio RIP.” Amanda and Yvonne put some artificial flowers around the cross. The weather seems to have kept other people away, as they are alone. Rosamie stands silently in front of the cross. She bends her head in prayer and says something in her language. The others stand silently behind her. Rosamie then unclasps her cross from around her neck and places it around the bigger cross. When she has finished, Rosamie looks at the group. There is rain on her face mixed in with the tears. “The heavens are crying, too,” she says in a faltering voice. “I am so blessed that they were in my life and that they did not die alone. They were together. I pray that one day I will join them in Heaven…” She breaks down in sobs. The group gathers around her to give her support.

They make their way back to the gondola. No one speaks until they arrive at the information center and shelter. “Let’s go inside and have a coffee or tea, warm ourselves up,” Callum suggests. There is a consensus of yes, so they go in.

Rosamie is quiet until they stand up to leave. She puts her hand out to motion everyone to stop. “I like to say how grateful I am that you all came today. It make me feel good. Thank you, thank you so much.” She puts her hand on her heart. Again, there is hugging and tears.

The return trip on the gondola is silent and suddenly the sun comes out. Looking up to the mountain peak, a beautiful rainbow appears. Rosamie smiles and blows a kiss in that direction.

The group session continues and there are only three more sessions of this particular group. Callum realizes that he will miss this group of people he is counselling. They have found a special place in his heart. He knows all about boundaries, but some connections are harder to break than others. He is thinking about this when he checks his email. There is one from a Michael Middleton with the subject reading “Relative?” Probably a scam, but he’s curious, so he opens it.

“Hi, my name is Michael Middleton. You don’t know me, but I believe I am your half-brother. I think you and I share the same father, Gary Middleton. He changed his name from Gavin McLeod. I can’t tell you where I got this information as the source doesn’t want me to say. Sorry, this sounds a bit weird, but after my (our) dad died, I found out about his past life and about you. I’m hoping you will want to meet up with me. I know it’s a lot to take in, but please think about it and get back to me. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you. Kind regards, Michael.”

Callum re-read the email several times, not quite believing it. He then clicks on the attachment. It is a photograph of Michael and his father. Callum enlarges the picture and looks carefully at the images. Michael looks like he was in his early teens, but he sounded older in his email; was it an old photo? Michael’s father looked like his father; older, of course, with some grey hair. Callum compare the photograph to his own. Although Callum was 9 or 10, apart from the dark hair and eyes of Michael, the photograph could have been him a few years older. Unmistakably, they are related.

Callum shut the laptop and pushes it away from him with force.

“What the fuck?” he says aloud. His heart his thumping and he feels sweaty. He grabs his car keys and jacket, heading out to see his mom.

Callum knocks forcefully on the door of his mom’s apartment. Margot answers, a smile on her face as she realizes who it is. Callum pushes past her, standing tensely in the middle of the living room. The smile soon leaves her face and with a sigh she sits down on the couch. “What’s going on?” she asks.

“Did you know about this?” Callum shows her the email of Michael on his phone. He clenches his fists while Margot reads it. “Fucking Denise!” She hands the phone back to Callum.

“Sit down.” Margot states quietly.

Callum continues to stand, breathing shallowly.

“SIT DOWN!” Margot shouts this time.

Callum sits in the chair opposite his mother. “Well?” he says

Margot’s shoulders slouch and her head bends down. She avoids eye contact with her son.

“When, when your dad disappeared. About six months after, I got a call from him…”


Margot sits up, looking defiantly at Callum.

“I got a call from your father.”

“And you didn’t tell me; that’s unbelievable.”

Margot puts her hand up to stop Callum from saying anymore.

“He said that he was sorry he had left and you know all the bullshit he spun; how much he loved us, but he had to go.” Margot’s eyes well up with tears and she wipes them furiously with her hands. Sniffing, she continues, “He said he had another woman in his life, Denise, and that she was pregnant with Michael and he wanted to start again, a new life, but he couldn’t have any contact with us anymore.” Margot stops to compose herself. Callum realizes his eyes are tearing up, but he keeps still. He sits, frozen to the seat.

“Anyway, I beg him to come and see us, and if not me, at least you, his son. But he’s adamant that he can’t do that; it would hurt his new wife and the baby. He asks me for a divorce and, at first, I refuse. I say he has to come and see you but he says he’ll send us money; you know, support if I do what he wants. He says I can never tell you all this, otherwise the payments will stop. I, I, didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any money. I worked but not enough to support us. How, how do you think I got you through university?” She looks up imploringly at Callum, but Callum is now stone-faced, looking straight ahead.

“So I did what he asked and he kept his word about the payments, until you were 21. I said that he should come clean after that and tell you what’s been going on. But he stopped contacting me and I didn’t know where he was or anything until Denise called. She said your dad finally told her about us about a year before he died. Maybe he knew he was dying? I don’t know. He had a fatal heart attack. I’m surprised he had a heart.” Margot smiles at her joke and continues. So Denise tells their son, Michael and he wants to get in contact with you. I say no. There’s too much water under the bridge by now. Fuck off, I say. I actually told her to fuck off! Ha! But I guess they had their ways and now, well, now you know.” Margot throws her head back on the back of the sofa and throws her hands back in surrender.

Callum, slowly gets up and walks out the door, shutting it quietly behind him.


For all installments of “Unforgotten,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1