It seems that every day I discover new aspects of loss. I was thinking this morning of all the wonderful holidays Louise and I enjoyed together. We were fortunate that we had sufficient time and disposable income to take two holidays and usually a couple of weekend breaks a year. We were probably able to experience more in our 4 1/2 years together than many couples do in twice that time. I am blessed with a precious store chest of memories and photographs, for which I am very grateful.
Until now I have concentrated on the future that I have lost. I have been painfully aware that there will be no more of these holidays, no more of the things that we planned to do. We will never take that trip to Cuba, return to Kardamyli in the Peloponnese, enjoy road trips around Europe or share holidays together with friends in French gites. I will never be able to surprise Louise with the big present of a VW Camper Van that I so much wanted to be able to give her one day.
And of course its not just holidays. Its our whole shared future together that has been lost, everything that we planned to do with the house, the plays we were going to see, the books we were going to read, the films we were going to watch, the time with family and friends, the Christmases we were going to enjoy, the season ticket we were going to get Louise so that she could more regularly join me at Brentford matches. Most of all, the love that we were going to share, the support we would give each other, the nights we would spend cuddled up in bed together, the unexpected joys we would experience together, the sadness and disappointments we would work through with each other.
All this has gone and I've been acutely conscious of that loss from the first few moments. But what I hadn't really thought about much until now is the way the past has been so badly impaired that it almost feels that it too has been taken from me. Our time together was so short that none of the memories have sanctuary from the darkness of the ending. Had our relationship stretched for 10 or 20 years - not long in the great scheme of things but something which seems to me now to be an unimaginable length of time together - then there would have been a period at the beginning when those memories were not tinged with knowledge of the pain and horror to come. They could live on pure and unsullied.
As it is, however, 4 1/2 years offers no hiding place. Even the photos of our wedding 3 1/2 years ago, are now inevitably tainted with the thought of what was to happen so soon after. The brevity of our time together is sharply illustrated by the fact that many of the clothes we can be seen wearing in our earliest photos can also be seen in some of the last. Our relationship had the lifespan of an M&S shirt.
But there is something else which also robs me of the past I treasured so much and thought was securely stored for ever. Something which could never be taken from me. Without Louise, the person present in all those moments, I have nobody to share my memories with. There is nobody I can talk to about those times, who knows what it was like to be in the moment, who can recall what we did, what we said and how we were feeling, to reflect it back to me. Nobody to whom I can relive and enhance the memories by saying 'do you remember when.....?'
Somehow having nobody to bear witness to memory almost serves to invalidate it. The facts of what happened remain but the happiness which surrounded the most precious moments of my life has disappeared. Perhaps in time I will feel differently and be able to reclaim those memories for what they should be, but at present it feels as though I haven't just lost my future but also my past.