I once travelled happily alone. Then the most beautiful thing happened and suddenly I was half of two; two became one. But before I could start to document our life together, his life was tragically gone. My darling Ems is now in the bright lights of Heaven and I remain. This is the story of my journey from here. Gratefully a journey that One whose ways are above all of ours takes with me. One day I'll reach those bright lights for myself but until I do, join me on my journey, keeping memories close.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Winter Days

More snow has arrived.

While many excitedly prepare for another 'snow day' off work or school, I find myself dreading the isolation that comes with the snow.

I'm staying at my parents for the forseeable future. This means being 'home' in the house I lived in from age 0. Yes, not many live in the same house all their lives these days but other than 4 or so years of uni, work placements, travel, etc, I'd lived in the same house from newborn to last June when we got married and moved in to our new house together. I never imagined that being at that home would ever feel so wrong [N.B. no disrespect to my parents who have been nothing short of amazing these past few weeks, thank you]. It's just being with Ems was home in every sense of the word.

The house I was brought up in is situated in the countryside with a couple of miles of lanes before you reach anything you can call a 'main' road. When the snow comes, access becomes a problem, as the gritters are focused on sorting out the well used routes rather than our lesser used lanes.

Thus, snow makes for isolation.

In past years I've welcomed this news when it would prevent me getting to school or work and just meant a day of carefree snow games with my sister and anyone else who could get anywhere near.

This year it's a different story.

It's not because my sister's been long gone to a home and family of her own. I can't even blame the fact it means I can't get out to see people. It's just that the physical isolation just accentuates the isolation I feel inside. I have been isolated from the one I want most in the world to see. I can't get to him. In not being able to get to others I am reminded again of the loneliness that grief has brought with it. No one else can fill the gap that Ems has left, but not being able to see anyone else certainly adds to it and also prevents welcome distraction.

It is winter outside. It is winter inside.

I'd love to have a few 'snow days' with Ems. It would've made a great bonus to what would have been our 1st Christmas together as man and wife. I can well imagine the fun we would have had together, the walks together, and naturally, the snowball fights! The lovely thing about having known him so well is that I can still imagine what the days without him would have been like if he had been here. Ems would have loved it.

I shared one snow day with Ems last February after we took his brother out to celebrate his 18th birthday one evening. Despite protests from both mothers that we shouldn't go too far with the snow forecast and it being mid-week, we ventured 30 miles, had a great evening, and yes, struggled to get back to their farm on our return. Needless to say my car didn't get back up their farm's track and I gatecrashed for the night. The next day was a 'snow day' as one of Ems' colleagues came to pick us both up for work in his landrover, only for us all to be sent home again seconds after arriving in the office. It was like being a kid again. I watched Ems and his brother pelt snowballs at one another (see photo), and then sheltered when I became the target.

This season's snow has given me much time for thinking (sometimes too much). 3 such thoughts I share here:

Firstly, I've realised that in years gone by, when the snow has brought nothing but joy to me, it may have brought pain and anguish to others to whom I gave no second thought - those injured on the ice, old people isolated in their homes, perhaps others grieving or lonely, unable to be reached. It makes me think of the first 6 months of 2009 when Ems & I had one focus - our forthcoming wedding. We knew nothing but joy and excitement in our own lives and, though sympathetic, I didn't stop for any length of time to realise that there were others out there whose lives weren't as unbelievably happy as ours were at that moment in time, some lives quite the opposite. Now I am stopping. Now I am realising. Now, in my grief, I've seen friends who are experiencing the very best times of their lives. While some people's dreams come true, others have them dashed. When some people find success, others find failure. While some meet, others part. While some face death, others know new life. It's not that we should all live somewhere in the middle so that we're all in the same place at the same time, we'll all know different extremes at times, but I choose to spare a thought to those less fortunate than I when I finally know joy again, just as I choose to find joy in other's dreams coming true while I am in the midst of my pain.

Secondly, even though the snow brings isolation, it also brings peace. The snow brings problems. However, when I look up and around at the snow covered landscape, it looks so beautiful and peaceful. It doesn't have the colour of summer, but it makes everything appear so clean, tranquil and light. When the sun shines on it, I get teeny weeny glimpses of what the brightness of heaven may be like (I wonder if there's snow there?).

Finally, it is a season, not a permanent state of being. Winter may be here but spring always follows. In a way it fits that the winter of my life comes at the same time that we are experiencing our nation's first proper winter snow in decades. Just as the snow has stuck around for a long time now, I know that the winter season I am experiencing in my life won't be a short one. However, it is a season. In nature, there aren't winters without spring to follow, there aren't nights without a new day, and it's the same in our lives. Winter may bring death but spring will come in time and with it new life.

'For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven...' Ecclesiastes
'Weeping may last through the night but joy comes in the morning' The Psalms

[Memory #3 the "nothing will stop me" episode
Ems was brought up on a farm with a track that was pretty treacherous when icy and some hazardous country lanes to wind down in order to reach the safer 'main' roads. In the Christmas of 2007, just a few days after we got together, I remember the risk of snow being mentioned. One evening as we said goodnight & he said he'd see me tomorrow, I responded that I guessed it would depend on whether it snowed or not (not that I didn't want to see him for one second - I wanted to see him all the time!). His sweet reply was that nothing would stop him getting to me, that no weather (or other!) condition could keep him from getting to me, even if he had to walk or sledge across the fields (it was a 12 mile trip!).
I'm not sure whether he was mistaking himself for the 'milk tray man' or was just plain crazy (crazy in love maybe?) but fortunately for him that year, the snow didn't come and he arrived safely at my house in his little green Clio.
Having said that, knowing Ems spontaneity and love for an adventure (and of course his desire to see me!), he probably would have got there by foot and sledge even if it had snowed!]

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