Sunday 28th July 2019. 365 days. Apparently a year, although it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like Gail left last week and it was just a few nights ago I said ‘I love you, see you tomorrow’ and I never did.
A year since I last heard that voice, the voice that sustained me through the first four months of our fledgling relationship. Because, of course, as we never did anything normally, we fell in love over the telephone, and the physical embodiment of that voice was only seen a few months later when we finally met. Not that it was a disappointment when I did meet her, I must stress. I thought she was the most stunning woman I’d ever seen. That never changed.
It was odd though. Had I seen her first then I’m sure I would have just stopped dead and looked at her; wondered how I could talk to her knowing full well I never would have had the confidence to approach her. It worked both ways though; through speaking to her on the phone she knew me before she saw me, fell in love with the person behind the voice before actually meeting me. Had I approached her in a pub or club and tried to engage her in conversation I’d have got short shrift. We both knew that was true, we discussed it, and I know it was something Gail thought very deeply about. Eventually we came to see our relationship as a series of misadventures and coincidences and we felt it was different. That may sound arrogant, but all I can say is most people who knew us thought it was different too. We both liked that.
And although the actual first anniversary will be on Monday 29th July, it’s today, the Sunday, that is forever burnt into my mind. Leaving that hospital, walking out of that door into a morning not entirely unlike the one that I can see as I write this, knowing my whole world was back behind me lying lifeless on a hospital bed and wondering how I was going to go on without her.
I’m not at all religious but I went to church that morning. I tried to go this morning too, had it all planned, but I woke up very early feeling as if I’d been physically mauled and I knew I needed a bit longer to rest. That rest took me most of the rest of the morning and I slept through everything I wanted to do. It’s strange how the mind can tell your body it’s had enough and you’re not physically up to this but I’m sure that’s what has just happened.
Today I’m just reliving that Sunday in 2018 again oddly knowing that what I didn’t know last year – how I was going to survive without Gail – hasn’t changed but one iota. The only difference between then and now is time. And please don’t believe people when they tell you time makes it better. It doesn’t. But through doing what I’m doing now as I write this I’ve at least found a few dozen people who say exactly the same thing. I’ve found that comforting; not the lie that ‘it gets better’, just the succour of knowing that the pain you’re going through means you were good once, and that is better than some people ever have.
I cried this morning. Racking, dribbling sobs over the phone to someone who is in hospital and is in a far worse place than me and much worse health than me; someone who will never do the things that I am planning to do – and hopefully may do – over the coming months and, perhaps, years.
And that, my friend, is grief. It makes you selfish and miserable, self-centered and self-aggrandising. It’s – and please excuse the term – shit.
But I feel like this because I lost Gail, but at least I had Gail once. It’s all I have – and it will have to do because there is nothing else.