and the end of the road
04.10.2008 - 16.11.2009 7 °C
This next entry will be quite difficult to write, but it will be my final blog because I have returned to work this week.
I have been humbled by two things during the year I was travelling.
Firstly, I have been left absolutely in awe and have the utmost love, respect and admiration for beautiful Lois. Lois knew from mid-2008 that she was terminally ill but chose to live her last few months to the fullest that she could and I was proud to spend nearly every waking hour by Lois's side during the last months of her life. It was incredible to witness the way she handled herself.
The one thing that struck me during those times, was that Lois kept on smiling despite knowing what was happening to her. You only have to look at the photographs to see how happy she was. Lois was totally focused on squeezing every ounce of life from the time she had left. She swam as much as she could when we were sailing in Turkey until she found that too hard. When we arrived in Thailand, we walked in the jungle to see the wildlife, rode elephants and visited the local sights, all with a dogged determination not to miss a thing.
When we arrived in New Zealand, Lois was afraid to get on a motorbike because she was finding it hard to walk, but I persuaded her to hop on the back of my bike as a pillion, the last time on Christmas Day, so that she could enjoy the thrill of the perfect Kiwi biking roads. We also went to the top of Mount Ruapehu, walked in the podocarp forests and spent many hours seeking out whatever natural hot springs we could so she could soak up the natural thermals and minerals. Even when Lois was being given treatment at Auckland Cty hospital in January, we went for daily walks in the city parks and along the beaches chatting and laughing, enjoying meals out, karaoke and playing pool. Thank you Katy Duncan, Sarah Hoyle, Maria Pearce and the staff at the Domain Lodge for helping us through this time.
Finally, when Lois realised she had achieved all she wanted, Lois chose to take on the arduous journey of travelling back to the UK to see her family before she left us. One of the last things Lois did, was to pay a visit to Harewood Forest to look at the snowdrops. Her father Derek organised the taxi to drive us there, and Lois was very happy to see the beautiful spring flowers emerging. Lois passed away peacefully on 24th February 2009, less than 3 weeks after we returned to the UK.
We should all take one thing from the book of Lois, and that is despite what is thrown at you, we should grasp life to the full. Don't worry about things that are not important. Do the best you can in everything you do, and most of all, be happy. I have been inspired by the way that Lois led her life during the last few months and am immensely proud that she chose me as her husband and took me into her life.
I would like to thank a lot of people, but especially; Lesley (Lois's sister) for helping me to nurse Lois at the end, Luke (Lois's brother) for pulling out all the stops and building the disabled friendly Lodge, and finally my utmost gratitude to Margaret and Derek (Lois's parents) for allowing Lois and I to fly off on our travels when I am sure they would rather have wrapped her up at home in cotton wool.
I spent a couple of months on my own before, as you know, spending the summer travelling a little bit more. This has helped me to recover from the physical and emotional ride of the last year. I tried to visit as many family and friends as possible to help them deal with what has happened, but also to let them know that I am ok and the healing has begun. I am not saying life is hunky dory, but the signs are looking good. It will take much time for me to live with what has happened, but I am getting there. Going back to work has been both daunting and good. Daunting in having to revert to the 9 to 5 routine and commuting, but good to see familiar friends.
Finally The second humbling thing is the incredible fact that there have been nearly 25,000 people reading this blog. At first it was a trickle, but within a few weeks, the floodgates opened, and I have to thank every one of you because you motivated me to keep the blog going, and to keep travelling. Your messages were very encouraging and enjoyable to read and they spurred me on. Thank you to all you blog readers, I hope that you enjoyed each of the entries.
I will leave you with one of my favourite photographs, a Buddha, quietly smiling behind a flower in Thailand: Thank you everyone.