On 15 February 2016, I brought you a cup of coffee in bed around 8.30am. Our daughter, visiting at the time, was already up and out on a refresher driving lesson. You were due to go to your first music therapy session later that day, at the local hospice. Appointments were in place for a further course of radiotherapy; your next session was to be the following day. We knew you were getting closer to the end of your life - nearly seven years post-mesothelioma diagnosis - but, based on the consultant's advice, thought we had still had a few more months to prepare ourselves mentally, emotionally and practically.
Then the unthinkable, but inevitable, happened. By the time I returned to the bedroom half an hour later to collect your empty coffee cup, you had breathed your last. Life would never be the same again.
Today, unprompted, I woke up at 8.45am. Exactly four years since the day - and probably the time - of your death. In some ways, it feels like a lifetime ago; in other ways, it feels like it's only just happened; the memories are still so vivid. But life goes on...
If I learned anything from your experience with mesothelioma, it's not to take anything for granted. If there's something you want to do, then do it (if you can) rather than put it off to another time on the assumption that there will be another opportunity.
So I have taken that thought to heart, relishing the opportunity to travel while I'm still mobile and able to enjoy the experience, with a fascinating trip to Bolivia last summer ...
|Lying down on the job and jumping for joy with the Frui gang at Uyuni Salt flats, Bolivia|
...and the most amazing experience visiting Ethiopia in January...
|With the Mursi tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia|
as well as visits to family and friends in Europe (don't get me going on the B word. Thank goodness, you missed all that...)
|With the ex-1Xers Doel, Belgium|
But by far the biggest event of the year, and the one which brought the most joy (and tears) was the wedding of our daughter Katie to Davie in the Scottish borders last November. I had the honour and pleasure of walking her down the "aisle" to the ceremony - a role that would normally have fallen to you.
Although you were not there in person, you were remembered with love in the speeches of both the groom, Davie, and the Maid of Honour, Kathleen. I have to admit that tears were steaming down my cheeks as I listened then...and again now, as I remember. But it was a truly joyous and magical occasion, which you would have loved. So I will finish this "letter" to you with some photo memories of the day.
Who knows what the next 12 months will bring, but you can be sure I will be seizing the day, especially as the next big birthday is on the horizon...
With love that will not fade away xx