Since Col died I have had many versions of the following said to me. “You’re amazing. I couldn’t do what you’re doing.” People often follow that up with, “I would simply fall apart if [insert their various partners’ names here] died.” Really? Do you think so? I am not so sure. I wanted to fall apart and yes I actually did a little bit in those early weeks. I wept inconsolably, instead of looking after my children I crumbled and let others take the brunt of their care, I didn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I saw no future and I had split seconds where I thought as there is no future I will walk out in front of that car. But not keeping on going just wasn’t an option and most placed in this horrific position manage to do so too. It’s not like I was sent this particular life challenge because I am more resilient, amazing or otherwise than the next person. I am not. If or when your life takes this awful turn you too will keep going, albeit by the skin of your teeth, and you will also be told you are amazing. I am not one to turn away a compliment, of course, so every man and his dog can tell me what a fabulous human being I am if they want, but I know that there are countless men and women like me, just keeping on going in this life as best they can just when they don’t want to anymore.
However, in low moments, when I think I am a static lump of unachieving widowness, I also pat myself on my back for some of my amazing feats in the face of death. Just as you should too when it happens to you, if it hasn’t already of course. And if it has done, well I am so sorry for your loss, but please do this list as you’ll see at the end of it that you are amazing too. Oh I know my list may not look like much to some but these are giant leaps for widowkind in my little world of survival. These are the things that will make me believe it a tiny bit the next time someone tells me how fabulous I am for being a grade one, expert widow who is doing so fantastically well, better than anyone ever who has ever trod this path before. Aye right.
Just some of my amazing Widow Year One feats:
1. Keeping on breathing.
2. Waking up everyday.
3. Bringing up two children under two. OK that’s getting easier as Evie is nearly three now but hey I managed to breastfeed a baby while grieving a husband. I like to think that’s quite an achievement.
4. Driving. I’ve always been a rubbish driver. Colin was our designated driver while I was limited to trips to soft play centres or supermarkets. I have now driven the length of the UK several times and that’s astounding in itself. Nevermind that Col pretty much died at the wheel of our car. In the week after his death I got back in and drove and didn’t let my head think about the hands that had gripped that wheel less than a week previously. I simply had to because I wanted to be the one that took his suit, his shoes, his cufflinks and his tie to the funeral directors. It was the last thing I could do to care for him. So I had to drive that car. I had to be in control of the hideous task at hand. And I know that I am not alone.
5. Seeing his body. I went to see his body at the funeral parlour. I had to do this. His death was so unreal. He hadn’t been ill for months. He walked out the door fully healthy and didn’t come home. I wanted to see him from the moment I learnt of his death but had to wait almost a week. It was horrific. His body was not him. I could barely touch him and had to almost turn and run. But I had to have that last goodbye.
6. Speaking at his funeral. I stood up in front of 400 plus people and spoke to Colin as if I were talking to him directly as I said his eulogy at his memorial. I knew all those people were there, judges, barristers, his clients, his colleagues, our friends and our families, but as I spoke I felt like it was our personal conversation.
6. I bought a house. Negotiated the price and bought a house. I packed us up and moved us out and moved us on hopefully to start a new future.
Amazing old me. Back slap. Back slap.