12th chapter

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Nora spent another afternoon locked in the bedroom, which was now devoid of any light, even daylight. Darkness suited her. It was the only way for everyone to leave her alone, including her own mind. She dreamed every night. She also dreamed every afternoon while taking a nap. She would dream of disgusting things. Something completely abstract, but it would take all of her energy. She would also dream of either the police officer's voice, the funeral, or the accident, which she had not witnessed, but her damn head kept imagining it. In that dream, she would always see mom and dad sharing a look right before the crash. She was in a vicious cycle in which she had to sleep because she did not have any strength to live, but her dreams exhausted her even more.

It was physically demanding for her to take a step or eat or talk, walk, think. Any action, even the smallest one, made her so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. She was terrified to think, to sleep, terrified of herself. Everything she did, she was doing mechanically. She fed Jana mechanically, she ate and showered mechanically. The feeling of emptiness inside took over her physical body. Sometimes, a slight emotion would come through, her body's desire to shake off the darkness overwhelming her. But nothing would ever change.

She was falling apart in front of Viktor's eyes. Two weeks had passed since the funeral, and Nora barely spoke ten sentences. She was sleeping the entire time, did not eat or speak. Viktor tried everything, but nothing worked. He had never been surrounded by such sadness before, and he did not know how to handle it. He did not know how to help her get out of it.

He stayed home to take care of Nora and Jana, feeling miserable that there was nothing he could do but to leave her alone. Every night when he would lie beside her, he could feel her pain. He would hug her, but with every touch, she would start to cry more. Her tears ached. Her pain and immense sadness hurt.

Between taking care of Jana, letting Nora sleep as much as she wanted, and trying to get her to eat at least something, Viktor also worked from home so he would not have problems at work. His mom told him that the situation was going too far, but he assured her that Nora just needed time to pull herself together. And no matter how long it was going to take, he would be patient. It was up to him to make sure everything else is under control so she could recover. The reason he knew everything was going to be okay was Jana. As hard as it was for Nora to go through this, and for him to look at her like this, he could see the comfort Jana brought to Nora at this challenging time.


- It's great that you take care of everything, but I'm not sure it helps her case – Monika told Viktor kindly, assuming he was sick of constantly getting unsolicited advice from everybody.

He thought about it while bathing Jana and putting her to sleep. Nora fed her, kissed her, and went back to bed without saying a word to Viktor. He decided to listen to Monika's advice because he realized that the situation was getting worse day by day. But he was still concerned, so his mom agreed on checking on Nora while he was at work.

Determined to find a way to help her, Viktor sat down and turned on his laptop. For nearly three hours, he was reading about recognizing symptoms of depression. Nora did have most of the symptoms he came upon, which made him hopeful that the tips from that article could help. According to a psychologist who went through depression herself, Deborah Serani, there were several ways for Viktor to contribute to Nora's recovery. He decided to follow all of them: being there for Nora, using small gestures to show his love and support, not criticizing or being harsh, not diminishing her pain or offering advice, not comparing her circumstances with someone else's, learning about depression, and having a lot of patience.

His first day back, Viktor was completely unproductive. His mind was with Jana and Nora. Maybe he should have taken Jana to his mother. But then Nora would have spent all day in bed again. This way, she would at least have to take care of Jana. At least she would get up. He left work early and found his mom in their apartment.

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