Love lost, read and found
Take it to the grave. As a man reflecting on the love that has gone by in my life it should be easy to put things into a box. ‘Til death do us part’, isn’t that what we promise at the altar of our wedding vows? When we marry the love of our lives we commit readily to loving them as long as they live but then what? It is not really just as black and white as that as with each new year that passes by, more and more shades of grey are slowly introduced.
As a father reflecting on the love that has gone by in the life of his daughters it’s not so easy to put such things into any box! ‘Til death do us part’ was not any vow that any children ever took part in and are happy to consider as a fair part of the deal in losing a mother or father. When we lose the other parent of our kids nothing is ever black and white again. From that moment onwards, there are only differing shades of grey.
But what of this ‘Til death do us part’ understanding? Sure I know it’s meant to reflect your commitment to the other for every day of your lives together and that only after death, will you consider moving on. But do we really ever move on without feeling the love in your heart that was always common place? Do we start all over again and gradually erase all that we knew and held dear, all the love that we felt, does it just disappear?
In my own shades of grey there are three versions of me that would answer.
There is the husband in me, that remembers everything that once was, every joint day that was lived, each hope that was shared and each dream that was realised and these are only made more precious by each crushing disappointment that we experienced together through the years. In Kath I had the love of my life. A girl that I had loved since I had met having just turned 16 and in all truthfulness really the only person I have ever truly loved. So to think that her death could suddenly terminate all that had stood true in my heart for so many years, could simply never be true. In Katherine I will always have an eternal love.
Then there is the father in me who is so entwined in the husband that it is difficult to look at things separately but I try to just the same. I realise that my loss is a more complex loss than that of my girls but certainly not more profound. My girls’ loss is clearer and certainly more catastrophic in the shaping of their own lives from here on going forward. When I think of the loss from their point of view it is difficult not to blur things with what we have lost as a family unit. Their loss is my loss and everything we all shared up until now, each wonderful memory is tainted in sad reflective nostalgia. But I try to think what they are experiencing without the biasedness of being involved myself so that I can be sensitive to their needs on their own merit.
But there of course also is the family member in me too. Here in this deepest shade of grey are many colours all muddled as one and black and grey are the furthest away of all. The love of a parent to its children is deeply embedded in the love the parent has for its spouse. Our children are the living embodiment of our love for our partners and this doesn’t stop with ‘til death do us part’.
But despite all these different shades of greys and talk of black and white and how complicated life seems, it really is quite simple!
I see things exactly as they are and no different and not pretending things are anything else keeps my feet on the ground and the platform to build up from. In Katherine I lost the woman I loved and I lost the mother of my girls. I lost the chance to grow old and see my daughters’ milestones supported each step of the way by their dedicated mother. But most of all I lost everything I assumed I knew of what was me.
In life I thought I would love her forever and never anyone else, but then she died when I was just 42 and suddenly I was no longer sure. But as the time passed by, my love for her grew even stronger and suddenly I no longer cared if I would ever find such a love once again, contented in the knowledge that I had experienced it in full once before.
In death I thought how would I honour my wife the way she deserved and more especially as we had discussed in her ill health, how would I keep her memory alive and her love for our daughters ever present. I dedicate myself to finding this balance and it’s not always as easy as it seems. I love my wife now as much as I always did, after all nothing changed when it came down to me. But I have had years of a lifetime together to tap into which my girls had only a small glimpse.
I know a lot of people have been worried about me and about how perhaps I might be struggling to cope, or that in my heart break there might be hiding a broken man, and I know also that my writings and blog posts might certainly show me in such a light. But rather than break me, my love has made me strong. I made up my mind that too much of my life and my family’s history is too tied to Katherine’s own story for me to simply move on. If I decide to ever move on in my life, I won’t be doing so at the expense of all that has been up to now.
I hope I am not seen as caught up in loss in my life but rather caught up in celebrating what has been in my life. Of course there is sadness that can’t be denied in what has happened to us, but I am not just stuck in the past, I am very much looking forward. But in looking forward to life I find I do so by bringing with me all the best of what has been in my life up to date.
There is only sadness in life because we compare it to all the things that truly made us happy and to be truly happy in life we cannot be afraid of the things that made us sad. I seek to make myself happy and more importantly still, that our daughters in life feel that happiness too. This is one thing for me so very black and white.
You cannot go through life worried that moving on is a betrayal of the person you loved, no more than you should worry that embracing the love of the person you lost will push others and your future away.
A marriage may end with ‘til death do us part’ but the love it contained will live on. As a widowed husband and a devoted father I want my girls to see that their mother lives on in all every day. We may move on in our lives and find love or happiness too but it will never be just to replace. The wife and mother in our lives may have gone, but the love that we feel, we take to the grave!