It’s nine months now since I lost my husband, Roger, to cancer.
I can’t say the pain of loss is getting any easier, but I do feel like I can cope with those desperate, dark feelings a little better – even if I can’t predict when they will come.
Despite the past few weeks being filled with special days for our family – like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays – it’s been the times when I’ve been reminded of him and it’s caught me off guard that have been the hardest. I can prepare for a birthday, but I can’t prepare for those moments when I forget what’s happened and think he’s still here. The moments when I think you see him in the street, or crack a private joke and remember there’s no-one there who gets it anymore.
It’s the times when I want to tell him something, or ask his advice and know that I can’t. When I wonder if he’d like something I’ve cooked, or something I’ve written, even something I’ve just watched on TV.
And like all those times when I want to ask his advice on everything from where to go on holiday, how to fix the dishwasher (he told me to renew the warranty, I never did), to making more grown up life decisions like should we move house, how to get the right mortgage, all the bigger things.
All those times are when I’ve missed him the most. When I most need a hug, he’s no longer here; when I put my arm out in bed, he’s no longer there either. Mostly, that one’s not so bad as I usually reach out and find my son there with the ten or so toys he’s sneaked into my room with him.
What I’m finding is it’s all about learning to be in the world without that special someone who makes you smile. Learning to live without your favourite person, your other half. I so often think of what Rog would have said to life’s ups and downs. He never took himself seriously and a day wouldn’t go by without him teasing me, or joking around about something. He had the Liverpool sense of humour and loved a good wind-up.
He was so easy going, such good company and we rarely disagreed. When I think about how much I’ve lost I can’t bear it. I know I’ll never find another like Rog, nor do I want to, but it breaks my heart to think about it.
Despite all this I see so much of him in our children. The other week, when we were at a craft fair (where we bought our fairy garden kit), Sam systematically moved from stall to stall, quizzing each owner about his or her products, how they were made, how much they cost, how they took them home.
It really made me smile to see he has definitely inherited his dad’s inquiring mind, sharp interviewing technique and attention to detail. Rog was a tough sub editor and there was no question you could ask that he hadn’t already thought of! I did wonder what he would have made of his son giving these sellers the third degree – no doubt he would have laughed and pretended he was nothing like that himself.
Sam’s also inherited his dad’s taste in music, always insisting on AC/DC in the car, turned up loud, so he can sing along to Girl’s Got Rhythm (back seat rhythm). Awkward!
He’s not the only one who loves a bit of rock, as I caught Florrie sitting on the loo yesterday, singing sweetly to Highway to Hell. Her dad would have been so proud!
When I read back to the posts I wrote after three and six months, I’m glad I put my feelings down on paper as it makes it easier now to see how things can progress. At three months, I’d just started to read a few books by women who had been widowed, some I could relate to, some I just wasn’t ready to look at.
I remember when I was sent the book When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis by Helen Bailey, she herself messaged me to say it was ok if I wasn’t up to reading it yet. It would make a good doorstop, or drinks mat, until I wanted to delve into it some more. At this time, Helen is missing from home and I really, really hope there is some good news of her soon.
The books did help, not only to find a sense that I wasn’t on my own, but also to have someone say it was ok to feel the way I did. It’s quite a comfort really, as sometimes voicing your true feelings out loud can sound ridiculous to people who haven’t been through the same thing. Everyone wants to hear from someone who has been through a similar experience about something don’t they, and maybe this is why people really like to read my blog posts about loss.
So reading my three months on post back now, I kind of feel like I have and haven’t moved forward. Roger’s clothes are still in the wardrobe; his belongings are still in our room. But I’m starting to put in place something which I started thinking about at the six month mark. How to plan for ‘option b’.
The fact that I’m starting to think more about our future is a big step, as it’s something I wouldn’t have been able to focus on a few months ago. And with the arrival of spring a bit of warmth has come into our souls, with our first picnic on the beach (albeit a cold one), our first restock of ice lollies in the freezer, and a Portuguese summer holiday to look forward to.
These things might be without my favourite person, but they are still happening, and they are happening alongside my two little pieces of Rog – my noisy, cuddly, manic but pretty happy kids. I wonder how we’ll be feeling 12 months on – but I know wherever we are, we’ll be thinking of our missing piece.
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