I can’t think of a shopping trip I wanted to go on less…shopping for a funeral dress. How crazy to spend hours going round and round town trying to find the perfect dress. I so wanted to look good for him on his big day and yet I knew he would never see me. Bob always told me how attractive he found me (he was not gushing or romantic) and it meant a lot. Now I find myself getting up in the morning, showering, doing my hair and putting on my makeup. Then I stop, look in the mirror and ask myself why? I have spent the last seven years trying to look good for him (as he did for me) , now who am I doing it for?! I know people would say I need to do it for me, not for someone else. But when your biggest admirer is gone forever it is hard to see the point.
My Mum so kindly offered to pay for me to have my haircut (I think she was sick of seeing me playing with my split ends) before the funeral. I now know the best way to silence a hair salon; Hairdresser; “What can I do for you today love?” Me; “Make me look nice for my partners funeral on Friday *voice cracking.*” at least there were no silly conversations about holidays and the weather after that!
The problem is my world has shut down. Nothing matters to me except his death and the absolute loss of him. I don’t want to make small talk or go anywhere. Sometimes I cope for hours on end and then I feel the grief build like a balloon inside me. It grows quickly and bursts from me in floods of tears. My poor parents, who are suffering so greatly themselves, have to hold me and watch helplessly until it subsides. This is where being British becomes an advantage! Whilst I cry quietly in River Island people politely avert their eyes and continue to shop around you. Some simply do not notice and others just remember they’re British and that it’s rude to stare…thank you Brits! It does make me wonder though how many unhappy and grieving people we pass each day without a second glance. I am lucky to have friends and family to comfort me, some are not so lucky.
And so yesterday was F-day. The day we went to church to pay our respects to one of the best people I will ever meet. One of my best friends and closest confidants, my travel and adventure partner, my cycle mechanic, my inspiration and lover. I truly cannot describe the terrible feeling of seeing his coffin lowered into the ground. I wanted to scream. My whole body shook as I was held up by his niece. I know that all sounds dramatic and silly but it is also fact. Of course I was far from being the only one suffering. His cherished daughter somehow made it through, how I do not know. She has certainly inherited some of his strength. His desperate family and disbelieving friends; the wounds were visible on all of us. Grief is not a competition and there are no winners, I would like to think that we all came together and worked as a team to get through the day.
Of course his life was celebrated by the scores of people who filled the church and attended the wake. How could a life so lived not be?! One of Bob’s friends told me before the funeral that I needed to be prepared for being treated like a celebrity at the wake. I don’t think I really understood until I got there. How wonderful that everyone wanted to hug and comfort me. That they all wanted to share with me their memories and photographs of Bob and that they wanted to acknowledge my role in his life. A bit of a nightmare when you were trying desperately to get to the toilets or to signal that white wine was definitely needed! I did not get to speak to everyone (not least my relatives who were travelling to and from Essex in a day to be there) but so appreciated the support.
I sleep each night curled around his pillow, willing it to turn into him overnight. I had hoped that the morning after the funeral it would feel different somehow. People told me that once it was over I could start to move forward but I don’t think I want to yet. The enormity and finality hit me this morning just as it has every morning. I spend the night waking and sleeping, waking and sleeping. When morning comes I don’t want to face it but soon the demons in my head drive me from bed. Then I am up, showering, looking in the mirror and wondering who I am doing it for…round we go again!
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