On the day of the anniversary of Tim's death in February, I rang Tim's mum. I always do. But as soon as she answered, I knew that something else was wrong. They were at their local hospital, and Tim's dad was having a scan. It was the end of a story that had started around Christmas, when they noticed that he was losing weight. It was pancreatic cancer. It was terminal, and he didn't want any visitors. A couple of weeks later, I had the phone call to say that this gentle, funny, glorious, intelligent and talented man had died in his sleep.
Yesterday I went to his funeral. A tender, peaceful celebration led by a wonderful celebrant, and a few hours of talking to people I last saw at Tim and my wedding, and Tim's funeral. I spent the evening with a fellow widow, who just gets it.
A week before I went to the funeral of my cousin's son – my first cousin once removed – and it was another celebration of a gentle, funny, glorious, intelligent and talented man.
I've found that each new grief brings back the old griefs again. Funerals are a time to celebrate the people we lose, but I'd quite like a while without one.
Tim was a bookseller and a collector, and when he died the house was full of books, magazines, motor racing programmes, Airfix kits and model cars. I cleared the house and sold the magazines, cars and Airfix kits, but I was left with the books. These are things that were particularly special to him, collected over a lifetime and loved, and each has a memory associated with it that I don't have access to. Where he bought the book. The things he read from it. The people he showed it to. He always said he wanted them to be my income if anything happened, and now the time is right for me to sell his books.
I'm listing the books on eBay, and it's hard. I'm getting flashbacks. Good ones, but still unsettling. Getting a book collection in from another dealer and opening the boxes as if it was Christmas. Wandering round car boot sales. Going to Le Mans and stocking up from the racecourse shop. Hearing his stories as we walked around the paddocks at Goodwood revival. It's good that they are going to people who love them, but it's a bittersweet process.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.