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.
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,
‘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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