Doug - my husband and best friend
We met when I was nearly 16 and he was 18. I wasn’t keen to go out with him at first, but two and a half years later, we were married! Since then, I have never had, or wanted, or loved, anyone else but Doug. He was not only my husband, he was my best friend. We shared everything: jokes, our taste in music and films, love, art, friends, our three beautiful children and adorable grandson. We were rarely apart, which makes it harder now. He was such a kind man, though I don’t think I realised how kind he was until he died. Or how much I really loved him.
Doug had been having indigestion since 2008. Just gastric reflux the doctor said. On 25th April 2009, I had to rush him to hospital after he was violently sick, and there was blood there. He was operated on the same day, and they took away half of his stomach. After tests, on 7th May we were told that he had an aggressive and rare stomach cancer, which had already spread to his liver. He was given 8-10 months to live, 3 more months if he had chemotherapy. Doug had one session of chemo, and decided it was not for him. He was so ill after it, that he decided that the quality of life he would have was non-existent.
So we were going to fight the cancer in other ways. We changed our diet – organic red berries, fruit and vegetables, mushrooms. A little exercise – gentle Tai Chi. Meditation, visualisation, reflexology – we tried it all. It was a summer of change, new delights, meeting old friends, visiting Doug’s brother in France, and coming to terms with the inevitable. We had a retreat at the Bristol Cancer Centre, a wonderful place. We had a week by the seaside in Wales, with our oldest and dearest friends, we had known since schooldays. We made the most of the times when Doug felt well enough.
We went on the Journey together, but I came back from it alone.
Although Doug fought the cancer bravely, it savagely took him from me on 22nd December 2009.
His pain was getting worse during November, and our nurse wanted him to go into the hospice to sort out his pain relief. He would only be in for a few days, she said. Twelve days later, he died. I was with him when he died, and I talked to him, and held his hand until the end. The staff at the hospice left us alone, but were there if I needed them, in case “I was frightened” – as if dear Doug ever frightened me!
We couldn’t have the funeral until 7th January, because of the holidays. The day before, we had one of the worst snowfalls in memory, so some of our family and friends couldn’t get to us in Wiltshire. But the day of the funeral was so beautiful; it was sunny, with a clear blue sky, with the snow sparkling like diamonds.
My daughter and her husband, and their baby have moved in with me, so I am “not alone”. I have never felt so alone. I am back at work, which gives me something to focus on during the day, and – let’s face it – for the money. For now I am a widow, and there are still bills to pay.
Since Doug died, the shower has leaked, the boiler has decided it’s had enough and we need a new one, the car exhaust needs replacing, and now the washing machine is making a nasty noise. But some days, I struggle just to get out of bed, after another restless night, and I couldn’t care less about the car or the washing machine. We were married for 37 years and I miss Doug so much.