Love lost, read and found
Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot…
the night came reaping, when all else were sleeping, taking of love, the whole lot.
Back in that season, fated no reason, left in a deep hole to rot…
Clinging and mourning, each nightfall and dawning, climb out of this place I could not.
As the evening of November 4th disappeared into the night, it became immediately obvious there was not going to be any peaceful parting of ways, any drifting off into deep never ending long sleep or any hushed falling eternally quiet in each other’s arms. Instead there was only prolonged pain in the wrenching of life from her body that when that first night finally passed away into memory, I knew it would scar with its hurt and its haunting.
Hours after Katherine had died I was back in the house we called home.
I closed my eyes to shut out what I had seen and I could still smell her, and her skin’s honey I could still taste on my lips from when I kissed her goodbye or the last time. I wept then slept on her pillow letting my lungs fill breathing in the still present scent of her aroma in bed and when her echoing pain died down in my ears and after the dying embers of night finished finding new ways of burning, my bitter tears joined the morning’s sweet dew.
Broken and sobbing my heart out hysterically might be a fair way to describe me home alone in the early hours of the morning of November 5th 2012, and for many long months and late hours after that. Or you could say, at the bottom of a very deep hole, I had the misfortune to fall even further through a crack into a crevice. You can’t scale steep walls in the dark, when the ground opens and swallows you up.
I don’t think if I’m honest that I thought I would ever find my way to out, but after 16 months of stumbling around in the dark and running from the terror of Kath’s loss, I finally found the resolve to look upwards to the light and begin the process of hauling myself out!
When I finally made my way out, nothing on the outside was as it had been in my life and in panic I continued to run. But my eyes from the time in the dark felt like they had been shot out and so I had no real central focus or direction in which to run. When you can’t see straight ahead you veer to the sides and everything that was in my peripheral vision was the only thing I could see and got my attention. Luckily, eventually I think I came to the conclusion that light should be found at the end of a tunnel and never from what you see at the side. When I realised this, I knew there was no point in continuing to run, the lantern to show me the way, was back where I had begun. At that moment I turned around and decided to fight, and as many times as was needed, I would abseil deep depths back down to be by her side and bask in the warmth of the light.
When writing and posting as an outlet to express my grief, I had no exact intention of what I was hoping to achieve. Perhaps from so long running I was just out of breath, or from so much silent screaming, it felt like I was going to drown if I didn’t get the words out, and once I started to free them, like a life jacket they kept me afloat, and then my whispered words, I found I started to shout.
My expression of loss on Losing Kath, in a way became a soul saving grief-song I found myself singing and so I clung on to the tune and whenever the feeling urged me, I would put my head down and let the moment guide me into just writing about something, be it reflective or just new, finding harmony with inner turmoil in legacy to my passing wife.
I had this overwhelming desire to preserve Katherine’s status in this world, in our lives and in the hearts of our daughters and of course mainly mine. But I did not pause for a moment to think how or why. In a way I think that I was also driven somehow by the thought that I might one day be reunited with her and that when that time came to be, I would want to have felt like I had earned her, instead of spurned her.
It is a cliché romantic idea I know, and probably a religiously influenced belief, flavoured further with a touch of too many movie endings too, but no matter, when I thought of her and my soul, it felt impossible that I might not once again know her. These themes are probably common with those who have been bereaved from their loved ones and I am sure in each case, whether they believe in heaven or an afterlife or not, that somehow in their lives, they still continue to pay homage to their dearly departed whether recent or not.
Perhaps some might think it foolish to think that after life there is anything else, whilst in others, of this idea, they are nothing but sure, but in my mind it doesn’t even matter when it comes to it. I know in Katherine what it was that makes me write and don’t need to wait to be reunited in heaven to remember why. What in darkness it feels like to have a torch shining bright, is the same that I felt with my wife beside me in life.
During that time, somehow I just wanted always to find ways to please her and over the years in some cases I was extreme with some of the efforts I made, and in the aftermath of her death, I guess that wasn’t quick to leave me. When I think about all the things that she was living for and of the hopes she had of her life and with our family, I am taken back to our dark hours when she had to talk to me about my life after she had gone and those thoughts still cut me, but back then the words were like a cleaver. If she had had any choice of her own in all truthfulness, she nor anyone else for that matter, would not readily want to see her loved ones lives move on without her.
It must be the most difficult thing to know you are dying and instead of years, months or even weeks, you only have days to make your peace, to come to terms with recognising the end of your road in the company of your living loved ones and then think of having to say your goodbyes. I can’t think how I would be able to do it without some divine given strength and that I think, is what Katherine must have been given. She managed to stay so collected and calm in saying goodbyes to so many of family and friends, and being able to wish them so much and so generously.
Such a ‘goodbye’ does not leave you quickly when it is said by someone who knows they are moving on and in that hour of need, in the hope to an afterlife somewhere special. This type of ‘goodbye’ is the essence of the original blessing and when you feel that destiny is out of your hands, wishing the other, ‘God be with you’ is all the comfort in words you can find.
But words can never comfort you enough when your parting is one of silent unspoken goodbyes! You know you can’t stay stuck down in a hole and not eventually die, and you need your arms to be free to be able to climb out and survive. As hard as it was in watching Katherine die, it was harder still when at last I let go of her body. There comes a moment at particular crossroads in life where the sign points two ways and ‘til death do you part’ it does read. When on a forehead you linger a long kiss ‘goodbye’, it is more of a prayer and a request of a ‘God be with you’ type of blessing. That was in silence, the last words I spoke on that night to my wife. When our journeying together lost sight of its path, in dread I knew it had come to the end of that life!
After her death I would pray tonight and each night for tomorrow, and for the things today I am continually denied, and who else but God would ever hear me or see emotions I hide. I would wonder what it must be like for you in heaven and think of you waiting each night for me and our daughters to talk to you in our prayers, or if you ever were feeling forgotten as we got on with our daily lives.
Whilst my body was trapped down a deep hole dreaming of the sun and daylight, words helped my soul for a while to escape and take flight with wings to my prayer and my whisper as I wrote of tears I found in that night.
I wish I could have had more time to have all the conversations we never had a chance to. But death was so very final, taking you even from my dreams. So my words to you, being all I have left, I set free to go out and find.
The hours tick into the night, and still I write instead of seek sleep,
I have cried bittersweet tears of joy and ones that tasted of salt and the sea.
Wrote of battling cold blustery winds and of missing your warm breeze, typed of good times together, which then let me sleep and dream set at ease, then wake up standing tall, instead of living of broken hopes and bent knees.
Time and tides came to set my tears free and when their waves stopped my insides from drowning, my words let me sleep and let another morning begin.
It is so very late or perhaps oh so very early, but I know instinctively, I really must sleep now. I have missed you and hope my words have kissed your empty space.
I’ve kept your love alive and my promise, day to day in all I have faced, your body I laid in a grave but your spirit stayed with me embraced.
God be with you, but never Goodbye.
Note: My daughters and I are trying to reach our target of raising £5000 for St Raphael’s Hospice where both Katherine and her Father died. If you have been moved by our story and would like to donate to our cause in a gesture of solidarity or kindness, please take a moment to visit our just giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Katherine-PLICIO-KEATTCH