My darling Nick
So it’s my birthday today. The first one without you for 25 years. We’ve had a few momentous ones… remember my 41st? That was the day we learnt about my cancer results. And this day last year we had an appointment with the oncologist to learn about your treatment. I remember seeing your right kidney on the scan and the consultant calmly saying you were a young, fit man so after recovery from the operation to remove it you would embark on the inhibitor drugs, as though he were discussing a cold.
‘Should we stop work?’ we asked ‘and dissolve the company?’ No, life would continue in some form. You would be able to work – possibly for years as long as the pills held the cancer at bay. I even had a holiday to Cornwall booked six weeks after the surgery. The specialist nurse said I wasn’t being silly, she thought it would be ok to go by then. I bought a special sun lounger so you could stretch out and recuperate. There was decking at the holiday cottage that looked over the beach where I thought you could while away the time watching the surfers battling the waves.
How did we get it so wrong?
It’s hard not to look at my diary and relive how the events of last year played out.
On my recent road trip, after Canada, we went to Barbados. Yeah, I know, awesome. And it was. I was amazed how healing the feel of sun on your skin could be. Swapping my winter boots for flip flops as we came into land was so removed from my life in England I felt as though I was in a dream world.
Barbados is a beautiful place. My trip helped enormously. I came back a little stronger. I’ve been in hibernation. I feel as though I’m emerging from a deep sleep. But I am getting up each day.
I’m still in a dream world. This life is not my life. I don’t know what my life will be like yet. There are too many decisions I have to make and I find making decisions difficult at the moment. I am lost. I have to find a new career and I don’t know which direction to go in. But I’m beginning to change things because I can’t live the life I had.
You. Are. Not. In. It.
So I’ve sold your car, and mine, and bought another that makes me happy. It is big and bold and called Idris. I can see you raise your eyebrows, but you would approve even though it is a little outrageous, because I know you’d want me to be happy.
I’m going blonde. Only gradually, but I can’t be the old me and it is supposed to be fun. Fun is what I’d like.
I’ve moved the office. I can no longer sit in a room which is so full of your presence. I now look out over the garden; the sunlight can stream in and the view is invigorating.
I have started playing tennis again. Only in small doses but it’s a start. I just have to learn to cope with the pity in people’s eyes when they see me for the first time. I’m not responsible for their emotions but sometimes it feels as though I have to take charge of the situation as they are waiting for my reaction.
These are all superficial things. They don’t detract from the fact that my life has changed beyond comprehension but in a small way they help.
But I can’t change some things. I can’t tackle your clothes yet. I still need to bury my head amongst your shirts and take a deep breath. You still linger there.
I still don’t sleep well but I have discovered Audible. It is comforting to listen to a story in the quiet of the night especially if it is the gravelly, grandpa voice of Laurie Lee reading Cider with Rosie.
I still haven’t collected you from the funeral directors. I feel bad about that but I think it’s because if I do it will make it real. How can you be in a small box? You’re here with me in the kitchen standing at the island chopping veg, or in the garden shed potting up sweetpeas as I bring you a beer, or pondering the cryptic crossword, pen in your mouth, glasses resting on your head.
My birthday is just one of many ‘firsts’ we have to get through. Our wedding anniversary is coming up next month. I wanted more.
But I can’t have any more.
I have to be content with the magic I had. This is a journey I was unprepared for and never wanted to take but as today is my birthday and every one of those is a bonus, I must make the most of it…
All my love