Island Blog – A Letter

Ten days since you died my husband. One week till your hillside funeral. All of your family think of you every minute, probably more often than even that. Memories come back, moments resurrect and stand tall, blocking our path. And yet we move on, doing normal things with an abnormal head on and a heart all flapdoodle but still beating. Mine feels like wings, as if there’s a bird trapped behind my ribcage unable to escape.

This morning I cleaned your room, now that all the hospital kit has gone. I took my palette knife and some white filler for all the many holes left in the walls, holes that remind me of hand rails and other attractive supports, no longer needed. Neither are the holes. There is a big enough one in me and in our little island home, even if I can move about more freely. The furniture is not pinned to the edges any more for easier wheelchair access. Actually, I did think you were a bit over the top in that particular demand. A wheelchair isn’t that wide, after all. Then I realised you had lost your innate spacial awareness and the evidence of that loss is scraped along doors and lintels and walls. You were pretty nippy in that chair, nonetheless, turning on a sixpence, making U turns and scoots forward when space allowed, and even lurching at great speed down the ghastly yellow ramp which is now looking for a new home.

The leaves are beginning to turn now. Conkers (we always looked for them didn’t we?) are landing on the track but I haven’t found a big one yet. You told me you always won conker battles and you also told me that you soaked them in vinegar overnight, making them like concrete. Scabious peppers the grassy banks finding the best sunshine spots. I saw 6 kittiwakes the other day, your favourite bird, flying seaward up the loch. I don’t think I have ever seen them here before. They came just for you.

The garden is looking a tad tatterlicious and the sweet peas gave up fighting the last big wind, but even broke-backed they bloom and their scent keeps wafting indoors, reminding me how much you loved them. I pick them for the house but soon they will be over for the year. Season rolls into season. You knew the sound of each one, its taste, its demands and its gifts. As one thing dies, another begins to live and that is how you saw life and death – the same circle, a never-ending story.

I am so happy that your dying was peaceful. No fight at all, no panic, no fear, just a soft leaving. And you wanted to go, you said so, to anybody who was listening. And so it is and was and ever will be when someone who cherished every second of a long adventurous life finds the living just too much. We didn’t want you to go but knew you did. We also knew that your living state was very compromised. But even at the last, your humour shone through those cloudy old eyes. Even knowing that the Great Beyond was calling you, hands held out in welcome, you whispered to me ‘ I don’t want to leave you.’

And then, you did.

6 thoughts on “Island Blog – A Letter

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about memories of Quinish days playing (you let us run amok; I’ll always remember your kindness!) – up in the tree hut; wandering the estate. And Bear discos, giving the island kids something to look forward to at weekends. Dervaig had a rich cultural life, with the book shop, Pitman’s films, the discos – I hear it isn’t like that now. Thank you so much to both Richard and you for allowing a bunch of village kids down and being so generous and patient with us all – they were wonderful days I’ll never forget. None of us will. People go but glorious memories live on. Love to you all – a wonderful family. X

  2. Beautiful words Judy. Made me cry. It’s not been long since we lost our dad, quite a lot of things make me cry unexpectedly.
    I remember you all so well, coming into Cafe Fish when we first opened, a lovely big noisy family.
    Thinking of you all

  3. There is an tenderness here, just over my heart as I finish reading your words.
    I’m glad it was peaceful… it’s what we wish for our loved ones isn’t it? The gratitude that eases those first pangs of loss…when you know they were so ready to leave a tired body.
    You remain in my thoughts… a candle burning… may there be Peace my dear, in that fiery Heart and Soul of yours.
    Sending a hug
    MezzieCrow x

  4. That is so lovely….beautifully written and heartfelt. I think it is so important to voice these thoughts…..glad you’re not the type to just carry on with a brave face and pretend you are fine. It is hard losing your partner but you are coping really well. Look forward to more of these ponderings….

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