Love lost, read and found
What is it that makes a house feel like home? So far I have been telling two stories in one big long tale, one about losing Kath and one about what made her my home.
I am trying to steel myself I guess in a way for where my writing might take me as I reflect on the period I still hope to write about. Looking through Kath’s diary of September 2012 and through our photographs of this same period, I am starting to feel a sense of dread come over me that is not too dissimilar to the same that I started to feel at this point two years ago.
Unlike 2011 and every year before that, in 2012 August ended and this time it did so without Katherine at home.
Aimée had spent most of the summer at home with a broken ankle and her foot in plaster and Imogen had just turned four years of age both of whom Kath did so well in hiding the state of her health from. Hannah was no fool though and had more or less worked things out, though neither Kath nor myself had yet told the girls anything concrete. But of course with so much family coming and going and so many visitors always wishing well and looking for more and more updates, it didn’t take too much piecing together for Hannah to know what was what. That said though, she had no idea what would come so soon.
Kath I know would have been grateful to God in the least that this year she would make everyone’s birthday though has own personal aim was to enjoy Christmas at home with us all before having to tell our daughters the news.
But on August 26th of 2012, just four days after throwing Imogen’s 4th birthday and tea party the plans threw me into doubt and before I knew what had happened, Katherine was no longer at her best and needed admitting suddenly to hospital for a bit more than a short stay.
If I am honest here and right now with myself, I almost don’t want to write the rest of this story knowing what emotions I will force myself to dredge up, and yet at the same time, I can’t bear thinking about the time when I will have nothing new or more to write about my losing of Kath. Perhaps after the first 16 long and dark months from first losing my wife, it felt like my life had been put on a permanent ‘pause’ and only my decision to start writing about her felt at last like I had pressed ‘play’ and was able to get on with my life by keeping her memory alive and present day by day, even if doing so I have had to tell all in ‘rewind’.
Fast forward another 7 months since I started writing and I think I feel in a way like I have been writing to her directly every day and now if I have to come to a ‘stop’, I dread having to face the feeling like I am saying goodbye all over again.
I think this kind of knotted feeling in my stomach would describe what I was feeling back then and I think I first identified it on that day having to take Katherine into hospital and pack her some things and after spending all of the day with her on the ward, reaching the point in the day, when I had to face leaving her there on her own.
I can’t remember all of the details I wish I had been more meticulous in ‘recording’ all that was, but that was Katherine’s forté, However I remember without doubt, each and every emotion and everyone of the next 10 times in a row time we had to say goodnight and goodbye.
Those 10 days saw the summer holidays end that year and the school year start with Katherine stuck in hospital everyday and me coming home on my own to pick up our girls from wherever they had been left for the day and then have to pick up the pieces of what Kath’s absence at home, in my eyes just felt broke.
There was a ‘slow motion’ almost other worldly experience in coming home to our home where Katherine was not in it and the sensation was more than I could bear thinking that this might be the shape of what was to come. But that ‘preview’ was not even the foremost of what I was then feeling! I kind of resented fate in a way for having no ‘control’ in having to come home for the girls every night, because my home was not in my house but in the arms of my wife.
Leaving her every night tore deep at my soul and the first night’s wound of this kind tugged at a scar from years before but deeper still. When each day came to it’s end and I was forced to say goodnight, Kath when she could, would stand at the door of her ward and watch me walk off down the corridor away. I would try but mostly fail to keep my tear drops from falling as I would wave her goodbye and in doing so I would see in her eyes, her own sadness at seeing me leave so sad at it would only break my heart even further.
As I drove home or to wherever my girls were being looked after that day, I would have to wait a good while to compose myself so that my family and most of all, my daughters would not see that I had cried, or think that things were so bad and so that I would be able to keep up Kath’s hopes and all of my own, of having one last blissfully innocent Christmas at home before Kath told her daughters the news. But I knew sooner rather than later, the news on that ‘timer’ might simply not wait!
August turned into September and on the 4th, Aimée (with her foot in plaster) went back to school and for the first time in her life, it was without her mum at her side. Of course my beautiful wife was still desperately ill, but I was more than relieved the very next day on the 5th, at the hospital ‘eject’ was suddenly pressed when the doctors discharged her and ‘play’ pressed on my heart as our house became once more our home.