Monday, 10 August 2009

Four Years (and a week) on

Last weekend included the fourth anniversary of my wife's death. The numbers sometimes shock me, and I sway between thinking; has it really been that long, it feels like yesterday and, at times, it feeling like it was a lifetime ago.

My life changed drastically from the very moment that Samantha was pronounced dead. There was terrible shock, but I can still distinctly remember realising it is just me and the boy now, which was not what I had signed up for.

We were actually on holiday when tragedy struck.

Samantha was a massive fan of holidays, and I was not adverse to them, but did not see much point in taking a baby on holiday. The compromise was a cottage break in Wick St Lawrence with my in-laws.

A chance for us to take a holiday together as a family, and also with ready made baby sitters in-tow we could spend some time together as a couple. Well, that was the plan, as it turned out destiny had other ideas.

We were having a marvellous time. I often remark, and take comfort from, that Samantha could not have been happier in the moments right before her death.

The 1st of August 2005 was just one of those wonderful days.

Spending time together as a family, visiting a farm - Sam milking a plastic cow – buying our child's first wet suit, and having a lovely barbecue in the courtyard of our cottage, while Max had a bath outside in an inflatable boat. All under glorious weather.

This was to be her last, as she awoke in the early hours of the 2nd complaining of a temperature and terrible chest pains. While I woke the in-laws and called an ambulance, my wonderful wife lost consciousness never to regain it.

The events of what happened between that phone call, and Samantha eventually being pronounced dead, probably lasted around 90 minutes and were truly horrific.

Their impact is still very real today, as I am sure they will be for the rest of my existence.

When it rolls round to this time of year, and over other anniversaries, like birthdays and our wedding, I have generally not found these moments any more difficult than the days in between.

Our situation stays the same regardless of date, and while I acknowledge these days – often buying flowers for the house and Sam's grave – I do not like to think I am out of bounds, nor have I made special arrangements to help me deal with them.

However, this year was the first time that I was actually away from my respective home.

When I was mapping out our summer holiday schedule, on my expansive spreadsheet, I was getting a bit like Neo in The Matrix, I was not seeing a calendar with dates, more gaps to fill, and events to bind together as efficiently and enjoyably as possible.

This is how it should be, as last weekend was a really enjoyable one. Catching up with old friends, and spending time in the company of some lovely new ones.

Not something I feel should be sacrificed for an unhappy anniversary.

Max and I had a great day on the 1st of August this year, taking in Emley Show, playing Connect 4 and enjoying a drink in the pub, and then a cracking Indian meal to finish the day.

When I put him to bed, and later on when I joined him myself, it did flash across my mind how I had gone to bed happily four years previously, for my world to be then turned upside down before the sun had even come up.

Which I think really sharpens my appreciation for the enormity that I still have.

As well as stirring the odd, and unwelcome, moderate panic attack.

It did heighten my senses a tad, and there were a few moments that I chose to hold back tears, but these were at moments of joy, watching my son enjoy himself, when I got a little more emotional than usual.

That has probably been the most exhaustive facet of the last four years, the emotional roller coaster, reaching both ends of the spectrum, within nanoseconds of one another.

I am just incredible grateful that the ride with the boy has infinitely more peaks than troughs.