The drive back to our house that morning was one of the longest and most surreal of my life. Leaving the hospital at around 9am, only hours before I had had to say goodbye to someone I had planned to spend the rest of my life with, to someone I loved with all my heart, to someone who was the most loving and caring mother to our children I could ever imagine.
Paul, my Pastor from Church, had kindly joined me at the hospital and was now driving me home. From that journey I remember several things. I remember telling him that I longed to be able to fast forward the clock 6 months, to a time when the raw pain of everything would have lessened, and the great challenge of trying to pick up the pieces of our lives would be underway. I also remember me talking about random things like police pensions! As I look back now that was one way I was trying to cope with the enormity of what had just happened, by focusing on something ‘normal’. But the most abiding memory of that hour long journey was the sense of tremendous foreboding at what was about to come.
Inside the bubble of that car I could almost pretend to myself that this was all some horrible dream and whilst inside, I was safe and cocooned. But I knew that at the end of that journey I would have to climb out of my bubble and do something which I had no idea if I would even have the strength to do. I would gather together my three little boys and have to tell them their Mummy wasn’t coming home.
There’s a verse in the bible which says:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” Isaiah 43 v2-3
And as I walked towards my front door and I felt as if I was drowning, that verse came to mind. So I cried out to God that He would walk into that house with me and give me the strength to keep going whatever the circumstance. To face up to those three adorable faces and to tell them that most crushing news but not without hope, hope that Mummy was not gone forever, but was safe with Jesus, and if we trusted him, we too would go there one day where we would see Mummy once more.
I can’t think of many times in my life which have affected me as deeply as that little conversation I had with Harry, Josh and Jude that morning. The immense pain and turmoil going on in my heart, the innocence of the younger boys Josh and Jude not really understanding what I was saying, and perhaps most of all, witnessing the utter crushing of a little boy’s world when telling my eldest, Harry.
So why do I recount all this? I want to tell you that for the depth of the sorrow I felt that day, and for the concern I had as to how we would go on, things did. The sun came up the next morning, and the next, and the next. Children are incredibly resilient and I’m so happy to say Harry, Josh and Jude are doing really well considering all they’ve been through.
Rachel’s death has impacted them each in different ways, and will no doubt continue to do so. We miss her so much every day, but we choose to ensure Mummy is, and will always be, a huge part of our lives. We talk about her, we make jokes about her (Harry loves to tell me off when I rattle a sweet against my teeth which used to annoy Rach no end, by saying “Er Daddy…what would Mummy say…?!”) and we thank God for her when we pray (Josh’s favourite is thanking God for Mummy’s kisses and cuddles to which I can say a hearty Amen!).
I can see her imprint on their lives in a hundred different ways (and can literally see her face in theirs) I treasure that so much and I know that will never change.