Funeral Daze

This time last year my house was crazy mad with people coming and going. Everyone wanted to express their shock at what had happened to Col. In a daze people came and went into and from my little bubble of trauma. People do feel they have to come when someone close to them dies but when they do they don’t have a baldy clue what to do or say to his widow. So in your new widow status you sit there and almost comfort them by saying that you’re ok, that you’re devastated but you’ll keep going and then you ask them the weirdest of questions. None of which I can remember asking or indeed the answers given. But things like: “Did he have a nickname for you?”, “Do you remember the time that he did this or that?”, “Can you help me by buying him a new tie for him to wear in the coffin?” and “Can you tell everyone who ever knew him that he has gone because I want the world to know what they are missing?”.
The best of family and friends kept my life going in these early days this time last year. I was still breastfeeding Isla so the option of Valium wasn’t offered but I did take the milk-friendly sleeping tablets to get a few hours respite here and there from this new unreality I was living in. Decisions had to be made though. So when I wasn’t howling under my duvet or sleeping a drug induced sleep, funeral directors had to be appointed, coffins had to be chosen, venues confirmed, music thought of and ministers spoken to. Thank God for all of those involved because I just didn’t really care one jot about the little details. I just wanted Col back and not to be having to think about organising a funeral for him. However, I did want him to be proud. I wanted the people who valued and loved Col to see just what an amazing man he had been and come away from his memorial service touched by the life he had lived.
Colin’s mum was fabulously supportive and didn’t need to be asked she simply stepped in to cover the costs while I was still wondering if I still had access to our joint accounts. His work was astounding, particularly his boss Fiona who made it possible for us to have a memorial service at Temple Church in London. His close friends took on so many little jobs that made it all happen and the end result was a day that I have been told over and over again was a fitting tribute to the man it was all for. I hope so because it almost broke all of us who loved him to pull ourselves together to make it so.

Temple Church
Temple Church

Destination Unknown

Getting to the anniversary of Colin’s death was like travelling toward the little flag on my Sat Nav that marks the end of a journey except this flag waved D for D Day, day of death as well as destination. The  25th of February was something to travel towards but when I reached that place on Monday I wasn’t quite sure where next. I certainly don’t want to go back to origin like my Sat Nav usually asks when I get to where I want to go as that would take me right back to the first day of this journey of grief. And that would be quite rubbish. However, I don’t know what we are aiming for now that I am over my year of firsts, all those anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas that have now all been done once without Col. Now he feels even further away because every day that gets lived now now adds up to a year and another day without him. Hmmm. I can no longer say it’s less than a year since he died and I don’t quite know how that makes me feel. Yes it means we have managed and got through the 12 month mark but what destination should I be typing in the Sat Nav now? I have no idea.
I do know that there is absolutely no way I would have got to that one year mark without the amazing people I spent Sunday and Monday with. The mix of kids and adults there all had one thing in common – missing Colin. We all had our moments of sadness and the Colin shaped hole did loom over all the fun and conversations but all the gatherings proved to me that the girls and I have a solid support network of friends and that each of them will be part of our journey, wherever it takes us.Image

Reconnected

I have told my sad tale so many times over the last year, particularly over the last week, that I became disconnected from it. Telling it was easy because it felt like it was a story. I am nearly 49 hours and 14 minutes from the second that Colin was pronounced dead a year ago and I have realised once again that this is not some film script or novel plot, this is my life. As I approach that minute when my world turned a familiar feeling has come back to haunt me. Nausea. I felt sick for months after Col died. I think I managed to eat one square of chocolate and a pot of yoghurt a day for the first two weeks after. Today that feeling of completely and utter horror that I am never going to see my love again and it’s a nearly a year since we spoke, shared the same air and physically touched each other has returned and I’ve been weeping.

A journalist noted this week that I was stoic and tearless. I am not. I had just forgotten how to feel and I’ve just remembered and now I want to forget to again because I simply feel like I did on February 25th last year. Sick and horrified and absolutely bereft. Oh Col……I love you.

Winging It

Evie asked me last night for some new wings. When I asked her why she said it was because she wanted to fly to Daddy In The Sky and her current wings (four pairs) weren’t good enough because they were pretendy wings.
The last week has been all about me in my head and I have forgotten two other major players in this drama called “Our Lives After Colin”. I’ve made a couple of major decisions and not really thought about the two girls. On D Day I want to be with the support network of friends in London that was so important to me in those first weeks after the trauma of Col’s sudden death. I didn’t really think about how it is for Evie. She now connects her memories of London life directly to Colin. It’s as if she thinks we just left him there and when I told her that we fly down on Sunday to stay with his friends for a special day she asked me if Daddy would be there. When I said not in person but in a sense we might feel close to him by all being together and remembering how funny he was she said, ‘but he’s very far away, isn’t he?’.
It’s so hard to know what to say. I feel I have been remiss with Evie this week as the blog stuff went mental. I was all over the place, taking calls, talking about Col in front of her to strangers, considering mad dashes to London and having reporters in our house ask questions about Daddy and his death and its aftermath with her on my knee. What an idiot? I don’t think my brain was fully engaged. My gut reaction was to ask them here when she wasn’t around but I didn’t stick with it. She’s coped so well considering but I am going to keep the girls out of it from now in. It’s simply not fair. The journalists were very nice and very lovely to her and myself but still…idiot, idiot, idiot.
I know myself that she’s continually working things out. She’s obsessed with daddies. Ask her if she wants a Peppa Pig yoghurt and it’s usually the one with dumb, old Daddy Pig on it. When we go to soft play places and there is a rare daddy there (I never go at weekends and whatever you say it is usually a female dominant domain from Monday to Friday) , she kind of hangs on the edge of the poor man playing with his kids until he has to involve her. Just as when couple friends come to visit she ends up being quite cuddly and loving to the male partner. And she is simply besotted by my brother-in-laws.
She will love this weekend because all those close friends of Col’s who promised to be in my children’s lives after he died are popping by during our visit. But there will be an element of why are all these people here for My Daddy, why is he not here when there are all these daddies here for the other kids. But that’s no different to her other days really. It will just feel sadder because when all of us do gather, these amazing friends, I simply keep remembering the man that brought us altogether in life and death and Evie and Isla will only have our memories to get to know him through. No amount of wing flapping, real or pretendy, will ever bring them close to him physically in this world of ours.

Much Love To ALL

A happy little shot of me and the girls to say to the world…we’re ok….ImageI would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of support, kind messages and love, really. Life went slightly crazy yesterday when the Daily Mail published extracts from my blog. It’s been amazing and so wonderful to hear from others that have either suffered the loss of a partner or parent, friend, brother, son…the list goes on. There are messages wishing me strength and stories of suffering that would make your toes curl. There have been generous strangers donating to my half marathon in Col’s memory. It’s all so overwhelming but in a really, good and positive way. So thank you all. I will reply individually as soon as I can.

On the comments on the actual Daily Mail site there are many most upset with me though. It’s haunted me a little. I would like to point out to those people angry with me for removing my wedding rings…I have not. I moved them to my other hand and wear them there alongside Colin’s wedding ring. This was my choice because I hated people assuming as I am going through my daily life with the girls that I was happily married to an alive husband. I am not and this way people get a little heads up when they meet me that things are not quite as tickety boo as I would like them to be. I remain in love with Col and I remain ‘married’ to him in that he will always be part of me, the girls and our lives. I hope that makes a little more sense to the incensed.

Hearts & Flowers, Not So Much

It was of course hard to miss that yesterday was Valentine’s Day and it would be so easy to write a negative post about how rubbish it felt to not feel to be part of the world’s big gush of love. But some lovely friends, old and new, and kind family members worked their magic to make it all easily passable. So big love to them. To be honest, out of all the commercial ‘happy’ days in the year it is by no means the hardest…I’ll save that honour for the now rather irksome Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but that’s a whole other blog post.
So what does a widow do on Valentine’s Day? I spent an anti-Valentine’s Night Out with my new widow friend and we discussed, amongst other cheery things, children’s grief. I had switched my TV on for five minutes during the day yesterday and it just so happened to be blogging widower Benjamin Brooks-Dutton and Jeff Brazier on ITV’s This Morning talking about how to cope with young children coping with losing a parent. It left me thinking for the rest of the day about how I have spent the last year preoccupied with how my two-year-old Evie is coming to terms with life without her daddy and I haven’t spent half as much brain space wondering how it will be for Isla. Benjamin and Jeff were on the sofa discussing their children missing their mothers and I was bamboozled thinking yes Evie misses daddy because she remembers him. How will Isla, who was nine-weeks old when he died, feel when she realises she had less time with him, a few blurry shared photos with him and no real moments that she can conjure up in her head? I’ve had people say to me it will be easier for her to deal with as she’ll just grow up knowing that’s how it is, she has no daddy, it’s simply the status quo. But is this right? Surely it may be worse for her because she’ll know that Evie had more time with him?
My friend’s little girl wasn’t even born when her husband died and she’s had similar comments. How can we really know that its worse for our toddlers than for our babies? We can’t.
Now that I look back on our first year with Evie I admit, though I never would have done at the time as it was a sensitive topic, that she was a really hard work baby. But Colin adored every minute with her. I can remember the way he drank her in with a deep breath as he gently kissed her head goodnight, the way he proudly walked with her as she took her first steps and the way he over-worried about her as she careered around playgrounds. I then think to when I was pregnant with Isla as all these things were going on and how he told me he worried that he wouldn’t be able to love another human being the way he loved Evie. He shouldn’t have worried at all because on her arrival he fell instantly in love with Isla Baby. But it’s so wrong that he only had nine weeks to drink her in, isn’t it? If he could see her now he’d be overwhelmed by how loveable she is. She’s now walking. He’d be boring work colleagues with her feats. She looks like him. He’d be pretending that he felt sorry for her for being ‘so Campbell’ but inside he’d be fit to burst with the pride of it. She is easygoing. He’d be telling me that she’d taken after him in personality too. She charms rooms full of people. Again he’d secretly take that as a bit of a chip off the old block. I just so wish that he could be here so he could see it all, all the Islaness of her and then people wouldn’t be telling me that it’s going to be easier for Isla. It’s not. It’s just going to be different.
Happy Valentines chat, eh?! Actually, aside from quite a bit of widowness chat we did have a few giggles over a nice meal with wine…but I’m not sure our table topics would have been that popular with the loved up populace. Ach well.