I have decided to wrap up my blog with this final post for my rainbow of love, loss and the pot of hope found at the end of it. My thoughts have gone into overdrive for this, complete with the countless speed bumps of contemplation on my entire decision to stop.
It was only last week that I was sat in my home in Southport where I started to piece together my thoughts for this post. I told myself to “maybe I should wait a bit longer”, though; I knew I needed to figure out whether my decision to stop was based on it just being ‘the right time’ or something else?
No matter how I observed my feelings, I had to be honest with myself. I realised that all the anguish that made me start writing my blog at the beginning, has now changed shape. It has now morphed into something that is making me want to hold back my energy. Maybe it is just the obvious and simple fact that I need to concentrate all my energy on writing my book. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and I certainly can’t ignore how I’m now feeling.
So, at this point, I stopped thinking about what I wanted to write down. I got up out of my chair and made a beeline to the kitchen counter, where there was a plate of cookies that I’d been avoiding all day. I ate the whole plate.
Then I thought to myself, “how could cookies not make me feel better?” Then all of a sudden, I started to think about Katherine’s love for cookies.
When she was alive she would never settle for just any old cookie. They would have to be the soft doughy type. The ones that just melt in your mouth when you chew them. Of course, they could only be worthy of her full praise if they came with the chunkiest chocolate bits concealed inside them.
As a child, Katherine and her family set the goalposts high for the ultimate cookie eating experience. In the past, her family went on holiday to Orlando, Florida, USA. They had discovered the grocery chain called ‘Publix’, which they’re cookies became the holy ‘Cookie’ grail. Since this discovery, every other cookie was adjudicated against the ‘Publix’ experience.
So, I then started to think about the purpose of my blog in the same sense as Katherine’s ‘Publix’ cookie test. In a way, it has been my own ultimate experience for my grief. It had been my best support tool all along, releasing my thoughts, my emotions, my pain and my hope. It has helped people to understand and to know what life was truly like behind closed doors of a widowed Dad and Husband. Nothing else compared to it.
I then questioned myself whether my resolve to wrap my blog up was because I’d had enough of analysing everything in my head, or whether all my topics of grief had simply run their natural course. In which case, perhaps my mind was probably just adapting accordingly in preparation to write a book. Could writing my book be the very nature of Katherine’s ‘Publix’ cookie test? It could initially be judged against the power of my blog when it is released. Complete with all the chunky blocks of love I intend to put inside it.
It then occurred to me that “yes, this is it”, this was the next logical step. I now have the opportunity to build a legacy for Katherine on behalf of our little girl by capturing the special moments of her life for her to cherish forever. It was the right time to finalise the blog once and for all.
I started this blog from nowhere. I have pushed it hard and I’ve found lots of others who were searching for the same thing as me. One of the most beautiful things about the empathy of others was the fact we have all helped one another, and we remain to do so continually. I think that reaching out to the people I eventually found was probably the most significant step I could have taken in helping myself through the pain of grief.
Something I have never told anyone is my personal feelings when I reached my fifth post in my blog. I felt that all the readers would think I was just being a dictatorial dick about grief. I would even think some would even see me as an attention seeker and just simply want me to “shut the fuck up?” But that simply wasn’t the case, it was all in my head when I began to connect with others.
I must admit, things progressed quite quickly with all my truthfulness in grief. I have had the opportunity to go farther into the public domain: radio appearances, media interviews, life Insurance adverts, articles in newspapers, magazines and now my final piece, a book. It was really interesting to observe how people, in general, are interested in reading and sharing it. This was one of my other purposes for it I wanted to help the many who haven’t even experienced loss.
Despite my division of opinion, today is a good day to move onto the final stage. I now have to make a promise to myself to crack on with the final legacy for Katherine. I can’t see myself writing both my book and blog together. My body and mind simply won’t let me. My emotional energy to write can sometimes run so high for a single moment, and then grow hardened in the next period of time.
With time in mind, I also want to concede that time does, in fact, heal dramatically. I find this strange to say, but it did occur to me the other day that I don’t see myself as a ‘widower’ anymore – it’s just a label. Maybe with all the time that has been and gone, I don’t want this label to define me now, for the rest of my days. Even without this label, nothing about losing Katherine feels any different inside my heart.
Over the last few months, I’ve experienced this strange sensation – a feeling like I’m starting to live a happy new life again. My love for my wife Nicola is a magical thing and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to live and love again. I feel like I’m not playing an uncomfortable role anymore, but yet I can still hold and love my past in my heart and my head. I will never forget the life and love I have with Katherine.
It’s quite funny how I’m reminded of how my life is now. I had to fill in the marital status section of an online form last week. I spotted ‘Widowed’ within the drop-down list. I thought, Oh shit! That’s not me anymore, I’m married! Then a smile appears on my face.
I guess the smile comes from how I feel. The feeling of content is enough to gratify myself and to not be entirely defined by my past, but – honestly – I think it’s actually because I have a title and a status that is altogether more pleasing and delivers responsibility to my life: I’m a parent and a husband again.
For my daughter, Margot, she’ll start school next year. She just turned three last week and by the time she comes to read all the things I’ve written. I’m hoping she’ll understand that I’ve tried to create a narrative of the early years. I am sure she’ll comprehend how we never asked for the horror that life had thrown at us.
We’ve moved forward in the right direction and I want her to appreciate that it was only I who could judge and deem the most appropriate way forward for us both. I have found the strength and ability to reinvent myself, for reasons that she will eventually understand. I hope she will embrace the happy and sad times ahead of us. I can’t even begin to piece together the emotional rollercoaster of the discussions we’ll have throughout the years.
One thing I do know, and she’ll agree on. Nicola has won the gold medal for the Mother of the year award. The relationship they have is just so beautiful to see.
I called this blog ‘No Rain No Rainbows’ in admiration of the final line of the Hawaiian rules. I guess the ‘rain’ resembles all of the tears I’ve shed over the years of losing Katherine. The ‘rainbow’ of course is something Katherine admired deeply in life. It also carries the hope for the future out of sadness.
Let’s not forget that one can’t occur without the other too, which is important to remember. You can’t know what happiness is until you’ve tasted it. This is what I’ve always wanted my blog to describe too, in so many different ways. All of these experiences I’ve shared are for the benefit of others. I never thought I’d have to write or share my thoughts, I’ve never had any desire to, but I have made my choices and it has helped me immensely.
Life never goes to plan. If it did then I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog for someone to read. It has been a really interesting life lesson, one that has gone down easier with a big plate of cookies.
Much love x