Nine days after my last post my husband died. This is an extract of the eulogy I wrote and read out at his funeral:
‘Alberto, how to say goodbye?
We have already been saying goodbye bit by bit over the last four years, every little goodbye as painful as the last.
In your last hours I held your hand, and sang an Italian lullaby to you, the one by Connie Francis. Our boys said that it could well have been my singing that probably made you decide enough was enough!
Always, humour has gotten us through the dark times. That humour has often been as dark as the dark times, this is a dark time so there is no reason to change that.
As an unknown blanket of death seeped around you I started to move my hand from holding yours so I could make you more comfortable but instead your hand took and held mine. I wasn’t sure exactly when you were gone but sat with you anyway in the quietness of before-the-day.
You knew I wrote about our journey into your illness on Social Media. We had agreed early on to share what that journey was like. You liked it when people posted messages and memories.
Sadly, you weren’t able to keep up, the disease was a greedy monster inexorably keeping you from seeing or knowing, but in the early hours of the morning after your death I posted this on facebook:
‘4 o’clock in the morning.
I am awake now at the time I would wake and come and check on you (again).
I am awake but you are not. I am hurting, you are not.
I am glad you are released, I cannot be sorry about that, but I am sad, oh so sad.’
Our boys, those grandchildren old enough to understand; your sister and family would not want you hurting, but they are also sad, oh so sad.’
‘As a family we will continue to reminisce and as a memory; a moment; a snippet; catches us out we will continue to cry, laugh, and joke, but most of all we will continue to love him. (Even if he was sometimes a contrary old bugger!). Our hearts are broken but they will heal…… just a little. We will always love him and always keep him alive in our memories. This is how we say goodbye, you will leave a hole in our lives, we love you.’
After having been Alberto’s carer for so long it all suddenly stopped with an abruptness that has left me feeling stunned. Dementia had taken much of him away already but he had been in my life for fifty seven years and now he is gone. I need to go forward with my life.
Until his illness, Alberto was always there to help hang an exhibition, he would help me find ways to do the difficult and at times the seemingly impossible. He was part of my art practice. He was proud of the art I made, he was proud of me.
Practically I need to find a way to get my partly constructed studio finished, then to find the art in me and in life.
Following Alberto’s death I’m finding it hard to follow the best bit of advice I’ve had.
That advice is just to breathe.