Yesterday was the end of our shloshim, the 30 days following the death of a loved one. During this time there are a number of rules and customs to follow. The worst for me, and Tali, was not shaving. Over the course of a month I became more and more bedraggled. Rosie hated me unshaven and so does Tali. For that reason alone I was very glad to be able to shave again. I’m not going to attempt eloquence on this subject but simply suggest that you take a look at Sheryl Sandberg’s beautiful words at the conclusion of her shloshim. My thoughts are so very similar to hers.
What have I learned over the last 30 days? Well a lot. Rosie was incredible. I know what you’re thinking, “surely you knew that already?”. Well yes, but I don’t believe I ever appreciated how incredible she was. Searching through our filing cabinet at home I came across a folder labelled “Qualifications/Certificates”. It was stuffed full of the results of Rosie’s years of hard work through academia. GCSEs (all A grades) AS and A-levels (all A grades) her double first in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, letters congratulating her on winning prizes at school and at university, her trainee report from her time at the European Commission, utterly glowing. I am simply in awe.
Since Rosie’s death I’ve been knee-deep in paperwork. Every Tom, Dick and Harry needs to see her death certificate, needs to know her National Insurance Number, needs to be sent obscure pieces of information that no human being really knows. But guess what? Rosie did. What’s more she filed that information away so that I could find it. Everyone should have a Rosie.
I have also learned that her reach was extraordinary, both in terms of geography and people across all walks of life. From the high-flying lawyer in Boston, USA, to the lady who runs the nail bar round the corner from us. She was a truly impressive people person. Of course I knew all of this instinctively but it’s not until you lose someone like Rosie that you really begin to appreciate them and their great qualities.
My focus in life has now shifted. Before 16th June my priorities were Rosie and the children. If I’m being honest, over the final few months of her life more of my time was spent thinking and worrying about her than the children. Now, my every waking moment (and a great deal of my sleep) is consumed by thoughts and worries for the children. How are they going to grow up? Will they remember mummy? Do I have the right clothes for school? When do I allow Natalie to have her ears pierced? On and on and on. None of these questions are alien to parents, but now they are entirely my focus, by myself, without my beautiful Rosie to consult. But then I suppose that’s what life as a single parent is like. I’m not unique. I’ll just have to get on with it.
When people ask, as they regularly do, “how are you doing?”, the answer I give is that I’m more up than down. I think that fairly clearly sums up life right now. I’m keeping myself busy with work, with the children and starting to think about establishing Rosie’s charity. Before she died Rosie was insistent that we set up a charity to raise funds to research secondary breast cancer. In life she always had the last word, and that won’t change now she’s gone. So with the help of our very best friends and closest family we will do that. We will create a charity which will raise money to go towards finding answers and maybe a cure to this horrible disease, AND it will help to cement Rosie’s name in everyone’s memory.