The days following my husband’s death were difficult, as you might imagine. Most of the time I was seeing through bloodshot eyes. My puffed-up face was not pretty, either. I lost almost 3 st. (40 lb.) in weight within the first couple of weeks.
Bob, on the other hand, did not seem any different. I continued to visit him daily and after a month I returned to work, which was, I suspect, too soon.
On arrival at the work’s entrance, I was greeted by the porter,
“Was it your fault?”
To which I replied, with a hint of sarcasm, “of course it was!”
Moving quickly on, I went to my office to find that my filing drawers were easier to open than before. Later in the day, I was working in the general office. My line manager, happening to walz in, quipped,
“Alison, I meant to tell you. I am soooo grateful to your husband for being ill in February.”
“Why’s that?” I asked with a frown.
“Well, while you were away, looking after him, I was able to clear out all the filing drawers in your office.”
I looked at my colleague and he stared back in disbelief.
Everything went on as before, except that I often wondered why I had returned to work. I would have rather had been down a deep hole. Because there was nobody left at home and I was below par, I let my dog go to the rehoming centre. Both the dog and I were very unhappy about saying good-bye, but I was no longer myself.
He had been my only comfort and now he was gone, too.
Some time later, we had news that Bob was to leave rehab. to live in a house with three men. There was to be full-time care from 9.00 a.m. until 9.00 p.m. We went to visit the house and saw that it was well-decorated and well-suited to its purpose. A large TV lounge, a quiet lounge, a kitchen, bathrooms and four bedrooms – really spacious and well-thought out.
Bob moved in shortly after the visit, having said goodbye to his friends at rehab.
Everything seemed to be going well now. One of my girlfriends has a daughter who works at a local war history museum and she suggested that my son might like to join the volunteer programme. He needed to be persuaded, as he had lost all confidence in himself. The care staff at the new house could give limited support to the residents’ outings, and it was usually to the nearest supermarket. So, eventually we began to get this new programme of volunteering underway.
Bob gradually became more confident, in general, and his role was to show the public around the building and answer questions. We visited exhibitions there, and I found it interesting to inspect some of the exhibits.
About eighteen months after my husband’s death, I decided to leave work and start an art foundation course. I was accepted onto the course, which my husband had taught on previously. His colleagues were very kind and I was given an essay topic during the summer, which happened to be on an exhibition I had visited. I wrote about the show at the war museum.
My son was also feeling more motivated, and his drugs had been changed, which were working very well, so I suggested that he enrol back onto his course in the September. He was not sure, and, as we also really needed a holiday, I booked a cruise, so that we could visit some art galleries around the Mediterranean Sea.
This was my best idea ever!