2007 — 24 November: icy Saturday indeed

I guess I'm not really surprised to discover this morning — this afternoon now, already! — that words can indeed fail me from time to time. But thank you, again, to everyone who helped Peter and me pay tribute to Christa yesterday. She requested donations to the Countess Mountbatten unit, Moorgreen hospital, Botley Road, West End, Southampton where she died. I'm sure the funeral director (Nigel Guilder, Nathan House, 27 Hursley Road, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire SO53 2FS) has a smooth process for handling these.

My public thanks, by the way, to Nigel, his staff, and those at the crematorium. And to Cecol Russ Whitfield, our "secular administrator". There may yet be a DVD recording1 of the service as this is a "facility" they are currently trying out. We shall see!

I will collect Christa's ashes in due course. And I intend to scatter them, in the weeks and months ahead, in a variety of places2 that hold very happy memories for (and of) us. One such place (admittedly a little further afield) would be Manhattan. We had a lovely two weeks over there in August 1996 after the whirlwind that was the first few months of Java in IBM:

Circle Line

There will also (of course) be a permanent entry in the crematorium's Book of Remembrance.

Don't you just love it when...? department

You get a letter from a bank acknowledging your wife's recent death, and it opportunistically adds: If you would like to discuss any aspect of your home insurance with us... I can again hear Christa saying "Good God!" quite clearly, though (again) with a twinkle in her eye. Life may be short, but it would seem commerce endures.

Don't you just hate it when...? department

Warning: the remaining paragraphs may upset some readers.

You bundle up all the unused medicines and other sundry supplies out of the living room downstairs after your wife's recent death, and you burst into yet another flood of helpless tears, superficially triggered simply by your frustrating inability to open the child-proof bottle tops on the two bottles of oral morphine3 that had crusted up, so you could swill their contents down the kitchen sink. But seeing the forlorn black plastic sack already almost bulging with stuff, and knowing I have yet to tackle all her stoma-related supplies from upstairs in the bedroom and the bathroom, brings with it a sort of combat flashback trauma, I guess.

I have already confessed in personal notes to some of you that this diary, while 100% honest, was not always 100% complete. There have been days when I was unwilling to write the diary, let alone read it. Christa was, and remains, really someone very special. She certainly inspired me and in a real sense made me the man I am today, having somehow seen in that shy 22 year old youngster in 1974 someone she could and would happily share the rest of her life with. Paradoxically, I'm enormously comforted to discover that so many people are mourning her, even though it means the "pain" of her death is more widespread. I only wish everyone could find their own "Christa".

An intelligent chap I used to work with recently remarked to me that "Life is unfair at times". In my reply I had this to say: As for fairness... well, I began the journey without a religious bone in my body. I still don't, but I now know, also, that I am not an atheist. If this is all there is, both life and the universe are truly way beyond my feeble powers of comprehension. Love for your partner, family, and friends is, I'm now convinced, the only thing that gives meaning and value to our ludicrously short time on this planet. You will also find people in general are very kind, and very sympathetic. I found almost no-one who was personally unaffected or untouched by what appears to be an appalling epidemic of this disease.

Be that as it may, I would not, and could not, wish to inflict the disease that killed Christa on my worst enemy. At the same time, I've observed that it could scarcely have been better designed as an exquisite daily torment to abrade my soul just as it was ravaging Christa's body. This, more than anything, has now convinced me that members of the so-called "Intelligent Designer" camp are collectively out of their tiny minds. I'm unaware of any "sin" committed by me or by Christa that would even remotely justify the infliction of such loathsome retribution. As I've also said to some of you, the sad fact remains I have lost my best friend, and am aching and screaming internally. In truth, I've been devastated since the evening of 2nd July, when I held Christa's hand while we heard the death sentence being calmly pronounced by a blameless consultant. Now, finally, I think I am just numb.



1  Whether I'll ever be able to watch this is another matter. <Sigh>
2  Another powerful incentive to pass my Driving Test!
3  This "OraMorph" (which we quickly nicknamed "a jolt") was the only truly effective counter to her horrible episodes of breakthrough pain so I was always very grateful to have it available, believe me.