“I’m not your everyday widow.
I don’t know what people expect. That I should just be sad; full stop. Stop living. Clearly you haven’t met me. That’s not me; it’s not what we stood for either.
Andrei was diagnosed when Alice was two, with a rare form of cancer. And he fought hard. It was very slow-growing; they believed he had it for 20 years. And then it morphed and just went crazy town.
However it ends – life – for anybody; sudden, long-term, whatever; the end is the end. And the grieving process just kicks straight in. Almost three years on… it’s waves. Sometimes they’re just little and they lap at your ankles and then other times it’s a big one and bowls you over.
This is where kids are incredible; they play and they grieve and they play and they grieve. Sometimes Alice would be in the wardrobe, just holding on the sleeve of Andrei’s shirt or sweatshirt, or she would come out completely wearing a business shirt or his cap. It’s that connection to something tangible to touch.
Andrei’s ashes were scattered out the back, in the ocean at South Brighton. So that’s a big thing for us as well. The ocean; the smell. Even just bringing the washing in… you can smell the salt air on it. I actually just like to float, completely on my back, in the ocean. My arms out, my toes pointing up and just take it all in.
When Alice and I were in Cornwall, holidaying with family and I said to Alice, ‘we’re now swimming in the Atlantic’ and she’s like ‘would Da have made it here?’ and I was like ‘absolutely’. So we can make that connection everywhere.
Often people say why are you so happy? It’s a choice. I choose to live now.”