Three months on and some magical thinking

A Year of Magical Thinking book

A Year of Magical Thinking book

Yesterday was some strange kind of anniversary. It marked three months since my husband died. Three months – where has that gone? Who would have thought I would have survived three months without him. Well I have, I am here, and although I’m getting by I’m certainly carrying round a huge, huge sadness that Roger isn’t here too.

I didn’t really think about the date until the morning to be honest. I mean I knew it was coming up, but I’m not one for marking sad times, I’d rather not dwell on dates and just focus on the good stuff. Three months feels like a fairly long time to be without him though, and it just makes me feel further away from him and the time when he was here, at home.

I’ve been reading a few books about widowhood lately. Widow is a word I don’t really like to use. As a journalist I’m used to it meaning just a single word on a line – but now it refers to me, at 38, who was only just getting used to the word wife when it turned into widow.

Anyway, back to the books. I wrote about one of them in my post on the laziness of grief, but since then I’ve got quite a collection.

The latest was a gift from my friend Bridget, and is called A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I’ve been reading it on the train to and from work, and parts of it have really struck a chord. In particular it was a section about how she couldn’t give her husband’s possessions away after he died, because what would he do when he came back? if she gave away all his shoes, what would he wear then?

Magical thinking

It dawned on me that I’m thinking exactly the same thing. I know theres no rush, but I’ve hardly moved any of Roger’s things from their place.

His clothes are still in the wardrobe – his wardrobe – his winter coat may have moved from the peg but it’s stored upstairs with all the others. After all, he’ll need it when it gets colder won’t he?

His phone contract may have ended but his mobile still sits next to our bed – on his side – just in case he needs to check his messages. The radio on his bedside table is still set to Radio 5 Live – not 6 Music like I always choose. I turned it on yesterday and realised it must have been for the first time since he was here that I’d done so.

I know I can do it in my own time – whether that be next week, next year, or longer – but I wonder when it will really sink in, and I accept that he isn’t coming back?

Will I ever really feel that? It’s not just me who has that sense either, the kids do to some extent, especially Florence, our youngest, who still asks me if she can see her daddy most days.

When she asks for juice she calls it ‘daddy’s juice’, as when we visited him at the hospice he always had a bottle of cordial on the table in his room. We’d put some in her cup as a treat and it became known as ‘daddy’s one’. I wonder how long that will go on? I hope it’s forever.

She and her bro have been my little saviours today. They’ve hugged me when I’ve cried, and Sam hasn’t even asked me to stop like he usually does. Flo has kept telling me how much she loves her daddy, how he’s her best friend, and how he’s very poorly and he died.

Sam has spent the day dressed as a cat in his new halloween costume (no surprise there as he’s always loved dressing up), but he’s suddenly taken an interest in football and bought his first Match Attax cards today. What this is I’m not entirely sure, but it involves football cards and swapping them (I think) and I just wish Rog were here to play it with him.

‘Do you think dad would be proud of me if he is watching me?’ he asked tonight. ‘Oh I know he would,’ I replied.

‘Do you think he’s watching us?’ Sam asked.

‘I’m not sure, but I hope so. I sometimes feel that he is,’ I said.

‘Dad, you’d better be watching, and not in bed,’ he said.

How could he not feel proud? I really hope he does.

x Julia

‘A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.’
― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Rog and Flo

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  • Reply
    Helen Bailey
    October 18, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Such a beautifully written post.

    You write: ‘I wonder when it will really sink in, and I accept that he isn’t coming back?’

    I have found that in grief I can be both intensely logical (he’s not coming back; I watched him drown; I saw his body; I went to the funeral) and yet still (almost five years a later) get a glimpse of a man in the street and experience a genuine flash of ‘It’s him!’ and have to chase the man down the street to double check. And the stab of despair when I see the man close up and realise it’s not my husband (in reality he looks nothing like my husband) is coupled with feeling foolish for thinking it ever could be him.

    Plod on. Plod on.


  • Reply
    Kat | Beau Twins
    October 18, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Grief is such a personal thing darling and you will get through it as best as you can. You are doing incredibly well. This post alone is a small part of the process. You write so eloquently and never fail to pull at my heart strings. Roger will be proud of you all. You never stop missing someone when they are gone, it just becomes easier to cope with and handle over time. Big love as always gorgeous and I’m always thinking of you and I’m always here if you ever just want to pick up the phone. We really must arrange a visit over to you soon. Xxxxx

  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    October 18, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Oh he would be so so very proud of your darling Sam and of all of you, you are always in my thoughts for you are amazing xx I just spent a weekend away with my family and it makes me realise how fortunate I am that my children still have both their parents, I wish I could take away this pain for you, I wish Rog could just come back, it is so unfair!! I am so sorry honey, much love and good things I wish for you all
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Family TimeMy Profile

  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t think anyone truly ever understands grief because it’s so unique to every person. It’s quite natural to turn to other people’s grief though and see how they dealt with it and I remember reading Joan Didion too. I think you are doing great by your kids, do keep talking to them about their daddy. My Daddy died suddenly when I was young and no-one ever spoke to me about him, it was like I had to move on and forget, or maybe they thought I was too young at 8. Now I realise I know so little about my Dad and there is no-one to ask and that just makes me sad. Much sadder than all the crying that would have happened during the grieving stages.
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  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    I can’t imagine how it must feel to be at this time in your life and in the situation that you are. You seem to be coping so well, with the children too. I can’t believe it has been three months already x
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  • Reply
    Beth @ Twinderelmo
    October 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Three months eh? Can’t quite believe how fast life whizzes by but somethings feel like yesterday.
    I went through a phase of needing to go see Mom at the churchyard everyday. I thought if I didn’t she would be annoyed as we always saw each other everyday. I cried about recycling a can of deodorant I’d borrowed from her as it felt like I was throwing her stuff away and desperately needed to cling to every thing.
    I love Sam & Flo. There’s nothing like a child’s take on it all that gives you a smile when the day seems incredibly black and bleak xxx
    Beth @ Twinderelmo recently posted…Home Birds – The Ordinary MomentsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mini Travellers
    October 18, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    and you have been amazing taking life by the horns and not just getting through but having some very special times too. You should be proud of those days when some days are just too hard. No rush to do anything, your grief is your own xxxx
    Mini Travellers recently posted…Family Holiday in France – To Ferry or To Fly?My Profile

  • Reply
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum)
    October 18, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Thinking of you honey. You should not have to go through this now, at just 38…I’m sure writing is really helping – and will no doubt help others too. You are doing amazing and Rog would be so proud of you and Sam and Flo. Keep talking to them about him and they’ll never forget him. xx
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  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 7:46 pm


  • Reply
    Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely
    October 18, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I don’t think you ever lose that small hope that they’ll walk through the door. I think it’s something that stays with you forever. It’s both heartbreaking and comforting, at the same time. When someone leaves such a big imprint on your heart, it doesn’t want to let them go xx
    Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely recently posted…Wine, chocolate and the best sea salt fudge brownie recipe EVER!My Profile

  • Reply
    sarah christie
    October 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Oh Julia I wish I could visit and give you a hug, you are coping so incredibly well with such dignity and like you should say these steps should be taken on your terms in your time x
    sarah christie recently posted…My Sunday PhotoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mummy Tries
    October 19, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Sending love and hugs your way, you are coping so incredibly well. Love the sound of that book, and the poignant quote at the end of your post.

    We’ve just lost my husband’s granddad, and have been reading ‘where do we go when we disappear’ to the kids. Thanks so much for the recommendation xxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…A Whole Day OffMy Profile

  • Reply
    October 19, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Ahhh Julia. I can’t imagine what it must feel like – having to ‘get on’ with life but still feeling so incredibly sad about what happened to you all. You’re being so brave though and coping so well. Sending huge love and hugs. Always. Jess xx
    mummyofboygirltwins recently posted…5 of the best armchairs (to fall asleep in this Christmas)My Profile

  • Reply
    October 19, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Your kids are so lovely and I think their Daddy will be looking down on them and be so very proud. Of them and if you too. Sending you lots of hugs.
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…A Month OldMy Profile

    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Thank you, yes they really are getting me through at the moment xx

  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 3:17 am

    I hope he is looking down on you three too, how proud you must all make him! Lots of love xxx
    Lisa@intotheglade recently posted…My Monday Quote!My Profile

    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks Lisa, I really hope so xx

  • Reply
    Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks
    October 20, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Such a beautifully written post. I don’t think you ever stop believing it might not be real, that each morning you wake and it dawnson you again. My dad died unexpectedly 3, nearly 4, years ago and I still think oh I must tell dad about that. My mum keeps him in the wardrobe so I pop by whenever I’m at home to tell him what’s what. Grief has no beginning, middle or end, it just is. Going on with your life doesn’t mean grief has ended its still there even ifit can’t be seen x
    Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks recently posted…Food for Thought; Baked Apple BombsMy Profile

  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Oh wow. I had tears reading this. You are so strong. Such a beautifully written post. *Big Hugs*

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    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      Thank you so much x

  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Wow, I cried. Thank you so much for sharing- it can be difficult but also a relief to put these kinds of thoughts and feelings into words and onto “paper”. Beautifully written. #twinklytuesday
    Elizabeth recently posted…Teacher Tuesday: classroom jobs in elementary musicMy Profile

    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you so much, a lovely comment but sorry for the tears! x

  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Beautiful, Julia. Even after the material possessions are finally put away or disposed of, it’s wonderful that Roger will always hold a place in the children’s hearts as well as your own.
    Tim recently posted…A day out at Avebury: 6 top tipsMy Profile

    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      That’s a lovely way of putting it, thank you! x

  • Reply
    Jade Munro
    October 20, 2015 at 11:12 am

    I’ve been in the background reading your posts over the months and have never really known what to say in a comment. This post had me in tears. You have such dignity and you write with such clarity. Your husband is definitely watching you with immense pride I am only too sure of it. But then, he knew you’d be like this, didn’t he? Strong, beautiful, sensitive, gracious….
    Keep writing, I take such inspiration from you.
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    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Ah thank you so much, that is a lovely thing to say! I certainly hope so xx

  • Reply
    Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap)
    October 20, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Three months really has passed so quickly. I’m not you ever can really accept or believe someone isn’t coming back sometimes. I say the words to my hubby “my Dad is dead” and it’s like they have come out of someone else’s mouth πŸ™ but as others have said grief is a process. I’m sure in time you may move things but then you may not and does it matter? I don’t think so as those possessions being around may help. Your children sound amazing and so supportive and grown up. I’m sure their Daddy will be so proud they are looking after you. Take care xxx #twinklytuesday
    Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) recently posted…How to deal with Cold Callers – the Chris way….My Profile

  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I really don’t know how you do it Julia. You seem like such a stong person and have raised such fantastic children. I do hope for you all that Rog lives on in your memories always.
    My aunt was widowed at around your age and had three children aged 6, 8 and 14. Now that I am almost that age too and have three children too it has really hit how difficult it must have been for her.
    Take your time with your grief, x
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  • Reply
    Debs @ Super Busy Mum
    October 20, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    What a beautifully sad post πŸ™ I had a lump in my throat as I read of your words. I cannot even imagine the daily struggles you face. Not even close. But as you said, your doing it, somehow, but you’re doing it. Much love xx
    Debs @ Super Busy Mum recently posted…A Curvy Kate Review: Luau Love TankiniMy Profile

  • Reply
    Hayley (@hayleyfromhome)
    October 21, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I think Rog would be so proud of you all, in fact I know he is! I don’t really believe in god, I’m not very religious and yet I always think when we lose the ones we love that they still look after us, keep an eye of things, check in. That’s not really logical but it makes me feel better. My heart goes out to you Julia, you have wrote this so beautifully. It is healthy to express all of this, especially for Sam and Flo, they get you through the bad days and I truly believe that you are helping them just as much. They won’t realise now but when they are older they will appreciate how much you talked about him, how you were as honest as you could be and that you didn’t hide your emotions. Sending so much love, as always xx
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  • Reply
    October 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    How could he not be proud? Of all of you. Julia, much love to you and your littles. I’m wiping away tears – I can’t imagine any of this, but I know that you’re amazing xxx

  • Reply
    Potty Mouthed Mummy
    October 26, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    This is so beautiful, as ever Julia. He would be so incredibly proud of you and those beautiful kiddies xxx
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    • Reply
      October 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Thank you – I really hope so. They are so optimistic – well Sam is – that he is always here with us, so I focus on that! xx

  • Reply
    Steph @MisplacedBrit
    October 27, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I’m so sorry Julia. You are a remarkably generous lady to allow others to come along side of your heart like this, and to allow others who are hurting to find a place they know they are not alone x
    Steph @MisplacedBrit recently posted…Spanish Tapas Calamari with Garlic and LemonMy Profile

  • Reply
    Nine months and still going - Rainbeaubelle
    April 28, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    […] 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, […]

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