The cold embrace of the Irish Sea on Sunday had me dancing a jig amid the white horses.
I was there to remember my partner who died suddenly in early March last year. Joined by her family, some of her colleagues and her friends, we rushed into the freezing waters on a beach where she braved the cold herself.
The build up to a first anniversary was fraught with emotion. All kinds of memories come flooding back and you’d do anything to have times back over again and to have the opportunity to say things and do things you wanted to but never did.
Thanks to the clear-mindedness of her family and a determination to make something good out of so tragic a loss, a fundraiser was organised and has been doing terrifically well. It’s for a charity providing supports to loved ones who lost someone to the condition we lost my partner to and a very deserving one at that.
As the month arrived and the days ticked down to the anniversary on Thursday I found myself trying to recall times spent together, while trying to get my head around the event itself. How it impacted me. How it impacted the people in her orbit.
The many tangled questions that arise, often out of the blue and see you well up with tears and needing to exhale and gather yourself.
Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed in all its humour, silliness and lightness, so death often catches you off-guard.
Having the positive focus of the anniversary dip proved a welcome distraction and engendered a positive mindset as the anniversary day itself arrived.
As someone who has worked in newspaper offices in Kerry and Wexford for almost 20 years I am very aware of how much anniversary notices mean to people.
The reactions of customers to first anniversaries, in particular, have stayed with me. Their tears and the outpouring of grief to find themselves sitting at a desk talking to a stranger about the death of a loved one a year previously – often in a traumatic, sudden circumstance.
Many people mark the year’s passing with a mass. I imagine these to be a solemn occasion and very important as they are to some people, for me the thought of spending time with my partner’s friends and family in a place close to her heart, seemed fitting and true to her life and what she would have liked, if you’ll allow the imaginative leap.
The Whirlwind Wonder and The Little Fella were there by my side as I spoke some words and following a quick photo call at the shoreline, we all raced in, feeling the sharp cold penetrate our skin.
The expressions and reactions were priceless and nobody stayed in for long, but a memorable day was spent sharing stories, catching up and enjoying some food afterwards.
I guess – as with everything in life – it’s how you face any given situation. I was lucky enough to go out with someone who had a steely determination to make the most of every opportunity and to never let anything get them down.
From a family of fun loving people who appreciate the good times in a way that brings out laughter and emphasises the positive in every way, she brought so much light into my life and to everyone who met her.
The first anniversary passed in a haze of memories and activity serving as a reminder of how precious life is.