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, 26 December 2010

Breaking the ice



















A Christmas engagement: Bath, December 7th, 2008

I've spent the day receiving gifts and realised this evening that I have gifts I've neglected of late.

As you know, I've promised never to force a blog entry. However I also know that in the past 7 weeks of silence there have been many entries that I could have written and haven't.

I have given in to the silence and I have let it win. I have let it eat a bit more of my confidence and waited; waited for the perfect moment. I have also let those moments come and then procrastinated till I'm too exhausted to write a word.

The more the silence has gone on, the more fearful I've been of sitting at the keyboard and writing again. It hasn't been writer's block from a lack of inspiration - Ems, grief, self-analysis, day to day struggles and victories, have all been in the foreground as ever. I've just lost the confidence in conveying it and so I've left this gift neglected.

Today, I know, this is one gift I have to start using again. I can't neglect it. I can't give in to this fear. I cannot let the silence win.

In the silence has been a battle.

The silence has been a stark reflection of this very same time last year when silence fell and the world stopped.

Many days that I wanted to mark, that I wanted to write about; the silence won.

Since the last time I wrote we've passed the first anniversary of beautiful Ems departure for Heaven. We've passed the anniversary of his funeral, incidentally the same day as the anniversary of our engagement just a year earlier. I've spent quality time with his best friends; I've known heightened emotions as well as near total numbness. There has been so much to write about.

And yet I have been scared. I've been too scared to write. I've been looking for the perfect post to start me back out.

And yet, as I reflect on a Christmas day, void of my wonderful other half, yet surrounded by the most amazing and loving family, touched and encouraged by the thoughtful messages and gifts from friends, showered with the realisation anew that God came to earth to make a way for me to find hope in otherwise impossible situations. As I reflect on this day, I know that the things we once thought of as perfection - the trimmings we once thought made it Christmas; the decoration we thought made it home. None of these things count for anything without the main thing in place, without the faith to hold it together, without our loved ones around. They are just trimmings. And in the same way, life isn't always the earth shattering moments, the depths of emotion or the big events. This blog isn't about perfect posts.

I could give you a run down of the widow's Christmas day but that's not my reason for writing tonight. As the snow covers the earth outside and the temperature plummets, I'm writing to break the ice that's been growing inside, to break the growing fear in me of sitting down and writing, hoping and praying that now I've sat down and written, that there'll be many more entries on the way, accompanied by the confidence and determination to go with them.

[Memory #24 the 'gift wrapping' episode
Poor Ems took the gutsy step of asking me out one excitable lunch time (read more about that in an article I wrote for The Tip) only for me to say yes (enthusiastically) yet then tell him that as it was my only free night before Christmas I had loads of things I had to get done that night and so couldn't see him. It took me the 5 minutes drive back to the office to realise I was being an idiot and was absolutely desperate to see him again already so I invited him to come to my parents after work and help me wrap gifts, etc.
Months later I remember asking Ems what his favourite evening we'd had together was and he said it'd take a lot to top that first night. We'd just sat on the floor, wrapping gifts, him passing me bits of sellotape and setting up a playlist on my ipod, while we talked about absolutely everything. We'd been good friends for months and talked about so many things but had never spoken about relationships or what either of us expected in one. That night we spoke about everything - past experience, present desires, future goals. When I look back it was crazy how much ground we covered in that first night but it was all incredibly natural as we spoke together, and we set an amazing foundation of security and friendship that deepened with each new day. We were in love right there as we tackled Christmas preparations and that love grew at great pace from there on. I will always think of Ems as I wrap gifts and remember that night, which, like he said would have taken a lot to top. He later told me that he'd cried when he got home that night because he was so happy. Just like me, he hadn't realised that the feelings we were newly experiencing were possible. I still feel that way. Love like that never dies and I still love him with every bit of my heart, a million times more so than that first night, so grateful that he'll always be mine.]

Monday, 8 November 2010

The reality of it all


Not that I’ve ever faltered from it but I’m warning you that you’re about to hear the honesty I’ve promised you all along. I wish I could have a warning for the different depths of this journey, the different hurts that lay ahead. When I wrote last week about the dawn of November and the grief and fears it presented, I had no idea how raw, how fresh, how agonisingly all-consuming the pain could be again.

There is no other word for it than agony. It isn’t any better than just under a year ago when it was new. It isn’t any better than a few months in when the shock started to wear off. It isn’t like a medical condition that improves with time. Perhaps because I’m young there are different expectations because of all that I’m physically still able to do, but like the old widows with whom I’ve shared many conversations confirm, it doesn’t get better – it gets worse. It’s just different.

Car journeys have never been the same since Ems died. It’s not just his absence because I was often in the car without him; it’s that rather than simply be a mindless journey from one place to another, they’re now burdened with emotional heaviness as I have no escape from my own thoughtful company. Lately I find I rarely take a journey alone, long or short, without crying at some point if not all the way. I’d thought those days were behind me, saved now for the odd ‘special’ occasion, but no.

I’m unable to work out where on my face the burning pain is worse because both eyes and cheeks sting ferociously from relentless tears. Yet they both pale into insignificance compared to the weighty, excruciating throbbing of my shattered heart.

Tears spill into day time, into ordinary moments while daylight is upon us, rather than reserving themselves for the loneliness of nights without sweet Ems at my side. For a while I thought I had mastered control of my tears in public, grasped the ability to play it cool and not upset anyone, to make it easier for others. Now I once more find myself being asked by my boss if I’m 'ok' and without warning rivers flow; Now I stand in church singing and open my eyes to see the droplets of tears on the floor below me; Now I just can’t always promise to keep back the tears, hard as I try at times.

There is no monopoly on hurt. Many hurt around me and I hate it. I often wish that I had the monopoly on pain; that I wouldn’t have to see others suffer too. The one advantage of a broken heart is that it makes you far more sensitive to other’s pain. I've realised that God doesn’t just use us in spite of our brokenness; He actually uses our brokenness to reach out to others. There really needs to be some re-shift in our thinking that the most useful and effective people are the ones with no worries, no hurts, no pain, with the hard exteriors and perfect faces. When we let it, pain will fix our minds on something far greater because the only alternative is to focus on our pain and its harrowing affect on our lives, and that only ever leaves us in despair.

I scream ‘why me’ but I know I have no more rights than the next person. I have no right over anyone else to a long marriage. None of us do. I had no right over anyone else to the beauty of being in love with a man who was as equally and beautifully in love with me. I still don’t hold that right but I’m blessed with it.

I don’t love Ems any less than anyone who loves the husband right next to them. I don’t desire or need him any less. I don’t want to share the little details of the day with him any less. The love, the wants, the needs - they remain. The difference is solely that he’s not here. The wants and the needs remain frustrated; the love it continues to grow. Until you experience it you can’t possibly imagine it but though the days apart grow longer, the love grows deeper and the heart misses more; the love does not switch off – it is stronger than death and doesn’t change. You just begin to learn to live with only memories of whispers coming back your way; of his arms to hold you after the tough days; of him, your confidant, sharing your deepest fears and desires and fighting for them alongside you.

You begin to learn to live with it; but you still hate it.

I refuse to wallow in self pity. I have never demanded special treatment because of the pain I relentlessly carry. Though I cannot control my feelings, I can control what I choose to do or say, what passions I choose to run with, what purpose I’ll seek to fulfil. We can all choose that.

And so it goes, in the brutal honesty I have promised you; be encouraged that I still believe there is purpose in pain, but don’t think that the pain goes away. I run not because I am pain free, but in spite of it, because of it, knowing that the final destination will make all this worthwhile.

I remember when Ems died not just wishing I had the monopoly on hurt, that no one else would have to feel like I did, but also naively thinking that nothing else could hurt me now. How I wish we all had a quota so that once it was full we could feel no more hurt. But alas, even though my love and grief infiltrate every second and action of my waking day, and I start to believe I couldn’t possibly feel greater loss, more pain, there it is. And just as the grief surprises you with increased vigour, so other hurts are magnified in the light of your open wound. There is no hard shell for hurts to bounce off; it’s all absorbed, deeper and deeper into the gashes that one sweet day will be but memories themselves.

Running with an injury can make the injury flair up at times. But this isn’t a broken leg which can be rested before training resumes. Waiting for my broken-heart to heal is as little an option as waiting for Ems to walk back through the door. So do I stop? There are moments when desperation comes over me to run away from it all; but there is no escape route, there’s nowhere to run to, this isn’t a choice. I can choose to stop but I won’t; I’ll keep running. The stitch will pound and the knees will buckle, there’ll be dehydration, and long, slow hills, but I will run; not in spite of it all, but because of it all, and one day I’ll win.

[Memory #23 The "running" episode
Ems was a man who could teach us all a thing or two about perseverance. As you'll have read in earlier blogs he suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder in these winter months and yet never let it conquer him. It would reduce the amount he could do, yes, but he never caved into bitterness, never took it out on others, never stopped being grateful for the things he did have, never took his eyes off the main thing, he always always loved. One day, lacking energy as he did, he decided that in spite of it, he was going to start running that night in order to increase his (already fairly high) fitness levels.
As I watched the rain begin, then start to pour, outside my office window I expected his resolve to be postponed to another day. But not Ems, he was determined. As soon as we were in through the door, he was up the stairs, changed, then back down, asking me how long dinner would take, before setting out for his 'first' run in the pouring rain. He ran hard despite the elements and got back just in time for dinner!]

Monday, 1 November 2010

November















I usually write in the darkness of night but this morning I woke with a heaviness I haven't had for a while. I had to write.

It's not like I usually spring out of bed carefree; thoughts of Ems are with me within seconds of waking, just after acknowledging that 'ok, I'm still here'. 'Ok, I'm still here' because I have a strong conviction that if I'm still here it's because there is still purpose yet for me to fulfil. Somehow it makes the pain more bearable, it makes life bigger than me.

The mornings aren't like they were in the first few months after Ems died, when I'd wake with a physically aching heart with just a few seconds before things slotted into place in my mind and I realised afresh - 'Ems is gone'. It was like losing him anew every morning.

Now, there is no denial that he is gone from here. It feels like forever. There's the odd moment when it feels like it did when he was here; if I'm lost in work, for example, it's only when I stop that it hits me.

'Hits me' is a very appropriate phrase.

On the whole though, he's gone from here and it feels like forever. Being without him, much as I hate it, becomes something I'm almost 'used to', yet my love for him remains as full and fresh as the last time I saw him and the amount I miss him increases by the day.

The feeling of losing Ems afresh each day may have gone but he's never here now. I wake and I miss him and I wish he were here.

I'm remembering the way we'd always kiss one another before getting out of bed. Or the way I'd tiptoe around the bed on the days he wasn't working, doing my best to get ready without waking him, yet always kneeling down and sharing a kiss and a few gentle words before I left.

Mornings aren't the same now. This morning wasn't the same.

It's November.

November.

November - the name of this month has been on my lips more than it has any other year in my life.

'Last November'.

'When did he die?', 'When did you lose him?', 'When did it happen?', the last time I saw him, the last time I held him, 'there's been an incident...'. All these things - 'last November'.

And so, when this month comes to an end, it'll be 'the November before last'.
I'll no longer say or hear the words 'it hasn't even been a year yet' despite the security that comes with it - what will others expectations be of me now? To me it may feel like a year 'already', to others a year may seem a long time. In some situations, it really isn't.

Though it feels like an eternity since I've seen the man I love, I can't believe it's almost been a year. I still feel like such a beginner on this journey. I may accept it, there are moments when I'm 'used to it', but I hate it.

But when we hate something, we don't fear its loss. Instead, I will just grapple with God and fall into the purpose for which, heavy hearted as I felt, I woke this morning.

[Memory #22 The 'bacon' episode
I can remember the cosy Saturday morning lie-ins together that we'd follow up with a good breakfast. They were never planned and so we'd be out of eggs or milk or another essential ingredient which would mean plans to enjoy it in our dressing gowns were soon halted as Ems made a quick dash for the local shop as I started the grill. No DIY was mentioned as we prepared breakfast, enjoying the peace and togetherness of a post lie-in breakfast; Ems setting the table, pouring the juice, leaving me to rule the stove. Leaving me that is until the bacon started. Mum reminded me the other day how fussy Ems was with his bacon. He liked gammon but didn't like his bacon too thick. He liked it crisp but not hard. He didn't like too much fat but didn't like it with the fat cut off! He was very particular about the bacon but once it was cooked to his exceptionally high standards, the 'mmmms' that enthusiastically flowed from him as he ate it were well worth the effort. Outside of cooking bacon, he caused me very few stresses. We had food and love in our tummies and were ready for the day and DIY ahead.]

Sunday, 24 October 2010

We interrupt this programme...


















You've heard tales of Ems and I journeying along listening to the radio, either singing at the tops of our voices or background noise as we travelled to work. There are countless other radio tales to tell too, from being silenced during 'battle of the bands' to his fits of laughter when I made up lyrics I didn't know (think of rap 'interludes' from the likes of 'Scatman', or any song that includes lyrics in another language, and you'll be half way to imagining what he had to endure).

Well tomorrow morning I'll be on air with Jamie & Louise on BBC Radio Wales. You'll be pleased to know that I won't be singing but instead will be talking about this journey I'm walking, including this blog.

It'd be lovely to have you listen in if you're available to. To listen live online or for details of the various other ways to listen in (Sky, freeview, or good old fashioned wireless included) click here.

Either way come tomorrow at 11am GMT, despite the sorrow that comes with it, I shall have a new opportunity to speak about my lovely man.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Sweetheart




















The rain is relentlessly hammering down against the roof.

Relentless. This grief seems relentless.

There are never moments when it isn't there. With each new day I still feel so much heavier than I used to. But there are days when that load feels slightly more bearable, where the light breaks through a little more than usual, where the emotional muscle ache isn't quite so overwhelming - even if it's just because I'm numb.

Today though, it feels relentless. Today is a relentless day.

There are some better days but there are others when the load seems too heavy; weeks when the darkness hovers closer; moments when the ache doesn't fade at all.

I am surrounded by love. The memories of Ems' love engulf me at times, bringing warmth to my soul as I recall our love with one another. I am still as crazily in love with that boy as the last time I saw him; as moved by his words as I was that last night as I read his last text message - 'ok my lovely sweetheart, I love you x'.

I regularly whisper 'sweetheart' as I look at his photo. The photos of Ems on my dashboard continuously remind me of journeys we took together. When I get in the car I love seeing those photos.

Sometimes I warmly whisper 'sweetheart' at his smiling, loving face - the natural reaction to the sight of the man I love. Other times, I cry 'sweetheart' in desperation, yearning for him, desperate for him, frustrated at taking another journey without him. My prayer life follows the same pattern - love, gratitude and desperation.

I remember the love and feel tender. I remember the loss, the great ever-deepening loss, and I yearn. There is no better word for it. I yearn for him; for my sweetheart.

Today is a relentless day. Today is a day where I'll utter 'sweetheart' in pure desperation. I have driven his car, frustrated that he isn't in it. I have met with our friends, painfully aware that he 'should' be a part of it. I have trawled through the loneliness, needing just his hand to take it all away, yet knowing it won't ever reach out to me again this side of heaven.

I can't wait to see him again one day. And till then, whether softly wistful or in aching desperation, I will never fail to whisper 'sweetheart'.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Celebrations - another crazy day

Celebrating together on our wedding day. June 27th 2009













It's 12:50am. I have work in the morning. I was going to go straight to bed. But I just had to blog quickly before I retire and attempt to sleep.

Today has been another crazy day in this journey I'm travelling. Another day with completely new challenges to face, situations to encounter, things to experience. Yet today has been a crazy day of a different kind.

I've spent the day literally riddled with nerves. Wondering what tonight would hold. Worrying about how I'd be and whether I'd be able to hold myself in a sea of new faces.

I put make-up on this evening for the first time since the memorial gig. I have worn make up three times since Ems died. Once for his funeral. Once for his memorial gig. Both times for Ems, representing him as his wife, not wanting to meet his friends and not be at my best, just like I would've if it had been him introducing me to them.

Tonight was a similar affair and yet not. Please don't think I'm advocating a need to wear makeup to be at your best. Being at your best is most definitely a matter of all things internal. But this evening I had the confidence to wear make up again, to represent Ems, to be there as his girl; this time to a world of people who knew neither of us.

Tonight has only happened because of Ems. Because of the incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly life-changing love story we shared. Tonight has only happened because Ems died. Because the rug was pulled out from under my feet, leaving the bare but strong rock, yet shaking me to the core all the same. Tonight has only happened because I was lead to write about the insanely challenging meeting of these two parts.

Tonight I've won awards for 'Best writing in a blog' AND 'Best Blog' at the Wales Blog Awards!

I am still completely shell shocked and will be for some time.

But tonight, for the first time since Ems died, I have been genuinely pleased. I am genuinely pleased and excited about the light that can come out of the darkest of experiences.

This is by no means the end of my journey. I know that the happiness and excitement that has been experienced tonight is only true because of the deeper sense of purpose that goes along with it.

The happiness will turn to tears of sadness once more; the excitement will be engulfed in desperation. But they will in turn be back. And all the while, my eyes knowingly wandering for glimmers of the bigger picture, the sense of purpose will remain. And so long as we know purpose, we can know fulfilment whether in light or dark, happiness or sadness.

Thank you to those that organised tonight's awards. Thank you to the judges. Thank you (and well done) to my fellow nominees who have written excellent blogs (The Chocolate Takeaway, Journal of Plastik, Two Passports, The Nutpress). Thank you to the lovely people I've met and shared this evening with. Thank you to everyone who has read and followed this blog. Thank you to friends who've supported, encouraged and carried me through. Thank you to Ems for letting me love you and for your incredible love that will always touch my life and fill my heart. Thank you to God for the ability to write, for your hope and inspiration, and the strength to make it through one day at a time.

This is by no means the end. This is all part of the journey, the7journey, and I hope you'll continue to follow.

'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts' Isa 55:8&9

I'm not going to write out a particular memory of Ems tonight but as I've driven home I've remembered clearly the wonderful feeling of sharing achievements with him. I know, I really know, how proud he'd be of me, and how chuffed he'd be with me right now, his Ruthie. I am so sad that he's not here to share it, but I'm so pleased that he's a part of it, and whatever steps lay ahead of me, he always will be.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Normal


I am aching incredibly right now. Just over 10 months ago I never wanted to be normal. Just over 10 months ago I wanted to go against the flow, to make a difference.

Right now in this moment, I would give anything be 'normal'.

I don't even know what 'normal' is and am pretty sure no such thing exists but I want to stop this rollercoaster that keeps speeding round; that just when I think I'm starting to climb, I'm suddenly hurtling down with uncontrollable speed.

I do still yearn to make a difference. And to make a difference, we have to be different. No one ever changed the world by being like it after all. 

I am grateful that my mind is continuously aware of a bigger picture that I can't yet see. Nothing like tragedy can make you so acutely sensitive to how truly fragile life truly is; to how little control we really have. I don't want to be complacent; I don't want to be so at ease with what's around me that I forget that there is more: More to life, more to give, more to receive.

But I am also human. I am fragile. I am easily thrust into moments that leave me crying out for 'normality'.

Sometimes when I am alone I can begin to think that this...that this is normal! I pop to our house to check the post as though everyone has a home they don't live in right now. I smile at memories or photos as though that is the way every 27 year old thinks on their spouse.

And then suddenly there I am, taking a call outside church from friends with good news, and suddenly I'm all too aware that I'm standing in the graveyard where my husband's body lies. And in moments like that I know this isn't how it was meant to be. For a moment I want to be someone in hope of sharing such news myself one day or of turning to my husband to share the good news I've just heard, rather than knowing that I will never be that person.

And even though it hurts, I still know that all I am called to be is me. This is the lot I've been assigned. 11 months ago, I thought it was the most beautiful lot imaginable. When I look forward, I know it is going to be even more beautiful. So right now, I have to just be.

I may want to be 'normal' but I have to be me.

And it's ok for me to get lost in thinking that my situation is normal sometimes. I have to run the race without looking to the right or the left, without looking at those around me. I may have lost the thing most dear to me but if I keep focusing on the goal ahead, I can still win my race. When I stop comparing myself to others, I don't think about normal, about what I don't have. And if I really think about it, even though I'd do anything to have Ems here to live our lives out together as was normal to us; looking back I know that we had so much, so much more than 'normal'. Looking ahead, I know that just as our story together way exceeded anything I could have imagined, I'll one day have way beyond it. It's just right now that hurts so much. And 'right now' will one day be history. Oh help me to realise that. One day at a time.

My heart breaking for 'normality' feels a little foolish considering this poem I wrote this morning.

I would rather be me

Despite the pain,
I would rather be me.
Despite the fact that you're not here,
I would rather be me.

I would rather be me
with all my battles,
all my wounds.

With all my memories.
With all the love I have for you in my heart.
With your love's fingerprints tattooed upon my soul.

Others' climbs may seem less steep, their roads more smooth,
their hearts less scarred, their hands more full.
But I would rather be me,
empty handed,
with memories of holding your sweet hand,
than to be another that had never felt your touch.

I would rather be me,
grief my constant companion
and my heart bursting with the love you lavished upon me,
than to take the burden of being another.

Oh, I don't recommend that any other be me right now.
But I wouldn't have wanted to be any other back then.
I won't want to be any other when I join you in endless light.
And so it is.
Past beauty.
Future gain.
I can't want to be anyone else in this present.

For your love is ever with me,
and though I walk the shady valley of death,
the same light that shined for us, shines for me,
and the light always wins.

I would rather be your me.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Waves



















I feel quite sick right now. It's not a bug. It's not anything I've eaten. It's a pit of my stomach sick. It's a feeling that comes over me when the emotions build up before they emerge.

They say crying's good for you. It is. Time and time again I've been told by everyone to 'let it out'. In times of intense sobbing it doesn't feel so good. The pain is acute, the familiar sting of tears burns my cheeks like no fire ever could. Yet, there's a peace, quite beyond understanding, that follows those times of heart wrenching emotion; a stillness that overcomes my soul and begs me to be still. I will never get from the undercurrent of bubbling emotion to those pools of tranquillity without first accelerating down the rapids and letting the rivers flow. I really need a good cry right now.

Far more often than any time in the last 10 months, there is a veneer of normality about me. The number of times I expose my emotion daily has decreased considerably; even to those close to me. I now hold conversations about the weather on a frequent basis. We Brits really do always talk about the weather.

I spent 90 minutes after work with a journalist from our local paper. I got choked a few times, yes, but I controlled it. I fought the place within that was crying to get out. Despite the conversation being about our story - the love, the joy, the heartbreak - I got through it without 'losing it'. All the things that stir me most - my beautiful Ems, the way we fell for one another, the way we were with one another, the way I admired him as a person in almost equal measure to the amount I loved him. All these things talked of. Yet no rivers.

I appreciate not making other people feel awkward quite so often. But to bottle it up? I hate this wall that I put up so readily, without even trying to. The 'me' you see is not superficial. I'm not pretending to be anything I'm not. There's just this plug, this seal that I fix so that only the surface is visible.

Mrs Davies' surface can chat with you now. She can joke with you now. She can talk of the weather and other unimportant things. She can notice beautiful sunsets that once were invisible to her darkened vision. Mrs Davies' surface can look to the horizon now, she can thankfully see the beauty of day to day things, she can enjoy the company of her 2 year old niece without always wondering what their own children would have been liked. She can throw herself into her work, even the mundane, without continuously asking what the point of it is. Mrs Davies' surface is quite pleased to be able to eat a large pizza without worrying about putting weight on because the emotion eats up calories like no diet ever could.

And all the while underneath the surface, Mrs Davies, thrilled that her name will forever show that she is Ems' Mrs Davies, aches with a pain that she cannot communicate with the world. It is not because of fear of others that she cannot communicate it. It is not because she cherishes the appearance that she gives. It is simply because she cannot come close to communicating the way that 'this' really feels.

I pile the weight of a mask on top of the overwhelming weight of heartbreak. Yes, the overwhelming weight of heartbreak. I am convinced that the only weight in this world heavier than the weight of a broken heart is the weight of a broken heart without hope of repair. Yes, I do have the hope of repair one sweet day. The overwhelming weight acts as a reminder of that hope - that one day all this will fade - but it's still that, a weight. A weight that threatens to overwhelm. And here am I, fighting it, trying to keep it down, yet needing undeniably, to shatter the veneer for a moment, and let it overtake me.

I am somewhere in the middle. Situated between the springs that bubble away beneath and the calm of the peaceful lake. The sea may look welcoming but the undercurrent is strong.

I am desperately in need of the power that calms the seas to come and calm the waves within.

[Memory #21 the 'rolling waves' episode
As I've mentioned water so much in this blog, I've been taken back to an instance we shared on a team aid / mission trip to Brazil in summer 2008. I am, on the whole, a good traveller. Ems on the other hand felt nauseas quite easily and usually sat in the driver's seat for good reason. On one of our days off during the trip, we embarked on a trip to the coral reef just off the coast of Joao Pessoa. The boat taking us out to the reef was moored just off the shore & we walked, bags on heads, out to it, boarded it and awaited our trip. As we sat in the sun on top of this boat I became increasingly aware of the way the boat was moving with the waves approaching the shoreline. As a simple car journey could often upset Ems, I looked at him expecting him to understand the unsettled feeling I was experiencing, but he simply looked back surprised and somewhat concerned at my expression. He was feeling fine and was almost shocked to be the one not experiencing the motion sickness. He held me close and steadied me as much as possible, reminding me to look at the horizon, and whispering sweet nothings, helping me to rest in his arms. We were soon moving; my head rested in the pit of his shoulders, and soon reached our destination (which was worth it - look at the above photo and see if you can spot the fish). Ems liked to repeat that story any time tales of his motion sickness would come up. He always was so good at pointing out the horizon ahead of us as well as encouraging me to rest a while in the busyness of life. I guess I could do with some of that advice right now.]

Monday, 27 September 2010

Something to write about

A few weeks before Ems died he asked me how I felt about work. I told him I'd love to write one day but 'had nothing to write about'. Ems told me that he really believed I could do it.

A few days after his death, I remember being in what is to be the study in our house, and I suddenly had the overwhelming realisation that I now 'had something to write about'. This blog begun a few weeks later.

Like I said in my very first blog entry, From the Start, 'I never wanted to write this blog'. But simultaneously, I do want to write this blog. I have written it. I am writing it. I will write it. And now, 9 months into it, I find out today that I've been shortlisted for the 'best writing on a blog' category in the Wales blog awards.

I use no false modesty in saying that I feel hugely humbled. I am grateful to those who nominated me (one was the journalist who wrote the Huffington post piece, Journeying alone together, about this blog). I am grateful to those who've chosen to include me in the shortlist. I am grateful to you who are reading. I'm not going to pretend I'm not pleased to be shortlisted but I'm still sorry that I have something to write about. Without question, I would rather be part of no shortlist, write no blog, and have my lovely Ems here at my side. This is another crazy step in this bizarre journey that I am walking. Good things coming out of brokenness.

In some ways, it only seems like yesterday that Ems and I took that journey and spoke of future dreams. Those dreams are all but shattered but I know he'd be right behind me on this one. A dream, which without him and his beautiful love in my life, would never have been possible.

See the full Wales Blog Awards shortlist, packed with worthy nominees, here.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A special request















Hi guys

This is a very special request...

Two of my best friends, who later became friends of Ems too (the above photo shows the 3 of them messing around climbing trees in the New Forest in January 2009), are running the Berlin Marathon this weekend. They're running it in memory of Ems and for the charity Mind.

Ems suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder each autumn / winter for the last 6 years of his life and I watched him suffer with it courageously and selflessly. Many out there suffer from various mental health disorders and suffer not just from the horror of their condition but also from the ignorance of others regarding mental health - 'Mind UK campaigns to create a society that promotes and protects good mental health for all - a society where people with experience of mental distress are treated fairly, positively and with respect' (Mind website).

I would never ask for money for myself but should you want to give, whether in memory of Ems, or simply because MIND is an outstanding cause to support, the links to their sponsorship pages are below:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Cliveabel
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Andrewstearn

For the 1 in 4 people that will experience a mental health problem this year, in memory of my sweet lovely darling boy, and in great appreciation to Clive & Spandex (sorry Andrew, couldn't resist!),

Ruthie x

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.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Love and / or grief















I'm hurting. It's no worse than yesterday. It'll be no different to tomorrow.

I do wonder sometimes, I ask myself when it'll all go away. I think of Ems and wonder when it will stop feeling so crazy that he's not here. I wonder, and then I know.

The truth is it won't ever go away. It won't ever feel crazy that he's not here. There won't be a morning when I wake up and the pain is gone, when I don't miss him anymore, when everything is 'normal' and uncomplicated again.

My perspective, my life, has been well and truly shifted.

I hate life without Ems. I hate that he's not around to make decisions with, big and small. I hate that he's not here to share those little details that you only care about sharing with the one you really love. I hate that I so often find myself in those moments where you're 'killing time' waiting, only to realise that the person I'm subconsciously 'waiting' to hang out with isn't around anymore. I hate being in a situation that no one else is in.

I still have every desire for Ems that I ever had. It's still him that I want to hang out with. It's still him that I want to live out my dreams, frustrations, good days and bad days with. When I have something I want to share, it is still him that I want to share it with, that I want to share everything with.

Life since Ems died is not life without Ems. Ems is no longer here, I am in no denial of that, but the love I have for Ems is as great as the day he died. My desire to be with him, to please him, to serve him, to love him is still as strong as when he was right here next to me. I still think about him all the time and consider him as I'm making decisions. I'm grateful that we were so close, that we knew each other so well. It means that I often know what he'd have wanted or thought about decisions that I make. It's also excrutiating when I don't know, and I can't ask.

The new struggles, struggles that Ems and I would never have come across when he was alive. The new achievements, things that would never have looked like achievements with him here. These things I want to share with him.

Life goes on and the number of days where I've been void of his company increases but the power of the love, the memories - they remain strong.

People ask if it's easier now but it isn't. It is certainly different to the horror and shock of the initial weeks. I feel like I'm still living for two yet with the strength of just one. I guess, more accurately, where I was part of a whole, I am now half. Being a half hurts. Being a half in a world which is so different to what it was before - I'm lost.

I cling on to God with everything that I am and He remains the only thing that brings purpose to my days and peace where everything is in turmoil. But faith doesn't mean an absence of pain. It doesn't mean all of this hurt will just disappear; It is far bigger than that.

I remain indebted to the family, friends and colleagues who have shown me so much love. I am grateful for the words they have encouraged me with even when they feel so helpless. I am grateful for the time they have given to me even when they're not sure what to do with it. I am grateful for the way they have tenderly cared for my breaking heart even though it hurts them to do so.

No the pain doesn't go away and it won't. There are all sorts of phrases about 'grief being the price you pay for loving someone', about it being 'better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all'. As easy as they are to say and not mean, I actually agree with them.

I truly am experiencing this deep, unquenchable agony because of the inextinguishable, lifechanging love that was (is) Ems and mine. I don't have the option of switching off such feelings - neither the pain, nor the love. And I have to ask whether I'd want to?

The truth is, I have to live with this pain. For with this pain comes the immense memory of the truest love two flawed human beings could have hoped to experience - not just memories of days or acts or words, but memories of feelings. Memories of the excitement, hope, comfort, joy that rises when you hear your loved one's name, see their car approaching, hear those 'sweet everythings'. The anticipation of seeing Ems still rises in me only to be quashed by the repeated realisation that he isn't coming. But would I choose to deny that repeated agony and with it lose the memory of the love? Not a chance.

There is loss because there was once something so beautiful in my posession.
There is pain because there was once such comfort.
There is grief because there was once great love.

The grief has overcome me just like the love did and there is no way to lose one and not the other.

Would I do it all again? Every time.

In giving everything you face losing everything but in losing everything, you seek to gain everything. And as this is true in love, so it is true in life. I'm still going to give everything.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Memories of a year ago













GarethJonesPhotography, 2009

I've thought about it and I cannot possibly let today go by without blogging. Today. Today is a massive day. Today is the 27th June. Today would have been our 1st wedding anniversary. If Ems was still here we'd probably have cooed about how wonderful the first year had been, how it had flown by, yet also how it felt like we'd been married forever.

Time doesn't fly anymore but it really did feel like we'd been married forever. It feels so wrong that such a depth of love, such a brilliant partnership, such a beautiful marriage, only lasted 5 months. It truly felt like we'd been together all our lives. It still does. Many have commented on how we had a whole lifetime in our 2 years. We did. Yet I am still here, I am still living life on earth, and I am nearing the end of what would only have been our first wedding anniversary, and he's not here.

And on this day, I have known immense grief and brokenness. On waking I thought 'so this is it' and it wasn't long before well-wishing messages and reflections on my beautiful husband and the phenomenal day we married last year, had me broken. I am so grateful for those messages. Brokenness of course, as you'll have seen in my last blog, is something I had longed for this weekend. There was no way I wanted to pass this milestone numb. I had to feel, I had to remember, and I have.

Today being a Sunday has meant I have kept in my normal routine of attending church. It didn't make the anniversary go away (I wouldn't have wanted it to - 27th June, 2009 was the best day of our lives) but it meant I had something 'normal' to do.

As I travelled to church this morning from my parent's house, I thought about the same journey I made there last year in the VW Campervan that Ems had inspiredly chosen as our mode of transport for the day. I was broken remembering the emotions bubbling up that I had tried so hard to hold in as I made my way to the church that day.

As I parked outside the church, I remembered all the people that had gathered outside to watch the wedding and the smiles and excitement they shared with me as I arrived in my wedding dress that day. It was very different this morning. Just as the emotions had built up as I saw their excitement for us that day, the emotions built up as I walked alone towards the church where one of the loveliest people I know greeted me with a hug and such a genuine welcome on the door (as he does every Sunday).

As I walked into the church I remembered walking down the aisle towards my beautiful man, my proud father at my side, thrilled with my choice of husband. I was alone this year, the man that had walked me back up that aisle as my new husband, no longer at my side. I did my usual Sunday glance around, quickly looking for an available seat next to a friendly face before the panic kicks in. Two beautiful friends had the foresight to save me a seat between them and were ushering me to it. I am so grateful for this thoughtfulness.

As I sat in the seat on the back row, I remembered proudly standing at the front with my Ems. We wanted to share that moment with the whole world and the church was packed. Today I was at home on the back row which has been my resting place each Sunday these past 7 months, no longer confident sitting near the front as I would have while Ems played the guitar, only for him to join me afterwards. One thing that hasn't changed - I still want to share our love with the world.

As the songs begun I thought over the time and effort we'd put in together to choosing the 'right' songs, readings, etc for the service. One of the obvious choices had been a song called 'Blessed be your name' by Matt Redman. The band had picked it for this evening's service. It had been a song Ems had mentioned hearing when I hardly knew him. It was to become our song as it talks of God in the light and darkness, so relevant to our walk together through his SAD. We sung it with gusto at the wedding that day, 'when the suns shining down on me' we sung, as it did. 5 months later we'd sung it at his funeral, 'when I'm found in the desert place', which I'm still in. Today we sung it, both the light and the darkness so clear in my mind.

Following our vows last year we knelt down as the pastor (minister) prayed for us. Today, it was I, and not us, who was included in their prayers on this memorable day.

When I left the church I remembered so clearly our excitement that we were finally 'Mr and Mrs Davies'. We were thrilled. We were excited. We were so in love. Our friends and family showered us in confetti. Two days ago I'd stood at Ems' grave, picking the heads off the roses that I'd left there on his birthday, and one head at a time, breaking off the petals and scattering them across his grave. It was my confetti for him, remembering that moment where we'd stood together under it the year before, now somewhat symbolically showering rose petals, and my love, on his grave (not that he's there). There weren't the smiles and the cheers but the love was just as real, just as tangible, just as beautiful.

And of course, as I drove away, I remembered driving away with my lovely Mr Davies, choked with emotion as we embarked on married life together. We were both so proud, so deeply and madly in love. Today, I drove away alone, something I am, because I have no other option, becoming all too familiar with. Still madly in love.

Just as I was overwhelmed with emotion on the 27th June, 2009, I have been overwhelmed with emotion today, 27th June, 2010. Last year the emotion was excitement and sheer joy at coming together with the love of my life. This year the emotion is deep sadness that the love of my life is no longer here.

I know one day I'll see him again where there'll be no more parting. Till then, I will go on remembering with immense gratitude that Ems was mine, Ems was mine, oh how truly blessed I am to be able to say such words however agonising it is that my boy isn't here.

On a side note, and somewhat ironic as the first anniversary is represented with 'paper', this blog featured in the press today (see link below). It wasn't actually on paper but in an online article, the link to which is below. I just want to thank all of you that have kept encouraging me to write. This journey has a long way to go, my whole life, however long that may be, and I am privileged to be able to share it with you the reader, whoever you may be. View the article here.

The same article was later (28th June, 2010) published on The Huffington Post website too. View the article here.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Exhaustion














Holding hands while practicing our vows at our wedding rehearsal (26th June, 2009)

I slept for 11 hours last night and am still well and truly exhausted.

Today is the 26th June, 2010. This time last year I felt exhausted too. It was the day before our wedding. After a week of getting 3 hours sleep a night and spending every waking minute preparing all the details, large and small, for our big day, I was exhausted. I almost passed out as my friend manicured my nails before our wedding rehearsal began. I'd been living on toast (another toast linked memory we shared!) and rushing around like crazy trying to make everything perfect. Who needed sleep when you were marrying the man you loved that weekend? Exhausted, yet full of excitement for the big day ahead and the beautiful days as a married couple that lay before us.

Today I am truly exhausted. I have been for weeks. It's not because I've been sleeping 3 hours a night. In fact, late nights aside, I sleep pretty well. It's not a lack of sleep that's tired me out.

It's that feeling when you leave the house and every day, feel that you've left something behind.

It's that longing to share the things that happen each day with someone you won't see again for all your days on earth.

It's the continual frustration of desires.

It's having had your other half, a part of your very self, die. There's only half of you left now to make it through each day.

It's beginning to do things that 'normal' people do with half the strength.

It's learning to walk again, to breathe again, to be again...no wonder babies sleep so much with all the learning they have to do.

With exhaustion comes a horrible sense of numbness. It's horrible. As much as at times in the past few months I have almost willed myself not to feel, that I might escape the heartache and frustrated longings for my sweet, darling boy, to feel numb is to not feel at all; And to not feel is perhaps the most tragic sense of being there is. We're designed with hearts that sense and feel, that love and hate. Feeling numb makes me feel inhuman. I feel detached not not just from the things that surround me in the present, but from my memories so full of feeling, too.

I've dreaded this weekend, our first wedding anniversary, so much because of the memories it brings (sweet memories of course but echoing Ems absence even louder). Yet somehow, I've longed for it, hoping that as I remember the huge excitement we shared in planning, and the memories of the sweetest day we could have hoped for, it would break this numbness that I've been experiencing.

To choose to feel too much or to not feel at all? Great as the pain may be, I could never choose to not feel. To choose to not feel and experience the love, however much it means the reality hurts, would be the most tragic choice of all. It's not even a choice we can make for ourselves - however hard some people try.

Even though the beautiful object of my affection is in beautiful pastures new, the love we shared can never die. Just like Ems, our love will never grow old. I choose to feel it with every ounce of my being because it was the sweetest human love I could ever have experienced and a love like that is not one you let go.

[Memory #19 the "lavender" episode
I can remember so clearly the week leading up to our wedding. It was frantic but we were both so excited that it didn't matter. We'd enjoyed suit fittings, marquee decorating, gift preparing, etc. Ems had been involved in every detail (dresses aside) before the big day, the most amazing partner and help, and now it really was all go. When we arrived at the 26th June (the day before the big day), we had most things covered and Ems and I met at the church to decorate and clean together. We managed to have a moment together before others arrived to help. We couldn't wait for the wedding. Everything felt, everything was, just right. Ems spent the next 2 hours scrubbing every nook of the church's toilets (so if you were a guest at our wedding and went to the loo that day you can thank Ems that it was so clean!). I'd given Ems a bowl of lavender to put in each of the toilets. A few weeks after the wedding, I noticed the bowl of lavender, hidden away in the ladies loo. I mentioned it to Ems, wondering why anyone would have hidden it since the wedding. Ems expression gave away immediately that he knew something about it (his transparency was beautiful). He said that he'd hidden both of them away from the start. When I'd given them to him and mentioned that they were to "make the place smell nice", he took it literally and so hadn't realised they were also decorative! I loved that day of preparations and excitement with my lovely boy. Battling with emotions at the wedding rehearsal, I had no idea how many tears were to come.]

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!]


MY SWEET DARLING BOY SUFFERED FROM THE HORRIBLE 'SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER', A DEPRESSION THAT ATTACKS IN WINTER MONTHS. MY DEAR COUSIN & HER BOYFRIEND ARE RUNNING THE EDINBURGH MARATHON THIS SATURDAY & ONE OF THEIR 2 CHARITIES IS THE MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION IN MEMORY OF EMS. EVERY SORT OF MENTAL ILLNESS IS SERIOUS AND CRUEL & MANY WHO SUFFER LIVE LIVES OF AGONY & MISUNDERSTANDING. PLEASE SPONSOR THEM THIS WEEK, IN MEMORY OF EMS, WHO ALWAYS FOUGHT WITH COURAGE AND NEVER LET IT WIN. SPONSOR THEM AT: http://www.justgiving.com/rhodandrhi

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.

Ouch.

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.