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  • Writer's pictureelmarfleet

April: You and I

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

"Here we are on earth together,

It's you and I.

God has made us fall in love, it's true,

I've really found someone like you..."

"Stevie Wonder is quite religious," you told me when you were in the hospice, Tom. You always loved to listen to his music but it was in the hospice when you could really listen to his lyrics, no longer with the energy needed for your famous and fabulous shoulder dancing! 'God' can be anything for anyone in this song. Is it really an outside influence which makes two people fall in love? I'm not sure and you definitely thought not. For us, love seemed to come completely and entirely from within ourselves and not from an external being. You always loved Stevie Wonder's music and this song is incredible. I always felt so lucky to have "really found someone like you". You made me feel loved and listened to and I loved learning from you. I miss that. You lifted my world right from the early days of our relationship through all the incredible times we had together and through the incredibly tough times too. I like to think that I also lifted your world. You gave me the inner strength to know that I did.

“...Will it say the love you feel for me, will it say

That you will be by my side

To see me through,

Until my life is through..."

This makes me think about when we got engaged. It's one of my favourite stories about 'us' and I remember it so clearly. I first visited Florence in Italy when I was 16 and I fell in love with the city, the art, the history, the food, the people... It blew me away and I decided that one day my 'happily ever after' would buy my engagement ring on the Ponte Vecchio. The hopeful ‘One day...’ of a romantic teenager. It was a story I told and people laughed. Like a fairy-tale princess, did I really think I needed or wanted a 'happily ever after'? That's one role no-one ever associated with me. I'm more independent and determined to do things my way than rely on anyone else. But in you Tom, I found my best friend and the person I knew I wanted to share my world with forever. Just after my 30th birthday, you took me on a surprise holiday. I loved your surprises! From the smallest to the biggest - they always made me feel so special. This was one of your biggest. You took me to Florence (I found out where we were going by seeing the plane ticket belonging to the woman in front of us in the check-in queue at the airport) and I wondered then whether you knew my story. Had I told you?? I had and you being you, had really listened. I remember it so clearly. We stood on the Ponte Vecchio and I said, "This is where my 'happily ever after' is going to buy my engagement ring."

"Well, which shop would you like to look in?" You asked.

I was blown away. I knew that I wanted to marry you one day but I actually thought it would be me asking you. I asked you, "Are you my 'happily ever after'?" I will always remember your answer, "I'd like to be."

Excitement took over. "Are you serious?!" and "Are you sure?!" I knew the answer to those questions when you told me that you'd already spoken to my Dad. That made it perfect because you knew that my parents would really love that tradition. You'd thought of everything. Thank you.

"... Well, in my mind, we can conquer the world,

In love you and I, you and I, you and I..."

The world we conquered was small, but it was ours and we were so happy. Sixteen years later I now know that even though I may have initially wanted and hoped to find my 'happily ever after', it is more important to me now that I was yours. I just wish we'd had more time together and that 'ever after' could have lasted longer. I have time now to really listen to Stevie Wonder's lyrics too and these ones speak right to me:

"... I am glad at least in my life I found someone

That may not be here forever to see me through

But I found strength in you,

I only pray that I have shown you a brighter day,

Because that's all that I am living for, you see,

Don't worry what happens to me..."

Matthew has been reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White at school and I read it with him at home too. I remember it as the first book I read as a child where a character died, and all these years on I am still affected by Charlotte's death as I read it now to Matthew. I don't like the idea that my children may encounter a version of death at school where their teachers and class friends are ill equipped to support how it might affect them. I hope that reading these books with me first will prepare them and make that emotional armour a little bit stronger for when they need it. It was one of Tom's favourite children's books and so beautifully written about true friendship and of loss. I love Wilber being overcome by emotion on realising that his friend Charlotte is about to die, "Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you." Charlotte's reply is perfect in its simplicity, "You have been my friend... that in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die... By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that." Love and friendship is so important, it lifts us and gives us strength when we need it most. We need strength to get us through each and every moment when we are grieving after a special person has passed away.

One of my favourite picture books to read to the boys is Wherever You Are my love will find you by Nancy Tillman. It's a beautiful picture book about how loved and special we are. It's a joy to read to the boys, not only to use the words of another to tell them how I feel about them, but also to imagine Tom telling both them and me about his love for us. I want the boys to know that they were deeply wanted and loved by both their daddy and me and it starts so perfectly with, "I wanted you more / than you will ever know, / so I sent love to follow / wherever you go." The illustrations are gorgeous with sparkles of glitter-like light on each page showing love finding the main character wherever he is. It brings comfort to the boys telling them that Tom's love will be with them through all of life’s emotions and situations. Tillman says love stretches, it can fly, never gets lost and never fades: "There's no place, not one, / that my love can't find you." I also love it that Tillman tells her young readers that we should let this love give us both comfort and confidence to be our very best selves: "So hold your head high / and don't be afraid / to march to the front / of your own parade." I love the idea of marching to the front of your own parade and I wonder what these parades will be for each of the boys. I like the image for its freedom and passion. I wonder what my parade could be. What do I stand for? What do I feel passionately about? Right now I feel that it’s about looking after my boys and living our best lives with Tom’s love and memory guiding me.

This month, the boys and I re-visit a craft we last completed in July last year called our circles of support and we make friendship bracelets to help us remember who is there for us if we need some support. We take 5 circles of paper, each one getting bigger than the last one, and attach them together with a split-pin We then write on the circles: 1) our names, 2) what we like, 3) what we don't like, 4) our special person, and 5) who's there for us. I love seeing what has stayed the same and what has changed for each of us nine months on. Perhaps these circles will help us plan our parades and our friendship bracelets will tell us who will support and help us one day to march to the very front of them. Like the interlinked circles of paper and knotted threads, we are connected to the things we like and don't like, and to the people who can support us as well as the unending love of our special person. Marching to the front of your own parade is like conquering your world, and it is love that will give us our strength.

"... Cause in my mind, you will stay here always,

In love, you and I, you and I, you and I, you and I

In my mind we can conquer the world

In love, you and I, you and I, you and I."

Stevie Wonder

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