I want you to know that I was strong and I think that wherever you are; you know that.
In August last year when the doctors discovered melanoma cells in your lung fluid I knew that all our lives would never be the same. We were heartbroken because you had finally been given a date for your heart surgery which meant your hip replacement could follow. The melanoma diagnosis meant that none of these restorative operations could take place.
I knew that week, that I would write your life story with you, and I read it at your service. I finally realised that this was my time to honour you. We were told to plan for a month and if we got more; that would be a bonus.
After that first month I got complacent and stopped making notes for your life story. I should have kept writing things down. You told me so many stories about your life that I did not know and showed me the 100’s of pages of writing about your life. I knew I would use some of these stories.
I wish I had spent more time with you in the months leading up to your death. What I have realised that the worst thing about sudden death is regret. I believe that regret comes from feeling like you did not spend enough time with that person or say the things that you wanted to say or even love them enough. At least we had some time with you to celebrate your life.
I was not there when you passed away and I only missed your last breath by about 2 minutes. For a brief moment I felt regret and then Mark said that perhaps you had not wanted me to see you slip away. I think Mark is right.
That first night I managed to phone a lot of people to let them know that you had died. I did not cry. Then we started to organise your funeral as we had mere days to get things sorted. I am glad that I went and saw funeral homes when you were still alive as it made it slightly easier. We chose photos, readings, music, a celebrant, and flowers and somehow managed to pull everything together.
We were able to spend time with you the day before the funeral and I realised that while you looked ‘at peace’ you did not look like the ‘you’. I held your hands as they were the same and felt comforted.
I still had not really written your life story.
The day before the funeral I was starting to get a bit stressed. I am a procrastinator and I could not believe that I had not really started writing and also that I had not written it with you. That evening I started to feel ridiculous sick (it was possibly stress and sugar-overload) and had to have a sleep. I got up and still felt terrible and Mark told me that I had to write for an hour; which I did. Then I read the life story and knew that it was not even close to being finished. Suffice to say we were still writing/re-writing and proofing in the morning.
At your funeral when I stood to speak I did not know how it would go. I dug deep into my heart and soul and found the strength. I think I spoke with conviction, with strength and I honoured your life. I did not cry. The moment I started to waiver I looked to Mark for strength; he was crying. I turned and looked to my mother and she was smiling and she gave me the strength to continue.
On the night of the funeral, when I was alone in the dark my strength fell away. I held your photo close and wept until sleep finally found me. The following night I curled up with your jersey that still smelt of you and had your hair on it and wept some more. The cats curled around me to lend their warmth and support.
The other day when I was really struggling emotionally during a walk and felt that I wanted to just flop down on the ground and continue bawling I thought about you and then I dug deep to find the strength to continue. I did just that and then unbelievably it rained. So I guess for me the rain that day was like you being there giving me strength to push through the emotional wall. Neither of us subscribe to a religion so I will choose to believe that you are all around me in nature; supporting me on the rest of my journey through life.
There were people that kept me sane when you got sick and then when you died. Mark, Rachel and Julia put up with me when I was ranting about things. They kept their cool until I got a grip and could see clearly. Other close friends added their strength and also the MotivateMe NZ women were amazing without even knowing how much support they gave me during this time; they need a separate blog.
I have refrained from writing this out of respect for you and our family during the last 6 months. It was really tough as I am a writer and writing is how I process things that I am dealing with.
I miss you every day. I miss your voice. I miss your touch. I miss your strength and courage. I feel like a huge part of heart has been ripped out and will never been replaced.
I read this blog the other day, it is amazing and it made me think of you.
This is the Hollie Smith’s song ‘Bathe in the River’ is one that I wanted played at your funeral, however we chose music you loved instead.
My father was a loving man with an adventurous spirit and a brave heart.