My name is Andre and the 26th of December 2012 was the worst day of my life. Dealing with loss is difficult at the best of times, but I somehow made it through…
I sincerely hope that my story will be shared with anyone that has recently lost (or is in the process of losing) a loved one.
You are not alone, there are others who feel just like you do, and there certainly is a bright light at the end of this dark tunnel you’re facing.
My story begins on Boxing Day of 2012.
I decided to take the family (my wife Sandy and our two sons) to Midmar Dam just outside Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.
We had booked a camp site for seven days, as we wanted to spend a solid week away from the hustle and bustle of Durban.
We arrived early and had the tent set up – flanked with camping chairs – by noon. The boys rushed into their swimming pants and disappeared with a group of three other boys.
Sandy and I decided to make the most of our alone time and caught some sun rays on our uber-comfortable camping chairs.
Somehow, we both fell asleep. It was only when I woke up around 2pm that I noticed my wife had moved from her chair and was nowhere to be seen.
That was when I heard the heaving, like someone trying desperately to bring up the contents of their stomach.
I walked into the ladies’ communal bathroom (where the sound was coming from), and what I saw is a sight I will never forget for as long as I live…
Sandy was hunched over the toilet with her hair splayed around the bowl.
I stepped forward with a little chuckle, thinking she may have had a few warm beers while I was asleep, but this quickly turned to shock as I pulled my wife’s hair back and looked into the toilet.
She had vomited up more blood than you’d find at your average road-side stabbing.
Her eyes were bloodshot, and she was complaining that she couldn’t see out of them.
I rushed to the tent, screaming like a banshee for the boys to return to the camp site, grabbed my phone and punched in the five digits for the South African Ambulance Service – 10177.
They said they’d have to scramble a unit from Pietermaritzburg, and that it could take up to half an hour.
I swore at them, informing them with tears streaming down my cheeks that my wife might be dead long before they arrive.
Those words of fate should never have been spoken aloud, because my darling wife and mother of our two beautiful boys drew her last breath lying in my arms on the cold bathroom floor – only a few seconds before we heard the sirens approaching from the other side of the campgrounds…
Six years after that horrific, heart-wrenching day and I still cry myself to sleep most nights – unsure (as the doctors were) as to exactly what took my wife’s life from her.
The one thing that helps me feel a bit better is when I talk to Sandy (her memorial orb I have on my bedside table) and tell her about my day; how the kids are doing at school.
The boys often come in and ask if I’m alright, and I have to stop myself shaking my head for their sakes.
Your life shatters when you lose someone, and all you feel like doing is staring down at the millions of pieces and crying, but please don’t just stare helplessly.
Slowly, when you’re ready, begin to pick up the pieces. It’s going to take a while, but if you keep at it and don’t give up – you’ll eventually have them all in your hands and can rebuild your life from what remains.
Remember: you can destroy a glass by smashing it, but melt those shards down and you can build something even better from the ashes.