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.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


I'm not sure why I've left it so long to write again but I'd best not apologise. I think it's just going to be one of those things. Sometimes I'll write. Sometimes I won't. I don't want to promise some kind of pattern and end up forcing things out or holding things in. I will tell you that it takes a heck of a lot of guts to sit down and finally type some of the thoughts that have been milling around my mind though. The nerves are ridiculous sometimes. So...

Thoughts of Ems are always with me.

I remember when I met him. I don't remember the first moment but I'd started as a temp on reception at his office. I'd worked in the same office a year or so earlier and Ems had started working there since that time. One of the ladies there was telling me about him to fill me in. "Sometimes he has a beard. Sometimes he doesn't. He just decides to shave it off sometimes". Ems intrigued me from the start. It wasn't love at first sight but I remember noticing the fact that he was different and that it didn't bother him at all. It was intrigue that lead to friendship that lead to love. In some senses it was better than love at first sight.

As the months went by I got to know Ems better and his eccentricities and quirks became even more apparent. I wasn't the only one to notice.

Ems hadn't minded in uni when he'd sit in his Grandad pyjamas and watch Fred Dibnah programmes at 8pm while others were heading out for the night or beginning a late night study session.

He didn't mind walking into an office of engineers (most twice his age) with his old school rucksack on his back, wearing trousers that looked just like school trousers, and sporting a full beard (it wasn't a fashion statement).

He didn't mind driving his N reg Clio (with missing trim!) and parking between the Rolls Royces and Mercedes at the manor hotel we stayed at in Oxford last September (booking through laterooms.com naturally!).

He didn't mind wearing speedos when everyone else was in shorts because he could swim better in them!

I don't even know if it was that he didn't mind being different or that he didn't even notice. He was just himself. He was Emrys. He hadn't engrossed himself in ideas of what he should or shouldn't be. He didn't worry about standing out. It was refreshing. It was intriguing. It was endearing.

People could accept him for who he was. His character, his faith, his friends, his music, his appearance. It wasn't that he didn't care, he did care, but he cared about the big things and if people would reject him for the little things, it was their loss.

He was blunt and honest without meaning to offend. He didn't change his dress according to who he was with. He drove his N reg Clio with pride. He didn't class or group things or people. He liked all sorts of music and wouldn't rule out music from a certain genre. In the same way, he didn't see people in boxes - he would approach individuals of different backgrounds, ages, genders and race in exactly the same way - as Ems, as himself. He didn't speak up or down to anyone.

Ems character really was unique in many ways and he never apologised for it. We could all learn a lot from the way he was.

Different. Unique. And nothing wrong with it.

My purpose in writing this post is two-fold though. Ems' unique personality was something so many have commented on and admired and that was something I wanted to write about. Additionally though, I didn't want to write this post without being ignorant to differences that aren't easy to live with.

Ems was himself but each autumn/winter he'd suffer from a difference that he wasn't OK with. Seasonal Affective Disorder. He didn't hide it or pretend it wasn't there - in that sense he was still himself. He was never self-pitying. He wouldn't shout it from the rooftops though. This was a struggle. A big struggle. This was different and this wasn't a difference that was ok. This was a difference that rather than making him stand out as unique, left him misunderstood and vulnerable. Our relationship, our marriage, and our faith, made the difference in these situations. When he was misunderstood by the world, he had someone who cared about wanting to understand him. When he was vulnerable, he had someone to love and fight for him. This wasn't Ems, this was something he had to live with.

Some people live with big differences that most people won't ever understand:
Having a severe learning disability.

Being born with a medical condition that affects your whole life.
Suffering from depression or another mental illness.
Being physically disabled.
Having a spouse in the armed forces.
Being childless.
Suffering a serious physical assault.
Suffering abuse.
Being neglected as a child.
Being adopted.
Losing a parent in your youth.
Losing a child / grandchild.

All these things (and many others) are massive burdens to carry and things that don't just go away. I'm not talking about little conditions or incidents that come along and change our persepctive for a moment. I'm talking about massive things that people carry with them throughout their lives. I am not comparing the above to each other. They are different and each person that experiences them is different. I am just emphasising the enormity of them.

I am now one of those people that has such a thing which the majority of the population, friends included, will never understand - becoming a widow at a very young age.

Like the ones above, it is not a difference anyone will envy. It's not a difference I can be proud of or indifferent to.

The pain of it is not just losing my husband, partner, lover, best friend, the one who always sought to understand and comfort me, the pain is also in not being understood by anyone else.

Suddenly, with all my friends, I know none of them really understand me anymore and most won't understand the battles I fight until they are old and grey, and even then the battles will be different. Being misunderstood by strangers is hard, but being misunderstood by friends is a burden so huge to bare. It is loneliness on top of the loneliness of losing Ems. My friends are not at fault here. It is not because they don't care that they don't understand, it is just because this is something they haven't been through. (I don't want any of them to go through it either.)

It just makes me miss Ems all the more because even when he couldn't understand, he was always there, he always cared, and he'd love and fight for me, just like I would him.

It is something that is huge in itself but brings other battles with it.

To lose the person that's always there and then be massively misunderstood by everyone else on top of that. The loneliness is huge. The bible tells me that Jesus came to this earth so he can sympathise with everything we go through. I've been thinking about this. He never married so he was never widowed so how does that work out? Just like the few situations I mentioned above are different. Each one of us and our responses are different. We don't have to go through the exact same thing to have some sympathy with others. Jesus didn't need to be married to understand the loneliness and isolation I feel now - he already felt it. He had it worse. I can't get out of my head how when He walked this earth NO ONE completely understood Him. From the second He was born, He was completely different, and He lived His life on earth with nobody on earth at any time completely understanding him. In a world where we long to be understood, what a burden that was and He didn't have to do it. But He did.

I never used to mind being different in character, faith, height to many others. Now though. Now I'll confess that I really don't like being this different. But I am. Different. This is a different kind of different. I have to find a way to live with this difference.

I miss Ems and his eccentricities every day but they also bring a smile to my face. What a man he was. My man.
[Memory #14 the "wear something red" episodeThis memory always makes me (and many others) smile.
I've been in involved in organising youth events for years. In March 2008 we were putting on a St David's Day event for youth across South Wales in a church in Swansea. One of the conditions of attending was that you wore something red. People turned up with Welsh rugby shirts on or a red scarf around their neck, red jewellery or something token to keep with the theme. It wasn't fancy dress or anything. I hadn't discussed with Ems what he was wearing that evening and was meeting him down there as I was helping to set up. I remember Ems entrance clearly and so do many of my friends for whom this was the 'we'll finally get to meet Ems' night!
Ems had not settled for a token red item or the easy option rugby shirt. As Ems strolled in, a little late, all eyes turned to see his tall figure in head to toe red! Skin tight (I mean it!) red jeans, his favourite old red converse boots, a skinny red shirt and red tie. This was no token effort!

I think for a brief second he was a little embarrassed but soon just laughed at the extra attention he was getting - not just because of the extreme amounts of red but because of just how skin tight the red jeans were! Only Ems could possibly have pulled that look off - primarily because no one else there would have had the guts (or the butt) for it!]

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