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.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Little big things

Right now it's the little things I struggle with. It's funny how details which were once just part of the routine now seem like such challenges. Getting dressed each morning becomes an achievement. We don't always appreciate the little things and yet it's amazing how significant they can become.

It's not just the big things that I miss about Ems, it's the little details that often come to mind...

Driving along and having him in the passenger seat.

Our little routine as he'd set up for dinner while I finished cooking.

The way he'd be planning the next day's lunch before we'd even finished dinner.

The way we'd play with one another's wedding rings while holding hands.

Having a music related pub quiz question that I know he'd have known the answer to.

Coming down in the morning to find he'd put me a cereal bowl out and poured me some juice.

Driving to and from work together.

The way we'd mess around (above photo illustrates one example).

The way we'd talk about even the silly little details of our day.

The little notes we'd leave for one another on the rare occasions we were apart.

His reassuring smiles.

The eye contact.

Wednesday nights being 'our night'.

Stripping wallpaper and demolishing wardrobes together.

Hearing him call me "wifey".

The way he'd hold me close when I was cold.

The fact he'd tell me how cute I looked when I was in my scruffiest 'round the house' clothes.

The way he'd always be the first into bed.

The way we'd always check if each other had a glass of water to take up to bed with us.

Praying together.

...And so so so much more.

To say I miss Ems is the most gross understatement possible. Everything has changed now that he has gone. Not even the little things stay the same. Getting dressed, eating, breathing become chores. Nothing on this earth holds the same joy it did when he was here to share it.

Because we shared the little things. They have now become the big things.
And we should never forget the little things.

Only a second?

Say that to the Winter Olympic Gold medallist who's just won by a second?
Or to the athlete who's been training for years and just missed out on a medal by the same amount of time.

Only a metre?

Say that to the guy who's just narrowly escaped a collision
or to the wife of the husband who didn't.

Only a few words?

Say that to the woman whose boyfriend just became her fiance when he got down on one knee and asked her to spend her life with him
or to the wife who's just been told her husband won't ever be coming home.

A lot can happen in a second. A few words can change your life forever. A metre can be the difference between winning or losing, life or death.

It may be only a day but sometimes things can happen which make it difficult to live through a single minute. It may be only a minute but you can still change someone's life with it.

From tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow.

Jesus once said that faith as small as a mustard seed could move a mountain.
Right now the little things may feel like mountains but I thank God for mustard seeds.
And for the little things we shared, because suddenly the memories of them are huge.

[Memory #12 the "comfy" episode
I could spend ages getting ready for an evening out with Ems and just have a simple compliment from him on my appearance. This didn't really bother me as he was always very complimentary in general.
One Sunday we'd come back from church and Ems was outside doing some jobs in the garden. I ran upstairs, changed into my oldest jeans and an old vest top, swept up my hair and got on with lunch. It was a hot summer's day. Ems came in to see if he could be of service and on seeing me absolutely beamed, wrapping me up in his arms and enthusiastically said "Aw, my little wifey looks so pretty and comfy".
From many people, the word 'comfy' could have been seen as some kind of masked insult, but Ems was genuine in his enthusiasm. The compliment always stands out in my mind. He was so enthusiastic and genuinely thrilled to see me look as I did. Relaxed. Perhaps it was because we were so relaxed with one another and that after all, was our home. Ems appreciated the little things in life. Diamonds and Gucci wouldn't have impressed him much at all but a wife who was completely at home with him was the most attractive thing to him in the world.
I was also cooking him dinner at the time - that would no doubt have added to the attraction!]

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Sometimes it just really really hurts.

I can be sitting, coping for a moment, sometimes even for a little while, and then suddenly...Boom, here it comes again. Grief. Loss. Sadness. Pain. I'm relatively 'ok' for a moment and then it hits me all over again. He's gone.

I can look back. I can look back and see perfection. I can look back and see blessing. I can look back and see how completely amazing the times and relationship I shared with Ems were. I can look back and smile now. Yes many things still trigger and set me off but I can't find any fault in what we had and never will, Ems still brings me love through the memories. I have immense gratitude for that.

The future is empty right now. The dreams and plans died with Ems, so did the excitement. Heaven (which is exciting!) awaits one day. But until then...? Only God knows.

The present is what I have to cope with. That's all I'm asked to cope with. I feel weak. It's crazy to not have my lovely Ems here to work through every decision with, to plan our future. Every part of me just wants to say 'ok, that's enough, come back now'. But he can't. Neither would he want to. My faith carries me through the present, it takes me beyond what I can think or imagine or see. Peace.

When a precious life is stolen from you. Grief comes in and steals your own.

Not all sudden moments are bad though. Earlier this evening I suddenly had an image of Ems in my mind. It wasn't an image from a photo I have of him but a very real image of how he looked; how he was when he was right infront of me. He was wrapped up warm in his red coat, just like when we'd go out for a walk, curls messy from being underneath his hat. It a very real memory of him rather than a memory of a photo of him. I hadn't been trying to get an image of him in my mind, it just suddenly came. I was talking about him and suddenly there he was in my mindseye. It was very real and it was a nice moment.

One of the scariest things about the future is the fear of forgetting him.
I can't imagine this throbbing heart of mine will let me though. He'll be in it forever.

[Memory #11 the "walking and talking" episodes
It's little surprise really that the image of Ems, wrapped up for a walk, came to my mind earlier. Ems & I loved nothing more than some quality time walking and talking together. Whether summer or winter, so long as it was dry we'd get out & about whether it was for half an hour after work or for a whole Saturday's trek.
Just us and the great outdoors. It made for such quality time together. I can remember so many heart to hearts while exploring the Welsh countryside. I can also remember times when we were just exceptionally silly together. Either way, they were times when we enjoyed time together, more and more and more; and got to know one another, better and better and better.
Every time the sun comes out I know we'd have been heading out for a stroll if he was here.]

Monday, 15 February 2010

More than a day

Here we are. I'm writing. I've been idly browsing facebook and procrastinating wondering whether to blog or not to blog. I'm nervous but I'm here now.

It's been quiet on the writing front, well on here at least. I spend much time writing down notes, thoughts, prayers, memories and the like in my trusty little notebook (I've gone through 4 notebooks since Ems died 11 weeks ago). I like to get things out on paper. I've struggled to write on here this week though, sorry readers.

It's been a very tough week but today has been ok. You'll recall me repeating that I'm going to remain honest to myself (and you) and that I will. I won't pretend this week has been easy but neither will I pretend that today has been the worst day. It hasn't.

Today was Valentines Day. Today was the day that thousands celebrate their mutual love, one with the other. I celebrated my love alone. The love is still very much alive, the memories are vivid, the texts, cards, photos still so very real. But he is not here to share it with.

I'm not going to pretend that I spent the day thinking about the fact it was Valentines day. To be honest, I tried not to. It was excrutiating on Friday, trying to find a birthday card and pretending I didn't notice the countless 'To my wife' valentines cards I had to clamber past to get to the birthday section (only to realise there were no decent cards because they'd all been put away to make room for the Valentines ones).

I'll never receive a 'To my wife' Valentines card. Just like I'll never receive a 'To my wife' Christmas, birthday, anniversary card. Our marriage was so real, so full, so loving, it felt like we'd been married forever and it's crazy to think we didn't mark these dates as husband and wife. It also doesn't take the word 'wife' on a card to prove its worth*.

I got out the 'to my fiancee' card Ems sent me last Christmas at Christmas. I haven't got out the valentines cards he'd sent me today though because I've memorised the words he wrote in them already. I have read those words (Welsh and English) countless times in the last few weeks; all the cards and notes and texts he'd sent me. They bring tears but they also bring smiles, the love behind them as real as the second he sent them.

I've had this overwhelming sense of how perfect our love was today. I am so incredibly grateful for that love; for Ems. The funny thing is, our perfect love is immortalised now. Ems can't screw up on Valentines day; he can't buy me the wrong present or not write enough in the card. Sad as I will always be to not have him here with me, I will always remember how lovely he was. Our love will always be perfect, Valentines Day or any day. Nothing can ever taint it.

Even though I've mentioned it in this post, Valentines Day is more insignificant than ever. I was never overly enthusiastic about it before. Ems and I naturally enjoyed celebrating the first one we shared [see memory #9]. Last year's consisted of wedding suit fittings, McDonalds, rugby and an Indian takeaway with friends. I was a bit dissapointed at the time but a few weeks later Ems surprised me with a massive bunch of flowers and took me out for a delicious expensive meal. The surprise and effort meant far more on a day when Ems was unprovoked than it would have on a day when it was expected. We agreed that Valentines was just an extra excuse to proclaim our love rather than a day where we had to prove it.

I will remember the love we shared every day of my life. Valentines Day will be no exception but neither will it be especially significant. This is better than Valentines Days before Ems came along because I have a very real love to remember. In days gone by I may have sat and wondered if my crush would send me a card but I'll never have to wonder again. The Royal Mail just about manage with earthly deliveries, there's no way anything can be sent my way from Heaven.

I know he is surrounded by love up in Heaven though and so am I. Warm memories of the sweetest love I could ever have known, and the life-giving love of a Saviour who died for me so that one day, we will be reunited.

Real love can't be captured in a day.
Real love is expressed with every breath you take, every day.
I can't write it in a card for Ems this year but I will love him forever.

[*Memory #10 The 'card' episode
Ems loved doing the unexpected, he wasn't really one to take the obvious option.
When I look back at the various cards Ems sent me, it is only last Christmas' 'To my fiancee' card that ever had such a label (that was only because it was pointed out to us both that it would be the only Christmas when we would have such a title).
I remember opening the first birthday card Ems ever gave me, expecting some kind of girlfriend statement or at least a few love hearts on the front. As I pulled it from the envelope, I was surprised to just see a few chickens on the front. They weren't animated or particularly attractive, it was just an old fashioned sketch of some chickens. It was unconventional and the first words he'd written inside were 'You do like chickens don't you?!'.
Completely random, just like Ems was. I didn't particularly like or not like chickens, we'd never made any reference to them. He'd just seen it when looking for my birthday card and decided it was to be the one. He told me he didn't like the obvious ones and would rather write his own words than rely on those printed in a card...so would I. Ems' words were real, loving and beautiful.
Thinking about it, I may never have received a 'to my wife' card even if he was here. That might have been far too obvious for my sweet, unpredictable boy!]

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Something to think about

I've just spent the evening with a group of friends from church. These friends were people Ems and I would regularly hang out with together on a Friday night (usually at our house). It is strange to spend time with them and not have Ems there. Everything is strange without Ems here.

We got onto the subject of the first cassette or CD we'd ever bought, the first video or DVD, etc, and I know Ems would have had plenty to say on the subject of music, his first love (before I came along!).

The subject flowed on to music and films in general and the film 'The Matrix' was brought up. I commented on the fact that I couldn't remember what happened at the end of the last film in the trilogy and one of the guys summed it up. What he said, unknowingly to him, has given me something to think about...

He said that at the end of the last film the lead female dies, gets resurrected, then dies again. This makes the lead male realise that he can now go out and save the rest of them, something he wouldn't have done when his focus was on saving her, but now he's got nothing to lose.

I'm certainly not the lead female in a film but I'm the leading character in my life, just as you are in yours.

I have nothing to lose. I have lost the person that was most dear to me.
My greatest fear in life has been realised. My greatest fear was losing Ems. I have lost him.

Like the Matrix, there is still so much I don't understand, and much I don't need to.
People may misunderstand me, which can be painful, but nothing can hurt me like the hurt I am already feeling.

Pain and grief are constant companions right now (thankfully so are grace and peace) and I'm under no illusion that I'm going to go out there and save the world. I can though, like you, choose to make a difference to those I can, when I can.

Believe me, I am not trying to say that my greatest fear being realised is a positive thing. I am living through every reason that I feared losing Ems and it is worse than I could ever have imagined. What I'm realising is, with Ems gone, there isn't anything I'm clinging on to. My life on earth isn't precious to me anymore.

I can give everything, and know that nothing can hit me harder than the loss and pain I already know.

'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose' Jim Elliot (a man who gave his life for his faith)

[Memory #9 The "love songs" episode
Ems had countless CDs, mini disks, cassettes, etc. He was the music man. The number of people who've told me it was him who introduced them to new bands, styles, genres, etc of music, is unbelievable. Ems didn't mind what genre so long as the music had something to it. Music was his passion and he loved to share it with others. With all that music you'd think he'd have every eventuality covered.
February 14th, 2008. Our first Valentines day as a couple. I remember it clearly. The moments, the gifts, the food, the wonderful company, the excitement about everything ahead.
We'd had a nice meal and Ems said what he'd really like to do is chill out together to some love songs. "The only thing is..." he began to explain, "...I don't actually own any"!
I guess that was one style of music that had escaped him up to then. It's funny what true love awakens in you.
Needless to say he didn't become a Celine Dion man but the Beach Boys' 'I love you' album certainly got played from time to time and I remember him grinning while belting out Sting's "Every little thing she does is magic" one precious car journey home.]

Listen to Ems in your living room!

Just to let you know that if any of you would like to buy a CD of Ems' song, you can. This is the song featured in my blog entry 'Changing things (as sung by the man himself)' [Jan 20th, 2009]. You can also hear it on youtube.

It is just £2 per CD. The whole £2 will be donated to Ems' memorial fund. Ems' memorial fund covers two causes which he was highly passionate about. The first cause is for music resources for our church (The Apostolic Church, Penygroes) where he loved using his musical ability to encourage and inspire others, and the second is the projects which we were involved in on our mission/aid trip to Joao Pessoa, Brazil in Summer 2008.

Enjoy the music, be inspired by the lyrics, admire how beautiful Ems is in the photos on the cover (maybe that one's just for me!), dance around your living room to it (if it's good enough for our 18 month old niece...).

Email me on mother_bruce@hotmail.com if you would like a CD.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Brokenhearts and silly games

I've been putting off writing a new post till I felt a bit better, till I was having a 'good' day and could write something inspiring. The reality is that as the last few days have ticked away, I don't feel any better but I don't want to stop writing.

My mind is running through so many wonderful memories of Ems and at the same time trying to reconcile them with the fact he isn't here anymore. None of it makes sense to my mind.

Ems is still as much a part of me as he was the last time I saw him. I still say 'we' when I'm talking about things; I still consider what he'd like before I do anything; I still want to sign his name on any cards I write. I still love him with everything I am.

It's just over 2 months in now. While it feels like forever, it is only 2 months.

I was speaking with his best friend the other day and he said that it felt as though everyone else could 'just move on now'.

For some of us, it is with us all the time.

Many can. Many weren't half so close to Ems as others. For many Ems was an acquaintance, perhaps even a role model, perhaps a mate. He was an amazing guy and so they are sincerely sad at his passing, they will remember the laughs, but their lives haven't changed.

For others it won't be so easy. To others Ems was a son, a brother, or one of their best friends. Ems has gone and life has changed.

For me, Ems was my husband, my best friend, my 'other half', a very part of me. I cannot even begin to imagine what moving on even is yet. Just what am I moving on to when Ems was such a permanent part of my life before and all our plans and dreams were combined? EVERYTHING is different now.

I have discovered what a broken heart really means. For the first few weeks after Ems died, every time I woke my heart physically ached. I couldn't move for a few minutes each morning as my body tried to deal with the pain.

Oh how I wish the broken heart could heal itself emotionally in just a few minutes each morning.

Some misunderstand grief as something which gets easier with each new day. The calls and visits stop. People mistake my ability to conduct a normal conversation for me being 'OK'.

Truth is, it is as hard now as it has ever been in the 2 months since Ems died. It doesn't mean I haven't smiled at times. I just miss him more than ever and it hurts. Of course it hurts.

I still love him wholeheartedly. I always will.

I may never reconcile all the amazing memories I have of my time with Ems with the fact he's gone; the perfection and blessing we knew together in contrast to the way I feel right now.

I am learning to accept the fact that I will always miss him.
Of course I will because I will always love him.
Ems will always be a part of me.
A part of me will always be missing.

This broken heart will likely not heal completely this side of Heaven but I know that God is close to the brokenhearted. For that I am exceedingly grateful because this broken heart just can't do it alone.

[Memory #8 the "rock, paper, scissors" episode
Ems and I went out for one of our Sunday afternoon walks last November and in a quiet moment I decided to challenge him to a game of 'rock, paper, scissors'. At first he resisted, perhaps thinking it a bit daft, but once I suggested that it was because he was scared I might beat him like I had at 'thumb wars', he succumbed!
To my horror Ems beat me three times in a row as we started the game. He laughed and teased, suddenly enjoying the game. He should probably have stopped there.
Determined to beat him I challenged him to another round and we both ended up in fits of laughter as I gained the victory over him not just once but time after time after time. I think we stopped after about 15 rounds of me conquering his rock, paper, scissors with my paper, scissors, rock, one after another, because we were laughing too much with disbelief! As well as I knew him it wasn't like I could actually read his mind - well, at least not in games like this!]