I was stood drying my hair in the mirror one day last week, thinking about you as always, when I suddenly decided I needed to post an update to your blog to let everyone know how the last year has been in my world without you. It felt the the right thing to do and hit me out of the blue.
The year has gone by so fast and lots has happened, yet I think of you every day, several times a day. When I used to hear people say it about loved ones that had passed on I never believed that they really did think of them everyday, now I know first hand you really do! You are with me at the start, middle and end of everyday, never far from my thoughts and sharing my ups and downs. I don’t feel you, or see you, but think about what you would be thinking, saying or doing and that is how you stay close with me.
Though is sounds ungrateful, I get fed up of hearing how amazing or inspirational I am, I don’t feel those things, I just feel I owe it to you to make the most of the things that you have been forced to miss out on. I get annoyed with negative people who sit and wallow, shit happens, but you taught me so much in the short time we had, about focusing on the positive and not the negative. Yes I have had a really tough couple of years if you look at all the bad stuff, but there are just as many good times mixed in with the bad, you just have to see them as more important. Clearly you were an excellent teacher of positivity! Don’t get me wrong I have my moments, don’t we all. It’s not wrong to be upset or miss you, but too much of it is a drain and stops you valuing the present and the future.
The morning you died, I didn’t know what to do, how to react or feel. I was surrounded, mostly by your family. A lot of people in our house, what were we all meant to be doing, i had no idea. I was tired, I had been up all night with you, but I did and didn’t feel like sleeping. My best friend Marianne was my rock. She automatically came to stay, despite having a new baby. She did nothing special, she was just there, for me, knowing me so well for so many years, she was simply a comfort.
I would have a cry in the shower each morning, not wanting your mum to hear me. 10 minutes to myself, then get up and carry on with the busy arrangements of your funeral, that were mostly sorted perfectly and without any fuss to me through the army. I was so lucky, I would not have had a clue where to start, but had it all sorted and paid for for me. These are the kind of positives in the negative situation that I was talking about. I remind myself how much worse things could have been. So many of your fellow melanomamates, struggle financially, lose jobs or have to move house, we were lucky not to have those additional worries. I would go to bed each night, talk to the photo on the bedside table and drift off to sleep until morning.
I was dreading your funeral, worried about blubbing away in front of all those people, but felt an overwhelming urge to behave in a “professional” manor and represent you and aside from a small wobble, I think that was what I did. I had the most overwhelming sense of calm as your coffin approached the level of my shoulder. At that point it was like your spirit entered me and given how I have been in the last 12 months, would say it must still be there!
You had the best drunken send off, just as you had wanted, a great funeral. Then we enter the next void. Life has to start to continue as normal, but what was normal now? When should I go back to work, continue the mundane daily routine? I didn’t want to go back to work, I was tired, I didn’t really miss going, so I decided to meet friends out in Slovenia and have a short break. I think people thought I was a bit odd, going on holiday already? The trouble was I had spent all that time caring for you, I had a lot of selfish urges. I started to buy new clothes, get a new hairstyle and do nice things for me. I think I had started preparing before you left and as all my friends will tell you, I got to the stage of saying I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was so physically and mentally demanding to look after you. I know that you had had enough too, I cannot imagine waking (when you actually managed to have any sleep), everyday fighting to perform the simplest of tasks, because you felt so unwell and everything was such an effort to do, yet you did and still supported me! There are so many people out there still fighting this disease, still battling everyday that have done it for so much longer than I did, yet they call me amazing and inspirational? Not at all, we do what we have to do, when we have to do it and it’s as simple as that! It wasn’t easy getting on a plane and leaving the country. You weren’t there, it was upsetting and wrong, but it was another hurdle to overcome in going back to my independent life and I am glad i did it, as I am sure you would have been too.
I needed a new focus to keep me busy, that was the running and the half marathon. You, I am sure would have thought it hilarious given how much I used to whine out running with you, but I enjoyed those warm summer evenings out pounding the road, looking at the countryside, wildlife and beautiful scenery. I felt healthy and was enjoying the things you couldn’t.
Then there was the question of the IVF process that we had started. I was due to start treatment in the July. Was it too soon? Should I still be going ahead with it now, was I in the right frame of mind and strong enough to go through the gruelling process that others who have had the treatment describe? One friend made the decision simple. Do you want and are you certain you want Mike’s baby? That was easy, yes I did! I wasn’t doing it to keep a bit of him, or bring him back to life. I wasn’t doing it for anyone except me. Mike and I had had the children discussion, as part of our married life we were going to try for children, I was just continuing with my life the way I hoped it would be, not living his dream, but continuing a course of my life that I would have been on anyway if he were still here. I was coping well with things, I had not fallen apart as I had expected, so went for it. I was back to work, life had started to return to that normality, so I did it and now at almost 31 weeks pregnant, I find myself again thinking, in spite of the sadness, how lucky I am to be having a baby, where so many other people are not so fortunate.
In the first few months after you left I had a few vivid dreams, dreams where it felt like you were there that night with me. These were the best feeling, but always left me waking a little sad. They weren’t especially exciting dreams and you didn’t impart much useful knowledge or support (which sucks by the way), especially as one of them consisted of you being snuggled up next to me in bed and complaining my toenails were too long as they scratched your leg! (Not a common occurrence for those of you out there that think this is a very strange, but funny dream). I have not had one of these dreams for a long time now, I miss that feeling of you being there, but my friend at work believes you pop back and say hello at times we need you, so I guess you will be back at some point!
Just so you know your best men really are just that. Both Phil and Murray have taken great care of me over the last 12 months and hopefully will continue to do so. They struggle too I think, but you men aren’t the best at communicating, although nor am I about my emotional state. I had to have words with your mum quite early on. I was probably quite selfish, but I couldn’t bare her sounding so miserable down the phone, so told her she needed to get a grip, find a way of distracting herself and enjoy her life as you would have wanted and previously had discussed with her. Surprisingly she took it well and appeared to perk up. You are still the golden child, which I find hard, as no doubt do your brothers and sisters and sometimes I could bash all their heads together, but I think that’s just in-laws in general!
All around people have been amazing and supportive and think of you often. So many have raised money in your honour and continued to stay in touch with me. I have been so fortunate, you knew a lot of lovely people.
So here we are one year on, still missing you, still trying to find our feet and my hardest times still to come. Moving house and knowing you will have no influence on it, no mans room, no geeky technology, no whining about me needing to sort soft furnishings, which I was always pants at anyway! Then labour, I have to get this baby out in one piece and manage to bring it up, knowing you without ever meeting you and fending off your mother at the same time :-), plenty more positive times ahead! Hopefully this will help other people in similar situations and you see I am making the most of my life, wishing you were here, but knowing it was obviously just not to be. Whatever you are doing up there to look after me, you are doing a great job, please don’t stop! x