Sunday, 17 January 2021


My first wife, Gill, died thirty four years ago today. She was 27 years old. Gill died in an accident. It was just two weeks after we moved in to our new house. Although it was a long time ago, the shock of what happened then has never left me.  I was catapulted into a very dark place, which I was lucky to survive.  I recall standing at the parapet of a bridge above a river estuary. The voice inside my head was telling me that I could end the unbearable pain so very easily. I stared into the swirling water far below. Then I stepped back and walked away.

I chose life. But it was a very hard road. My boss, rather than being understanding, heaped extra duties upon me.  I ended up losing my job and the house too. My new job was 500 miles north, in Scotland. I moved and started afresh, where I knew no-one. Soon I met another woman. She was completely unlike Gill. That seemed a good thing, at the time. Myfanwy urged me to move in to her flat. Despite misgivings, I did. We settled down together. The relationship was competitive rather than supportive. I put a lot of energy into my work and got promoted.

With her encouragement, I began to apply for better jobs elsewhere. One of these was in Belfast. I came for the interview and was offered the job. We found an expensive flat on the Malone Road to rent. I moved in first. She was to join me several months later. Then, one Friday evening, I got a phone call. Myfanwy told me that she wasn’t coming to Belfast. She had found another man and was leaving me.

I crumpled. Great racking sobs convulsed me. I was howling. I ached all over. I rang a friend in England to tell him. I could hardly speak. Phil was so worried about me, he got on a plane and came over straight away. I spent the weekend keening. I hadn’t felt that sort of pain since Gill’s death. Some time later, I realised that I wasn’t crying for the loss of Myfanwy, but for Gill. The intervening eleven years had put a sticking plaster over the wound, and that had been torn away.

The catharsis was a turning point. In the time that followed, I made some important decisions about my life. I also began to write poetry again. I took a writing class at the Crescent Arts Centre and joined a writers’ group. I left the flat, bought a wee house in the country and settled down. After plenty of twists and turns, many of which have been discussed in this blog, I met my dearest T. And for me, it has truly been third time lucky.

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