Over two years into this blog and, with great embarrassment, I've just noticed a grammatical error in the introduction above these posts. I've corrected it but did wonder if anyone had noticed it before. Perhaps you all had and secretly wondered how someone with an error in their introduction could win a best writing blog award. Either you're all too polite or such details have been lost in the abundance of words. Where did that come from? Why hadn't I noticed it before?
Such moments of bewilderment are reasonably common in this journey. Unfortunately, they are not all as simple as finding a grammatical error alongside a blog award badge, and they're not all easily masked in an abundance of words either.
In my life I have experienced the most horrendous shock possible, the worst kind of surprise, the most unexpected, unwelcome twist in the road I was travelling on. I don't think much, if anything, in my life ahead could compare to that dreadful moment when Ems' life on earth was done and mine, unrecognisable as it was, carried on.
While it is an understatement to say that dreadful moment of shock stands out, it doesn't stand alone. While I know from the death of my husband, soulmate, best friend, that life is not always within my control, I still find myself surprised at twists and turns in the journey that leave me looking up in wonder and bemusement. You'd think I'd have learned by now. Even if we know deep down that we're not in complete control, we still fool ourselves on the surface.
Surprises, life's full of them.
I'd like to say that nothing surprises me anymore but it does.
Sometimes it's been things I've done numerous times since Ems died seeming a lot harder than I expect them to be. Sometimes it's things I haven't done since Ems died passing without the anguish I've anticipated.
Sometimes it's the big decisions that bring the pressure. Where is he? My teammate and fellow decision-maker. My heart still looks to discuss decisions that arise with him only to be corrected by my head which, by now, knows better.
Sometimes it's the simple shock of a dead bird falling down your chimney (almost into my lap i might add) leaving me frozen in panic, wondering what to do! He would've just got on with it, unphased.
It's the reactions of others, good or bad, to circumstances not of my doing, and my own reactions to things in life, surprising myself and giving me fresh understanding of others' reactions.
Surprises lurk everywhere. In situations, in relationships, in finances, in life and death, in love and loss. I remember thinking when Ems died that nothing else could hurt me but alas that wasnt the case. I also remember thinking that I'd never smile again but that wasn't the case either.
Surprises will arrive. Some will throw me to the floor and others will leave me
looking up in bewilderment at the craziness of this journey. The experience of widowhood can be shaky ground when storms rage, and sometimes even when the sun is shining; it's a fragile place. But the love and security of a man who loved me with all his heart and was / is loved by me with all of mine doesn't shake at all and its blessing surrounds me through the victories and tears.
Sometimes the thing that most surprises me is that the thing that causes the most pain - Ems absence - is also a reminder of one of the most comforting things in my life - Ems presence. Imprinted like the scribbles on a school desk 'Ems was here'. I would never be without it.
As it happens, the dead bird only needed a shovel and a box. My actions tentatively followed the only decision that could be made.
And sometimes the surprises are like that. There is only one thing to do - get on with it. With each surprise along the way I may be reminded again of so much being outside my control but I also know that one thing is always in my control - my reaction. Sometimes the only reaction that seems possible at the time may be to lift my head in disbelief to the one thing that never changes, but it's still my reaction to choose.
The latest big surprise has come in the form of an invitation to join Mr Jeremy Vine on his BBC Radio 2 lunchtime programme this Wednesday. This surprise left me shaking my head in a disbelief that bordered hilarity. Like the grammatical error that's been there for two years unnoticed, where did that come from?
Many have reminded me how proud Ems would be and I agree. I think he'd also be amused at this next surprising step in his "little wifey's" journey, but, particularly from the perspective from which he now sees things, very unsurprised and entertained by my ongoing surprise at such things.
Thoughts far above my thoughts. Ways far beyond mine. Anything can happen.
You can listen in to my radio interview on the Jeremy Vine show, tomorrow at 1pm here.
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.