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.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The fear

I just wrote an entry and then deleted it. Intentionally. I have promised everyone that ever crossed this blog, that I would be honest. I deleted it because I was forcing what I'd just written. I wrote the last paragraph before I'd finished the middle. I was copying & pasting, contriving. I want to write from the heart.

It has been a long time since I last wrote. I know I promised I wouldn't force things but I genuinely am sorry that it's taken so long. I'm sorry that I may have lost some readers along the way who have given up checking to see if I've posted. I'm sorry because deep down in my gut I've known I've had posts to write and I've failed to do so. I'm sorry because now I'm sitting here and I have so much in my head, I almost don't know where to start. Almost.

I want to start where all this started. Ems. Ems, my beloved husband. Missed beyond any words I could ever hope to learn let alone write at the end of this grey September day. As September has gone on and we've experienced relentless rain and musky blankets of grey, I've thought of Ems. All summer I've missed him and yearned for his company. I still do. But these grey days make me thankful that he isn't here, that he's somewhere better, that he's not about to face his annual decent into the despair of Seasonal Affective Disorder that he battled with so bravely and admirably in winter months. Of course, I would love to have his company as I face grey days of my own, but I'm glad that for him, there are no more grey seasons, no more despair, just light. Once again it is Ems reminding me, as he never failed to when next to me, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Everything is different now yet this different is becoming my normal. I am so fearful of this 'new normal'. I fear that as I go about this new life with some sort of routine, that people will mistake me as 'normal', as 'ok', and treat me so. Yet simultaneously, I am so aware that this walk is mine to walk and that no one else can walk it with me. Once upon a time (it often feels like that), one did walk beside me. That was beautiful. Yet now, this is me. In an earthly sense, I am alone. I cannot rely on the support of another person. No human being will ever get close beside me like my Ems, my husband, my other half did. Marriage is a beautiful thing and even though I am learning to walk again, I am learning to walk without one leg to support me, without one arm to provide balance, without one eye to give me a new perspective, and without one ear to hear truth and to remind me of it. I am half. I know I've said it before but I really am.

And this half that you see before you 'getting on' with things, is actually completely shell shocked. I don't spend all day crying and then 12 hours sleeping anymore. In fact, in the last couple of months, my life has become increasingly busy, something I was once very used to. In the busyness I am finding I sleep less, I am exhausted in a completely different way. I spend half my day busy and the other half numb. My mind whirs.

I can hide in busyness. I can put on my mask, keep busy, and avoid talking on a deep level to anyone. I can attempt to put my mind on something else, often successfully, and until the task is done not stop to think. There is this 'new normal' emerging around me and it scares me. It scares me to think that people could view me as normal. That in those moments when I have to stop and think, when I crash, that I will be burning alone.

I 'get' why widows would dress in a different colour to show that they are widows. I used to think it such a cruel and shameful cultural thing which widows were forced to do. Yet now I see beyond it. I'd quite like there to be something that would show me as a widow; that would show others, even when I'm busy, even when I look 'ok' (what does that mean exactly?), that there's something missing.

I wear Ems' wedding ring on my right thumb. I know what it means. Widows have different perspectives on removing their wedding rings (and I completely respect that it is each individual's decision) but for me personally, I don't ever want to remove mine. I wear my rings proudly, the symbol of our love and unity. Yet simultaneously, wear Ems ring on my right hand, showing that there is something different about this connection.
When Ems died I didn't ask for his ring back, I didn't think about whether he should be buried with it or not. The police gave it back to me anyway, scratched and bent from the accident, and placed in a clear sealed bag. For a while whenever I looked at the ring I saw the fact it was mis-shaped and scratched. I saw the accident. Yet now when I look at it, I just see Ems' ring. The eternal ring of evidence that showed that he was mine, that we, like the ring, were whole.
I feel a bit like that ring. I'm damaged and scratched and always will be. Yet some seem to look at me without seeing the damage. It petrifies me to think that people could see through the scars when to me they're still open wounds. I'm so scared that as I do more, as this 'new normal' emerges, people will think I am 'fine' when the daily battle is enormous. But just as Ems' ring isn't on the hand of the one we planned it to be, so I must carry on living this life that was far outside my own plans. And just like Ems' ring, I want to be a reminder of something beautiful to others one day. Petrified as I am, I will step out, because the fear of being misunderstood cannot and should not surpass the fear of missing out on one's purpose.
[Memory #20 'the ring' episodes
It's strange in a way but I can remember several instances of being very aware of Ems' ring on his wedding finger. I remember us going out to buy our rings. We went in the January just after getting engaged, hoping to find some bargains in the January sales. Instead, Ems' noticed this 'new design' and the man who'd once said 'I'd like a really plain ring' decided otherwise (I'd always wanted to have an identical ring to his so was happy with this choice too)! The rings Ems had picked out were gorgeous 2 -colour matt gold rings, each with 2 small diamonds in the white gold bit. Ems & I had discussed before 'which way up' we thought the rings should go (i.e. whether the diamonds should be near the base or top of our fingers). It didn't really matter but we'd agreed we'd like to wear them the same way. I can clearly remember sitting on our sofa together and noticing his ring being a bit big. I'd often notice that his ring was the 'wrong way up' because he'd been playing with it, or that the ring had rolled around his finger so you couldn't see the diamonds at all. It didn't matter - it just meant I noticed it. I just remember being aware of the ring on his finger, of gently turning it back around, always remembering the moment I had first placed it on his finger. I remember on honeymoon, holding one another's hands & playing with one another's rings. It was such a novelty, a new & permanent part of the other's person. I also remember him almost losing his on honeymoon. As he swum in the Mediterranean sea he'd felt his ring coming off and stopped it just in time. Rather than pull his ring off and give it to me for safekeeping, he came out of the sea so his finger would once again swell in the heat of the sun and hold his ring in place before returning for another swim! Only death could remove his ring. I'm glad that I can remember seeing his wedding ring, which has become a permanent part of my attire, on his finger where it belonged.]

On another note, I found out today that this blog has been longlisted for 'best writing on a blog' for the Wales blog awards. I'm pretty honoured and grateful to those who nominated me. See the longlist here.


  1. Great blog Ruthie, I'm glad you're writing again. I know you're hurting now as much as ever and your loss will not just go away with busyness or passing time.
    I pray God strengthens and keeps you
    love & peace x

  2. Thank you Sioned, I really really appreciate that.

    All the love in the world to you - I hope your travels are proving inspiring.

    Lots of love & God bless xx

  3. I can really identify with your fear that people will look at you, see you as "normal", "fine" and "ok" when in fact you feel as though you have an open bleeding wound. I've have experienced this from a young age with chronic pain, and pain is usually invisble especially when you live with it on a daily basis, and again later in life with mental illness after the birth of my first son. Ems could have felt the same with his SAD?
    The way in which you are continuing with life and letting people in on that journey through this blog is corageous and inspiring. Thank you for sharing. (You'll be publishing this blog in a book one day I'm sure!)