Comfort In The Written Word

Since beginning this blog, I have definitely re-lived much of my final months, weeks and days with Nick. Times that I had pushed to the back of my mind, as I got about dealing with my new life of being a young widow and single mum.

While of course, I didn’t forget him, I just didn’t sit in bed all day dwelling on what could have been, or what we could have done differently.

I think this is why I never fell into a depression or lull, I kept positive and reveled in time with my then 1 year old daughter, (ok, not always reveling, sometimes wanting to throw her out the window, but you know…) and of course spending time with family and a close group of friends.

It wasn’t always easy, as I wrote about in this post, but I got through.

Sometimes when it all got too much, when all I wanted was to really be alone, but the phone kept ringing and my house was full of well meaning people ‘checking in on me’, i’d bundle Claudia up and head to our apartment in the city, which Nick purchased before he passed. (You can read about his impulsive property buy here.)

It was my haven away from it all, where no one would come visit. It was still fully furnished and comfortable and we’d spend the day there, walking the streets of the city, going out to lunch and generally having what i’d call ‘Nick Free Days’.

When I felt I couldn’t hear another ‘i’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘you’re so strong, I would have fallen to bits if it was me’.

Days when I didn’t want to talk about the cancer that claimed his life or about how we were going to manage without him, or about how much the future scared me.

Comfort in the written word
Nick on Holiday 2010

During this crazy time and i’m mostly talking the first few months, I received condolence cards by the hundreds, (no joke!). The mail would come i’d open the envelopes, scan down to the bottom to see who it was from, give it a quick read, sometimes shed a tear, then pop it back in the envelope and put away, into Nick’s memory box for our daughter one day.

It’s only recently that I have again gone through these cards and letters and fully grasped how much of an impact Nick had on so many people.

I have letters from people I never met who he worked with, sharing with me their personal jokes and what their first impressions of him first were. Stories of how often he spoke about me and how sorry they were we didn’t meet under better circumstances.

One co-worker wrote,’

‘Nick told me many times how blessed he was to have you as his partner and wife, treasure the memories and know that you and Claudia were not only his loves but his inspiration.’

Before Nick got sick he never told me this directly, so it’s lovely hearing it now, of course, when he was sick, it’s all I heard…

And what I also want to share today, two letter excerpts, one from his oncologist and another from his gastroentrologist, both were handwritten and so heart felt, further highlighting the impact Nick had on everyone he met, even the professionals, who deal with terminal cancer everyday.

His oncologist’s letter to me says,

‘he battled so hard through the last 8 months and always with such a strong will and positive attitude despite the ups and downs….we were amazed at his determination and strength..without being unrealistic or in denial of the seriousness of his situation.

Thank you for the support you provided Nick during his illness, all too often a carer is forgotten with all the attention focused on the cancer. You always managed so remarkably well…You have both been very brave dealing with all this trouble at a time when having a new daughter should be so happy. Having a daughter myself, I feel so saddened to think of Claudia growing up without her Dad, particularly having met him and knowing how wonderful he was.’

And from his gastroenterologist;

‘..I don’t need to tell you what an amazing guy Nick was. Few people can face a devastating condition such as his with such a positive, cheerful approach. I admire you both for your bravery and endurance. Your unwavering support of Nick was an example to us all. It was a privilege to be involved in Nick’s care, i’m sorry we couldn’t do more.’

While these professionals were ‘just doing their jobs’, Nick always had a way of working on them until they finally cracked and let down their professional guard and became friendly with us. He would sit and joke with them for 1/2 an hour before we’d get to his actual visit and results. We knew their kids names and what they liked to do on weekends, but that was Nick for you.

I honestly believe his death had an impact on them too, especially to apologise for not being able to ‘do more’, I truly believe they meant that.

I also received a beautiful poem from a co-worker of mine, though we were never particularly close, her passing this onto me, was such a beautiful gesture I have never forgotten, it’s quite lengthy so i’ll only add the first few lines,

it begins,

‘Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped into the next room

I am I and you are you

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still…..

and the last line, which is my favourite..

‘How we shall laugh at the trouble of our parting when we meet again.’  

Oh yes, Nick, how we’ll laugh….well I will, hope you join in or I could look a little strange!

It’s only now on reflection, that I can take comfort in the written word. I can sit with these letters and cards and fully appreciate them. When at the time, all you hear everyday, is so much of the same, that it almost lessen the impact.

I heard, ‘i’m sorry’ so many times, that i’d just go into default response of, ‘thank you, we’re doing ok, he isn’t in any pain anymore’, it was just easier than having to explain how I was really feeling.

That it sucked big time, that I missed him most when I was alone in bed late at night, that my life would never be the same and I couldn’t see a future without him, that sometimes I cried just knowing i’d never see or hear him again, that I was so sad most of the time, that I just wanted someone to tell me it was all a bad dream…but instead I smiled politely and thanked them for their thoughts.

You can see why those letters and cards at the time gave me little comfort, I just wasn’t ready for them yet.

I can read everything now though and instead of them taking me back to my time of grief, they just remind me of how lucky I was to have shared some of my life with this wonderful, inspirational man. How fortunate we were to have been on this journey together. That we came into each other’s lives for a reason, for our life lessons to be taught and shared.

I’ll leave it there for today.

Thank you as always for reading, sharing and commenting, I love hearing from you, you inspire me so much with your lovely comments.

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Til next week, Michela xx

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8 thoughts on “Comfort In The Written Word

  1. I am 28 year old lady I just lost my husband 3 months ago by accident he left me with 2 kids I don’t know how to start a life we have been together for 10 years I can’t accept that he is gone how can I accept I really loved him so much he was love of my life I always alone please help

    1. Firstly, I am so sorry for your loss, I can not even imagine how hard this time must be for you, having lost your husband so quickly, I was fortunate enough to know what was coming, which im sure made my time after a little easier. I was also with my husband for 10 years and had our whole life mapped out together.
      I’m no expert in grief, but all I can share is my own experience in the hope it gives you some strength. Please don’t hide from the pain you feel and don’t let anyone tell you to ‘just get over it’, much easier said than done, but what helped me, was continuing to talk about my husband after his death, reliving those funny memories and sharing stories of him. Helped to keep his memory going for me. I also made a point of trying to stay as positive as I could be, especially for my one year old daughter. I didn’t want her to associate her dads name with crying and sadness. You may not want to hear it yet, but know that one day you will feel better as time goes on, I didn’t always believe this, but eventually I noticed I was having less down days and enjoying myself again. Definitely not overnight, but I had the realisation, that I still had the rest of my life ahead of me and he would want me to live each day to the full. I’m sure your husband would want the same for you, to be the best ‘you’ for your children and yourself! I’m sending all my positive thoughts to you and your family, feel free to write me anytime. xx

  2. Mickles, I love your writing because it’s so honest and I can actually hear your voice when reading it! Lol! Is that a little weird? Maybe that’s a little weird 😛

    I’m so happy to hear that the doctors and friends told you that Nick spoke about how much he meant to you – I’m sure that even though that might have been hard to hear, it would have been comforting too (maybe comforting is not the right word) But I guess Just to know that you both truly lived your life with love would definitely bring a smile upon your face (anyones face!)

    Like a song (Which i fail to recall right now) They say its always darkest before the dawn so I couldn’t even imagine how you would have felt at night without Nick being there.

    I dont want to be one of those people on repeat where you become immune to the comments (lol) but you REALLY are amazing Michela, I love your outlook on life even though you have experienced one of the most heart-wrenching circumstances one couldn’t even fathom.

    I have a feeling Claudia is going to have the same persevering attitude and personality like Nick 🙂

    – KK

    1. Hey Kars,
      Thank you for your beautiful message. I love that you can hear me talking to you when you read along, I like the casualness of it and I guess it means my writing isnt half bad! lol!
      I’m never immune to hearing others compliments of me since beginning this blog, even if I fail to understand them or believe it myself, but still I thank you for thinking it of me. Honestly, im touched!
      Looking forward to our catch up soon, long overdue!!!
      Michela xxxxx

  3. I’ve seen so many widows write that they threw out the cards and letters they received mostly unread because—well, who knows what make some of us not be able to read them. Like you, I did read them but not without letting some time pass beforehand and I’m glad I did. It’s so easy for a widow to focus on her own grief and forget that others lost something/someone, too. People do care and that’s also not so easy to understand when grief is fresh. Cards and letters do help even if at first they feel like pull Band-aids off a wound. Timing is everything, isn’t it.

    1. Hi Jean,
      Yes, timing is everything, I cherish those cards and letters so much more now than I ever did before and im glad I never went down the path of throwing them out. They really do paint a picture of the man I loved and how loved he was by so many. And I agree, even as a widow, i’ve also believed we are all grieving the same person, there is no competition. Thank you for writing me.

  4. Another painfully honest, brilliant post by the Polished Widow!
    My favorite line was: “… those letters and cards at the time gave me little comfort” I so understand your words.

    The excerpts from the letters of the Gastroenterologist and the Oncologist brought tears to my eyes. I knew it all the time but these letter again showed me who Nick really was and how much he was loved.

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