Losing Kath

Love lost, read and found

Dying wishes

Thanks to computer problems in the form of a virus or just a loss of performance, the last ten days have been so stressful. I have been building up to this period in time with a plan to have had uploaded many posts all of which I hope would chart the chronology of events leading up to Kath’s funeral. But with my drafts all lost and inaccessible on a dying hard drive, I have seen the days pass me by with mounting stress as the time slipped away and in the last week I have barely been able to post neither thoughts, tales or pictures, where I had planned to tell so much by yesterday, the anniversary of Katherine’s funeral.

In a way, this suffocating stress is quite familiar and strangely topical in anniversary form, and though I didn’t need it to remind me of what I was going through back then, the experience was a timely reminder of the pressure you can put yourself under, when you see time ticking down with so much more you still want to fit in.

Perhaps now I will just have to settle for getting my desired posts out slightly later than planned, but back two years ago, I simply never had such a luxury.

Once the funeral date had been set, I just had to get everything done and hope I managed to comply with all I wanted to achieve and with all Katherine’s wishes to which I just had to simply comply.

Katherine was so much like her Father and leaving things undone was just not in their nature. Good house keeping is what they both did best and not leave important things down to chance. But this was so very different to normal, sometimes in life, what you can’t guarantee for yourself, you have to rely on other to do for you.

Katherine much earlier in time, had originally casually spoke about how she thought being cremated was what she would want when it came to it, but that was when she had hoped that such a thing was many years away and far off. But then almost out of the blue, in an act of good house keeping she asked me to bury her. Why this would be perhaps did not automatically dawn on me then, but I accepted her wish and knew best to move on with it. Her Father Ernest had been cremated the previous year and with Kath’s Mother and her Brother, we had gone to look for places to lay his ashes and commemorate his passing and place a plaque to recognise all that had been of the dash in his life, but despite much discussion, nothing had been resolved and more than a year later, his remains were still left waiting at home.

I think the thought of facing her own death without having secured the laying to rest of her Father’s ashes was weighing on Katherine and it was just something she needed addressed to find rest of her own, but there was more to what she asked and I don’t think I realised how difficult this charge would turn out to be for me, when she told me her wishes she knew how profound her words would be and how much they would then mean to me.

It’s hard to think of putting a lid onto things when each new day opens the lid on so much more. The things I shared with Katherine over the years were enough in keeping just shared between us and didn’t really ever even need air. We both knew how the other felt on so many things and we cherished knowing that the other silently cherished it too. But now so far down this path on my own, Katherine is no longer here and the things that in silence we nurtured and cherished together, on my own now are gasping for air. I am finding it hard to put a lid on what we held dear knowing how unimportant it will ever be to anyone else up ahead.

In life, your partner’s conversation is like water running from a tap that you can always turn on when you need it. Sometimes the conversation is nothing special but each small meaningless drop and each spoken word between you drip feeds you. You don’t need to know it all at once, nor does your search for answers ever know thirst, whenever you need, like a tap, you can quench each question as the thirst for its knowledge takes you. In your partner’s living presence, you have a tap that never runs dry. In losing Kath that’s what I lost most, when I reach for the tap, no matter how much I turn, nothing more ever comes out. Instead of words I only taste drought. When your spouse dies in life, you know what’s at the bottom, when the source of the well has run out.

But at the bottom of my well I still hear her and what her words wished of me. In my ears, her words have been a whisper on the wind, as much as in my words, I have been an echo of her.

Now her words have brought me to this point in my life where they have me lifting up of the lid to fan the flame of a chapter of our lives that might otherwise go out and be forgotten, and recognised only silently with a lost meaningless date and a lonely lit candle and flame.

So I am here now reflecting more clearly from the journey her words first unknowingly set me on and the path has come to this moment in time, when I have to decide to look into Pandora’s box once more or walk past without giving it its moment to shine anymore. But I know to open it up, I must go back to the moment that Katherine’s words first placed the keys in my hands.

A few weeks before she died, in the tying up of loose ends, Kath and I had the type of heart to heart you hope you never have to face in your life, but face it we did one day while we sat on her hospital bed. When she looked me in the eyes in that moment, I felt I knew that what was coming, was something we both felt would hit right in the heart. These were not just words of love exchanged between husband and wife, this was her staring into my soul and charging it with her deepest wishes and knowing some things you just cannot do on your own, and knowing she had made the request, she could then turn to the grave and find peace knowing when the time came, she had left it to me to meet her life’s last unfinished business.

Back in that moment of bleak heart felt honesty, I was quick to give my wife the assurances she needed but I did still have some immediate concerns, some of which I have previously mentioned and some that just as back then, I needed more time to dwell and reflect on. But when I think about this now, I know she must have long considered what she was about to ask me and what impact such words would have and the weight of the charge her request would put onto me, and how it would tear into me both in the immediate moment and later when the time came to be. She knew what she was asking would mean me having to face making the decision alone, that for years I had always thought we would one day face together.

Not only was she doing her own housekeeping, in a way she was also making sure I took care of my own. Perhaps when we had this discussion she wasn’t about to die yet any time too soon, but she wanted to tie up loose ends, and more importantly, she wanted me to have the time to be able to process her request and make the necessary personal adjustments I would find, only by looking deep into my soul, and that kind of request, you can’t make of someone over night. I don’t think I fully realised this at the time, because I was too focussed on us and the heartbreak I was feeling to see my wife having to talk to me in this way, and at that moment she could have asked me for anything and I would have probably walked the lengths of the world to ensure I gave her all that she had wanted.

I think right there was where the seed was set for all that was to come in my journey ahead and whether I realised it or not, her last three wishes should have seemed fairly simple in setting me on my way, but it has been anything but simple and perhaps Katherine knew, how far and how long a journey she was inadvertently sending me onto. Her words penetrated deep and their ripples were far reaching and though in a way she was asking for so little, they had the affect of making me want to give her everything more. In trying to grant all of her wishes, the three she had spoken and all the others in silence she never chose to burden me with, she would come to have me reaching deep into my soul and prizing the lid off much that we had kept precious and kept sealed for so very long.

Kath wanted me and our daughters to be happy and wished for me to find love again and not spend my life on my own and for her daughter’s to never forget her, especially Imogen who was still only four and of course she wanted assurances that her daughters would be looked after.  The later was easy to agree with but it felt terminally sad that she should wish love for me. Then she spoke of her funeral wishes.

“Kevin, I want you to bury me” she said, “with the ashes of Jessica and my Dad!”

Kath’s Dad ashes had sat at his home the past year, but so too since losing Jess had the ashes of our daughter too. So soon after losing Ernest from our lives, I would have to face losing his daughter too and now she was asking me to face once again, from our home, losing our Jessica too.

I don’t know for certain if this came to her final bit of housekeeping or not, but as hard as this moment was, it also gave me an aching great comfort to know she was not going alone. It was just like her to quietly take others by the hand in everything she did and this she continued to do right up to the end.

It was now up to me if I wanted to lift the lid on Pandora’s box, but back there in that moment of a husband and wife’s heart to heart, she put it my hands the power to grant her last wishes, so that in doing so, I would be holding hers to where it was that she otherwise, would be going to alone.

You can read the first part of this story at: https://losingkath.com/2014/10/19/tying-up-loose-ends/

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