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.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

6 months

Ok, so it's one o'clock in the morning. I'm heading to Denmark tomorrow and I haven't even packed yet but for some reason I'm here, blogging.

It's 6 months tomorrrow, no wait, today. It's 6 months ago today that I last saw my beautiful man. That I last held him in my arms, whispered "I love you", heard the words "I love you". It's 6 months since I lived the life I knew and loved with the man I knew and loved; With the man who knew and loved me. 6 months.

Ems and I planned our whole wedding from engagement in 6 months (including buying a house). It was the same time of year. He got down on one knee in December. We married in June. What a contrast the first 6 months of 2010 have been to those in 2009. It really is another world away.

I found myself, quite unexpectedly, at the place where Ems died tonight. A few of us were gathered at a friend's house and as I travelled out to get some munchies with one of my best friends, I suddenly found myself asking "Is this the road to the station?". I knew the answer before it came and my friend knew why I was asking immediately. It was one of those moments of realisation where the craziness of the last 6 months is so apparent. It just hits you. It's real.
Driving towards the spot where Ems died. Passing the spot where he'd parked his car to head over to the works. Driving the roads that he last drove on earth. Ems died there. What? Ems died? It's all too real and yet at times it feels so unreal, like another world; like it's someone else this has happened to and I'm just a bit lost in reflecting on it all.

How can it be 6 months since I last saw him? Yet in other ways it feels like forever.
What life is this where I'm heading out for munchies and I'm passing the spot where my lovely man died? It just feels so unreal. It shocked rather than upset me. It just feels so crazy. I guess everything does.

So it's 6 months. I'm not sure how that's supposed to feel. I don't think there are many 'supposed to's in this journey. I thought the shock had just about worn off - the reality of my widowhood certainly hits me all too often. I didn't think anything could feel that unreal anymore. There are lots of things I didn't think. I didn't think it was possible to cry at least once a day for 6 months.

I miss him insanely. I can't even begin to put it into words.

He was in my dream lastnight. It was a good dream. He held me close and we wouldn't let each other go. We were so together. That tangible feeling of being in love was so real. Even though we were surrounded by friends and enjoying with them, it was like we couldn't let each other go. It was a lovely dream. It made a nice change. So many dreams involving Ems have involved him not being able to hear me or not being able to say anything. I even had dreams at the start where he was telling me "it's not what it looks like"...how true that statement turned out to be following the inquest.

I can't and won't live in my dreams though. This is life. This is different, very different, to the life I once walked. My perspective has totally changed. Pain is a constant part of my life and yet so is faith. I just can't let it go. Mark Hall put it into words when he described what it's like when tragedy hits a life - 'faith isn't life enhancement anymore. Faith is life'.

A good friend asked me if I ever get angry. I certainly get frustrated, massively frustrated. I ask why this had to happen several times through my tears (I know I can't get an answer to this).

But angry? Being an accident, the only ones I could only get angry at are either Ems himself or God.

I never was very good at getting angry at Ems and that's not about to change - he's gone, I love him just as much as the day he left, and while at times I whisper to myself "you stupid boy" at the absentmindedness that may well have resulted in the accident, it's never in anger. I remember how endearing that trait was to me. He never meant harm to anyone.
And to get angry at God? I guess I could. He has everything in His control doesn't He? Well, the thing is, I completely believe that He does. And if I were to get angry at Him, I'd just be cutting myself off from the only source that can lift me from this mess, the One who Ems is enjoying right now, the only One who can make things right for me, when they feel so terribly wrong so much of the time.

I guess there's nothing wrong with getting angry, it's what you do with it that matters. I certainly don't need anything else consuming me.

And Denmark? Yes, I'm off to Denmark for 5 days with our favourite identical twins (see photo) - one of them lives out there. Nothing is an escape, but it'll be really nice to spend quality time with them both. Holidays (I'd probably rather the term 'breaks') are different now, but so is everything else.

6 months. I love him more than ever and I'm petrified of the thought of another 6 months without him but I can't do anything about it and I pray to God He'll help me through.

[Memory #18 the "I forgot it" episode
Seeing as I've mentioned Ems absentmindedness in my blog, I've been reminded of some occasions of it in our time together. One in particular was when we were heading up to my Mum's church to take part in a special meeting. Ems was playing the guitar there. We headed off on our journey from my parent's house. Half way there I asked him if his guitar was in the carboot (it wasn't on the back seat). He said "yes" quickly before questionning himself. He'd actually forgotten it! He was going somewhere purely to play his guitar & he'd forgotten his guitar! It was one of many such occasions where Ems would forget something obvious & something that we'd all have described as "typical Ems". It usually induced smiles rather than frustration in people though as we explained our late arriving! I personally really miss his forgetful ways & the laughs that would come with them.]

Monday, 17 May 2010

Just when you think...

I am missing Ems so much right now. I cannot emphasise how much. It has been the hardest 5 consecutive days since he left for heaven in every possible way.

I'm so grateful for everyone's prayers and support and for the most amazing colleagues (or should that be counsellors) who have helped me get through 2 days of work (1 day a week so far - 2 days a week for the next 2 weeks and so on). Going back to work has been inevitably tough (the last blog explains the tip of the iceberg) but looking back, my first day back (Thursday) was the easiest of the last 5 days - well, the hours between 9 and 5 were anyway. It truly has been a miracle that I've survived 2 whole days in the office and I am so very grateful.

Outside of work though, the true darkness of Ems not being here has never been more tangible. Everything has cried out 'he's not here'. The loneliness, him not being here after work, not being 'up' to going out with good friends, crying on a friend's bathroom floor, the hurts, the darkness.

Someone told me it got harder from 6 months in and I couldn't believe that it could be true but 2 weeks yesterday the 6 month mark will hit and I can honestly say, if these last 5 days are anything to go by, I believe them wholeheartedly.

I'VE BEEN A WIDOW LONGER THAN I WAS A WIFE NOW. That's wrong in every possible way. I hate it. It hurts so much because the wife bit is the significant bit. Without it I wouldn't have known such an amazing joy and fullness with my beloved Ems. Without being the wife, I wouldn't have become the widow. Being a wife was a natural adjustment for me - what a true blessing! Being a widow is not so natural - the battle is accute. It is daily. You don't prepare for it or slot into it. You don't choose it. You don't share it. Where once I was half of one, now I am half. Though our marriage was short in days, it couldn't have been bigger in significance. It was the beautiful path that lead me to this darkest of places.

I am in sheer agony this evening. I don't think the pain has been greater at any given time. I wrote a poem earlier...

Just when you think it can't get any darker.
Just when you think you can't miss him any more.
Just when you think your heart can't be any more broken.
Just when you think the road can't get any more narrow.
Just when you think there can't be any more closed doors.
Just when you think you can't feel any colder.
Just when you think you can't lose anything more.
Just when you think you couldn't hurt further.
Just when you think you couldn't feel more alone.
Just when you think it couldn't get harder.
Just when you think things cannot get worse.
Just when you think all the tears have been cried.
Just when you think it can't go on any longer.
Just when you think the mountain can't get steeper.
Just when you think it couldn't be more exhausting.
Just when you think ... It can. It does.

Just when you think there's no way out... There is.
But it's not an emergency exit. It's a long, long way ahead.
When I finally get there it'll be bright but right now it really isn't.

Thank you God for being with me in this total darkness and for the family and friends you send to help me along my way.

[Memory #17 the "mascara" episode
I remembered this story while talking with friends in the office earlier. I mentioned the fact I hadn't worn any mascara since Ems died (when you're crying an absolute minimum of twice a day it isn't really a practical idea!) and it triggered my memory. One of our best friends was getting ordained as a pastor and we went along to his ordination just after we got back from honeymoon. I was incredibly moved by the whole service. Wiping tears from my face I noticed some (supposed to be waterproof) mascara on my hand & turned to Ems to ask him "is there mascara all over my face?", "no" he replied sweetly. A few minutes & tears later, when wiping again I saw more mascara on my hand. Suddenly remembering how literally Ems could take things, I turned and asked "is there any mascara on my face?" to which he replied confidently "yes" and proceeded to point out where it was! I laughed so much with him about that conversation - so cute!]


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Back to work

Ok, so I wasn't going to blog tonight but in the interest of following my journey with honesty, I feel like I should.

Tomorrow, I go back to work. Woah. Never has the thought of a day in work seemed so big. Not even those days that involved interviews or presentations or facing the fact you didn't get everything you had to do done the day before.

Tomorrow is big. The first day back since Ems died.

If one more person tells me that going back to work will be 'good' for me, or that it'll be 'good' to get 'back to normal', to 'get some routine', I swear I'll hurt somebody (or probably I won't seeing as I'm a bit of a softie but I'll certainly blow up internally!).

See, there is no 'back to normal'. Sure, the office hasn't changed (I went in for an hour a few weeks ago - emotional, oh yes!). But everything has changed. I am not the same me that left the office on the 30th November to grab half an hour with my lovely hubbie before heading out for a youth committee meeting. The Ruth that brought her world in to the office with her will bring a completely different world in tomorrow.

I remember people commenting on how I was like a breath of fresh air. Now I'm the one with the dark cloud hovering ahead.

I will sit in front of my computer but there'll never be a 'message from Emrys Davies' pop up in my inbox (not that there were many before as he was a very conscientious young man!). Never will my phone vibrate with a call from Ems to say he's on the way to pick me up. I'll never leave the office to see his smiling face waiting for me as he sat in reception. I'll never be rushing down that corridor ringing him to apologise that I'm leaving later than planned to pick him up.

My journey to work, which used to be filled with morning chit chat and commentary on the Radio 2 programme that was playing as we travelled along in his little Clio. My journey from work where we chatted over the events of one another's days, and went over the plans for the evening (most importantly what we'd eat!). My lunch break, which would often be blessed with the privilege of his company as we graced the canteen together and walked about the site. Being in work and just knowing he's there...Oh how different work can be.

And then, there's the purpose. Work was to pay the bills. The mortgage for our home together, the bills to keep our home warm and light, to pay for weekend trips to buy paint testers and one coat plaster, to fund days out or evenings in. The purpose now? To pay bills. They're just bills now.

Meaningless. It feels meaningless.

Meaningless and yet I'm sitting crying, all because I'm heading to work tomorrow. If it's that meaningless why am I so upset?

Oh boy will I miss you tomorrow Ems. God help me. God guide me. GOD HELP ME!

I'm just reminded again that he's not here. That I really am doing life without him. And I don't like it at all.

[Memory #16 the "side of the road" episode
Ems & his colleagues were moving offices. We hadn't long been married and were slightly late leaving the house that morning for work...most probably my fault. Ems was usually in the office for 8am and we were probably on track for 8.10am. The wheel bearing on the car had been playing up so we'd had that fixed over the weekend. I was driving us to work and all of a sudden I felt the steering go before we noticed smoke coming from the front right hand wheel. As we were driving along in the outside lane of the dual carriageway I made a careful but quick manouvere into the inside lane & then into a layby that was up ahead. We ended up on the side of the road for some time. Seems there was still some problem with the wheel bearing after all. Ems couldn't get hold of any of his colleagues to let them know either because he'd forgotten his phone which had colleagues mobile numbers in it and I only had his old office number which hadn't yet been transferred. An internet search (on my phone) and a HQ number later and he'd managed to contact someone to let the Carmarthen office know. We just soaked up the sun (with coats on) for an hour or so until the RAC man came to our rescue (for the first of two occasions that month - the second of which was ALL my fault - putting petrol into a diesel car is not recommended!). We always enjoyed our journeys together though and even those that were brought to a sudden stop allowed us extra time in one another's company. Who needs to rush when the one you love is at your side? Amazingly the N-reg clio is still going strong, all its memories intact!]

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Rain & rights of passage

It's raining outside and it sure is raining inside.


I guess the thing about taking baby steps is that you can fall down on your bum. It's better than continuously crawling around on the floor but the fall back down hits hard.

This time last year I'd never have realised what an achievement cooking for friends, planning to go to work, thinking about decorating the house, or maintaining conversation could be. They were all simply aspects of my life that were normal or even enjoyable. Oh so different now. The weird thing is they don't even look like achievements to anyone else while I know in my heart how much of a struggle is going on inside me to get these things off the ground.

I was screaming inside last night 'what are you doing God?'
I wasn't looking for an answer. It isn't even for me to know the answer.
It's not about what I do or don't deserve. One day beyond everything I can see, it will be about justice. But on that day, by amazing grace, I won't be surrounded by grey.

I guess I am missing Ems even more, not just with each new day as it creeps cruelly longer from the last time I saw him, but as I feel able to do a bit more, because all those things are things I want to share with him. All these things are things that he should be here to experience.

Everyone seems to be pregnant or having babies right now (congratulations to those that are) . Whereas some of our dreams were personal or unique to Ems and I though, having children is something that I will see many do. Each one not just reminding me that we'll never get to share that experience, but also reminding me of all those other dreams, personal and unique, that remain just that, dreams. Unfulfilled.

I know I'm not the only one with these unfulfilled dreams either. We seem to grow up thinking we have certain 'rights of passage'. Anyone seen the 'John Lewis' advert? That's how life's supposed to be huh? We get so sucked in. We have a right to it, don't we?
I know I'm not the only one who knows otherwise.

This walk seems so cruel and lonely. I don't know 'why me?'. I don't know why I have to look around and see the things we should or could be doing while I'm wondering about sorting through his belongings or writing a blog to his memory.

I can see all about me that many seem to suffer undeservingly and others who seem puffed up with pride seem to get all they want. I guess that's why the 'unseen' is so important. Not only do I need to focus on the unseen, knowing one day, all this will work out justly, but to know that there are great things we cannot see that can be ours when we stop looking at those things we can see that we don't and never will have.

It really isn't easy.