By tabbykerwin, Nov 7 2019 08:00AM
One year ago today my love and incredible husband Simon took his last breath after 4 months of treatment for cancer.
It’s well documented, I’ve shared a lot, but today is not a day of extra sadness. Every day has sadness now he has gone, but that is balanced with the love and joy he left me and today, and every day, I will celebrate him in every way I know how.
I’ve chosen not to feel like his death broke my heart with sadness, but my heart split with the pressure of trying to fit all his love he left me behind inside of my own heart. My heart has had to have a little ‘feng shui’ workout to fit it all in.
So, today I want to share another story with you. Not for sympathy, but empathy. To help me continue to heal and to help you to understand that death, grief, cancer and mental ill health do not have to be daunting, they can breed resilience and strength in us all.
The greatest honour I can do my husband is to continue to live my life with purpose, love, joy and strength as he equipped me with those skills and continued to instil them in me at a time in my life when I thought there was no point in living; when the world from my perspective was dark and cold.
On Tuesday night this week I, like many millions of others, watched the Pride of Britain Awards.
Humbling, amazing and inspiring. It is so easy to watch with sorrow and sympathy, but I listen to the stories of these people with empathy, understanding and kindness and I see such strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
This is what any type of trauma can do to you. It does not have to be the end of life as you know it, it can be the start of a life full of strength if you choose to take that path. I have chosen that path; to lay my vulnerabilities and experiences on the line with you all, with the purpose of helping others to find a path through their own issues, however big or small.
Whilst watching the TV, the words of Sir Ben Kingsley as he presented an award really resonated with me.
“If your motives are pure, then to tell a story is to heal and you must always, always tell your story.”
Ever since Simon was taken into ICU on 19th October 2018 I have kept a very specific journal. It started as a means to remind me of things to tell him what he missed whilst in a coma and since his death it has become part of my daily grief and mental health management as every night I write to him about my day.
I am a storyteller. I tell the stories of my experiences with a pure motive and today I want to share with you an excerpt from my new book being published next year “The Three Taboos: Cancer, Grief & Mental Health” which tells the story of the day that Simon died as written in my journal. Not to be morbid, or for sympathy, but to share with you that a moment we all dread, the moment a loved one leaves us, does not have to be scary but can be full of love and calmness.
7th November 2018
“My Darling Simon.
Today is the day we knew c0ould come but I truly feel, whilst it’s the day we dreaded, that we are ready for this. You’re not responding to the medication for the infections and your organs are so strained, but you’re restful and relaxed so the best thing is to let you remain that way by reducing all oxygen levels to normal and letting nature take its course.
This is the saddest day of my life but when we first got together I told you one of the reasons I wanted to be with you was so that I could stand with you at the end and be there for you to hold your hand, and I will be. You have taught me everything I need to get through this. You have taught me and Oliver how to be strong, loving, how to be loved, how to smile and be happy and I will use all those skills now. You make me the happiest person ever and in spite of this heartache and sadness, I will smile every day for you, because you gave me that gift and it’s precious. You have given me the most precious gifts of strength, love, hope, happiness and positivity, the latter makes me know that no matter what, Oliver and I will be OK. Right now it’s lovely and relaxed time together. We have Classic FM on the radio and the children are on their way. Then it will be our time for one last kiss and cuddle as I hold you tight. I love you with all my heart and I always will. Thank you for everything you have given me and the protection and love you have shown me. Oliver will live every day making you proud and with a smile.
Everyone has been to see you and say their goodbyes and we have had our time for me to say my ‘I love yous’ and hold you tight. I am here for you. I’m holding you tight and now it’s time for you to relax from the fight and stress. You are so relaxed and restful and this is the most perfect farewell it could be. It’s time to let nature take its course.
It’s 7.55pm on Wednesday 7th November and your oxygen levels are being reduced and medications turned off. ‘All in the April Evening’ is on the radio; so apt as we married in April and as that ends I play you the music you wrote for me to enter our wedding ‘La Discesa.’ I’m holding you tight, cuddling you and telling you ‘I love you’ and it’s ‘OK to rest now.’ I’m kissing you and feeling the comfort of being with you on this your very last and most important journey and I am so grateful to be here with you. In the most perfect conclusion, your final breath is taken on the last bars of that special music, our piece, at 8pm. You timed it to perfection, as always. This is the most precious hug, kiss and ‘I love you’ we will ever share. I know you are at rest now and you look so peaceful. You are the love of my life and I am so proud of you. Your final performance was perfect; full of love, passion, fight and wonderful character. You are with me forever and we will always be the most formidable partnership. We will all be OK because of you; we have love, happiness and true friendship. I am forever grateful for everything you gave and taught me. But now it’s time for you to rest. I love you my darling Simon. Thank you for everything. You are with me forever. xxxtaxxx”
Through our life together and even through his treatment, Simon smiled, loved and gave us all so much. The photos say it all.
Life is full of sadness and traumatic experiences, but what I’ve come to learn and embrace is that the sadness can balance with happiness. We can all continually move forwards whilst managing our emotions, physical and mental health. We just have to work out the best way to do that for ourselves and one of the best things we can do is be honest and share our experiences in order to help and support each other.
That is what I will do today and every day, and I have the strength to do that because of my husband’s life and death.
NB. 'The Three Taboos: Canver, Grief & Mental Health' will be published in May 2020.
To read my book 'The Three Ps: Possibility, Productivity & Performance' click HERE
A donation from sales goes to the Bexley Wing, Yorkshire Cancer Centre, St. James' Hospital.