No more firsts

So here we are. There are no more firsts left. The last of them was on 20 April which was the anniversary of the funeral. The second most painful day I have ever experienced. I had him brought home the night before so I could spend as much time as possible with him and so he could leave from the house we made our home in, to make his final journey. I had decided that night that I wanted to carry him into the Church the following morning and although it was incredibly hard to do, I am so pleased I did because its one of the things I take comfort in when I am having a bad day. I also know he would have been laughing at me almost walking on tip toes to try and keep him straight.

Everything about the service was beautiful. Chris, Paul and Gill stood brave and proud to deliver the most moving eulogy I have ever heard. The church was packed to the rafters and when we said the final goodbye at the crematorium, Dave’s request to me to make sure “Burning Down the House” was played as his Liverpool red coffin disappeared, left everyone in no doubt that Dave would always have the last laugh. That was so typical of him. His final song was “You’ll never walk alone” which of course, was synonymous with his beloved Liverpool FC. No-one could stay seated and we had our very own “Kop” moment in memory of Dave.

So where am I now? For a few days last week, I felt like I was in limbo and a little bit lost again. There has always been the next “first” to get to and although I always dreaded them,  now there aren’t any, its just something else that is different and I have to find other things to focus on. I suppose this all goes hand in hand with “moving forward”. I do feel like I am moving forward too. I smile a little more when I go through my pictures of Dave and remember the good times we had. There is obviously the stab of sadness when I think of the memories we cant ever make, but that wont ever change and I know that.

I started to go through his things yesterday. Most of them hadn’t been touched since he last put his clothes away but rather than feeling a desperate need to hold onto everything now, I find it more painful to see them there every single time I open the wardrobe. I have over the last 12 months taken most of his favourite shirts and had them made into teddy bears for me and his family. They are beautiful and can be kept forever. His other things, well most of it will go to cancer research. He didn’t buy clothes very often but when he did, he always dressed well and he would want someone else to have use out of them and. I only managed one part of the wardrobe as every time I picked something up I’d recall where and when he wore it or bought it and did I have any pictures of him wearing. I put things in different piles and realised the “keep” pile was just as big as the donate pile so I went through them again and was a bit more sensible about what I should keep. By the time I was finished, I was completely red faced and snotty and felt emotionally drained. It had done me good though. Sometimes, finding the time to have these moments where I can just remember “us” can be really difficult but they are something that I really need now and then. I think I would just explode if I didn’t.

I feel that it helped me move forward a little and I know these are things that need to be done. No one said it would be easy, and it bloody isn’t but now the firsts are all gone, it seemed like the right time to start. I have learned that grief doesn’t get smaller, your new life just grows around it to help make it more bearable and being able to smile and laugh at the memories does actually come a little easier.

 

How is it a year?

Last Saturday, when most people were getting their last minute Easter Eggs and the meat and veg for their Easter Sunday lunch, I was coming to terms with the fact that it was now a WHOLE year since my Dave left. Ironically, Easter weekend where us Catholics believe Jesus died and rose again 3 days later. I know he isn’t going to come back to me, I accepted that  a good few months ago because its really the only way I could start to deal with the pain of losing him.

So how was it? How was the BIG DATE?. To be honest, I found the 2 weeks leading up to the anniversary much harder to deal with. The anniversary of when he was taken to hospital on 21st March last year and we were told nothing more could be done was harder on me. I suppose that’s because during the time he was fighting this bastard disease, we had always, always had hope and that kept us both going. On the 21st March 2017, that hope was utterly gone and it broke me and all I wanted was to get him home. He came home the day after and was thankfully, pretty unaware of what was going on most of the time. He still managed to make us smile when he whispered “sssshhhhhhh” when Father Paul was here with him and everyone was chit chatting and when he puckered up for a kiss when asked for one. Those 9 days he was home were precious. Both families were here all the time and he wasn’t on his own for a second. He was so loved. He will always be loved……and missed……and talked about……..and so remembered.

When he took his last breath, he was surrounded by love and as heartbreaking as it was, I am so thankful it wasn’t prolonged, he didn’t suffer for months and months as so many do and he had his family with him. For me, I think that is why the anniversary itself wasn’t as difficult to get through because the memories of the build up to his death were far harder to deal than the day itself. The anniversary was spent with mine and Dave’s family just as the day itself last year was. It was nice to talk about him and remember him and share a few tears together. We let off some (biodegradeable!) balloons on the golf course and ended up laughing when a balloon got caught around his sister Gill’s neck and wouldn’t fly off and his brother Paul’s balloon went floppy. That would be something that would have made Dave crack up laughing so it made us laugh too.

It is still hard to believe that a whole year has gone by though. I look back on the last year and can see how far I’ve come. Most of the “firsts” are over (just his funeral anniversary now) and I’ve got through them,  I’m making decisions I didn’t think I’d ever have to make, some of them really tough ones, I have become more assertive and I have also accepted that I have to plan a different future than the one I want, because I can’t have it anymore. My fairytale is over. It’s been the most difficult year I’ve ever had and I’m still learning who the me without Dave is because it wasn’t supposed to be that way. As ever, with all the wonderful support I have, I am able to get through the tough days and my family and friends do everything they can for me. My schoolmates brought me a red rosebush in a planter to mark his anniversary and its these thoughtful things that make me realise that I am so very lucky to have them all. Dave the Rosebush now sits next to the bench in the garden so I can spend time in the garden in the summer months.

To you  my darling, Rest in peace. I will love and miss you always xx