Rob Rule – Forever Present
04.12.76 – 25.06.97
17th June 1967 Dave and I married after five years of courtship. I was 15 when we met, he, 19. We were friends before we were a couple. We were set to go through our lives, together, and being invincible, as we thought we were, we would ultimately conquer any troubles that we would undoubtedly encounter. We were strong. We were together, for always.
In 1969 we had our first child, a boy, 9lb 6oz. Steven. In 1971 we had our second child, a boy, 8lb 12oz. Martin. In 1976 we had our third child, (a surviving twin), a boy, 7lb 12oz. Robert. Our family was complete, and we worked our way through our busy lives, and enjoyed witnessing their inevitible transformation from boys into men.
In June of 1997 it was our 30th wedding anniversary, but it was tinged with the saddest of all things that had ever gone before.
Our son; our Rob, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, a diffuse astrocytoma to the left side of his brain. It was inoperable, and untreatable. He would die. We were told that he could have, perhaps, 5 – 10 years to live, and in that time, who knew what new treatments would be discovered.
Our lives changed. All our lives changed. Devastation overtook us, (devastation: to lay waste; destroy; to overwhelm; confound; stun), the one word, although a cliché, that attempted to cover all the emotions that we were experiencing.
Our 30th anniversary, however, was filled with hope, as Rob joined in our celebrations. He didn’t look as though he were sick. He made a supreme effort not to mar our day. He was being selfless, as usual. He laughed, he joked, he chatted. Only we, Dave and I, knew how much sight and hearing he had lost due to the tumour. This day was to be his last ‘normal’ day. From here he went into himself. He was no longer animated, no longer truly aware of what was going on around him. He was as a candle’s flame, flickering…
When he died on June 25th, at 08:50, just one week after our anniversary, the feeling of loss I can hardly describe. Just seeing him, as though asleep in his hospital bed; his lids closed, lashes laid gently on his cheeks; an ‘almost’ smile on his lips; a look of utter peace – and the interminable silence.
Each year we celebrate our anniversary, and one week later we become introspective as we mentally go though those final days. This year it was our 49th wedding anniversary, and Rob has been gone 19 years. It feels like a betrayal, carrying on with our lives without him, but I know that he would berate me for the thought. So I try to stay positive, and live my day. The night is another matter.
Next year Dave and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. A party will be planned. We will make our best efforts to enjoy ourselves, while in our thoughts will be Rob. He was 20 when he died, and next year it will be 20 years since he left us. A hard, almost incomprehensible, fact. He will have been gone as many years as he had lived. I cannot begin to describe the pain that cleaves through me, through all of us, with the thought of him. Special occasions always include Rob in one way or another, even if only in a voiced remembrance, an anecdote, a shared amusement. We laugh at the remembering, then we fall silent, seeing his smile…
In Rob’s honour, and, in some respects, for the retension of my sanity, and a hope to help others who have journeyed this fractured path, I wrote a book. It is a memoir of how we all dealt with his passing. The book is called, Future Confronted, and it celebrates Rob’s life; his fortitude; his selflessness; his amity; and above all, his joie de vivre.
June – a month of conflicting emotions – of memories both mixed with joy and anguish – a love so great for one person, that it surprises each one of us that our hearts are large enough to cope with its enourmity, and yet still find room there to overwhelmingly love everyone else.