One Year On...
First Published 5th June 2020
So my 'year of firsts' finally draws to an end today and I naturally find myself reflecting on what has been the most traumatic, the most exhausting but also the most enlightening year of my life. Am I relieved to have finally got here? Of course. But it is not without great, great heartache - for all that I and Michael's family have lost, but also for all the life ahead that Michael has lost out on too. All those amazing experiences he could have been part of this past year and many more years ahead. The cruel irony of him taking his own life is that, on the face of it, he appeared to love life more than anyone I know. And tragically, I don't think I'll ever stop hearing of the many other people like him who couldn't find a way to reach out or go on - despite having the well lived reputation as being the 'life and soul'.
It's been difficult to know how to mark this day and indeed upon which actual day to mark - while Michael was found on the evening of Wednesday 5th June his death wasn't officially registered until the 6th. But, for me, I think today - the 5th - will always be the true anniversary date of when he tragically left this world. My certainty of how to mark the day has been more vague however, and my last post on this subject tackled how torn I was with that dilemma - which is why I'd like to share with you what I eventually decided to do.
Not long after Michael died, his immediate family, together with mine, scattered the most of his ashes in the woodland that he so loved - at home on his farm in Worcestershire. The sun shone through the trees into a small clearing where bluebells now grow. It was as special, and remains as beautiful, as it could possibly be. But Michael's family also gave a little of Michael's ashes for me to bring home to Gloucestershire. I cannot explain the comfort it gave me to feel part of him almost physically here, still at home with me (probably not a concept everyone would feel comfortable with but grief, it has to be our own - It has to be personal and there is no place for rights or wrongs).
So, for a long time that small pot of ashes became a place to voice my ever circling thoughts; my anger, my sadness, my stories and my longings. And for a long time I hated the thought of ever letting that go; letting the last little physical part of him leave. But, I guess I also knew that time would persist in nudging my ever changing thoughts in different directions - and probably the best advice I've been given this year is never to rush any decision during times of grief. Perspective is fu**ed and rational decisions are railroaded by ever changing emotions - it's important to be patient with ourselves until something feels 'right'. So, while its taken me almost a whole year, I did finally understand what felt 'right' for me, but most importantly what I think felt 'right' for Michael. Over time I've realised that I needed to set him free; that last little bit. That big vibrant beautiful wonderful incredible soul needed to fly with the birds, run with the hares, and rustle through the trees. He loved nature and with nature he must always be. And that is where he finally rests as earlier today I met with my sister in law at my Dad's memorial tree - the place where he proposed just over a year ago - to scatter the last of his ashes and toast the incredible memories we made; a place that Michael felt special enough for us to begin planning our life together, and one that I now feel special enough to also let go.
How did it feel? I guess calm describes it best of all. A glass of bubbles to add some welcome fuzziness to the pain. No drama. No hysterics. Just a gentle acceptance and a sense of peace for having finally made it through this first year. I feel exhausted from all the mental pain I've been through but so very grateful to realise that I am no longer just 'existing' - but despite all odds - I am back 'living' and enjoying life again. You probably don't ever really 'get over' losing the person you love in the way that I did , but what you do learn to do is begin moving forwards; to look forward to the future in spite of, but also because of the past. And this leads me in nicely to saying a huge thank you to all my wonderful family and friends who not only helped put me back together again, but just kept on walking by my side. I know at times it can't have been easy but I literally don't think I'd be here without all of your kindness. So thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. Sam x