I never expected this

It is now one year since my wife Mary passed away. She was the light of my life and I will miss her forever.

This last year has been difficult for everyone but on a personal level I must tell you that it is only now I am starting to realise the effect it has had on me.

All my working life I had been a fixer but the one thing I most wanted to fix I couldn’t. That was the hardest to accept. Even though I knew it was coming it was still a shock when it happened.

I did what I had to while still in shock.

Throughout the whole of this I kept myself busy with garden and house maintenance chores that have to be done regardless. I was having regular video/audio calls with my sister Melanie and Mary’s younger sister Lynn. I felt grateful for the support they offered me.

Apart from the first few weeks when my head was all over the place (I had some very strange ideas at one point) I tried hard to appear ‘normal’, answering the ‘How are you’ questions positively, but looking back I see the true place my head was at. Nobody saw and I didn’t share the dark thoughts I had in the quiet times when alone at night.

I’d always enjoyed a glass or two of wine but two became three, then four until a bottle a night became normal. It did stop me thinking too much though.

Mary and I had shared everything. She cared for me when I had my knee op and I cared for her as her health failed at the end. We had planned for so much more.

I had lost my wife, my partner, the one I had cared about the most. More than that I had lost my purpose and all the plans we had made together.

I tried to come up with replacement ideas. Mary had helped with the cricket book. It worked for a while – I enjoyed my holiday in Voyager. Meeting family on the trip was good but on reflection visiting cricket grounds around the country on your own is not exciting. I managed three on one day but essentially I was taking pictures of empty fields.  I’m sure continuing posts on Instagram and Facebook would have been of limited appeal.

After my holiday things began to change with the pandemic. Varying degrees of lockdown for a long time. Calls with family decreased as everyone has their own lives and problems to worry about.

I hadn’t been looking forward to Christmas or the New Year. The pandemic meant no family gatherings anyway but even if they were allowed I wouldn’t have joined in. I was in my dark place with my smiling mask showing to the world.

But then something happened in mid-December that changed everything.

Julia, a friend of ours messaged me, asking me to tell Mary that she had lost her husband Richard to Covid.

It was hard telling her that Mary had passed as well. I felt really bad having to add to her grief and she felt the same for me. We continued chatting over the coming weeks, each of us understanding how the other felt. Neither of us accepting the ‘doing OK’ ‘feeling fine’ comments we were so used to using. We both knew the same black hole.

Our text chats soon became video chats and over the coming weeks we dug each other out of that hole. We found lots of things in common with similar likes and dislikes.

I have never been a believer in the afterlife but I have felt some things since Mary’s passing that make me believe she is helping me from afar, sometimes by stopping me make mistakes and recently by steering Julia and me together.

No one can know how things will turn out but, in a much better place than I have been in for months, I feel I have a chance at being happy again.

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