I’ve been writing this post in my head for a little while now and it feels like the right time to share some of my thoughts.
I lost my husband and the love of my life in February at the age of only 35. Michael was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour 2 years ago and after bravely facing many rounds of surgery and treatment, ultimately his condition could not be cured and became more aggressive. He was my entire world and without him I am only half of a whole.
The bravery and strength Michael showed throughout his illness was truly inspirational, and I am so proud of my incredible husband. He refused to be defined by his illness and to let anything stop him from living his life as he wanted, and even on the hardest of days he always made me smile. He lit up a room and his energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun were infectious. It is simply impossible to think about Michael without smiling as he gave us all so many happy memories. I have been lucky to hear so many wonderful tributes to Michael from those who knew and loved him, and the common theme is always that our lives are richer for having Michael in them as he was the kind of guy who brought people together, made every moment more special and brought out the best in all of us.
The loss I am feeling is devastating and I simply don’t know what to do without him. We had so many plans to achieve our hopes and dreams, and I am adjusting to the reality of losing my husband and the life we dreamed of. But whilst our time together was too short and we should have shared our entire lives, I know how rare it is to love someone as completely as Michael and I loved each other and I am grateful for every moment we had together. And so now what I want most of all is to carry on living the way we planned, and to do it for both of us. These are the darkest of days for me, but I must keep going for Michael.
I have written before about how despite Michael’s diagnosis we both chose to live positively and this is something I hope to continue. For me, part of that was being creative, engaging in the wonderful community I have discovered on Instagram, and by starting this blog. I used to be a solicitor, but put my career on hold when Michael was diagnosed to care for him as I didn’t want to miss a moment by his side. Whilst things like sewing and taking part in social media might seem trivial, they provided a positive distraction at a time when we were transitioning to a different pace of life, and provided an outlet so that I could stay strong and positive for Michael and be everything that he needed me to be and a little bit more besides.
When Michael’s illness became worse at the beginning of January, I put all of this to one side as it just didn’t feel right and I needed to focus on caring for my husband, but Michael wanted me to carry on. It will come as no surprise to those who knew Michael that his priority was still to look after me and make sure I was happy even when he was so poorly, as kindness and love always poured out of him and he was the most loving husband I could ever have wished for. With his encouragement I actually made a few dresses back in January in the times while he was resting, and I started sewing again recently and it has been a wonderful therapy and distraction. He also told me how much he liked that I shared snapshots of our life on Instagram and my blog and wanted me to keep doing this, so I promised that I would try and carry on as soon as I felt brave enough, and now I am doing it for Michael. My posts may be a little sporadic for a while as I find my feet in this new reality, and I will not always feel strong enough to fully engage through comments etc. as sometimes I struggle to find the right words, but I will be trying.
And so now I thought I would share some of the small ways I am already trying to continue living positively for Michael:
- Talking about Michael, because as I said before you just cannot think of Michael without a smile creeping in. To start with, I have printed mountains of photos ready to be scrapbooked, and I am planning blog posts about his amazing lego creations. I have so many stories to tell and photos to share.
- Trying to be more like Michael and to live by his example, whether that means channelling his irrepressible sense of humour, his shining enthusiasm and dedication to everything he did, his kindness and generosity, or some of his bravery and courage even in the darkest of times.
- Continuing to find small ways to stay happy, sometimes by losing myself in therapeutic sewing and making, and by carrying on the hobbies Michael and I shared such as gardening. We planted an olive tree yesterday in Michael’s memory in our garden, and I have also chosen a new rose for my rose border called “Bright Smile” as the name just sums him up. I have also redecorated my bedroom which was a helpful distraction, and plan to share a room tour soon.
- Taking the time to give something back, both through fundraising for the charities who have given us so much support and through fighting to protect and improve the NHS. My best friend Jo has already raised over £9,000 for Douglas Macmillan Hospice through some incredible fundraising. Jo is currently the associate choreographer on the tour of the brilliant musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and while the show was in Stoke the cast held collections after every performance for Douglas Macmillan in memory of Michael, and the stars of the show posed for pictures in exchange for donations. They all went above and beyond to raise money for an incredibly important charity, who gave us so much support throughout Michael’s illness and supported me in caring for Michael at home. The amount they have raised is so inspiring, and I hope to continue to support Douglas Macmillan and other charities who have helped us, and I already have lots of ideas!
I would also like to take a moment to say a few thank yous. Firstly to my wonderful parents for their unwavering love and support and for never leaving my side. They have been there for Michael and I through every step, and there are truly no words to say how completely incredible they have been and how lucky I am to have them. To my brother and sister-in-law for constantly shooting up and down the motorway to visit and give me huge hugs, for always listening and helping us through, and for keeping me in supply of chocolate! To my friends and family for making me feel completely surrounded by love, and for making sure I keep going and keep living. And finally to all of the lovely friends I have made through Instagram who have sent me messages and comments – I have read every one even if I haven’t always managed to respond, and I am so grateful for all of your support.