My Childhood Sweetheart by Shelley

Grab a cuppa and a bickie (or maybe the packet). It’s going to be a long one. Oh and tissues may be required. O.K tissues will be required.

I started writing this a while ago, but never finished it. It’s a hard story to tell. There has been a few stops and starts, a tear or two and some doubts on putting words to paper.

So, are you comfortable? Oh, where to start. The beginning they always say. Right at the beginning? Well, why not.

News Eve 2006 :: I married my childhood sweetheart. It took us a long while to get there. We broke up more times then I like to remember. I was 15, he was 17, breakups are inevitable, right, when you are teenagers discovering what life is really about. But by time we reached a more mature age of 25ish, we had worked things out. We made it through the high school years, uni life and come through the other side more settled and committed then ever. By then we were one of those smug couples that looked at others relationships and thought we were pretty darn perfect.

We went down the typical road. We bought a house and got a dog, or the other way round. And we got married.

So, our wedding day. Cliche, yes, but it was the best day of my life, before children. On a hot and humid new years eve we said our I do’s and partied under the stars.

We had already decided to try start our family ASAP and almost conceived the honeymoon baby. Technically I think it was a few days later. 9 months later we welcomed a little (a little 10lb 2ozer!) girl to our family. We spent 3 months blissfully happy, sleep deprived, but never happier. Spending hours staring at this little bundle we created. She was a true Daddy’s girl right from the beginning.

Then he died.

He went to footy training and never came home. Instead, two somber, nervous looking policemen knocked on our door, asking me if I owned a grey Mazda 6. Telling me that it had been involved in an accident and the driver had died at the scene.

I doubt I will ever forget their faces.

There I was holding our baby, our baby girl, he adored so much, being told her Dad was never coming home, ever. My life, our life, was forever changed in that instance. 29, a widow and a single mum.

The hours, days and months following, all blur into one. The pain immeasurable, emotionally and physically. I had a three month old baby to care for, who fed constantly and slept rarely. At times I barely had the energy to hold her. In fact I didn’t. I remember my Mum taking over one morning when I physically could not hold her any longer.

I cried more tears then I knew was possible. Tears that make you ache all over. But mostly they were my tears, I didn’t share them often, I still don’t. There were a lot of long showers, long walks and a lot of tears.

I moved back with my parents for a while. My Dad, my Mum, well they were my rock. Dad taking care of the official stuff. Mum, taking care of me. Looking at my own girls now, I know the pain they must have felt seeing their daughter go through this. My brother too, was home in limbo, after coming home from overseas. As a single 27 year old he changed nappies, got up during the night, bathed her, loved her. My sister, was there too, weekend after weekend. My god, I’m not sure I ever have thanked them enough. But, I know they know.

Lost, I spent ours online searching for stories of young widows. Although, I felt alone, like I was the only one who had lost her husband so young, at least the only one I knew. But, I knew I couldn’t be the only one. I needed hope. Hope that things get easier, that the pain does ease.

I was constantly being told time heals. Seriously, if I heard that one more time. Then, I found EA. And there they were. Other woman, similar ages, all with young children, all lost their husbands. Some through illness, some like me, through accidents. But all feeling the same, facing the same challenges and having the same fears. Oh, they were my saviour. I read there stories, over and over again, repetitively nodding and understanding. Most of all feeling relief. Relief that everything I was feeling was normal.

I’ve since met a few those girls, friended them on Facebook and followed them through their journeys. Some have remarried or are engaged. I was even lucky enough to attend one of their weddings. Some have had babies. The two amazing ladies that started the site have written a book and continue to help young widows everywhere. All of them, the most inspirational, strongest women I have ever met.

Strangely enough, although I wanted it to stop, life went on around me. We had bought a block of land just before the accident, so our new house continued to be built. Our little girl continued to grow before my eyes. She got her first teeth, she crawled, she said ‘dadda’ and we celebrated her first birthday.

And for everyone around us life went back to normal. Back to work, back to school, back to their families. But our normal was no longer normal. I had to rediscover myself in this new life. I was determined for our little girl to have a normal happy life. Not one where her Mum was sad all the time. To not let loosing her dad define her or me for that matter. So, I chose life.

To honour my husband by choosing life. To continue to be that women he loved. To give that little girl everything, everything he ever dreamed of for her. And for that I needed to be happy. A new kind of happy. A happy without my husband. Because what do they say about a happy Mum. Happy Baby?

Amazingly with everything going on around her. She was a happy baby. An absolute joy. During the darkest days her smiling face was the only thing that kept me going. I had to get out of bed in the mornings, there was a little girl that needed me and she needed all of me not a shadow of the person I was before the accident.

Then somehow it was 25th Feb 2009. 12 months on.

We had survived the first 12 months. I’m often asked how did you cope. To be honest I have no idea how I did. One day at a time, some times one hour at a time.
Somehow, you just do.

These words, from a grief counsellor have always stuck in my mind.

“He’ll always be your husband and Emmy’s father. Death doesn’t take that away from you. You will always have a relationship. That relationship, obviously, will just be different.”
And he is still my husband. And still her Daddy.

I not sure this depicts the true story the emotion at the time. I don’t think my writing does it justice as it barely touches the surface of my grief and experiences. Or the amount of love and support we received from friends and family.

8 years on I have remarried and had two beautiful babies now 1 and 3. But that’s another part of my story. Part II {I met a boy} to come.