It is now nearly four years since my husband died – such a stark statement, and one I still find hard to write, let alone accept. Since then, Grace has been suggesting, cajoling, persuading, OK, let’s not beat about the bush here, nagging me, to write about life without the love of my life – for that is what he was and still is. Amatus amans – loved and loving.
When I look back to that first dreadful year without him, it is a complete blur. My coping mechanism was action as, while I was doing, I wasn’t thinking quite so much. This translated into a tremendous amount of shopping (something I’ve always found a great comfort!), several trips away and, probably the best decision I made (well, again nagged into it by darling Grace!) the acquisition of a dog. Not just any old dog you understand, but a dachshund puppy who now, three and half years later has not replaced the love of my life (nothing and nobody will ever do that) but comes a pretty close second!
The hardest thing for me back then were the nights. Sleeping pills didn’t do it for me. I’d still wake up at 3 am feeling horrible, with a dreadfully dry mouth, and knowing I wouldn’t close my eyes again that night. I then moved onto Sauvignon Blanc with exactly the same end result, although getting there was considerably more pleasurable!
As I was wife number two, and a decade younger than my husband and, as he already had three sons, we decided against children of our own. (I’ve never been very maternal, always preferred dogs to babies!). But after he died my extended family became my lifeline and my rock, always there for me (then and now) with countless invitations; Grace checking I wasn’t alone on a Sunday (always a difficult day for we ‘singletons’ – ghastly word!); grandson phoning and sending texts… that’s how I got through the really bad time.
And, of course, I can’t begin to imagine what I would have done without girlfriends. I am the first of my friends to be widowed (another ghastly word!), apart from one girlfriend who had trodden the same path before me. She has been such an amazing support – we have cried a lot together and laughed a lot together and certainly drunk a lot together – and have decided that in his wisdom, God must have put us together to look after each other in our dotage!
Nearly four years down the line, my default mode is still the same, action, and I certainly manage to do that on a daily basis with an allotment, Pilates, French lessons, not forgetting a small dachshund who needs walking every day. There are things I still find difficult, particularly evenings by myself with no one to discuss TV programmes with or to laugh with, certainly other couple envy, silly things when you are chatting to friends and they talk all the time about “we” – I hate that… the list could go on and on.
If I am honest, I can’t say it gets any easier, well, not for me, but one learns to manage the pain better. I miss my lovely husband every day, but I try to think how blessed I am to have shared the love we had for 37 years….oh dear, now I’m making myself cry!