This post is part of the ‘Tales From The Other Side Of …’ series. There are so many stages, achievements, milestones and heartbreaks we go through as parents and whatever we are experiencing, whether good, bad, exciting or terrifying, it’s always nice to know someone else has already done it and come through the other side. To find out how you can get involved and share your story/tips and tricks click here. Today we have the lovely Debbie from Squidgydoodle with a tragic story of loss but also an inspirational tale of using that experience to create a better life.
I had everything I’d ever wanted.
I’d found the love that exists in films and fairytales. I had a newborn baby with these huge eyes that looked at me with utter love, trusting that I would protect her.
I was struggling with the usual conflict of an ambitious mum. A mum who knew her place in the world of work, but was suddenly holding a child who didn’t follow company policy, wasn’t aligned to the company goals and really didn’t care whether she hit her sleeping targets!
Despite that though we were happy. We could see a long future together as a family, watching her take her first steps, learn to ride a bike, fall in love, fall out of love and be told by her Dad that you shouldn’t settle, that you’ll find your one.
Then our world fell apart.
My husband, aged 40 yrs, complained of a feeling like a stitch. He went to the doctors, which was weird, as he never went. He was a fit guy who had just cycled from London to Brighton for the British Heart Foundation.
An X-ray showed fluid on his lungs, so he had tests done. We went to get the results a few days later and he was admitted to hospital immediately. He had every intention of going to work for a meeting, so was really shocked. He appeared to be perfectly fine. A week later he died from bile duct cancer. It had spread everywhere.
Our daughter was only 5 months old.
She hadn’t even learnt how to roll, let alone take her first steps. Just before he died I asked him what he would like to be able to say to his daughter when she grew up. I wrote it down for her. It was one of the most painful conversations I’ve ever had to have, but I’m so glad that I did. She really cherishes those words and so do I.
I feel incredibly lucky to have had him in my life. He was an amazing man, full of love, with a passion and a joy for life that was infectious. He lived life in a happy bubble. It is because of his positive outlook that I managed to get up each day. Babies don’t appreciate the need to grieve and now I was all she had. An army of friends and family felt my pain as though it was theirs. They held me up when I fell down.
I remember having this overwhelming fear that next week might not happen. I’d lost my future in the space of a week, so I lived the first year of our lives afterwards on fast forward. I held onto his friends tightly. I travelled everywhere with our daughter; France, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand… I wanted us to live as much as we could, before something bad happened.
I gradually started to accept that I could plan.
You can’t maintain life at that speed forever. I still struggle to think beyond a few years. My husband dying made me realise that we don’t always have time. He was a big believer in finding something you love and doing that for a job. His Mum had died quite young and it had shaped the person he became. I returned to work after my maternity leave, but felt very lost and had a lot of guilt about the snatches of time I spent with our daughter. My husband hadn’t had time with her.
I felt I owed it to both of them to do something different.
I would love to say that I just got on with it, but it took me 4 years. I fell in love again and fell pregnant. I decided that it was time to change career, so that I could spend more time with my children.
I have a background in Art and Design, so I launched a business running art workshops and parties for children. The business has evolved and I now sell craft boxes and party boxes for children. I know what it’s like to be a busy parent who has limited time with their children. Squidgydoodle craft boxes are perfect if you’re a busy parent, as it allows you to enjoy quality time with your child, encouraging their creativity. You don’t need search the house for the right art equipment, or spend hours looking on Pinterest for ideas. The craft box is packed full of fun, creative ideas.
I get time with them.
It’s a juggling act, but I fit my work around life with them. I get to do the school run. My kids help test new art and sensory ideas for my craft and party boxes and tell me which ones they like best.
Each milestone is still a painful reminder that my eldest daughter’s Dad is not here, but she very proudly tells people she has two Dads. We talk about him a lot, I tell her about all our happy memories and how much he loved her.
She still looks at me with those huge eyes trusting that I will protect her. All I can do is give her all the love in the world and show her that even when you think that there is no hope that you can find a glimmer, if you just look hard enough. I tell her we live in an amazing world that’s there for us to explore and that happy memories last a lifetime, even when we’ve gone.