I’m still your girl…

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Dear Carl 

I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I’m ‘single’ again. What’s the word for someone who’s partner has died…you weren’t my husband, you weren’t legally bound to me. So what am I? One thing I feel with my heart & soul is, I’m still yours. 

I’m still your girl.

I’m the one who knows your quirks & sayings, who loved your goofy laugh and your hazel coloured eyes…the roughness of your hands and the feel of your shaved head under my palm. I’m the one who loved your joy at facetiming like you couldn’t get your head round technology and it drove you mad, but yet the quirks of it meant on nights we weren’t together you could still see me. 

Being someone’s partner isn’t just a word it’s a way of being & living. The other half of me, that’s what you were to me, you were the other side of the penny. You made sense of things for me & without you I’m just like….a scribble on a piece of paper. If you looked at it, amongst all the beautiful drawings around me, you’d just screw me up, put me in the bin. I feel pointless, like scrap. 

It’s hard to comprehend that someone I love so much still (and always) could cause me so much pain. You always said you’d never ever want to hurt me. But you’ve hurt me deeper & harder than anyone else & the wound stays raw and deep and sore, and salt is poured into it every day by watching people live their good happy life & wondering….what happened to me. Am I bad inside is this why? Am I everything I always feared, hopeless, worthless, meaningless? 

I wish you’d come to me in a dream & just speak to me. I need your voice and love more than I’ve ever needed anything, yet you stay away…you don’t visit me when I’m sleeping & tell me that one day I’ll heal or you’re watching over me. 

The uncertainty and the hurt is killing me. Or at least I hope it is. Is that wrong? 

I love you so much ❤ 

Your girl, still and always x

Caroline 

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You loved….

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Dear Carl 

I know you. All the things you loved. And I wanted to take a minute to remember the you that wasn’t your illness or your guilt or your mistakes.  You loved gingerbread lattes extra hot. Chorizo…and you had to have a beer when you chopped garlic & chilli. You liked a toast with Woods Rum. You were all EXCLAMATION marks & long text messages…you discovered emojis with a passion for a technophobe but you loved an emoji.  Here was our emoji….🌜🌟🌛 it meant ‘love you to the moon & back’. 

You liked rock. LOUD ROCK. Black Sabbath, Shinedown, Rival Sons, Biffy Clyro, Muse, and you loved Alterbridge. You liked guitars, playing your guitar…singing, gigs. You loved a good rock gig. 

You like real ale. Sunny days & ‘shirts off weather’. You loved your dogs even tho they drove you mad at times. You loved home cooked food, family time, games nights, snuggles on the sofa nights. Holding me close in bed nights. Kissing. Holding my hand. Pub lunches & cosy pub fires. Time just ‘me & thee’ we said.  You loved being loved but you loved back deeply & showed it. You never didn’t text or ring when you said you would.  You liked our sayings, comforts, familiarity. Love.

You. I loved you and all the bits of all the above that made you. All the bits you’ll always be to me no matter where you are now. You’ll always be my first really truly deeply first love, despite our pasts. You showed me love & partnership & I will cherish that to my dying day. My love for you is frozen exactly as it was & will never change no matter the path my life takes. 

Believe me. I knew you. Thank you for giving me the most amazing gift of being loved by you. 

Your girl always 

Caroline ❤

Christmas without you 

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Dear Carl 

Now we didn’t spend Christmas Day together usually – not much of it anyway. You had to be in Ipswich with your family as it was just how things were. It caused great sadness between us last year when you left to go there & I was again alone a majority of the Christmas period.  

Looking back that nearly broke us but you came back with renewed promises begging for another chance & saying that it wouldn’t be that way again & next year would be different.  Quite how different I don’t think either of us fathomed at the time. You suffered such guilt. Always wanted to do right by people, everyone expecting & wanting a piece of you & the one person I know you wanted to be with was the person you never chose. Or at least I think you wanted to be with me. I mean the questions I have since you’ve gone are just so big & consuming sometimes that I have somehow forced myself to live this strange almost shallow existence where only the small things matter. Because if I think too much or probe too deeply, I could fall apart.  But it’s only ever a scratch away, like a very fine layer of skin protecting a very very deep wound.

My first question is – what did you want? Or WHO did you want? 

My second question is – was it real?

My third question is – have you any idea what you’ve done to me? 

But to be fair those are ‘every day of my life’ kind of questions now for me, aren’t they?

Anyway….Christmas. 

I managed to have a reasonably nice day considering I had no Sadie & Noah. I collected them at 7pm & they were excited & happy and full of the joys that sack loads of presents will bring.  It got me to thinking….I don’t remember the last time i felt like I belonged anywhere. Even with Sadie & Noah’s dad I felt this sense of exclusion from that family. I always tried hard I feel, but there was a lack of something, something that I’ve never really found. And with you that continued but in a different sense.

I wonder if it was me? My gut tells me you were ashamed to be open with your family with our love story & the illicit beginning of it. When it all came out in the open you threw yourself into a life with me (or so I thought) but since you’ve gone I feel that I never lived up to your standards.  And beneath the grief of losing you lies a deeper rooted ache that I know will never leave me now. Worthlessness. I feel worthless. You secretly hankered after the life you left behind while still loving me…and I know you loved me…because you could not have kept up SUCH a pretence. But still I wasn’t quite good enough. 

That’s what I’ve been left with. And now you’ve gone, with all these questions hanging in the ether – unanswered & unable to be answered. Nobody ever quite knowing the full story & certainly I know your family don’t buy into how much we loved each other, because they only saw your negative moments.  And there were a great many positive moments & truths that have been buried in the rubble when you blew all our lives up. 

There are very few facts I have to cling onto. Firstly I do know you loved me. Even if you didn’t know if you could make a life with me, you loved me. I felt it. You said I was the love of your life.  It killed you to think of me with anyone else.  Secondly that I loved you as honestly & truthfully & wholly as a person could love. Thirdly, we had a connection. A true connection. Physically, emotionally…a connection that held us together even when we had to be apart. You gave me your tshirts to sleep in, we had our own language, sayings, little rituals. We had history & so much love that it bound us. 

I lit your candles last night & I begged you to come to me somehow & just make me feel secure in your love, for it to carry me through.  Instead I dreamt you were leaving me & wanted me out of your life.  What does that mean?  Was it an answer? Why would dreams be so cruel? 

I still want you to give me an answer of some kind. But if i keep dreaming that kind of dream should I take it as my answer.  Please Carl. 

I love you. 

Your girl always..even though you’ve destroyed the very heart & soul of me.

Caroline xxx 

I don’t sleep….

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Dear Carl 

Christmas is approaching & I’m terrified. Today I sent a card to your dad & enclosed a card I hope that someone will take & lay at your grave, because I am so far away & it’s a crazy 7 hour round trip. I know I’ll make it, but I also feel so unsure – like how making it at this time of year could possibly help.  I would want to feel you there & I anticipate the devastation when I don’t could have a real adverse effect.  Because I want to feel you & I don’t. 

Right now it’s 1.20am. I should be in bed asleep but I’m not. I’ve not moved from this sofa.  I’ve functioned all day, even Xmas shopped, even met a friend for coffee. I’m exhausted with trying.  Because people need to see me coping to feel better about getting on with their own lives. People don’t want to be dragged down by this horrendous weight or sympathy & uncomfortableness they feel when they look in my eyes. 

The truth is I miss you so much I dream of dying. And the guilt of that, when I have two beautiful children to live for is oppressive.  I dream of dying a natural quick death that people cannot blame me for & more to the point feel guilt over. 

And I hate when people say ‘someone would give anything to have a long life ahead of them like you have’.  I hate it because they’ve not lived through this pain. They don’t know Carl. They don’t know what living without your soulmate & heart feels like.  I am living purely for others benefit. For my children. But I believe I am cursed. So much bad stuff happens around me when I desperately dream of just being happy. And I know happiness isn’t coming. Who else will my curse destroy? And why? There are far far worse people than me in the world. Far worse. My ex husband for one. Gambler, liar, narcissist. But sleeps easy & gets a good life. 

I lost my best friend & soulmate. I have to live without him & the knowledge HE CHOSE TO LEAVE. The knowledge that people look for someone to blame & look in my direction because who else is there? It can’t be THEM?! 

I love you so much. More than I ever even realised Carl. More than I realised. How unfair is that. 

Just do something to show me you’re still around or you hear me. Please. Please baby. Please. 

Tu me manques.

Caroline ❤️

I miss you 

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Dear Carl 

God I miss you. I miss your love & your laugh & your voice. I miss the knowledge that you’ll always check up on me, check in on me.  I miss you caring about me & I miss the reality of caring for you.  I’d take all the pain of your illness a thousand fold  & deal with it so much better if I could just go back in time and hold you again & try & make it okay for you again. 

The truth, the knowledge of not being able to go back in time & never ever being able to see you, hold you, kiss you again. Well….it’s like living a form of torture. Invisible, like a vice around ny heart all the time. 

You’d be proud of me, I think. Outwardly I’m coping. People look at me & say ‘you’re doing great’ – like I’ve achieved something, like I’m some kind of superwoman who’s gone above and beyond all expectations of someone who lost the love of their life.  You always said I was a warrior (hence the tattoo on my wrist) and yes, I’m feeding the kids, not always feeding myself, but they are fed & watered & school clothes are ironed & homework is completed – not always brilliantly but done.  We are doing a challenge in January – I might have told you already, whereby several friends & colleagues of ours are ‘Running Every Day’ – the RED January challenge, which is about getting out moving every day of that hard first month of the year. We’re raising money for MIND, to help people struggling like you were with depression.

I fear Christmas and New Year may be one battle too far for me mentally.  It terrifies me how I have to spend Xmas day with my parents especially my mum, who’s just such hard work & I don’t have my kids because they’re with their wanker father. I want to put flowers on your grave but who do i ask to do that?? It’s not like your family have any depth of feeling towards me. 

New Year terrifies me because I won’t have seen you since ‘last year’ & every year that follows you’ll get further & further away from me. Because your not here anymore. And that fact haunts, crucifies, destroys me.
How do I keep this pretence up Carl? Will I ever feel even the slightest bit of happiness again? It’s like my world has just gone dark. 

I love you. More than ever ever ever. 

Your girl always, Caroline xxx 

Pain Control 

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Dear Carl 

Today marked 11 long weeks since you left. Somehow I’m alive still. It would appear that even when your heart has been crushed & your soul is shattered, future destroyed….your physical heart will actually carry on beating.

Who knew? 

I live in this bubble wrapped in a web of coping mechanisms. Don’t listen to music. Or if I have too I listen to music such as Capital FM which the kids like because it has all their favourite chart hits on.  But some chart music is not okay. The James Arthur song ‘Say you won’t let go’ that hit the charts around the time you left.  I heard it for the first time on the radio while driving home that afternoon, the 20th September – before I knew you’d gone.  I heard it….and the lyrics & I thought ‘oh I must send this to Carl’…. the words are something along the lines of ‘I’ll love you when I’m old & grey…’.  I thought it was lovely. Sweet. We did that a lot didn’t we, especially the early days…we sent each other songs & meaningful quotes, remember?  Now it reminds me of loss. False hope. The knowledge you were gone and I was still going about as normal. It haunts me. 

Another coping mechanism is not to look too closely at photographs. Because in them I see such intimate things that I remember so vividly still. Your unruly eyebrows. Your freckly fingers…freckly knees. The mole on your left arm that had a coarse curly hair growing from it. The flecks of ginger & grey in your beard.  Your eyes, that beautiful hazel brown colour of your eyes. Looking too closely is painful because it reminds me I’ll never look closely at you again in real life.  Because you’re gone. 

I don’t look in my work diary. Because all your shifts are neatly written in, highlighted with yellow. It’d been to work out our days off together…always juggling time.  So I rely on my phone calendar, my shift planner, anything but turning the pages & knowing you should have been at work. Finishing at 10pm & coming over for your late tea, sitting up until late, talking, telling me about your day. 

I don’t go to places we went too. The little cafe we loved, the pubs we loved. The park.  I remember walking late at night through that park, you set up a track for Cairo & I hid. I remember feeling on edge but excited to see him work, him racing towards me, nose to the ground tracking my scent & cheering when he found me.

All these are ways to get by. To live without you. Avoidance. To live I have to avoid all reminders. I explained to my friend it’s rather like carrying an egg. I carry it carefully. If someone bumped into me I’d drop it. I protect it fiercely because if someone pokes me too hard the shell might crack & all I’ve been protecting (my sanity, my self control) will start oozing out of the cracks & I won’t be able to get it back in. So I guard my grief and put on a smile in the hope people will believe I’m coping.

I just miss you. So much. But I carry on every day somehow and it’s exhausting. I carry on holding this ball of darkness you left with me. Would you be proud of me? Would you call me a warrior like you used too?

I love you so much. So much my beautiful boy. 

Love always 

Caroline 🌜🌟🌛

Things only we know…

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Dear Carl 

It’s hard remembering so much & not having you here to remember.  So I want to share some memories that are ours. They’re silly memories. Lovely memories. You memories. 

Remember the first time you kissed me. How you curled your finger down just past the waistband of my jeans on my bare hip & the touch of you burned my skin, and it still stays with me to this day. 

Remember how we watched ‘The Affair’ (and other programmes) and discussed it, dissected it, you loved the theme tune. We loved watching TV together & you wanted so much to just have that life….the normal cuddle up on the sofa life…not the constant rushing looking after others life that you had. 

I remember how I’d bite your lip when I kissed you & you loved it. How you’d hold my hand wherever we went. How you’d cuddle & spoon me in bed. How we said ‘loves ya more’ or ‘loves ya muchly’….’lovesyalotsbye’ remember that one. I do. I remember. 

It’s been almost 11 painful weeks since you left us.  I don’t know how I’m surviving sometimes being truthful. As scared of the future as I am.  Sometimes at the worst moments the pain in it’s full force attacks me but I mostly manage to keep it at bay. Because for the first few weeks it’s ok to lose the plot. It’s ok to be needy & desperate.  But as time goes on things return to normal for everyone else. Not me though.  I remember everything I’ve written above and more in minute detail.  It hits me like a brick in the face suddenly when I remember how you used words that weren’t really words (shew!?) or how you’d answer the phone ‘Hello?????’ As if you were shocked at a ringing phone and I’d laugh at you.  Or how you’d call me ‘Ma’am’ or say ‘Squeeeeeeeeeze’ down the phone at me. That just brought instant tears to my eyes. You hated a lacklustre ‘squeeeeeeze’ and would make me say it til you felt it was adequate & make me laugh.  I miss that. I miss you. Like I’ve never ever known anything else. Missing you is just the worst pain. 

We had it all my beautiful boy. Why?. Why? Why Carl?. Why? 

I love you so much ❤️ 

YOUR girl, Caroline 


You bought me this angel wing for my birthday in August. ‘Something to Keep’ you wrote on the tag with a 🌜🌟🌛 remember we used to send that in messages. You loved it. You bought me an angel wing. Did you know already. My mind is tortured.

Pain 

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Dear Carl 

On Friday 25th November i stood in front of your friends & colleagues & (some) of your family and I spoke. I said what I wanted to say & finally felt like there was a moments peace in my heart.  I didn’t need to be acknowledged for anything other than my own self worth. 

Because my God you leaving has made me feel worthless.  I know you didn’t mean it to happen but it did.  It left me feeling like I wasn’t worth staying alive for. Our future wasn’t worth living for. Our memories weren’t worth holding onto.  Our dreams weren’t worth dreaming.  Our love wasn’t worth fighting for. 

But you’d done all that & had been for some time.  It just got too hard for you. 

I needed to tell people not only had you been an amazing cop but you were an AMAZING man & amazing to ME.  You gave me strength & courage to fight when my fight was wearing thin.  It hurts my heart so much to know I couldn’t do that for you ENOUGH in the end.  I feel so responsible. It hurts my heart to imagine how you must have felt on that last day…the 20th September.  The day life as I knew it ended.

So here I stand, crawling…moving so so slowly forward into a new life I don’t understand anymore.  A cruel life with no hope for our love to end in happiness. All the quotes about love i read & they’re so true of you & I.  We said them all. ‘Love you more’ – remember. ‘Love you to the moon & back’ always. ‘Loves ya muchly’ that was ours.  Remember when I taught you what ‘mwah’ meant? ‘Put your lips together, it’s the sound your lips make when you blow a kiss’ – oh you loved that. I’d get ‘mwah mwah mwah’ on everything.  I can’t imagine saying that to anyone ever again. 

I can’t imagine a life when I can’t feel the solid presence of you next to me in bed. Listen to you snoring…trying to roll the solid bulk of you over in bed & laughing about it the next day because I could never shift you. 

Remember how you’d creep in the day after a night shift….I’d sleep & you’d sneak into bed next to me, pull me close, wake me with a kiss.  I can imagine the bristly feel of your hair under my fingers & the roughness of your worn dog handler hands on my skin.  You made me feel like I was the only woman on earth. You made me feel loved. So loved. 

I can’t describe how much I miss you adequately.  I can’t.  It’s like trying to describe how hot the sun is. Nobody knows do they? Not really.  You can imagine how hot it is, how it would burn you to a crisp just getting slightly close….but you don’t actually KNOW.  That’s how it feels. It feels like an indescribable pain, an itch that won’t be soothed by scratching, just always there…some days I leave it just so I can survive but other days I have to scratch & pick at the pain until it’s bleeding and raw all over again.  Like this evening.  Reading your emails.  Reading the words ‘I’m proud of you’. 

I’m not proud of me. I lost you. I didn’t save you. I didn’t succeed. 

My beautiful beautiful boy. I want to go back in time & ease your pain. Take you away from it. I want you to ease my pain too. I want us to be a team again. 

I love you so much Carlos. Always ❤️ 

Your girl, Caroline xxx 

Beautiful memories 

Dear Carl 

Tonight your colleague & workmate Mo sent me a video of the speech you gave when Atos retired.  The video is 15 minutes long – and watching you speaking, hearing you laughing, your mannerisms & your hand gestures, holding the paper out to read it (that must’ve been around the time you acquired your reading glasses!) and doing your 🤘🏻 ‘Rock On’ sign…..was like having you back for the shortest period of time.  I drank you in, your face, the shape of your shoulders, the expressions on your face…I soaked them up.  Just hearing your voice again was like the most beautiful but painful present I could have ever received.  I’m so thankful for that video.  If time dulls the memory of you that video has it all…..the familiar way you spoke, how you ended sentences with ‘So….’ – how I loved it. I loved it.  But I cried when it was over.  It’s so hard to believe someone like you, so vibrant & funny & well loved by your friends….and by me & your family….isn’t here anymore. 

That leaving do for a police dog…wasn’t just for Atos.  It was you…they did it for you.  They did it because you were so loved & liked & well thought of.  The speech was typically you, humble & funny and proud, so proud…thankful – you were thankful….thanking people for their help in making your job with the legendary Atos as good as it was.  But we all know, and everybody knew, that the real hero was you. YOU made Atos great and YOU achieved the things that made him legendary – because you were legendary & always will be.  You were the hero. 

The memorial service is on Friday. Two days away. I’m nervous & feel such incredible guilt in my heart for speaking at the service because I feel that’s not what your family would want.  I feel from their exclusion of me that I am not an important enough part of your life to stand up & talk about you.  But at the same time, I know what we had.  I know the love & laughter & memories and they don’t.  For them I’m nothing more than a stranger…an imposter.  Am I being over-sensitive Carl? You always told me I was over sensitive.  Will they mind? 

I’d like a sign or some kind of moment where I feel some clarity over it all Carl.  Please. Please. Please. Give me a sign.

I love you always. I miss you more than there are stars in the sky and I always will be missing a piece now you’re gone.

Tu me manques  my beautiful boy. 

Caroline