This is a very personal blog that I’ve been unsure whether to publish or not. But here goes…
Most of us acquire a few scars on our journey through life. Some are more visible than others as not all are physical.
I have two. The obvious one is on my forehead. I gained it in a childhood accident when I was 4-5. I was running down the drive at my parents, slipped on some sand and split my head open on the stone steps at the front of the house. It required a visit to the local A&E department where they put four stitches in it. After more than half a century it’s faded white and I rarely think about it. Very occasionally, I notice it in a mirror and the memories come back to me.
Today is the 10th anniversary of my other – invisible – scar. That was caused when my ex-wife, Lynn, took her own life. Regular readers of my blog will have seen her name mentioned many times, others may have wondered about the gallery dedicated to Lynn on my picture website. Some will know she died, none will know how. Only my closest friends and family know the full story.
It’s a tragic and traumatic one which I’m not going to go into great detail about here. It’s a very difficult subject to write about for a whole host of reasons. Maybe one day I’ll be able to share more, but not now. It started through a chance meeting between the two of us in a pub and led to us re-establishing contact with each other after our divorce a year earlier. It led to me learning that (for reasons I will never, ever understand) Lynn’s life had become a mess and she’d tried to commit suicide. I cannot even begin to explain how that bombshell affected me. The long and the short of it was that her closest friends tried to help her but she was failed so very badly by the NHS. In the final few months of her life Lynn and I went to live with my eldest brother whilst we tried to get her the help she desperately needed. In that time, the two of us became reconciled and talked through the past. It’s time I’ll always be grateful for, because I don’t know what would have happened if we’d never had that chance and suddenly I found out she’d died by her own hand.
In the early morning of January 3rd 2013 Lynn succeeded in her intention and despite everything I and my brother tried, I couldn’t bring her back. The trauma of the situation was made worse by the police. A Sergeant threw us out of the house because ‘it was HIS crime scene’ and we had to leave her.
So, January 3rd is always a difficult day for me. Now it’s 10 years on. Has that scar healed? Not really. I’m not sure it ever will, fully. Oh, I know it’s said that ‘time heals’ – and it does. But sometimes things never fully heal, you just learn to cope with them and (most of the time) don’t let them bother you.
Dawn, my now wife, knows the full story and throughout (despite the pain it’s caused her in the past) she’s been incredibly supportive and understanding – as she is today, as I write this. Her love has been a huge help and comfort. So were the words of an old friend, a Church of Ireland priest called Gregg Ryan, who rang me in the first few days after Lynn’s death. He told me not to try to understand why what had happened, happened. Because I never would. He told me not to go looking for answers because there weren’t any – and he was right. I stopped looking for answers a long time ago. Instead I’ve looked for acceptance.
For the dead, the pain has ended. For the living it remains, and I know many other people who have had similar experiences. Sometimes, although the scars aren’t visible, we can recognize each other, but often not. You never know what’s happened in someone’s life.
I’m writing this now after so many years of not doing so as part of that healing. Those awful, traumatic events are a decade old and time is doing its work. But it doesn’t mean you forget. The scar on my forehead healed years ago, but it will always be with me. However, you can prioritize the fond memories, and that’s what we’ll be doing today.
Lynn used to have this poem by Ann Gray in a frame on our bedroom mantelpiece. She kept it with her and I found it in her possessions at the end:
“Let’s love, listen, take time when time is all we have. Let’s be unafraid to be kind, learn to disregard the bad if the good outweighs it daily.
Let’s make a gift of silence, the day’s hushing into dark, and when we hold each other let’s always be astonished we are where we want to be”
I don’t know when Lynn did it, but she had highlighted the final paragraph, which says;
“Let’s hope to age together, but if we can’t, let’s promise now to remember how we shone when we were at our best, when we were most ourselves”
I hope the poem gives the same comfort to others that it does to me.