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, 24 October 2010
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
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
|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
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,
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.
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
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.]