I Have Offically Outlived My Husband

Thank you to those of you who have messaged and asked about my blog, which I haven’t written on for almost 5 months. After my last post, where I recounted my half marathon adventures, there have been good days and bad days and many more simply ok days, for which I am grateful. To be honest, I just haven’t had anything that I wanted to write about. For the first year after Terry died I felt a strong need to explain my grief to others so they might possibly understand how I felt, but as the second year began I held my grief more tightly to my chest, internalising my thoughts and feelings.

2015 ended and 2016 began, yet another year without Terry. 2016 has brought many challenges and I have found the first two months of it an uphill struggle as I balance training for the Paris Marathon with working full time and trying to maintain some sort of a social life. My grief rears its ugly head every now and then and pulls me down into the pits of depression before it lets me up for air again at some point. It does so with no warning and I am aware that it can happen at any given moment. I have positive days and sometime even weeks, but I am learning to live with the grief of having lost Terry and I now know that it’s not something that you ever ‘get over’ – I will forever carry my grief with me as a reminder of the love that Terry and I shared. 

Yesterday I spent a large part of my day thinking about Terry because although it was simply Saturday 27 February to all of you, to me yesterday was a day that I had been dreading: the day that I have officially outlived my husband.

Earth was lucky enough to know Terry for 30 years, 6 months and 28 days and as of today I have been alive for 30 years, 6 months and 29 days. This evokes a lot of emotions and sees me slipping downhill again as I approach Terry’s 32nd birthday next week and our 6th wedding anniversary the week after with Mother’s Day sandwiched in between. I know that it won’t last, but I also know that it’s coming and there is nothing I can do to avoid it. It’s like watching storm clouds gather.

In the short time that Terry was alive, he led an exemplary life. He was always smiling and his passion and excitement about life and everything in it was contagious. I was so lucky to share his life with him for nine years, but today I feel the sting of the many years of which we were robbed very strongly.

There is no reason why I am entitled to more life than Terry; he was always my better half and deserved so much more time than he was ultimately given. I try not to torture myself with answerless questions and instead to spend each and every day doing things that would make Terry proud and living life in the way that he would want me to. 

First step: run a marathon for Terry as he will never get the opportunity to do so. 

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Advertisements

The Race

 I DID IT! I ran my first half-marathon (also my first race) ever in 2 hours and 50 minutes, a whopping ten minutes under my goal of three hours. A million thank yous to those of you who cheered me on during these past three months after I got myself into this mess and I could never thank the fellow widow that I ran this race with enough for running with me the entire race at my pace, giving me the motivation to carry on. I’m sorry I said I hated you at mile 12, I didn’t mean that. 

Thank you to those of you who asked me excitedly on Sunday how the race went. It went well, but I was absolutely shattered when I got home. Then the very next day began a workweek that included Open Evening (which meant a 14 hour workday at school), a training course down in London and an observation by my Head of Department, meaning I have worked stupid long hours and had no energy left to respond to any messages and also to write on the blog. Having had a lovely night of catching up on both TV and sleep, I finally have a bit of energy back. Thanks in large part to coffee. 

My racemate passed through Northampton on her way to London and kindly offered to pick me up from my house on the way. When she knocked on my door it was the very first time we’d met in person but we’d spent a lot of time chatting via Facebook while we trained. I liked her immediately. She is a much more experienced racer than I am, but has always been really supportive. We chatted in the car for a few hours until we got to the hotel, where we checked in and then drove over to the race course to check out parking for the next morning. We created a master plan to order pasta from room service and eat it in bed before getting an early night, only to discover that there was no pasta on the menu. At all. We then drove to a local Pizza Express and ordered two portions of chicken pasta to go, which we ate in our pajamas in bed. Carb loading is almost enough of a reason for me to keep running. Almost.

Waiting (excitedly?) at the start line

The race was set to start at 10:00am on Sunday, so we ordered large cups of black coffee from the hotel and drove to Lee Valley Park for 8:30. We ate some breakfast in the car and then wandered over where we met thousands of other women crazy enough to sign up for this event standing around in a sea of pink.   

We had received a race pack earlier in the week that contained a pink Race For Life tee-shirt, course information and a sign saying I’m racing for ______ to fill in. On mine I wrote I’m racing for my Ter-bear. RIP my love XXX. It was really emotional reading everyone’s signs, seeing how everyone had been affected by cancer. I didn’t lose Terry to cancer, but everything I do is for him, including this race.  

I panicked as we lined up at the starting line, suddenly surrounded by a lot of really fit looking women who looked like they knew what they were doing. I felt very unfit and very out of place. We set off slowly, as I’m not a fast runner and I didn’t want to burn out quickly and not be able to finish, but I was really discouraged as we were passed by hundreds of women immediately. I knew I couldn’t keep up that pace, but there was a lot of pressure to go faster. Relax, my running partner told me, they probably can’t keep that up either and we’ll pass them all at the end of the race, you’ll see. And so I kept putting one foot slowly in front of the other as the miles passed by.

The first eleven miles went well. My legs felt a bit shaky to start with but they hit their stride after a few miles and having someone to chat to the whole time was really helpful. Just as my running partner said, when we hit the halfway point, a lot of women had begun to walk and we sailed past them, which helped to build my confidence. At mile 11 I had a gorgeous fan holding a sign made just for me and I stopped to give her a big hug when I saw her smiling face. Keep going! she shouted, I’ll meet you at the finish line! That motivation helped carry me to mile 12 where my body suddenly decided that it was no longer interested in running anymore. My knees began to hurt and my feet became really heavy. By mile 13 I was cursing, out loud, the person who had added that extra, miserable tenth of a mile to the race distance. When we approached the finish line and there was a hill, I think I cursed some more, but once over the hill I saw it: the finish line. Everything in me wanted to sprint to the finish, but I knew I couldn’t run any fast without toppling over so I just steadily carried myself up to and across the finish line. 

This is a smile of relief at the finish line.

I smiled as they put the medal around my neck and then cried tears of relief and pride. Mostly relief.   

Erin and her amazing sign at the finish line

 

We did it!!! Where’s the cake?

Once we finished, we met up with Erin, collected our bags and headed across the road to McDonald’s to celebrate like the Americans that we are. A quarterpounder with cheese and a McFlurry have never tasted so good. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch – the best bit was the sitting down part – and then dropped Erin off at the local tube station to make her way back home to London. Then we drove home. 

The goody bag

Once home I admired the contents of my goody bag – a full size bottle of dry shampoo, chocolates, brioche, coffee – did they make this just for me? Then I helped myself to some dinner, drank a sports drink while icing my knees and then literally collapsed in bed, hoping that my legs wouldn’t be too sore the next day at work. They were. I showed my form my medal and they gave me a round of applause. 

Again, thank you to everyone who supported me on this impulsive, poorly thought out plan of training for a half marathon in three short months. Mostly thanks to Terry, without whom I could have never done this. 

I miss you so much, my Ter-Bear. 

I like to think Terry’s drinking a celebratory pint in heaven to celebrate

 

A Tale of Two Birchboxes

As the sadiversary approaches, I’ve had Birchbox on my mind. The last thing that Terry ever bought me was a six-month subscription to Birchbox and a bottle of Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer for my 29th birthday two months before he died. I had not renewed my Birchbox subscription after we pledged to not spend any money for a year to pay off our debts and he said he’d rather not listen to me complaining about not having any more Birchboxes for the rest of the year so he renewed my subscription for me. When my last box arrived in January, four months after Terry died, I cried as I would never again receive a present from him. As I approach surviving the first, horrible year of widowhood, I find myself thinking that I deserve a medal. I should get one of those for completing my first half marathon next weekend, but I also deserve a special something to recognise this unwanted milestone. I  bought myself a few treats in Birmingham last weekend while out with friends but ever since I heard that Birchbox had set up a pop-up boutique in Selfridge’s in London I’ve had my eye on buying myself a Birchbox from Terry as a treat for the sadiversary. The boutique shuts the 28 September and so when I arranged to meet my friend Erin in London I asked that she meet me at the Birchbox shop in Selfridges.

The Birchbox shop at Selfridges
image-2
Birchbox #1

While I was picking the six samples to create my own custom Birchbox I received a text from my housemate that a package had arrived for me. While having a lovely day out with a friend on the most beautiful day that September has yet offered us here in the UK, I forgot about the package until I arrived home this evening to find this:

image-1
The Mysterious Package
Birchbox #2

In addition to the pop-up boutique in London, Birchbox’s website has offered a Birchbox x Selfridges limited edition box for those who can’t get to London. I recognised it immediately as I had eyed it up on multiple occasions before I ended up travelling to London this weekend. Also in the box were a lovely scented lotion and a gorgeous bar of French soap. At first I thought that I had caved in to temptation and somehow forgotten about it – this is completely within the realm of possibilities these days – but I checked my bank account and I did not buy anything from Birchbox this month. I have no idea who sent this box to me – Erin is convinced it’s from Terry and I’m not entirely sure she’s wrong. But somehow I started the day with no Birchboxes and have ended up with two as an ultimate surprise! The contents of each box are different but equally gorgeous and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have so many goodies to pamper myself with on the rough nights ahead. image-3 To whoever my Birchbox angel is, thank you for this lovely gift. I know it’s not from really from Terry, but he would be so pleased that something nice has happened for me having watched me struggle so much this month. image-4

Grieving As A Group Activity

 September continues to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month as the sadiversary approaches. 

 

On Sunday I had the honour of attending the dedication of the Aynho Play Park in the village in which Terry was born and raised to the Terry Benbow Memorial Play Park. A member of the local council proposed the dedication last year and it was passed unanimously by members the local council, most of whom knew and loved my husband and his family. The news itself was so amazing. As a little boy Terry used to spend a lot of time playing in this park with his sisters. If you had told little Terry that someday this park would be his he would never have believed it in a million years. But I suppose he could never have imagined the events of last September, nor could any of us. 

 

Terry’s family designed and purchased the most beautiful monument that has ever been made and had it installed last month, where it has remained under cover waiting for Sunday. I met his family for lunch at his parents house and they asked me to unveil the monument, which meant a lot to me. We made our way over to the Play Park early and I was completely overwhelmed by the support shown and the people who had given up their day to attend. His fellow Scout Leaders who he loved as his family were there, most all of his extended family, many of the scouts that he had worked with had shown up, many wearing their Scout uniforms, members of the local village and people he had worked with in motorsport were all there. 

As I stood at the front near the monument with Terry’s father my eyes scanned the crowds and everyone was in tears as we talked about and remembered Terry and it hit me: all of these people love my husband and they all miss him so much it hurts. And that realization meant a lot to me.

Grief is a very selfish emotion and on the bad days I often feel that there is no one who can know the pain that I feel at the loss of Terry. Logically I know this is not true, but I feel it nonetheless. I felt humbled, awed and just plain pleased that so many others were there to show their love and support to grieve publicly at the devastating loss of Terry. I felt honoured that so many miss my amazing husband and know that it is a testament to the amazing man that he was the amazing goodness with which he lived his life that shone every day that he was with us. 

I was overwhelmed with emotion and unable to say a thing but I was able to unveil this beautiful tribute to my husband:

  

 

 

Isn’t it beautiful?  Terry could never have designed anything better if he had tried and I am grateful to his family for having this made. 

When it was unveiled all of the children present were invited to come and play with the monument and they swarmed it and climbed on it just as it was designed to do. The sight of so many children playing with Terry’s memorial in his park overwhelmed me. 

After the dedication we gathered for tea and coffee at the village pavilion and it was really nice to spend time simply remember Terry with others who loved him while also reminded of how many did love him. It somehow lessened the burden that I often feel I bear and the temporary relief was lovely. 

Last week I received a call from a local bereavement charity asking if I would be interested in attending a local bereavement support group. It will meet once a week in the evenings and will consist of people how have been bereaved by a variety of people, not just spouses. I signed up immediately. I am nervous for the first session as I don’t know what to expect and also it is soon after the first sadiversary and I still don’t know how I will cope with that and I fear the worst, but perhaps grieving as a group activity is a good way to go about this? 

The support that I received on Sunday was indescribable and I am hopeful that my new bereavement support group can offer me some much needed support as I pass into my second year of widowhood. 

Words of Encouragement

I ran 10.5 miles this morning – the longest i’ve ever run in my entire life. I did really well up until about 7 miles in when my energy was running out and I began to struggle. Help me run these last three miles, Terry I asked, as I often talk to him while I run. Seconds later an elderly gentleman that I’d already jogged past three or four times said to me Blimey! You’re doing well this morning, aren’t you? I smiled, thanked him and jogged for another three miles. I firmly believe that had Terry not intervened that man may have let me jog on by but those few kind words carried me until the end of my run.

September is not a good month for me and in a few short weeks I will be forced to have survived an entire year without my Terry. Even writing those words has reduced me to tears. I never wanted to survive a year without Terry, I have prayed for death on many a dark night so that I could be with him again (don’t worry, as I have discussed with my counselor I would not bring it about, but would welcome it if it came). I am nearing the finish line of this horrible, horrible year and could, quite frankly, use some words of encouragement. Any that you have to spare.

I have been keeping myself ridiculously busy as if constantly working, running, socialising could delay the inevitable. Perhaps there is a point of exhaustion where I would be too tired to grieve? I doubt it, for even as I lie in my bed at night exhausted the tears always find me. As the dreaded sadiversary approaches I find myself tearing up much more easily than in previous months and my grief is swelling and refuses to be ignored.

I have spent every day this month recalling each and every detail of that day in 2014 when I had Terry. I have a horrible memory and so this is difficult for me, but I just long to be with his memories. I am cherishing every remaining day that I can remember what I did with Terry one year ago for in a few short weeks time will have separated us farther still and I can’t bear to think of how long remains until I can see him again. I am terrified that I will live to the age of 100 having had to spend 71 years without him. One year is too much, seventy-one of them is cruel. A fellow widow wrote I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with you, not knowing that you would spend the rest of your life with me instead. 

I may not write much in September, I may need some time to myself to grieve as I see fit. I may regain some strength in October after I have survived the one year, but I do not pretend to know what the future holds. I know that I survived my run this morning and it has helped me to believe that I can run this half marathon with Terry’s help and that will hopefully carry me through.

Thank you all for your support.

How Was Your Summer?

I go back to work tomorrow and the first thing every teacher asks every other teacher is how was your summer? To be honest, I’ve had a pretty good summer. 

As some of you may remember, the school year ended and the thought of six weeks of summer without Terry seemed pretty awful. Luckily I had made plans to visit my family and friends in Nashville for five of my six weeks of summer break as staying in the UK without him just didn’t seem right. At the end of the British school year it is obligatory that you eat as many pieces of cake and/or chocolate as your body will allow and then have one more for luck and also that you discuss any and all summer plans with your colleagues. Five weeks in Nashville – and a week in Mexico – how lucky! You must be so excited! my colleagues chirped. The colleagues that know me best knew that I wasn’t actually looking forward to any part of my summer without Terry, but I smiled and said of course. 

The trip home was long and arduous, to say the least. I left the bangle with Terry’s handwriting engraved on it at security in Heathrow while having a mild panic attack which then burst into a meltdown when I realised it was missing once I was on the plane. They let me off the plane to speak to an agent, but I couldn’t get out of the gate as I had checked in already. Panicked, I used the emergency communication system to call an operator who checked with security: no silver bracelet had been handed in. Tens of passengers eyed the sobbing American woman screaming at the wall cautiously as they boarded the aircraft and when it was time to depart an airline employee asked me to get on the plane. When I attempted to explain that I didn’t want to get on the plane without my bracelet, I was literally pushed onto the plane and the door slammed behind me. In hindsight, being shoved onto a fully loaded plane as a grown-woman screaming and sobbing should have been a much more embarrassing experience, but  I was too devastated to notice or care. I took my seat and cried the entire flight to Dublin. 

When we landed, an airline employee told me that they had found the bracelet and would hold it at Heathrow where I could pick it up when I returned home. Big sigh of relief, but the trip home never really recovered from that horrific start. So I arrived in Nashville 22 hours after leaving my house in Northampton completely and utterly exhausted. 

The first few weeks at home were difficult for me. My family was amazing and surrounded me with love but I just wanted to be with Terry. Everything felt wrong without him. I had hated landing in Nashville and not being able to text him that I had made it in ok, so I checked in with my support group, who understood. 6 days after I landed in Nashville I was forced to turn 30, which I had no interest in doing as Terry died when he was 30. I was entering a new decade that Terry will never know me in, which reduced me to tears at the simple thought of it. My family tried their best and made plans for me on my birthday, forcing me out of bed and I survived the day, but I hated it. I’ve been referring to myself as 29 still as I don’t think my head will allow me to believe that that horrid day actually happened. 

Two weeks after flying home I flew to Cancun, Mexico to meet up with my two best friends from the Peace Corps and we were in the same country together and able to catch up face to face for the first time in six years. This trip was amazing. My friends stayed for 4 days and I booked an extra two alone at the resort, which proved to be much needed time for myself. I spent an entire day writing to Terry on the beach and felt a deep sense of peace afterwards which I believe enabled me to return to Nashville for the second time in a much better place than I had been three short weeks earlier. I began to phone old friends and ask them to hang out, I accepted more people’s offers to spend time together and as my vacation was drawing to a close I was able to enjoy every last blizzard second with each and every member of my family. 

I was sad when my five weeks at home ended and nervous about how it would feel to fly into London for the first time since Terry died. Terry wouldn’t be there to meet me, nor would he be at home waiting for me with a cheeky smile. I wouldn’t even be going home to our house in Bicester. I asked a friend from work to meet me at the airport and although I was a bit tense landing at Heathrow I knew I had made the right decision when there was a smiling, friendly face waiting for me. It made all the difference and somehow I feel I should have brought her more American chocolate than I did to even begin to repay her. Not only did she drive all the way to Heathrow to pick me up, this superstar walked from one end of Heathrow to the other (quite literally) as we were sent from one desk to another looking for my bracelet. In the end, having literally followed the supervisor around until he agreed to talk to us, it was found in the airline safe that some idiot had refused to even look in 30 minutes earlier because there was ‘no way it could have ended up there.’ 

I am now writing about these adventures from the comfort of my own bed (there’s something truly wonderful about sleeping in your own bed after coming home from vacation, isn’t there?) and wearing my beloved bracelet that I missed for five long weeks. Today is my very last day of summer before the new school year begins and I can honestly say that it’ been a good one, even if it wasn’t the one I wanted. When the summer began I had prepared for a horrid, miserable summer and I’m pleasantly surprised that it turned out any other way. 

Tomorrow I can make myself a cup of coffee and honestly say really good, thanks, how was your summer? to my colleagues and be telling the truth, 

Star Letter

 I don’t know how to say this – oh wait, yes I do – I’m kind of a big deal. Yes, I survived my summer vacation in the States (to be blogged about once I’ve recovered from jetlag. Unless, of course, I forget).

Before I left for the States, I picked up the August issue of Women’s Running UK secretly hoping that there would be something in there about a crazy lady who had signed up for a half-marathon while out of shape and had successfully trained for it in 14 short weeks and created a training plan for me to do the same. No luck there, but there was an amazing article about a woman who had been born with a heart condition and had struggled with any form of exercise for her entire life. When her health took a turn for the worse in her early 30s she was placed on the heart transplant list and eventually received a donor heart. After healing from the surgery, this woman had begun to jog and then run for the first time in her entire life thanks to this new heart and had successfully completed her first race. As y’all know, Terry’s beautiful heart was successfully donated to a woman in her 30s and I found myself shaking as I read this woman’s article thinking ‘this woman has my husband’s heart.’ She doesn’t, come to find out, as her heart was donated while Terry was still alive, but someone like her has his heart. I wept as I thought for the first time about the recipients of each of Terry’s organs and the ways that their lives may have been changed by Terry’s gift. Weeping, I wrote an email to the magazine thanking them for sharing such a beautiful story. Then I hopped on a plane to visit my family for five weeks. 

When I arrived home on Friday there was a lot of mail waiting for me. After sleeping for 14 straight hours, I began to open some of it, including the first issue of my new Women’s Running UK subscription. I was shocked to open to the letters to the editor page and find this:

My letter, that I had completely forgotten about writing at this point, had not only been published in the October issue but had been made star letter! As if that wasn’t awesome enough, check out what the star letter wins:

  

That’s right, I won a new pair of shorts and got published in a magazine. How’s that for a welcome home gift? When I went to the grocery store later that day I checked just to make sure that my letter appeared in all of the copies, and sure enough it does!

I had some concerns about returning to the UK for the first time without Terry (I’ll be honest, this was the source of a lot of tears and anxiety ever since my ticket was booked) but I can safely say that coming home has been easier than anticipated. I’ve REALLY enjoyed running in the cooler temperatures that England has to offer (how does anyone survive running in the American South? This is a mystery to me), have enjoyed cuddling with Ninja as much as he’ll allow, then try to get in one more cuddle and get Ninja-smacked, caught up on television (Educating Cardiff!!!) unpacked, signed up for some Pilates classes through the local council and am now blissfully ignoring the fact that school starts on Tuesday and I haven’t done a thing to prepare. 

If I’m struggling for lesson plans, I could always bring in copies of my Star Letter and have the students discuss what makes it such a great letter. In Spanish. 

From One Home to Another

Tomorrow I am flying home (my Nashville home, that is). When traveling back to the States to visit family and friends I always refer to it as flying home, but when I leave I say that I am flying home to England. I have learned from years of living abroad that home is much more people than places. Terry was my home here in England and my family are my home in the States.

The school year ended last Friday and whereas in previous years there is a childlike giddiness associated with six long weeks of summer, this year I’ve felt a bit flat since that last school bell sounded. Even with my lovely summer plans, I am not excited this summer as it is the first of many without Terry. Summer in the past has been full of lie-ins and lazy mornings spent in front of the TV with a cup of coffee; often Terry would come home from work to find me still in my PJs. DIY projects that I didn’t have time to undertake during the school year were relegated to the summer where I would present them to Terry when he came home from work. Since the school year ended I have spent time with friends going to beer festivals, local parks and out for lunch; I have completed three three mile runs as I continue to train for my half marathon and yet I do all of this without Terry and it feels a bit hollow. It feels very hollow, like some sort of mock summer. It looks like summer but I can’t make myself feel like summer. It’s sad to think of how happy my previous summers have been and to realise that this summer, like so much of this past year, is about survival and little else.

Tomorrow morning I will get a taxi to the town centre where I will catch a bus to London Heathrow for my flight at a stupid hour of the morning because Terry isn’t here to drive me to the airport as he always did. Then I will arrive at Heathrow for the first time ever without my gorgeous husband; our airport – the one that saw us through five years of international dating. The one that Terry always complained about the ongoing construction because it made his eyes water. I really should write them a letter, he would say as he wiped his eyes with his sleeve and sent me on my way to wherever I was off to on that adventure. I would smile and wave him goodbye, counting the days until I would see him again. Tomorrow I will not wave him goodbye, nor will I count down the days until I will see his beautiful smile again when he picks me up. When I was younger, airports meant adventure, jetting off to exciting new places. As I grew older, airports became an important aspect of Terry and my relationship as the place where we would say goodbye for a period of time and also where we would be reunited. Now airports are just buildings fully of happy memories that make me sad.

Nonetheless, tomorrow I will brave Heathrow airport for the first time since Terry died to fly from one of my homes to another. I will travel internationally for the first time since that awful day in September to spend five weeks in the states with family and friends. How exciting! everyone at work told me, when I mentioned my summer plans and on paper they are exciting, but I approach them with a heavy heart. I am lucky to get to spend five weeks in the States this summer and lucky to have such loving family and friends to spend time with. I am lucky in a lot of ways, but this trip will be difficult in ways that I may not even anticipate.

I am undecided as to whether or not I will post on this blog while in Nashville. If I don’t, you will hear from me when I return at the end of August, ready for a new school year to begin.

Always Stay Happy

I’ve been having an emotional few days reading through some of the thousands of emails that Terry and I sent to each other while dating long distance for five years. The most recent batch that I was reading were from the months during which I graduated from university, applied to and was accepted to the Peace Corps, flew to England to see him for two weeks before moving to Africa. The emails that we sent are so beautiful and optimistic and I have wept for the youthful optimism that we once shared. We truly believed that one day we would get to live happily ever after in the same country and it breaks my heart that neither of us could have ever anticipated the way our story would end. One email, sent shortly before I left for Senegal reads:

Hi honey,

I really enjoy talking to you and I always look forward to talking to you every night. I know that when you go to Senegal we won’t be able to talk every night, and to start with that will be very hard as i have gotten use to talking to you every day and I love it.

I will always be here for you and even if we only get to talk once a month then that is what we will do and we will be fine. I will write you emails and letters and I i will send you pics and stuff we will get through this and grow stronger together.

I love you with all my heart and always will.

So don’t worry about whether I am ok about you going coz i am fine with it as I know that we will be together at the end and we will be going travelling together after, with the next chapter in our lives together.

You really are amazing and I am head over heels in love with you, you are every thing to me so there are 2 conditions of you going to Senegal.

  1. you have fun and enjoy this experience and
  2. you come home safe to me.

Love you so much.

Missing you

Love always

Your silly brit

T

XOXOXOXOX

These words are some of my most cherished possessions but they are still incredibly painful to read and they remind me of the magnitude of the love that I have lost. Having spent the weekend pouring over Terry’s emails, I went into school emotionally drained and a bit sad this morning. I had volunteered to lead an arts and crafts session on making handmade cards with a group of students. We spent the morning making marbled cards using shaving cream and food dye and then used pencil rubbers as stamps. While making a card with one of the Year 7s, she reminded me that I had been her teacher in September. You were a really good teacher miss, and I was really sorry to hear your sad news. And then the conversation went on to other things, as they do with young children. 

At the end of the day, the girl brought me this card that she had made for me: 

Never ever cry or be sad. Always stay happy.

 It took me almost four months to build up the courage to go back to work after Terry died, but being back in school and being around my students has been so helpful these last six months. Teenagers often get a bad rap and while they are capable of being absolutely horrendous, they are also capable of being kind and compassionate and this girl’s card melted my broken heart. 

I wish that it was possible to always stay happy; these days happiness is a struggle for me. It does not come so naturally as it once did when all was well in the world, but these past nine months have shown me that even in my darkest days, happiness is still possible.  It is worth fighting for and when it presents itself, it should be held onto for dear life. 

Jogging On

I mentioned in my previous post that I have recently signed up to run a half marathon in October having not run in years. Although traditionally I have been a very thorough planner in all aspects of my life, since Terry died I have found myself to be much more impulsive, hence signing up for a race that I am not in shape enough to run. There have been a few signs that I may have bitten off more than i can chew since I entered the race:

1. I downloaded a training app where I entered my level of fitness (non-runner) and the race date. The app then refused to provide me with a training plan, informing me that the race date I had entered did not give me enough time to train properly. I then lied and said that I could already run 3 miles and the app happily gave me a training plan. I could not run three miles when I said this.

2. I went to a specialist shoe store to get measured for good running shoes. ‘What are you running?’ the salesman asked. A Half marathon. “When?” In October. “Great! What are you running at the moment?” I’m not actually running at the moment. ‘I would recommend that you give yourself a bit more time to train for a half marathon as a beginner, have you thought about entering a different race?” Nope. already entered this one. Which shoes would you recommend?

While buying the shoes, he asked me why I was so keen to throw myself into a half marathon. The truth is that another widow asked me to run with her and i feel like focusing on running will help me to survive the one year anniversary of my beloved husband’s death. All I could think of to say was it’s complicated.

Race For Life
This is what I’m training for. On race day I plan on being somewhere in the back. photo credit: York Race For Life 2015 via photopin (license)

In spite of these two warning signs, I have managed three seperate two-mile runs this week and tonight I will run three miles. It’s difficult, but each run a bit less so as my mind tries to convince my body that I can do this. My legs have been really sore this week although this weekend they are less so, which may be a sign of progress.

Thanks again to those of you who have already donated via my Just Giving page – I’ve already smashed my original fundraising goal of £50!!! I’ll be honest, if those donations hadn’t been made I would be trying to wriggle my way out of this one, but I’ve already raised some money and that is really helping to keep me going on these runs that my body is not even close to excited about doing.

I’ll keep y’all posted as I continue my training. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have three miles to run.