My Journey

The plans we made

With the little one starting nursery in September, and full time after Easter next year we had made plans together. Until Easter, not much as there would only be a couple of hours. But after Easter, plenty.

I had started looking into activities that she would be able manage. Even things like pottery, while being tactile would be beneficial to help strengthen her grip. Or day trips out to wherever. Just to have coffee and cake and to visit places she wanted to go. Maybe swimming. Or floating as would probably be the case.

Maybe even watch a film at the cinema, a grown up film for a change. Lyanda, not a massive film fan, meant the choice would be limited. Unless it had Johnny Depp, Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Vin Diesel in it. Then the film would always be good and worth watching.

Doing things together, as a couple. As husband and wife rather than mum and dad. That’s all that what was important.

I still have fond memories of our discussions and the plans we made. She always wanted to go to America to see the Statue of Liberty. I always wanted to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. We both wanted to be able to take the kids to Disneyworld. We managed Butlins a few times. Now unfortunately, the plans are meaningless, in a practical sense.

I hope one day at some point I will be able to do something by myself and with the kids. Money and time permitting obviously. As I have found out the hardest way possible, life is way too short.

Human kindness from “strangers”

Between Lyanda’s devastating passing and the funeral I was an emotional wreck. It was the emotional roller coaster from hell, and i couldn’t get off it. I couldn’t make it stop, no matter how hard I tried. Amongst all this, things were happening beyond my control. Some good, some bad. I was updating the mountain bike forum as and when I could. This is when certain things started happening.

One forum member picked up on what my daughter said, “the brightest star in the sky” and it stuck. This became her legacy almost instantly. It was repeatedly used when anyone was talking about Lyanda.

Then one day I received a book in the post, from a forum member titled Always With Me by Tamsin Wood. A lovely book, which brought me to tears just reading the cover. Took me ages to read it, i couldn’t stop crying.

I had a message through the forum from another member. He had already purchased a gift for me and the kids and he asked if he could have my address to send it to us. I gave him our address thinking he might have got the kids some chocolates and some flowers or something for me. What turned up I was not expecting. I couldn’t stop crying when I saw it. But in a good way.

He read what my daughter had said and purchased an extra bright star in Lyanda’s name. I told anyone I could, i was extremely proud of this. I still am. Lyanda, now, was literally the brightest star in the sky.

The forum members have gone above and beyond with their support and generosity. We might be a bunch of strangers with one common interest, but it doesn’t end there. I have helped people in need before and will continue to do so. As they have done for me. I have had the privilege to have met a handful of them and to thank them personally. I hope they all know and understand how much they have helped me throughout the past few years. And how much they mean to me.

We all know about stranger danger and we teach our kids this. But sometimes, as adults, strangers can be wonderful.

The funeral

Leading up to the funeral was unbearable. My emotions were running wild. I was not ready to say goodbye. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I wanted Lyanda by my side for years to come. This, unfortunately was no longer a possibility. On one extremely emotional morning, I wrote a poem.

This summed up pretty much everything. I wrote from the heart, but hadn’t realised what i had written until I read it later that night. I visited Lyanda 4 times in total at the Chapel of Rest. I wanted to, i needed to. I didn’t want my last memory of her to be as I found her that morning. My last memory of her now is one where she sleeps peacefully.

I was designing the order of service. I had help designing the cover, it turned out exactly as I wanted it to. The poem was included inside the back cover. It was also read out at the service. Apparently, from what I was told afterwards, there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere.

Lyanda’s favourite colour is purple. I wore the brightest purple tie I could find. I told others I was wearing a purple tie. Most of the people there wore something purple too. I am sure she was liking the spattering of her favourite colour across the room.

For all the years we had been together, i always wore shorts, whatever the weather. I can count on two hands how many times I wore trousers or jeans. This was a bug bearer of hers, but became a long standing joke. There was speculation whether or not I would wear shorts to the funeral. This is after all how she knew me. I decided to wear trousers, for her, one last time. It’s a shame she wasn’t there to see it. I can only hope she was up there, looking down on me, laughing her head off at the sight of me in trousers.

The practical steps

Then came the dreadful task of having to concentrate on the practicalities. Not something I wanted to do, but it needed to be done. I still had to keep the roof over our heads and support the children. To my horror this was not as straight forward as I thought.

All our income was stopped at the beginning of July. Lyanda was claiming child benefit in her name since before we got together. Our children got added onto the claim, which was never a problem. Until now. Everything else was in joint names. I now had to reclaim everything solely in my name. Until child benefit was processed, nothing else could be claimed so a long waiting game began.

I rang mobility care and informed them, i knew the car would need to be returned. The lady I spoke to was lovely. Ordinarily the car would need to be returned immediately, but she extended the pick up date as long as she could. The car would be picked up first thing on the 29th July. She said she wished she could extend it to the end of the summer holidays so I could take the kids out more. I was grateful for what she had already done, but that would have been nice.

I also rang the occupational therapist. I asked them to pick up the bed which they loaned us 2 years previous. That was difficult to deal with. I didn’t want it to go as it was there she lived for the past couple of years. But it’s also there I found her and I didn’t want or need that memory.

We have all decided we would like to stay in this house. Our family home. The landlord has been good and given us extra time to pay July’s rent due to our now financial difficulties. But we can stay as long as we want, which is a huge weight off my mind. The only thing that is uncertain is whether I will be able to afford to stay here. Only time will tell. But I hope so.

The Journey Begins

The next few days were horrendous. I had lost my best friend, my angel, my Wife. I didn’t know how i could carry on living without her. I knew I had to, i still had to raise our children. But doing it alone was not going to be easy. I wrote a short poem and posted it on my Facebook page. It summed up my thoughts and feelings.

Trying to get through each and every day
Since you were sadly taken away
I sometimes wish i was way up high
With you, another star in the sky

I know the kids need me around
So i have to stay here on the ground
As hard as it is all alone inside
I will continue to look up at you, far and wide

The funeral date was set for the 12th July 2018. The funeral was something to focus on.

During this time, I have had tremendous support from some truly amazing and wonderful people. The Salvation Army, our local Church, my parents, Lyanda’s Dad and his girlfriend, Lyanda’s grandparents and other members of both our families. There have also been 5 friends that have been outstanding in their support with me and the kids.

Without all the support, I hate to think what could have happened. I was in an extremely bad way, and I could have done anything. I definitely had the thoughts. I still do. But the kids need me, and that’s all that is keeping me going at the moment. And the support of family and friends.

And an amazing amount of support from a bunch of strangers on the internet with one common interest. A bunch of strangers I now call family too. I have met a few of them, i hope to meet a lot more. We bicker, we fight, we argue and we laugh. And we are there for each other when it is needed.

I have thanked everyone in any way i can for all they have done. I hope I don’t let anyone down. All I can do is get by, one step at a time – one day at a time. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and will be eternally grateful for your support and generosity.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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