Grief has an uncanny way of catching out the unwary or the overconfident. I've astonished myself at how well I've been coping in recent weeks. Of course the underlying sadness, bewilderment and sense of loss is ever present but I've been conscious, 4 1/2 months in, of a steadying of the emotions and at least a partial re-engagement with the world. My concentration levels at work are much improved. I enjoyed an evening at the cricket with friends without feeling the need to constantly talk about Louise. Some sort of routine, empty though it may be, has begun to emerge. For the first time in 133 days I even went a whole 24 hours without crying. But my pride in my resilience was misplaced. This week marks the fifth anniversary of Louise entering my life and it has completely floored me.
I didn't expect it to. I had negotiated Louise's birthday, the first in the spread of dates that were once joyful landmarks but will now forever be potential trip hazards, relatively well. And we never marked the week during which we moved from online contact to telephone conversation to a first date within days, with anything more than a fond passing comment. We invested significance in the anniversary of our wedding rather than that pizza near Victoria Station. I was confident that I had things under control. So I'm taken aback to find myself returned to a state of vulnerability, of raw overwhelming despair and rivers of tears.
It was probably not a good idea to look back once again at those first emails or to recall, through my diary entries, those early conversations. Moments which profoundly changed the course of my life. Louise cautiously but hopefully articulating the type of emotionally intelligent and fulfilling relationship she dreamed of. Words which now jump off the screen and bring to life once again the person that I came to know more intimately than any other, and which speak so poignantly of the hopes which she was able to realise only for such a cruelly brief period. Just as a book can't properly be understood until we have turned the last page, it is only now, when I know the end of our story, that I can place the beginning in its true context. The knowledge that the hope, excitement and ideals were destined to be transformed into loss and tragedy has turned the fairy tale into something infinitely darker.
I am bewildered by the way in which Louise could explode into my life, from nowhere, take it over, become my world.....and then disappear in an instant, in the time it took me to discover her body.
But as I look for solace I understand that she hasn't disappeared. Louise will remain with me forever. Not just in my heart and memories but in the tangible legacy that she has left me; my new found self confidence, the interests she introduced me to, her influence on my way of looking at the world, my adopted 'in law' family including six nephews and nieces, her friends that became mine. Louise brought all this to me and more. Everything that I am today and everything that I will be in the future is down to Louise. For so long as I live, so does a part of her.