THE ANNIVERSARY WALK

THE ANNIVERSARY WALK

The alarm goes off, it looks dark out there, I kick the covers off from my temporary nest, insomnia dictates the start point and the alarm calls the end, the bit in the middle normally only exists due to exhaustion, four to five hours sleep a day is a result, of the need, no the honour, of caring for my sweetheart both in hospital and at home. Anyway, today is an important day for many reasons and I need to scratch and stretch and great the day with the abrupt opening of the curtains.

Well that’s a disappointment!, my bleary eyes observed a wet foggy day, even when I put my glasses on it didn’t look better, oh well, I only have this day to do what I need to do and I must not fail, for today would have been our 39th wedding anniversary and is the first anniversary since we have been parted.

The usual pre-amble of deciding what to pack, wear and eat and countless emptying and re-filling of the rucksack had already taken place with two additions. A Vodaphone Curve tracker and my Garmin Vovoactive4 GPS watch. Both will be put through their paces today. These bits of kit allow me to be tracked in live time from afar. Mission Control will be checking my progress, not that I’m infirm or reckless, far from it, more to do with a promise my wife made me make to her about walking about in dangerous off grid places. She knew that I can read maps and use a compass, pack survival stuff and know first aid, which is all good, but, she knew that it would mean that I would go off like Forest Gump, especially as she wouldn’t be here to reign me in. Trust me, grief does make you do things to escape the sadness, disbelief, denial and so on, so walking off into the mountains would be right up my street, or hill. Making me promise not to do that was what she needed to hear, you see, when I promise, I will ever break it and she knew that. So I have to walk with people or on popular paths and these two bits of kit allow me to have a degree of freedom while being monitored by my two sons from their respective “Mission Controls” in different parts of the country.

I wanted to set off about 07:00 but at 08:30 it was still a pea souper! Well it’s got to be done so I load up my car, set my trackers off so that the mission controls can locate me and off I went. Hang on, I haven’t told where have I? Well I’m driving 170 miles each way to Derbyshire, to Dovedale to be exact.

Derbyshire was another place we loved; it was the preferred way of travel when we go and see our son in Manchester, not the most direct, but definitely the most picturesque. It was the last place we had a family holiday and Dovedale was the place we had our last anniversary; the last was sadly in hospital.

There were many obstacles to overcome on that day, the journey for one, I still hate travelling on my own, we always went everywhere together. Stopping at Dovedale was going to be hard, but I needed to do this to mark our anniversary and to honour my sweetheart. I have also been planning to complete another journey there as well, to mark the day with positivity.

The three hour journey was uneventful I’m pleased to say and the weather broke into a glorious sunny day by the time I had reached Ashbourne. I needed to stop there to buy some flowers, another milestone, as this was our base when we visited the area. Well flowers bought and off again to Dovedale, just 15 mins away. On the way there I passed the cottage in Ilam we stayed at as a family, our last holiday, my mask fell and so did the tears, so I just had to stop. I thought I had got control of all this stuff, but it would seem I’m not as tough as I thought.

Composure re-gained I drove into the National Trust car park, a place we had parked at so many times. The sun was out and so was everyone else. Our whole lives have been a series of coincidences and they continue to happen, just to give you an example, the first film I took my best mates sister to see back in the 70’s where the first kiss took place. The film was full of things that actually have happened or we have agreed to do in the future, but that was some 46 years ago so we couldn’t have predicted the outcome that far away. Incidentally, we went as mates and came back as boy and girlfriend, and today will turn out to be no different. We got married on the 18th September; it was a miserable day until the sun came out at 4pm when we got married. Today the 18th started off miserable but the sun is out now. Let’s hope the day continues to favour me.

I muscled past the crowds of inappropriately dressed people and started my journey along the path past the Izaak Walton Gauging station with the crowd, socially distant of course, well I was anyway, I could hear people talking about my kit, in particular the single red rose that I had poking out my rucksack, but I’m past all that, I’m one of those odd blokes that is happy to show how much I love my wife and how much I miss her. I pass a bridge on my right; this is a point where I have to make a decision on which way to go. Over the bridge would mean that I avoided the famous stepping stones, but going over the stones was an important part of the journey, my wife and I have hopped across these so many times and even carried our dog across them as he has too scared to cross preferring me to provide safe passage.

So the iconic stepping stones was the way to go, unfortunately so was everyone else. In my other older stories I refer to a “walking radius”. This is a term that I use to describe the clobber that people wear and the distance from the car that they walk. I look around me and can predict almost exactly where people will come to a stop. By the looks of the designer outfits and heels on show, I already know that at least 50% will stop at the stepping stones and when I reach there, sure enough, a group of bewildered people were lurking about as they were expecting the waters to part or a boat at least! However the other 50% were queuing to walk across. I queued with them thinking I should have gone over the bridge, but I’m here now. I struck up a conversation with a ranger who was picking up rubbish. Astonishingly, he had picked up 3 bags already! And he just accepted that that people don’t care, the carry it all down there to a beauty spot and then spoil it for others. Careful Mike! Turning into a keyboard warrior again!

I eventually crossed the stones and paused as a matter of respect on the last but one stone. It was her some years ago that my wife and I had witnessed an elderly lady, supported by her family, was scattering her husband’s ashes into the river. We were approaching them and realised what was going on and decided to hold back a way to allow her to carry out their wishes. We also halted the traffic behind us to afford them the time. This time, the whole event had a completely different meaning and feelings were far closer to home this time round, so sincere respect was given as I was treading on sacred ground.

Turning left after the stones, following the river upstream, I pass I style, well a slit between stones which always caused perplexed expressions to be displayed on my wife’s face. Basically she was short and curvy and the stones were taller that her little legs, so each time we visited this place, a degree of manhandling was required that you could only get away with after nearly 50 yrs. Sometimes I would just leave her stuck in the middle as the disapproving look on her face coupled with the hands on her hips was always I sight to see, and alas just a memory, but still one I and lucky to have. The river is crystal clear and full of rich flowing green grass like plants with gravel patches contrasting against the green reeds. Fallen trees bridge the river in places providing perches for dippers. The more open spots often have herons and the occasional duck as was to be today.

Most of the crowd stopped at this point leaving only the determined appropriately dressed adventurers to go fourth, myself included. Not only was this day significant, but the distance, as I had been adjusting my walking to allow for the 1000 miles to be completed on this day and at this place. I had checked my remaining distance at the start of the walk; 5.7miles was what I needed to do, so off I trotted. The path is good and well maintained with several gates separating fields. The path rises away from the river and stone cliffs peek through the trees like a little grand canyon, it’s so peaceful and allows you to reflect whilst being bathed by the sun above. About half way along the walk the ground climbs and a number of steps need to climbed to reach the viewpoint at the top. At the top is a rocky outcrop which most people wait to ascend. Opposite this is a simple wooden bench. But this wasn’t my destination.

There as many steps going down the other side, some of which are slippery, so be careful. The river pops in and out of view but is a constant rumbling companion, unlike my trackers which have given up on me due to the valley and lack of any signal of any kind. I thought this would be the case, but I wanted to try them out. After a short while you reach some of the many caves peering out through the bushes and trees, well-trodden paths disappear into the undergrowth where many a child imagining themselves as Indiana Jones had ventured to seek out untold treasures within the hidden caves. In front of you are some boardwalks that sit between the river on your left and the rising rock to your right. You are in a proper valley know and as I look up and gaze in the near cloudless blue sky I recount the many times we have walked these boardwalks from summer days to snow covered winter days, romantically walking hand in hand not for safety sake, just because we just liked holding hands. A little further on is a bridge that spans the river with a cave at the end and a path to Ilam, the place we had out cottage. The cave has been explored on many occasions and today; a young family was doing the same, history repeating itself.

Today it was for others to explore as I needed to keep an eye on the mileage and reach my destination. The path rises again and then sharply descends to the main caves which suddenly appear on your right. Large open mouthed holes looking like they are shouting out at you, a perfect selfie spot and a chance to explore or just simply stop for a snack. Some years ago, on a tree by these caves I placed one of our metal hearts, “MICA 9” and after a little searching, I found it. I also found that someone had nailed two dog tags under my heart and at the foot of the tree, some ashes were scattered. A final resting place of a faithful friend no doubt on his favourite walk. I removed my single red rose and a little note and placed it at the foot of a nearby tree, not wishing to draw attention to the sacred place. I said a few words in my head and took a photo and waited in silence for a little while before setting off again.

Looking at my watch, I could see that I still had some miles to go, so I decided to carry on to the end of the valley at Milldale. This part of the walk had only been done buy us, so seemed fitting to do this in our footsteps. The river still keeps me company as does the blue skies above. A lone white duck follows me for a while, somewhat symbolic almost a spiritual sign as this has happened before at another place we loved to visit. The scenery varies from grassy meadows to rocky pillars of stone, a rare plushness of nature being fed by pure spring fed river water with a clear blue ceiling above. The only blot is the well-made path and the human traffic scurrying about like ants in a line.

Milldale pokes its head up in the distance blocking the throat of the valley, enhancing the charm of this beautiful national park with its old stone buildings and river frontage. As I walk the path I notice tiny bees collecting pollen from little trumpet shaped lilac coloured flowers, I pause to marvel at their commitment and the tireless endeavours to satisfy the hive, I also spied a caterpillar making its way across the path. I picked it up to help it across but no sooner had I rescued it literally charged up my arm. Well I placed safely on the other side and chuckled at the thought that I might have put back form where it started, oh well, at least it wasn’t trodden on by me.

I entered Milldale by the “Viators Bridge” apparently it’s a traveller? I made my way to a little house that served food, my wife and I scoffed ice creams from there the last time we were here but as I drew nearer, it became apparent that about 20 other people had the same idea. Oh well, let’s find a place by the river and eat the lunch I made instead. I sat by the river and broke out my roll and some bread pudding that I made the day before. I sat in silence somewhat saddened that I would never sit here again with her and how much we took these things for granted. Oh I wished I had the knowledge I have now. How much do I want to share my drink and bread pudding with her and take more pictures of her sitting kicking her legs whilst raising her face to the sun. I watched couples and families enjoying their food and the river and thought why did it end this way, 20 years short. Stifled tears fell but were disguised by pretending to rub my eyes. Had I done too much buy trying to take steps that are too big for me, well probably, sometimes you have to sink before you can swim, but I’ve come too far now and she knows I’m not about to quit now.

I packed up my rucksack and made a swift retreat back. The walk back was a delight for the eyes, so much I had missed but at least I could see it this time, the only thing spoiling it was not having her little hand in mine. I made my back to the cave and passed my rose and sat at a cave entrance. A few people stopped to read my note and gave a gestured sigh, one couple grabbed each other’s arms as if they were suddenly grateful for being together, as sad as that was, it was lovely to see them appreciate each other. I tipped my hat and looked at my watch to see how many miles I had to do, not many so off I go again retracing my steps up to the view point.

As I reached the top of the slippery steps, I glanced at my watch, I don’t believe this, I looked at the bench and looked again. I had done 5.74 miles at the bench, I needed 5.7 miles to complete the 1000 miles, the time was approaching the time we got married 39yrs ago on a sunny September afternoon and what’s more, many years ago we carved our initials on the bench I am now standing in front of. Read into this what you will, but don’t judge me when I say it was meant to be and more than a coincidence.

I waited for a while for the bench to become free and made my way over slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of the chances of all this happening. I asked a lady if she could take a picture of me on the bench which she did and then she asked me why, I started to tell her and within 5 minutes I had half a dozen people standing in front of me and several more sitting about but watching me. So humbling and wonderful, it’s almost as though I was sharing my story to pass it on.

I thanked the assembled audience and made my way back down towards the stepping stones passing the squeeze between the stones. I queued to cross again sparing a thought as I trod on the second stepping stone. On the other side I met the warden again, “still picking up the rubbish” I said and to my surprise he said “second lot” beggars belief doesn’t it. I made my way back against the flow of designer clad beauties some of which were carrying well pampered trophy dogs, well who am I to judge, everyone deserves to be happy in whatever way it comes.

When I got back to the car I bought a double scoop ice cream, one scoop of my favourite and one of my wife’s, seemed to be the right thing to do.

This is the last bit but ties in another part that the group has helped me with. It was getting late in the afternoon and I was trying to make my mind up about going to Bakewell, another favourite place, especially on market days. Well in for and emotional penny in for an emotional pound hey! I drive cross country and arrived at 17:07, the car park signage barked at me with a “GATES LOCKED AT 18:00 PROMPT” so I just put an hour on as there was only one thing I wanted to do, to find our padlock on the lovelock bridge.

The bridge was literally at the end of the carpark and I knew roughly where we placed it 7 years since. I scoured the padlocks as we had done so many times, but just accepted that they had been removed and been replaced by others. My son had put a padlock on there some years later and I had found that before, so I looked for that instead. Well I found that fairly easily, it’s by a purple padlock; purple was my wife’s favourite colour. I noted the number of bays it was from the end of the bridge and sent him a picture. I also attached a new padlock with MICA engraved on it net to his, not the same as when we put ours but it was better than nothing. I stood with my back against his padlock and watched the ducks perching on the small weir in front of me. For some reason I decided to look on the other side of the bridge, it was 17:45, and after a few minutes I found our original padlock dated 2014 and MICA on it. I was so pleased I shouted “I’ve found our padlock” and again the tears fell, this was significant in so many ways than a simple padlock can show, it was something we had done together and I was there with her again. A group of young girls and a couple of fellas were close and one of the girls came over and put her arm round me to see if I was ok, it felt nice to have a cuddle. I said that I found our padlock on our anniversary and that I had lost my wife so this was very important. Within seconds the guys were manhandling the padlocks apart so I could get to ours. They held them so I could get a picture after which I thanked them for the kindness and help, one of the girls came up and rubbed my arm almost to say it will be ok. The time was 17:55 so I was meant to find it then otherwise I would have to given up or get locked in. The strange thing is that our padlock is directly opposite that of my sons that was placed about 4 years after ours, he could have placed it anywhere and didn’t know where ours was. In a strange way we are all together on love lock bridge Bakewell.

I returned to Ashbourne and decided to get some food at the Stepping Stones restaurant, the Last place we had an anniversary meal, again another first step, asking for a table for one in a place we had been coming to for years as a couple, a family and with our extended family. I sat at the table observing so many couples, I was alone and lonely, just a menu and a phone to keep me company. Again the simple things of holding a hand across the table, asking what each other fancied, looking forward to the Travelodge next door, our temporary home for many a weekends visit. To break this solemn reflection I decided to upload my mileage on the 1000 mile App, the congratulatory mail came back requesting the delivery address etc which I duly completed. I ate my meal and stuffed a sticky toffee pudding, finished my “fat Coke” and then drove the 170miles home feeling pretty good all things considering; I had laid a flower in memory of our day, competed my 1000th mile and found our padlock. When I got home my hat and badge had arrived so all in all, a positive outcome to a sad emotional day, but I’m still alone and lonely and missing her dearly.

6 Likes

Dear Mikeh Thank you for your story of your walk i n Dovedale
it bought back so many lovely memories of when me and my husband Peter used to go there a lot memories of stopping and having our sandwiches by the caves. We used to do a lot of walking in the Brecon Beacons and Scotland. But Dovedale was our special place.

Thank you Mike, for sharing your walk. Whilst reading, I had moments where I couldn’t hold back my tears. Especially when you shouted “I’ve found our padlock!” and those young people gathered around. Another moment which made me gasp with longing was when you were in the Stepping Stones restaurant. How I long to be sitting in a restaurant with my husband sitting across the table from me. We used to play a game where we would look around at other couples and guess which ones were married and which ones weren’t. Generally the ones sitting in silence were married. I’m smiling now. David and I were always an exception to the rule as we never stopped talking to one another. There always seemed to be something to say…

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Dear Crazy_Kate

Me and husband always used to play the game ‘guess the bill’. The kids have continued with it and that’s fine but on the very few occasions I have tried to venture out for a snack when it comes to paying it just breaks my heart. Not something that can be done when alone.

Sheila x

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Hi Mike
Tears rolled while I read your lovely Aniversary walk.
So many memories and mixed emotions
My husband too was happy and comfortable showing his emotions, he was very tactile.
Never walked bye with out giving me a kiss and cuddle no matter where we were.
We too held hands as we walked
I feel like I have a spare hand now it not being safely held in his.
I always read your walks but this one particularly touched me
Take care and a hug
Christine

Once again. You have stopped me in my tracks Mike and sidetracked me from crying into my pillow and going over every detail of losing my husband… I logged on to this site as I often do when things become too much, and suddenly I was transported to a different time and place… Thank you for sharing your brave and emotional journey

Hi Cjs126

Sorry that my story made you cry, I don’t want to upset people further, but I cant let these important anniversaries go unnoticed. My wife and I were very tactile and enjoyed closeness. For me, that’s the thing I struggle with, not having the hand to hold that’s mine to hold, the loving embrace or tender kiss even the smell of her perfume or warmth on the cold nights. Not sure I will ever get over that.

Its nice to hear I’m not the only one that has a spare hand and empty arms.

Take care and a big hug back

Mike

Hi Katiemarylucy1

Sorry to upset you, I hope I manged to distract you for a little. I know how much i rely on distraction, so if it helps in a small way, you are more than welcome. The fact you read it humbles me and give me a connection to others which is a help for me, so thanks for reading.

I do have other stories on the charity website that i have, they are under blogs " walking stories" feel free to follow my families endeavours and read the stories i we have written. There is a blog on bereavement as well.

Take care and thanks for reading.

Mike

Hi Mike
Thank you for your reply
Your story didn’t upset me it just touched me deeply
It’s obviously your way of keeping your wife close
As I was reading your walk I could tell that you had a very special bond with your dear wife as I had with my husband.
Like you it’s the special closeness I miss the most, its the million and one little loving things between the two of you that others probably didn’t even notice.
When you’ve had such a loving bond I don’t think that it’s possible to ever get past not having it anymore.
Thank you for allowing us to walk along with you
Take care and a big hug
Christine

Yes Christine,

I do miss all that closeness, but feel people think of other things, especially as I’m a bloke. I’m probably overthinking it, but I cant help feel that people think that way. Only those that have enjoyed such closeness will understand.

Its just the small simple things that would mean so much and help you cope. I don’t know if you have watched After Life series 1 and 2? I have several times. I am Ricky Gervase and have been and are going through all that he portrays and at some point I hope that I will find an Emma as a companion, don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready and not sure if I will be ever, but I cant bear the thought of never holding a hand, smelling the perfume on a woman, having a dance, days out, meals out, but as close friends.

I don’t see what is wrong with to independent souls having a shared life but having independent lives at the same time, we should all have a little bit of peace before we go shouldn’t we? Having said this, its still doesn’t feel right even saying that.

I have to let destiny and fate battle it out with guilt, betrayal and judgement.

Take care and big hugs, (at least virtual hugs cant hurt any of us, but strangely its a comfort knowing that we are not the only ones)

Mike

Mike you didn’t upset me atall…quite the contrary…you really do transport people to your world, and the memories of your lovely wife

Thank you for sending me the Travels link…

Hi Mike
It’s bucketing rain and thick mist here in the Highlands today so no walking today
If I can work out how to add a pic here I will send one of my favorite walk
I think that you are very brave going on the walks you enjoyed with your dear wife.
I avoid anywhere my husband and I went.
We loved walking but our passion was scuba diving, he was an instructor and we have our owe gear so could just go where we wanted.
I doubt very much that I will ever dive again, I felt so safe and confident with my darling husband, now that’s all gone.
I understand what you mean about people thinking that grief is different or even easier for men.
Being with my very loving husband for 38 years I know that is just not so.
He always showed his emotion and love no matter where we were, he even held my hand while driving.
As you say when we’re been used to such tenderness the thought of never feeling such love again is heart breaking.
It’s an inner turmoil I guess, when you’ve had the love of your life how can anything else ever compare.
I see no harm in you keeping your wife’s craft room and things.
Makeing a blanket of her cloths sounds lovely.
Everything of my husbands is just where he left it, anyone walking in here would think he was still here.
I still can’t believe that he’s not going to walk back in, he was so cruely stollen from me in his sleep.
I ware his jacket when I go my walks, it’s huge on me and makes me feel him all around me
Walking is my only release right now, I hate being indoors
I have a lovely experience a few weeks ago, I was sitting on a rock having a cry, when I looked up to find a stag standing looking at me, he was close enough to touch, he just walked around me nibbling the Heather, it was as if he came to comfort me.
He eventually wandered off, at the brow of the hill he turned to look at me then he was gone
I felt really honoured by his visit with me
I haven’t seen the after life series but I will have a look.
Will close for now, take care and a big hug as you say it’s better than nothing
My hubby was big on hugging
Take care
Christine

Hi Christine

My wife and I used to visit the highlands, we used to base ourselves just outside Fort William, a lovely country despite the midges! I live in Suffolk, about 600 miles away. Big skies vs big mountains.

Adding pictures:

When you reply to a message there is a bar on the top above the bit you type in. It has various symbols in it and the 7th one along from the left that looks like some mountains is the one to click to upload a picture. When you press that it opens up a window saying “Add an image” click “choose files” and this should take you to your pictures.

We just loved being with each other and loved the outside, being away anywhere as long as we were together, but I was the instigator of most things and my wife was willing to go along with things as we shared so much in common, she knew she would always be safe and I would look after her, so it would have been harder for her if I was to have gone first.

She would be heartbroken as I am, but wouldn’t had coped with all the other stuff. So there are differences between a husbands and wife’s grief. She would have coped with the support of our children and siblings. I had planed for her to move in with our son, sell our house and combine the monies from my son’s house and ours to by a bigger house where she could live with independence.

The main difference is that blokes tend to tough it out, as we are expected not to show emotion especially to the outside world. Well I think the key to our wonderful life was that we did show our feelings to each other. but I did suck it in and default to the typical man stance, but to be honest, it took me to some pretty dark places and I became very angry. I thought it was showing weakness, but now I know its strength, a great strength as when you accept that its ok to show your feelings, you can start to free your mind a little easier.

Unfortunately, far too many fellas don’t, and I wish I could help them to express themselves more openly, it does help.

We were married for 38 years, so many similarities in our lives, and I loved showing that I loved my wife, I was and still am proud of her. In fact I want to tell the world as it keeps her in my heart, I think I’m in love with her memory, as daft as that sounds.

I have all sorts of turmoil’s like you have, I spent a lifetime loving, cherishing and looking after my sweetheart, but now I don’t have anyone to share that with and that has left a big hole in me. i need to love and be loved and it feels so upsetting that after nearly 50 years that’s all stopped. The future scares me thinking that this is all I have, but it’s just been a year so too soon to think of those things.

Who knows, a companion of sorts might be what destiny or fate has in store at some point, it wont be the same, it cant be, but some mutual company and enjoyment cant be too much to ask for, but what do I know? the mind is still swinging like a pendulum.

My home is full of my wife, and that’s how I want it, its our home and I wont rid it of her. She is in my heart and her spirit is around me I’m sure. Her ashes are by her side of the bed, I still kiss her each night and say my prayers for her. Her picture is on my side of the bed and I sleep with her looking over me, keeping me safe from afar.

Thai sounds wrong, but I miss the warmth in the bed and the cuddles and tenderness. I sleep with pillows next to me and spray them with perfume, it helps me go to sleep.

That’s so beautiful seeing the Stag, it put shivers up my legs and back, its a sign for sure you are being looked after. I don’t know you personally, but I feel that it was a sign for you and it warmed my heart that you had that experience. Perhaps as we had similar relationships and for similar timescales, there is a kindred spirit ?? who knows, but I don’t fight these signs in what ever form they are presented. I’m convinced we are spirits living a human experience, so why shouldn’t they make contact in some form, a smell, a thought, a feather, a robin, whatever, the fact it presents itself to you and you alone is key, embrace it, I do and it helps me get by.

After Life helped me understand why I feel the way I feel. the third series is out in December I believe, be interesting to see how this pans out.

I feel we covered a lot of things, it was like a counselling session for me, thanks for sharing.

by the way, we held hands, cuddled, danced all our lives and was proud to give and receive love in so many ways, that’s why its so tough for us both. The more we loved the more we hurt,

Big hugs

Take care Christine

Mike

Hi Mike
Thank you for your kind reply
I don’t have the row of symbols you mention above the message box??
Yes our lives with our soulmate loves do seem to be very similar which I guess is why I find your posts so helpful.
I just wish that I could think more like you, its 18 month for me now and I’m still stuck in the same hole. Wishing I could have my darling husband back, I don’t even feel like me anymore, it’s like I’m living someone else’s life as it bears no resemblance to our happy carefree life.
Like you and your dear wife we were happy just being together
Friends used to call us the lovebirds as we were always together holding hands and cuddleing.
His favorite saying was if your happy sweetheart then I’m happy, and I felt the same back.
We talked about everything and he once said that he wouldn’t be frightened of dying but he would be frightened of what it would do to me if he went first.
Lovely that you thought ahead for your dear wife if you went first.
I’m pretty sure that my husband would have gone back to our home abroad, where as I can’t bear the thought of going back there, I know that I will have to at some point if only to sell… Just can’t think about it right now.
I’ve become an expert in avoidance.
Like you my husband was very tactile and I think that shows strength, to be happy to show love regardless.
I totally understand your feelings about the lose of tenderness, cuddles etc ect with your dear wife.The perfume is a lovely idea, especially if it brings you comfort.
Some nights I don’t bother going to bed, it just feels so empty.
Like you I have a big virtually life size portrait photo by the bed, although it causes mixed emotions seeing his smiling face as if he’s looking at me.
The house is full of photographs of him or the pair of us.
His ashes are in a sculpture of 2 waves running over a sphere to represent the world we travelled together and the waves for our passion for diving.
However sadly its still in its box, I just can’t look at it, thinking that’s all that’s left of him now.
I guess I just don’t want to accept that he’s gone.
I’ve been labeled with having complicated grief because of the way my husband died, in his sleep with his arm still around me .
But isn’t everyone’s grief complicated.
He was fit and well and full of life.
I am trying but just don’t know how to come to terms with that.
I know that it would break his heart to see me in such tormoil.
Much like you I pretend a lot that I’m doing OK
I’ve joined the gym and walk for miles as we’ve always lead a very active lifestyle, it’s just not the same
Pity we live so far apart, who knows maybe we could have become walking buddies.
I live not that far from Fort William, it’s a lovely part of Scotland.
Yes indeed the stag was a magical moment, I was going to send you a pic.
Saw a lovely kestral this morning, just sitting on a fence was going to send also.
Maybe it’s my phone that’s the problem, the photos are on my phone.
I’m not very tec minded I’m afraid.
I’m sure that your posts will be helping lost of men on here with their grief.
To realise that it’s a strength to be proud of, not a weakness to show love and emotion.
I agree I’m sure that with many people it’s a false assumption that men find grief easier, it’s not, as you say it’s just different.
Like for us all the deeper you love the deeper the grief.,its the price we pay.
Thank you again for reading my ramblings and for reply
Take care and safe wandering
A big Hug
Christine

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Hi Christine,
No need to thank for replying, we are all here to help each other, and just little chats like this help me feel less alone so the thanks are reciprocated.

I have looked on my mobile and the icon for pictures is at the bottom of the message box. My apologies. I have added a picture hopefully??

It sounds like we had similar lives and opposites as well, you your husband and my wife for me, you in the North and me in the South (east)

Don’t get me wrong Christine, I do struggle pretty much everyday but I try and feel her in my heart and around me wherever I can. I wish I could explain how I try and deal with things, so I will try for you.

Here goes, I’m no expert, and don’t know if I can even put into sensible words, you just have to read between the lines and try not to judge.

My Doctor aid that my grief will be classed as complicated grief because of the deep and everlasting love that we had for each other. I didn’t understand what that means but do now. I went through all the “normal” stages and to be fair, I still do go through them but more deeply and more painfully, a physical emptiness in my stomach and my heart feel broken. Of course its working, but it feels exhausted. I’m torn between the loss of her being here all the time, I get fed up just looking after myself, we looked after each other in so many ways, emotionally, physically we helped each other almost like we were co-joined, where one went the other wasn’t far behind. We were seen as one and if we were separated for any reason, we thought as each other, our siblings said if we only saw one of you, we could feel the other with you. I can say this to you as I think you had the same with your dear husband, so you will relate to this. We could talk without words, just a look into each others eyes was enough to have a conversation or find an answer. To us this was normal, to others, well they didn’t understand.

So without our soulmates, we are lost, lost souls to be exact, seeking the normal we had but in the knowledge that we can never have it and that’s hard, very hard. So I knew that I would spiral out of control, like a plane with one wing, spinning like a sycamore seed towards the ground.

I used to build model aircraft, flying ones, my wife, then girlfriend, used to follow me around and sit patiently while I attempted to fly these planes, in fact that’s how we got together, see I married my best friends sister, and we built planes together, another reason why my grief is complicated, all my mates from school days married sisters in the family, so the loss is deep across us all.

The reason for this tale is about a film back in 1965 I think called The Flight of the Phoenix. it was about a plane that crashed and the crew was stranded and faced certain death. In the crew was a chap that built model planes and put a plan together to make a plane from the remaining parts. the plane had crashed and lost a wing, like we have lost our wing men and wing women.

With what’s left of the wing they moved the fuselage into a new position to balance the craft and to cut a long story short, they managed to fly out of the jaws of uncertainty back into life, not the same life, they survived, but traumatised forever by what had happened, but took a chance on hope, because they had nothing else to loose.

Being a builder of models, I thought, what do I do? I have lost my wing and I have crashed and just waiting to die basically, but, and this you will have to trust me on, a little voice inside said, what would she want me to do? certainly not give in, yes of course, you must grieve, that’s right and proper, and you wont get over it ever but you will get used to living with it and if you take me within your heart on this journey I will help you build your plane and like the phoenix and fly out to a better place. The flight wont be without problems, it will be hard, it wont be the same, and the journey will be scary and the landing will be hard, but I will be with you through this and life’s battle for ever, that’s what we signed up for.

I think you will understand this, If your relationship was anything like mine, you will have the same little voice within. I treat all these feelings with understanding and comfort, there is no proof that there is another life, but I do believe that we are spirits living a human experience and that why we have feelings, de ja vous, smells, feathers, robins, Stags even. They are the spirits living another life experience but sending signs that we are being looked after in ways the we will only understand when we get there ourselves.

Since I have been thinking of things this way, life has become easier. Its a bit like being a big fish in a small bowl, no room to move, restricted by the glass, my grief and loss. Now I’m the same size fish still with the same grief and loss but in a much bigger tank. In other words, I am still grieving, but my world has got bigger and I can travel a little further as i take my wife with me, we swim together, still sad, alone and lonely but like the phoenix we have adjusted our lives to cope and move forward with a different purpose.

With me, I re-live the life we had, not the same, differently but doing the things we enjoyed together. I find all sorts of things on my travels, feathers mainly, coincidences, but to poignant to be chance. I write my stories from the heart, she has always guided me, she made me the man I am, and now I must use those skills to look after myself, my family and try and help those who are struggling with all the many things that life throws at us.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is right, sometimes when i feel really low I just say to my self, that’s love I’m feeling, if I didn’t love, I wouldn’t feel it, it reminds me how wonderful our life was. So I get up, I tidy the house and wash and clean both me and the house to the standards that my wife would expect. I go out for walks and look for signs, and most of the time they find me, it could be a shiver for no reason, it could be a memory of something we used to do together, but I am still doing it, and if I think of her while I do it, then we are sharing the experience.

I said I wished I knew the answer or the way to explain it, and I am learning, but I also accept that I will make mistakes, we all fall before we can walk, we all sink before we can swim, we all ignore the little things in life, but now I look for them, your Stag visiting you was a sign, and don’t let anyone tell you differently, they don’t now, but we do, we know that the love that we had with our partners will not die, I still love my wife, just because I can see her doesn’t mean she isn’t there, we just have to look at life differently and accept that things will never be the same, they cannot ever be and we should not try. we are a mixture of the past, the present and the future and I believe that as long as we take the many many good things from our past with us on our journey through the present and into the future, we will learn to live with our grief.

To love is to grieve, we had and now have lost, but we have the memory and that can never be taken away and it should be built on, a continuance of the memory. Yo went for a walk, to a place you went with your husband, you were doing the same but differently, you thought you were on your own, you will never be on your own, the stag will be with you if not by your side, in your memory.

You will have to believe me about what I’m about to write. when I think of you and the Stag, I get shivers, I’m not cold and as I write this i have them now. I believe that that’s my wife telling me something, you have to believe me, and for you i thing that she is agreeing about the Stag. don’t judge or scoff, but why else would I get them??? there are things we don’t and aren’t meant to understand.

Another example, last night I was going for a cup of tea at my wife’s sisters house. As I drove down the road i saw a man doubled up on the pavement. I thought he was having a heart attack. I stopped and jumped out to help. he was screaming out, then I noticed a Bull mastiff dog shacking a teddy about and a woman just standing there. Then I noticed that the teddy was in fact a West highland terrier and the Bull Mastiff was in fact killing it. The man was the owner witnessing his dog being tossed about. The woman was in shock not knowing what to do. The man was clearly not having a heart attack, so I went up to the Bull Mastiff, grabbed its collar and twisted to strangle the dog. Brutal I know, but necessary. The Westie was dropped and the Bull Mastiff stopped its frenzied attack. I shouted out to the women to pull the dog away as soon as o let go, I didn’t want to hurt the dog or get bitten myself. She did that and moved the dog away. Luckily, The Westie had a thick coat on so the Mastiff couldn’t bite through and in fact the coat was being mauled and not the dog. A quick look at the doge didn’t show any signs of bleeding. A passer by came over and I asked her to hold the westie while I went over to the guy. I told him that I think his dog was ok, the look on his face was something I couldn’t put into words, all was ok in the end, well I hope so, he took his westie to the vets to check over and names and addresses were exchanged.

Now I’m not telling you this to get some hero status, just that I was put in the right place at the right time and was given the calmness to react and save a situation. It was pure chance that I went out, went that way, and got a positive outcome. It was either fate, destiny or things I’m not supposed to understand, I just accepted the fact it was supposed to happen, another sign that I’m being guided.

I’m sorry I haven’t touched on the other things that you wrote about, but all I will say is, this grief thing is not supposed to be easy, loving isn’t easy, but we both mastered that in time and we will master grief in time, time being the key thing.

I hope I have tried to explain my way of coping of sorts, we all have to find our own way, we are living our own grief as we loved our own way, its just a coincidence that we did things the same way by the sounds of it. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that if you open the curtains on your mind and heart, the light will fall in, sometimes you cant, sometimes you want to but don’t want to in equal measures, but sometimes you just have to try and let the phoenix fly.

Here’s another thing to think of, is it a coincidence that two complete strangers happen to chance upon the same feeling of grief and loss of our one true love in our life. You didn’t have to look at my post, I could have not visited the site for weeks and missed your reply. Some things we are not supposed to understand!

I hope this has helped Christine,

Big hugs

Mike

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Thank you Katiemarylucy1

I hope you enjoy the other stories I have written and some of the blurb on my journey.

Take care

Mike

Hi Mike
Thanks for diagram re photos
Found my photos but message came up saying memory too low to complete operation??
Will try downloading onto my laptop and try again.
I’ve read over your post a few times, I now understand what your saying and I’ve been doing the exact opposite.
If I understand correctly you have learnt to embrace all your wonderful memories with your much loved wife and despite all your pain and heartache you revisit these memories in your walks taking her along with you which is truly lovely …where as, I’ve been running away from the memories because I don’t want to accept that, that’s what they are now, if that makes sense.
I’ve been avoiding places, situations and occasions we shared together, even my walks are not anywhere we went.
You see we had just returned to Scotland a few months before my husband passed, it was supposed to be our new adventure.
Yes I know what you mean by the little voice… I can hear him saying,… live life to the full… That was his way… He’d always say, nothing ventured nothing gained.
Like you he believed everything happens for a reason
Like when we met in a ditch on the Isle of Skye, I was doing district training and stopped to help when he landed his car in a ditch
A feat that befalls many tourists on the single track roads who pull too far to the side of the road not realising the ditch is there.
He always said it was fate that we were meant too meet, he was from London and only on Skye for that one day… A few months latter we were married.
Where has all the time gone, feels just like yesterday
I think your analogies of the wings of a plane and fish in a tank explains your feelings and outlook on life really well.
I agree love never dies, and yours for your dear wife comes through in what you write.
I have heard it said that when a Robin visits your garden regularly it’s a loved one checking in on you.
Last winter I spent hours watching a Robin in my mums garden, eventually getting her to eat out of the palm of my hand.
I kept thinking I wonder if its my dear mum, sadly she passed away just 6 months after my husband.
A very low and dark time, so I understand when you say you’ve been to a dark place.
Would be nice to think my little visit from the stag was a sign of some kind
My husband used to call me doctor doolittle for coming home with wafes and strays… But that’s another story.
I know you said that there’s no need to thank you but I do.
You’ve given me a lot to think about.
I understand the complicated grief thing better also
For what ever drew me to read your post… Walking through grief… I’m pleased I did
It’s the early hours again so will close now
Take care and a hug
Christine