I haven't written to you Sweetheart since my reply to your farewell letter. The tear soaked one that I somehow managed to read out to you while sitting next to your coffin in the undertakers, stroking your hair for the last time. The one that accompanied you on your final journey. I haven't really needed to write. I can talk to you at any time, no matter where I am. But today is special. This time four years ago we were walking on the clouds. It was the happiest moment of our lives. The day that we became man and wife. Our East End wedding.
Saturday, 19 September 2015
Louise was normally a confident passenger, happy to sleep while I was driving long distances. But on this occasion she couldn't settle and sat watching the road ahead anxiously. It was 2am and we were driving a strange hire car in the dark on unfamiliar Sicilian motorways, returning to our holiday villa a couple of hours south after a long, happy but tiring day trip to Mount Etna and the chic resort of Taormina. I was tired, feeling unwell and driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. Louise was alert to the risk of an accident. Three months before she took her life her will to live, her instinctive desire for survival was strong. This was not somebody who treated life carelessly. She valued it and did not want to die.
Sunday, 13 September 2015
I've been kidding myself in recent weeks. Proud of my strength and resilience I had begun to believe that I had mastered grief, that I was exempt from the setbacks and continuing struggles experienced by others. I was beginning to find living tolerable again and, trying hard to think positively, even to sense hope and opportunity. I know the theory. I've read the books, talked at length to those further on in this journey than myself. I should have known better. Grief might temporarily relax its hold but it doesn't give it up that easily. It merely changes its grip, alters its character.
Saturday, 5 September 2015
An image sprang in to my mind the other day. It was of one of the iconic pieces of Great War film footage so often replayed on television; grainy and rudimentary newsreel coverage of injured troops, all of them blinded, marching unsteadily, their hands outstretched holding on to the shoulder of their comrade in front. None of them could see but despite their incapacity they were each able to help others suffering similarly. And by this means everybody was able to make the same journey along the road to safety. It struck me that there were parallels to be drawn with the young widowed community, a group of vulnerable, grieving but immensely resilient men and women groggily but generously helping each other through the most shattering of experiences.