Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Letter on our Special Day

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.

Do you remember how you were literally shaking with nerves as we stood at the altar? How overwhelmed we were by the ovation we received from nearly 200 of our family and friends as we walked hand in hand into the reception? How we were so busy kissing that we barely noticed my Best Man burning himself trying to light the candles on the cake right next to us?  How everybody, without exception, told us it was the best wedding they had ever attended? 

I spent every moment of that day reminding myself to savour everything, to remember every last detail. I thought that it would be a day we would recall together for the next 40 years. As we danced that night away (well OK, you danced, I stood and swayed with you) never, in my worst nightmare, could I have imagined that less than 3 1/2 years later the photos of that day which we displayed with such pride would be the backdrop to your death. That I would be returning to the wedding guest list spreadsheet we created in order to invite people to your funeral. That everybody, without exception, would soon be telling me that yours was the best memorial service they had ever attended. 

Now all my carefully nurtured memories of the day are darkened by the shadow of what was to come so soon afterwards. Every picture of your gorgeous smiling face, the very definition of life and joy, shocks me, leaves me gasping for breath as I try to understand yet again how it can be that something so precious to me, so familiar to me as you no longer even exists in bodily form. I'm not sure that I can even grasp the concept of what those words mean. No. Longer. Exists. 

I have been dreading this day for months. It is one of the anniversaries that stand like formidable road blocks on the route through grief. I have watched it approach helplessly, unable to alter the course of the calender. The date has become invested with far more significance than we ever gave it when you were alive. The need to remember is so much greater when it is all you have left. 

But in fact memories are not all I have left. I am still blessed by the profound way in which you changed me, made me a better person. You gave me confidence in myself, stretched me, challenged me, helped me to understand my own needs, taught me compassion, the need to hear others and to avoid judgement, enabled me to appreciate the wonderful natural world around us, to glory in the joyful possibilities of life and to see the beauty in everybody, even where most see none.

I still have the gift of your friends and family who have become my friends and family. And most of all I still have our love for each other. Mere absence, even through death, isn't strong enough to eradicate that. It still nurtures me, sustains me. The grief which I have endured over these eight long months, a period which feels more like eight years, is in itself an expression and a consequence of that love. All the indescribable sadness which I have borne and will continue to bear to the end of my own days is a price worth paying for the privilege of knowing the joy and strength of our bond.

It would be wholly wrong to come to fear this most special of days in the years to come.  I am determined that it will remain an occasion to celebrate our love and our enduring marriage. The one wedding vow which we barely noticed at the time, the one that added the caveat  'Till death us do part' may now cause me so much anguish but I disregard the meaning behind it. Nobody suggests that siblings or parents and children cease to be related upon death and so it is nonsense to suggest that we cease to be married. We remain husband and wife. There was no divorce settlement, no loss of feeling. We simply happen to be physically separated by circumstance.

It may be that I will eventually find happiness again with somebody else but there is no contradiction in this. It is something which I know you fervently hope for me. The human heart has no limit on its capacity for love and you will be held no less tightly. I promise that you will never be left behind. You will come with me into that relationship, your values will continue to guide me, your memory will continue to be honoured. My love for you will endure. As your husband I will forever be both the luckiest and proudest man in the world.

Sweetheart, I am still yours. You are still mine. We are still One. 


  1. Wishing you peace, Gary

    1. Thank you so much Sarah. The sentiment is reciprocated.

  2. Gorgeous wedding pic and beautiful post.

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