2020-07-15 - I had to write you a letter - so I sent you a WhatsApp!

I know this is going nowhere & I know (or do I?) that you won't be able to read it - but I need to do this, selfishly for me to send you a message that will just disappear into the ether.

Paul I'm so angry - I hurt so much - how dare you leave me & everyone that loved you! I can imagine how you'd feel if you saw the out pouring of grief on your Facebook wall - I tried to protect you from it - I really did as I know that was always a huge bugbear of yours - neither of us ever understood the need to be so public with such personal things - I just want to tell everyone to stop but I won't, I can't, I have to respect that & it's a legacy. Your friends need this – they need to share & to comfort themselves & each other & everyone else that is reading in total shock that you’re no longer with us. Your family have stood by you & not engaged in Facebook – you’ll treasure that – I do.

I'm hurting like I never thought possible & I can't stop crying – it’s just short of the grief I felt when April died & when Elizabeth walked out of our lives – I put on this brave face whenever anyone is near but as soon as I’m alone I’m totally overwhelmed - I hate that you were alone, that you had to call for an ambulance yourself & for you to do that you must have been so frightened - we've joked so many times over the years about health, doctors, your way with all of that ..... I have so many questions – what the fuck happened – what overwhelmed your system to cause your heart to fail – hopefully I’ll get them one day. It must have been so much more than feeling sick & having an upset tummy – did your ulcer burst – was your bloating tummy these past few weeks that I was concerned about something more …. did you have an aortic embolism .. something ruptured that you had peritonitis or septicemia ?

I don’t even know your dying wishes – we talked about mine, we sorted me out but you always had that cavalier attitude of ‘why’ ‘why do I need to do that’ ‘it will all get sorted’ – yeah, you’re right – it WILL get sorted – but with a lot of guess work & unnecessary complication – you bugger !!

You never did get that big win or design your super duper man cave with super large bed & all the electronics you wanted - but you kept dreaming & I'm trying to hold on to the fact that during this lockdown you kept telling me you were 'living the dream' - your dream - indulging in your love of tv, of sport, of gadgets, of lying in bed, not getting out & exercising & that's strangely comforting at the moment. That you were able to do what YOU loved, even though I never understood it – you know me – can’t stay still & always feel so guilty if I’m not doing something, cleaning, DIY whatever ! I know I exhausted you from that point of view – my inability to chill, just sit & do nothing or spend my days in bed. Bed is for sleeping & love making – not TV or chilling – how many times did we have that conversation !! You always thought I was odd though – always will & nope, just because you’re no longer here doesn’t mean I’m gonna put a TV in my bedroom in your honour, lying there & thinking of you – although I know that would make you giggle so much !!!!

I really hope you had a good weekend multi tasking with your devices watching men kick balls around & drive around in circles super fast: my descriptive would raise a chuckle I know that. I left you alone this weekend after I dropped you off Friday evening – as I always did when there was sport as you were so focused. That’s hard for me now – could I have intervened – probably not – what’s meant to be is meant to be & I’ve learnt to accept many things in my life – eventually! You told me many years ago that you thought you’d only live until you were around 50 – how did you know that – did you have a sixth sense – is that why you didn’t give a shit about what I considered the important things, made the choices you did & lived the way you did? I’m never going to know the answer to that one am I ?

Will is distraught - it's hard managing his grief & my own grief & trying be a mum for him & now a dad too again - he feels as if he's lost his dad, he says you were more to him than his own father & I know that would fill your heart so much - that huge, compassionate, tender heart underneath that annoyingly iron glad non-emotive exterior that you wore as your armour. You never did get my love of romantic films but you sat there & watched them – well tried to – but it was hard with your constant commentary telling me what a pile of poo I was watching!!

Inner circle – outer circle!

You let me in though didn't you - deep - within your heart & you loved me in a way that I may never experience love again - for all my faults, my annoying tidiness & constant moaning at you for not looking after yourself or trying harder. As you often said to me - 'What's the point Catherine, I can't have you, that's all I want so why keep trying!' - you can’t imagine how those words now make me feel – is this all my fault - oh how I wish you hadn't given up on you but I know deep down, as did you, that it would never have worked - we would have become enemies, grown apart & hated each other for all the hurt that we flung at each other. And boy, did we try many many years ago to make it work. That first time we held each other, laid together, enjoyed beautiful afternoons, mornings, evenings, nights … We fought like cat & dog – shouted & balled at each other, cried together, held each other – it was so complex & yet so simple & the majority really don’t know what we shared – they don’t need to know – you wouldn’t want them to know.

They always say you hurt the ones you love.

Some of your friends saw it though, sensed it & have been in touch to make sure I’m OK & to send me messages ‘sorry for my loss’ – that’s hard – really hard & I’m going to make such an effort to keep in touch with those that have reached out to me.

Paul, I feel as if my right arm has been cut off – talk about no lemon zest left – your annoying early morning ‘morning – are we lemony zesty today!’ calls & my regular response ‘no, fuck off!’ & your huge belly laughs & ‘I can bring you a bacon sandwich & coffee if that helps?’ It’s going to be so hard revisiting all the places we went to – even places like MacDonalds, Costa, Spoons – Frankie & Benny’s – Sunday breakfasts …. My list just goes on & on & on the more I sit here typing in my babbling wreck – it’s a wonder I can type – good thing it’s all about muscle memory & I don’t need to see the screen isn’t it?!!!

Last night I took the girls on the same route we walked last Friday – I burst into tears walking along the beach, I burst into tears looking at the steps we climbed – I couldn’t take the girls that way. Too soon – I just couldn’t walk in your footsteps. They’re going to miss you so much – they know something’s wrong as they’re being so well behaved & attentive – they keep licking the salty tears off my face & ‘talking’ to me the way they do. Maybe they’re finally listening to you & following your instructions !!! Who knows ……. I got in the car & it was parked in the exact same spot as Friday- looked over – your sandy footprints are still there as are your greasy finger prints on the window !! I spoke to you – you weren’t there – I put the music on – I chose ‘King of the Road’ & balled – you & your arrogance whilst driving that you were king of the road & everyone else had to accommodate you. My life will never ever be the same without you in it – I’m scared – really scared & feel desperately lonely at the moment – but & there’s always a big but – mine being rather squishy & large – I know in your computer, on your drives that will be entrusted to me that I’m going to discover many wonderful & beautiful memories for me, for us, for my family, for your family – whom I know will be there for me. You always tried to get me to process your work – how many thousands of images will I be going through now – you got your wish didn’t you – that’s rather sly of you & for all the wrong reasons – it’s going to take me a very long time but I promise I’ll do you proud & ensure that you work lives on – I’m sure your canon printer will get used to print some lovely stuff for your family. You shot thousands of photos & were shite at processing so god only knows what I’m going to discover. It’s going to be so emotional – Angela & Linda came to see me yesterday & I’ve promised them I’ll cherish your work & sort it all out for them.

You were precious.

You were cherished.

And you will live on in my heart – you’ve taken a piece of it with you that I know – it aches so very much.

Until we meet again – as they say in the movies – we’ll always have Paris !

Oh & one last request – go & have a chat with Matisse about that fucking snail!

aml x

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