Today marks ten years of widowhood; ten years since my darling husband died so unexpectedly in the middle of the night. These past ten years have felt like a lifetime, yet they’ve gone by in a flash. Sometimes it feels like only yesterday that Paul and I were planning for our bright and happy future. But here I am moving forward into a future that doesn’t include my love walking by my side.
I marked the day by travelling to the cemetery in Paul’s hometown to leave flowers and a wee dram of whisky at his grave. This is the 10th time I’ve journeyed to his grave (there a grave in my hometown, too) and whilst the journey can be sad and painful, I also find a bit of comfort in being there with him. I was joined this year by some of my in-laws, which was comforting in its own way. We stood there together, chatting as we placed the flowers, and enjoyed a sip of whisky in his honour.
And then I took a few minutes on my own to talk to Paul and to cry. A good, cathartic cry. It’s those heavy tears that remind me that I am still grieving and that I might grieve for the rest of my life.
Yes, even after ten years, I still struggle with the grief of widowhood. However, the pain isn’t as intense (or as regular) as it once was. But it’s still there, hiding in the shadows of my soul; lurking behind every laugh.
That’s not to say that my life is all about my grief. But I am always aware that my life today is not the life that I dreamt of with Paul. And even though my life today isn’t horrible, it is certainly not the life I wanted for myself. (Although I do work every day to create a better, happier life for myself. Hence, the PhD, the adventures, and even the attempts at dating.)
I guess one of the important things for me to reflect on is that I have learned a lot in these ten years. I have learned that I am stronger than I think, even when I am lost in my sadness. And that my mental health is strong, even when I feel weak. I have learned that friendship can be formed out of grief and that grief doesn’t mean life can’t be joyful.
But most importantly, I have learned that life moves forward even after death; I have learned that a shattered heart still beats. And I have learned that when love is pure and real, it lasts forever… even after death.
Paul, I really do luv ya, luv. Now and forever.