by Karen Eastwood
It was an early morning Heathrow arrival, the surrounding grounds adorned with a pall of snow. Christmas lights blinked weakly from the terminal buildings. We’d staggered with cabin luggage and wheeled him through to the shocked faces of our friends waiting by the arrivals gate.
My husband had come home to die.
‘Take the flight. You’ll make it to Christmas,’ the neurosurgeon promised.
He’d made it to the 29th.
There were no clichés, no great speeches, no ‘final words’. It was beyond him. Speech, memory and movement gradually stolen. He struggled to do what he could in those last two weeks. That’s how fast it happened. His life suddenly condensed.
It just came down to how loved he was and how much he loved those who were important to him. The boys and I were part of the picture but everyone in the UK was such an integral part of his life; who he was. Their friendship a measure of his own self worth.
For us there was no talking. There was just the urgency of getting him to England. Resolution is what mattered. He needed to see his friends. He needed to see his mum and dad. He needed to come full circle.
He needed to go home.
Now it’s mid January.
The boys and I will soon fly home.
I open the curtain to a wash of wet green. On the lawn all that remains of the boys’ snowman is a sprawling, icy mound. Strange, the majority of our time here has been shrouded in snow - a Shakespearean backdrop to the unfolding events. Now, the show is over. The set is being packed up and the actors going home. Our leading man has long gone.
The long season is over.
I feel empty.
Is this what it feels to be bereft? When else does one use the word?
A bleak profile by a window.
I am now a widow.
The word conjures up black-veiled years of dedicated mourning. I knew that eventually I would have to take this role but I’m not prepared. It doesn’t feel real.
There’s no rite of passage to guide me into this new phase.
It had been a lonely time for both of us. Together through it all but separate. For so much of this journey he flew solo.
Now it’s me.
I’m flying solo.
I’m going home.