At some time in our life, we all have to cope with grief.
For me losing my darling husband eight months ago was the hardest thing I have ever had to cope with.
I always thought I would be the one to go first: I am overweight, I don’t exercise enough and I like a glass of wine.
My husband gave up smoking over forty years ago, and had not had a drink for twenty years, was fit and healthy and active. Yet he was the one who got struck down with Motor Neurone Disease.
Last week I heard that New Zealand has the highest rate of MND in the world. There are around three hundred cases at any one time.
This disease is so aggressive and takes away your ability to do anything for yourself let alone speak. It is cruel and unforgiving.
My husband had it for just over twelve months that we knew of but looking back, he may have had it longer and we just did not know the signs.
One day Edward said that he thought he had better go and see our doctor. He explained to me his hand was not working properly. This was something I had not noticed. Edward was sent for an x-ray: nothing major showed up so physiotherapy was suggested, which he did for six months with no result. Eventually, he was referred to a neurologist, after many tests we were told that my husband had MND.
For many weeks we were in total denial, we did not want to read any material given to us by the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Right up until the end my husband refused to talk about what was wrong with him. He never wanted to give up, he had so much to live for.
The end came so fast and I felt like I hardly had time to say goodbye.
Today eight months later I have not yet come to terms with the fact he is gone. All his belongings are still where he left them.
My husband and I bought our current house with our daughter and son-in-law fifteen years ago. The fifteen years we were all together were wonderful. Our little grandson, now eight, came along and added to the perfect household.
I am now so grateful we made that decision as the support of my family over this last eighteen months has helped me so much. We are all so close; my husband’s passing has had a massive effect on my little grandson. They were best friends and he still talks about him every day and visits a special place in the garden where we planted a rose and put a cross.
I am very lucky I had a wonderful marriage and three lovely children. Two live overseas and it’s been really hard for them. I also have three grandchildren living overseas.
I have much to be grateful for, but I feel I have lost more than a husband. I have lost someone who was always there for me and I have lost my best friend. We shared so much together and he always laughed at my odd sense of humour.
People say time helps – maybe it does, but I will forever miss having him by my side.
This weekend my family are taking me on a holiday to Hawaii. It is twenty years since I was there with my husband. I will sprinkle some flowers on the water at Waikiki and think back to the time we were last there together.
Make sure you treasure your partner always. Life is fragile and cannot be taken for granted.
By Kay Rayner