Amie Richardson: A letter to my husband, from your widow
OPINION: To my husband, Wayne, on your anniversary.
On Friday, you'll have been dead two years. That's 730 days, 17,520 hours, 1,051,200 minutes that your boys and I haven't seen you alive. Except in our pictures and videos and memories.
Oli is 8 now. He still loves dinosaurs and can name and describe the most obscure species. He often walks around the school to do some thinking, like (you told me) you used to do. He explores his own "theories" – every family has its own moon – and then dismisses or accepts them. He is confident and happy and kind and loving – all the things you were and wanted for him.
Jasper, who is 5 and everyone says looks like you (much to Oli's dismay – he wants desperately to be the most like you), has my temperament. He is competitive and short-tempered, over excited and hilarious, fiercely loyal and fiercely loving to Oli, who is his best friend in the world.
We talk about you a lot – the boys and I – and I think about you most days. In the beginning, the pain and loss made thinking about you harder, but I desperately wanted to keep you alive in my mind. I searched for things every day – signs that you were near us. When I saw a scooter or something orange (your favourite colour) while I was thinking about you, I saw it as proof you were still with us.
Oli's first tooth disappeared before the Tooth Fairy could take it and I was sure it was you. It sounds strange to me now.
Sometimes I'm not sure how I went on in those early months. Except that I had to, for you and the boys. Grief changes days.
At first they're longer, then they rush by in a chaotic spin, accompanied by an unsettling feeling that something bad is coming.
I went from one drama to the next, welcoming distractions to escape our boys [who both have your eyes] and my unending sadness. I experienced the five stages of grief in circles – from one to three to five to four to two. I ignored so many of our oldest friends. I think most understood, but I'm not sure, I haven't asked.
Five months ago, I met someone new, who I love. He is funny and warm and filled with a light and energy that draws us to him. We've created a space for him and his daughter and they fill it comfortably. We visit your grave together and he accepts unquestioningly that we will always need to keep you present with our pictures and stories.
That's what people say, but it's not really true. Nothing will ever heal the gaping hole that your death left. No amount of time makes the pain less raw. When I think about it, and about those final weeks where I watched you slowly dying before my eyes as I struggled to keep you comfortable and happy, I am angry – that you died young, that you can't see Oli and Jasper growing from little boys into big boys, teens and men.
I'm the lucky one who gets to go on and live. No matter how hard it's been. I'm the lucky one. And that's why the grief didn't kill me.