Not sure why I needed to write this today. But I did.
Tim and I had a fairy story. We met in our early twenties at a youth prayer group. I had other commitments – a boyfriend called Paul – and Tim sighed gently, tucked the candle he held for me in his back pocket, and we became friends. We stayed friends through thick and thin. Through his troubled times. Through his diagnosis with type 2 diabetes and his hospital stay for a rather scary bout of acute pancreatitis. Through my marriage falling apart and my descent into depression. And finally, through my divorce.
I was separated for two years, though Paul and I continued to live in the same house, and over this time I fell in love with Tim. With his kindness and his humour, his ability to tell stories, his love for films and books and cars, and of course, his adoration of me. I have never been loved so much.
Tim proposed in a motel in France, just as we were going to bed. I think he may have still been in his knickers and socks. I said no, but only because the divorce wasn't yet final. He proposed for the second time as we looked at a beautiful channel-set diamond and white gold ring in the window of a jeweller's shop. It's still on my finger.
We married at the church where he was christened, and where his grandparents are buried. It was a day of sun and joy and light and family and friends, and he was my beautiful boy, his face full of happiness. Our honeymoon in Greece was sweet and quiet, with time just the two of us, and time with Tim's wonderful godfather and namesake Tim, and his lovely wife Aphroula.
We moved to Tideswell, to the house where I still live, and he created his bookshop downstairs. I worked upstairs in my office, and we would talk many times a day. My favourite moments were getting up early to work and then snuggling back in bed with him before we both started our days for real. I also loved heading downstairs with a cup of coffee for him, and on Wednesdays for Fiona too. We would hug the warm mugs and talk about everything and nothing.
Unfortunately, not all fairy stories have a happy ending. Eighteen months before our tenth wedding anniversary, the morning after a wonderful night out, and with no warning at all, Tim breathed for the last time. Despite CPR, and me pumping his chest as I screamed down the line at a wonderful phone handler, and despite work by indefatigable paramedics, he never breathed again.
In a broken parody of our mornings together, I curled up next to his still warm body. I tucked my head into his neck. I inhaled his smell, and kissed the soft skin behind his ear. Fiona held my hand. Simon and Gillian, my dear friends, anointed him and sent him on his journey.
And then I had to do the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to call his parents. I had to call our friends. I had to call my family. So many calls. Telling the same story so many times. Accepting the kind wishes, the love. Managing their grief as well as mine. The rest is numbness. Sleeping alone that first night. Organising a funeral and burial at the church in Somerset where we were married, with the ceremony carried out both times by the same old friend. Organising a memorial service and wake back here in Tideswell. Accepting a life where he was never going to be back, however hard I wished.
It's now two years. I have the same life and a different life. I have my old friends, and I also have the friends I thought I would never have. The friends joined in grief for losing a partner too young. I am at university, studying something new. I am moving forward (I don't say that I move on) and I have travelled, run, written, laughed and learned.
But I still grieve. I think I always will.
Writing short fiction, monologues and plays