My beloved husband, Kent, died in January 2012, 3 years after diagnosis of a brain tumour. Our son was 2 1/2 and our daughter 3 months old. He and I were far too young. I am now hurtling through the black space of life without him.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ordinary Conversation

The little guy is in to talking about birthdays at the moment and the other day in the car he got talking about family birthdays, including Daddy's. "I miss Daddy," I said. "Yes. He came in a box home. There were screws on the lid. Why? ... Why Mummy?" I don't know. I don't what to say. It's all blank. There's nothing. I'm 35 years old and I'm talking to my 2 1/2 yr old son about why his Daddy, my best friend, the man I married forever, came home to our lounge in a coffin. Why are there screws on the lid? Well I don't know. Not in this blank moment. I can't even come up with a lame "I don't know." The topic shifts to birthday cakes. Oh good I can do that. We've arrived home in the driveway. "Do you think Daddy would like a chocolate cake or a banana cake?" "Both!" he answers. Now we're talking. He continues. "Daddy could have cake in heaven, and there will be grass and he can have a picnic rug." Oh dear God how did it all come to this? Dear God I hope there is cake in Heaven.

Feeling the Waves

They say that grief come in waves and I would have to agree. The falling-to-the-bottom-of-the-pit grief I mean, not the constant ache. But it's not just that it hits like a wave, you can feel the ebb and flow as well. You can feel it coming, moving in towards you and you know it will soon hit, and afterwards it leaves you soaking wet for a while.


When you can't not cry anymore you have to lie down and cry, and when you can't cry anymore you have to get up and not cry. And so it continues.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


I look at old photos sometimes. You know, of Kent. It sounds very obvious, and very movie-like. Hugging clothes in the wardrobe, gazing at photos and listening to answer phone messages over and over - that kind of thing. But I do look at photos. They bring him back a bit. It's awful that this is what we now have. I hate hate hate that he is to become a memory. It's unbearable. It's horrific, inhumane that people can, as the bible says, become one, and then for it to come to this.

We have a lot of photos from our travels. I wanted to soak up every place we went to and not forget it. And now if I look at photos it's not the mountains and streets and lakes and churches that I want to remember. To think that we took all those photos and all I want to see is him. To think that I spent so much emotional energy being homesick while we were away, and trying to hold on to all these places we went to in an attempt to carry them with me always.

I bought a postcard in France just before we returned home and gave it to Kent on the aeroplane. It has a picture of a couple of kids riding a merry-go-round aeroplane and talking about flying around the world. I commented on the back about all the wonderful things we had seen in the world and said "and still my favourite place in all of it is beside you."

Oh and in case you're wondering...

... the battery pack held by the staff at the port was flat! They charged it up over night and got us jump started in the the morning. And squeezed us on the next sailing. It was a very long trip home, but we made it!

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Kent and I bought a campervan when living in London, and took it round various corners of the UK to have some practice runs and iron out any problems before spending 6 weeks in Europe. And boy did we do a lot of ironing! Everywhere we went numerous problems occurred (there was an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman... and every one of them had to come to our rescue!). When we left for Europe Kent's workmates were starting a sweepstake on how far we would get, and noone betted beyond Dover. The amazing thing was that we got round our whole 6 week Western Europe trip and not a single thing went wrong except a little overheating on the Swiss Alps - which I always thought was pretty reasonable, it would happen to the best of us.

But our earlier trip to Ireland was particularly bad. We got a puncture and needed help replacing the tyre. And we broke an axle. Various helpful men who looked underneath to try and figure out what was going on would swear and then say "someone up above was looking after you." Fortunately by this time we were at the end of our journey, in Dublin, and we were not far from the port where we were to get on a ferry back to Wales. After many phone calls and much discussion with local mechanics, our only option due to time constraints (we had to get back to work) was to get the van taken back to London for us and have it fixed there.

So we were towed to the ferry and left at the very front of the queue nice and early, where we planned to limp our poor van very carefully on to the ferry, limp delicately off on the other side and then get ourselves on to a truck for the long haul home.

After quite a wait for the ferry to arrive, and vehicles queuing up behind us and beside us, it was eventually time to get on. Kent turned the key. Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. We got the attention of the staff, cars were waved past us, and we kept trying. The engine wouldn't start. The wonderful staff, who we were soon to develop a long-term relationship with, went and got their battery pack to give us a jump start. It didn't work.

And that was that. Seriously. How could the engine not start even with a jump start? We were completely broken. Not only was the axle stuffed, we couldn't even limp on to the ferry. Helpful staff floated away to get more important things done, and we just sat, completely out of solutions. The ferry that was to take us home roared off in front of us, and we watched as it sailed in to the distance leaving us behind. Stranded, broken, confused and far from home. I'm not sure if I can remember another time in our lives together when neither one of us could come up with any kind of possible solution to a problem. We were all out.

And now here I am. Stranded, broken, confused and so very far from the one who was my home. My hope and my dreams have disappeared somewhere beyond the waves and there is no solution.

The great thing about last time - which we didn't realise then because it was just normal - was that we were in it together. We were towed out to the street to get out of the way, we went out to buy dinner and we tucked in to bed for the night, desolate, unsure what to do, but together.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A vinegar week

Perhaps it's a revelation, perhaps it's obvious, but time doesn't heal from day one. Yes there are ups and downs on the graph, we all know that, but actually, you don't start at the bottom on day one and go roughly up from there. There is a numbness at the beginning, they say. And I think I had that numbness. I read that if you felt all the grief in one hit it would kill you. So it is drip fed. Actually, no, sometimes it comes in floods, but it's not all there at the beginning. It does feel as though you are completely packed full of it, but compared to what is to come, it has barely touched the sides.

So the line on the graph of grief goes down for a while. I don't know when it starts to go up. I fear how far it has to go down first. This week it has felt as though the numbness is wearing off. Memories of the thousands of things Kent and I have done together have been flashing through my head all this time, and sometimes the intensity of memory and sweetness of feeling his nearness are extreme. The more I can feel the exactness of what life was like with him before cancer the better, and the worse.

A dear friend recently wrote a kind and beautiful and insightful letter to me in his blog which you can read here, and suggested that instead of healing, time pours vinegar on the wounds of our grief. Indeed, as I drop down the graph, I am feeling the vinegar this week.

I'm sorry, but...

The last post was probably enough, but there is something similar on my mind that for some reason I have to say out loud, though I am struggling to find the right words tonight.

I think we think we will be protected from such tragic things happening to us. Perhaps your God will protect you, He loves you too much to have you experience such grief. Or the love that you have within your family is so strong it can't be ripped apart. The history you share with your loved one is too deep, the dreams you have for your future so wonderful, that nothing could stand in the way. But I can't, I can't let you think that. Because if you do, what does that say about us? We had it all. We had the love, we had the depth, we had the dreams, we had the history, we had the future. We had the family. We had it as good as it can be.

I'm sorry, I know it's mean of me. You don't really need to be made to feel vulnerable. This won't happen to you. It only happens to one in whatever, and we're the one and you're the whatever. I just need to say aloud that what we had was as good as you can get and still it has been taken.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


I have learnt a lot about fear too. Well, I have experienced a lot. You know the phrase about sweating with fear. Back in early January I used to wake in the night with damp soles of my feet. Fear coming out through my feet.

Afterwards, I couldn't really be bothered with fear anymore. I had no energy left for it. I was living my worst fear and there was no room for imagined fear. But it does seem to be creeping back in. The problem is, I've learnt that nothing stands between me and tragedy. I suppose we tend to think we are going to be OK, things will work out alright. God, The Universe, Fate, Inner Strength... whatever it is for you, will take care of you. But I know bad things happen. To me. To us. And without wishing to be too over the top about it, I have no reason to believe there is any protection in place now any more than there has been. I know a woman who lost 2 husbands and a child to cancer. That's her story, not mine, but I know that bad things can happen once, and they can happen again. I wasn't immune, and I'm still not immune. It's a hard to lesson to have learnt.

This is not about optimism or pessimism, faith or belief. It's about experience - which is my focus at the moment. I wonder what your thoughts are on this. Whether you will clamour to tell me that it's all going to be ok, that I will be ok. What you will base that on. I'd like to hear.


I'm hanging from a rope over the side of a cliff. Then a net comes, ropes, promises, hope, threaded underneath me, keeping me safe.
Then the rope is cut. The net has gone. Kent is falling too. He has landed in the water, and I'm left splattered on the rocks.

Monday, 7 May 2012


Oh it's a rough read isn't it? I really should provide tissues. Other blogs I have read by young widows have been more about daily life, so though their every day is permeated by grief, the reading has a little more in it to give a little more balance. But my reason for being here is mainly to put my grief in to words, and so you are getting the worst of it. There's plenty more I'm afraid, I have many things in my head yet to write, just so little time to do it.

A while back I looked up old online chats between Kent and me, recorded forever - God bless Gmail! It's wonderful to have them, and brings Kent right in to the room when I read them, though as always the good memories bring the pain in to sharp focus. Here's one that you might enjoy... just for something different...

me: hi there love
Kent: ullo
me: how are you doing?
Kent: yeah, pretty
(the first applied to me, the second, to you...) :>

Saturday, 5 May 2012

In Public

Thank you, so many of you, for reading and getting in touch. In my first post I talked about why I find writing helpful, but I have been wondering why it is that I am doing it in a public space. I'm not entirely sure. I think it makes my writing better. I think that each time your hearts break a little it helps to give mine a little boost. You're sharing the load. I think it is easier to have people know how it is for me.

I'm curious about the tradition of widows wearing black. It seems right to do something dramatically different as life is so dramatically different (I read on someone else's blog about widows in another culture shaving their hair off for that very reason). Also it tells people what you are living with. Or without, I should say. It could save many an awkward moment. And it might mean people playing music in public spaces will think twice about what music they play when they see you coming. I don't know what Pak n Save are thinking, playing "Memory" followed by " I Will Always Love You" when I'm just trying to get my groceries done. The tears in my eyes nearly squeezed out when I whacked my foot on a sticking-out-bread-rack. But Reuben saved the day by saying "can I kiss it better?" I declined, as he was sitting in the trolley, but he stroked my hand as we moved to the next aisle, and we got out of there unscathed. Well, no more scathed...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Half asleep

I think
I might bump in to you
If I stretch out a limb too far
But there's all the room in the world

I think
I hear you breathing
Right there next to me
But it's our little one beside me

I think
I'm falling through space
It's black and it's empty
And it has no bottom and it has no end

Beauty and ugliness. Beauty and pain.

I drove home recently after a sunny day and there was a beauty in the world. Dusk was falling, the trees were inky black against the bright sky. Beauty brings pain these days. I have always felt the two are somehow not far from each other, but even more so now.

Immediately after Kent died the world felt so ugly. I know that where he is there is only beauty and what we live with here falls so short. I resented the ugliness. Now I see that there is beauty here too, but oh how even that hurts. It would seem right, perhaps, to take comfort and receive some kind of joy from these things. Beautiful music, the smell of a garden at dusk, a good meal, a starlit night sky. But music seems to breath my pain, I look for Kent in the shadows of the dusk, and he is further away than the stars. Beauty has been ruined for me. I wonder if one day I might get it back?

Perhaps Kent is closer than the stars. I will never visit the stars, but I will see him again.