Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Fuschia Tree

On the 6th of June 2014, my partner of nearly 8 years was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was 37 years old. 
We married on the 22nd of June and he passed away at home, where he wanted to be, just 12 days later.
I have been in hiding for the last six months. Not literally, although it may have seemed that way to some people. But now, I am ready and willing to share my story and my journey of 'Living the New Normal'.

It may have been logical to start my story at the beginning. It may have been easier to let you know about the shock of diagnosis, the traincrash of being dealt 'the blow' that our lovely life together was about to be smashed to pieces but I figured that there is no point in that. Not today.

Because today something happened. Something small but amazing that unlocked my soul and let it breathe once more.
Today I am filled with hope and  I am choosing to start my story with where I am today.

I live in a little terraced house in South Wales. It doesn't have much of a garden, more of a backyard.
Back in June, the yard was filled with flowers - courtesy of my mother, a keen gardener who decided that if my Bebe was coming home from the hospital then he would appreciate something 'nice' to look out upon.

So there it was, one day on our return from 'the blow'- a yard transformed with beautiful plants and flowers every shade of the rainbow. It was here, in the yard, that he asked me to marry him. Amidst the rented blooms and in the blazing heat of the summer sunshine.

After he died the flowers remained. My mother moved in for a couple of weeks and tended to them morning and night. She also tended to me. I was incapable of doing anything at all.

In the heat of last summer, I lay in bed under the duvet. I didn't eat. I didn't speak. I wanted to die. I could not manage to do beyond the basics - laying in bed and having a shower or a bath. I figure now, that both of these activities were the only way I could feel heat wrapped around my body but beyond this there was nothing.

But during that time, my mother continued to water the flowers. She also fed the flowers - something I had never realised one needed to do. She also tried to feed me. I would not eat.

And then she left. After a couple of weeks I requested that she allowed me to be alone. I had become dependent on her buying my two staple requirements - diet coke and cigarettes.
I also knew, despite my acute state of trauma that I would eventually leave the house if I knew I had to fetch these supplies myself.

She left reluctantly. To see the depth of her own daughter's pain on losing her love must have been heartbreaking in itself. But she agreed to leave me on one condition - that I look after the flowers.
'It's easy', she said 'you only have to water them - you must water them or they will die'.

As she left on that Saturday morning, I agreed that I would look after them.
And then I went back to bed. The sun continued to shine and I stayed inside with curtains firmly drawn. And in my world, that time seemed to have forgotten, it continued to be dark.

I never watered the flowers. And they withered - until they browned and then they died.

As Autumn set in, and I stood out on the yard to smoke yet another cigarette - I would stare at the graveyard of flowers that I had 'cultivated'.

On the window sill, sits a fuschia tree, which at her height of glory was resplendent and a beautiful backdrop to the aforementioned proposal. The last few months, like me, she has looked lost, bleak and lifeless. I don't know much about gardening but I came to the conclusion that like me - life was over for this little plant. No more blossom or colour, just a stark network of dry, dead twigs that had once been the life and soul of the (garden) party.

But today I noticed something amazing. I was staring at the Fuschia tree and smoking yet another cigarette. Like my life in the early days of the 'new normal', I just wasn't expecting to see or witness anything different....

....But there on the 'lifeless' twigs, I spotted some tiny, baby green shoots. It struck me so dramatically that life does go on. My little fuschia tree that has been with me throughout the last 6 months or so has sprung back to life. She never actually stopped living.

And I realised today, that my life is like my fuschia tree. I too, just like people promised me, have begun to develop some new green shoots. Small shoots that have the capacity to grow and if I tend to them then I have the chance to blossom again.

For Bebe. I promised you that I would be okay. I am.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss...I just lost my sister...it's such a shock to my system...I dont know how I stumbled on your blog, I realise you wrote this a while ago and I hope that you are well. My heart feels like it will never quite be the same, I never expected to lose her so young, she raised me, our mom wasnt around...she was all I had growing up...anyway...much love to you x

    1. Oh Melinda, I am so sorry that you have lost your darling sister, I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a sibling, especially one as special as she sounds. Your heart will never be the same, you have lost a piece of you and you will learn over time to adjust to just how different your world is without her. The pain does get more manageable, the smiles and memories begin to outweigh the bad days but it is all such a gradual process. How lucky we were to have people in our lives that made saying goodbye so difficult. Death ends a life - not love. Love lasts forever in our hearts. Much love xxx


Thankyou for taking the time to read my blog. I am interested to know about your experiences and your thoughts.