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Plot Twist!

When life gives you lemons...

Photo by Constantin Popp on Unsplash

Some years ago now, I suffered a tragic loss. Whilst 39 weeks pregnant with my second child, I lost my husband—suddenly—to undiagnosed metastatic spinal malignancy (in layman's terms: Spinal cancer, secondary, spread from elsewhere in the body).

We already had a two-year-old daughter and were looking forward to welcoming our son into the world in time for Christmas.

The details I will share another time, but the long and the short of it is that he got ill, then he got worse, and then he went to hospital and never came home.

The time that followed was little short of horrendous. 

A man with everything to live for, yet he was taken from this world, some would say, before his time.

But this is not a story about him, this is a story about me. A young woman, widowed, with two small children. It was the single most painful, soul destroying, heart shattering period of my life. I was completely and utterly lost—physically and emotionally. 

To say I struggled would be a huge understatement. I clawed my way through that first year. I drank, I smoked, I didn't sleep or eat properly. I just about managed to care for my children. Some people were supportive, others just slowly faded into the distance - they never knew what to say, or do. Many people are still unsure when I tell this story, not wanting to react in the "wrong" way.

There is no "right" or "wrong" way. The most ridiculous response is "I'm sorry." As if, in my voicing the tale, the listener somehow became responsible for the events retold.

Listen up, shit-for-brains, unless your name is Cancer and you ate my husband's bone marrow, "I'm sorry" is a pointless comment.

I don't want your pity, your sorrow.

I want you to witness, to listen, perhaps to understand. Someone might even hear their own story within the details.

Much time has passed, much water has trickled under this bridge. The many tears I cried, the ululations, the sackcloth and ashes I wore are all history, floating on my Viking funeral boat, away down the river. Further and further away, they fade.

There is no more hurt.

I have played those last moments with him a hundred, hundred times in my head. There is only one thing I would change—that there had been no pain, for him. I cannot fathom the agony he felt, that never abated. Hooked up to machines, tubes, needles, bags of fluid, blood, plasma, antibiotics, steroids.

Apart from this, I can look back on his passing with peace. With philosophy.

He was put on this earth for a purpose—to leave his legacy. This mission completed, it was his time to depart. For those who say he was untimely ripped from us, I defy you. He did what he had set out to do. He gave me the most beautiful, intelligent, amazing children. He did not leave before his time.

The last words he said to me were "I love you."

The words I said to him?

"It's alright, I'll look after them. You can go now."

In the aftermath I listened to a LOT of music. Two songs which I still hold very dear:

  • "Hold My Heart" by Tenth Avenue North
  • "Good Man" by India Arie

There are many, many others which healed me. However, ultimately, the healing came from within. It came from watching my children—his children—grow. It comes from my living my life by nobody else's rules but my own.

As a girl, I was sweet, quiet, shy, a victim of bullying.

The events spoken of here stripped everything from me, my life would never be the same, I will never be that girl again.

Now I live authentically, my way, without apology. I am loud, proud, a wolf mother, a wild woman. Labeled a non-conformist by many. I am a "too much" woman.

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