Two Years On After Losing My Husband

Two Years On After Losing My Husband

I lied at our wedding. When I said I would love Darrell till death do us part I lied. I still love him and always will.Just because he is not here anymore does not mean I love him any less. We never fell out of love nor never got bored with each other, we never wanted to leave each other or in fact. E separated in any way. We wanted to be by each other’s side forever. Doing life with each other, being each other’s number one. He was my hero, my soul mate, my husband, the father of my son.

Two years. Two whole years have passed since I last heard Darrell’s very distinctive footsteps echoing all the way down the passage of our old Victorian house for the last time. It feels like only a second ago he was squeezing my hand while we both cried when we heard our baby’s heart beating for the first time. But also a life time ago. It feels like a life time ago since he looked at me with his twinkly, long lashed, blue eyes, half smiling whilst trying to convince me to make him his morning cup of coffee at 5am. Which I always gladly did. I was always rewarded with a lovely big snuggle in bed and then the most imperfectly made cup of Earl Grey. I never told him. I always drank it.
For those that do not know, my husband, Darrell Norman Rea (I never used to be able to say his very serious sounding name without a giggle and now I cry when I say it) died tragically on duty putting out fires in a helicopter accident on 22 April 2015. He was 39 years old. He was the chief pilot at the company he worked for and was an exceptionally gifted pilot and instructor and just altogether my favourite person in the whole world.
Looking back on these two years I struggle to remember most of it. My head seems as it has been stuffed with cotton wool and I have acquired a sort of amnesia, grief induced. In that time Elijah has continued to sprout up, at times I feel a bit robbed as I seemed to have missed a lot of it. I will not say that I have grown as a person over these past years as I feel like I am constantly swimming upstream and periodically having my head dunked under water. But I am definitely more present now. Elijah, the two and a half year old is such a joy. He looks like me but he has his fathers height (thank goodness for that!) and coloring. He has also definitely inherited his fathers charm and is always smiling and saying hello to strangers in the shop.
Five months after Darrell’s tragic death, Elijah, Floppy the dog, Millie the dog and Dinah, Moses, Spider Pig and I all moved from our beloved Tulbagh, a very small town in the Western Cape to Cape Town. It was ,in hindsight, too soon to make any major life decisions but it was necessary. Life was such a blur at that stage that waking up was just an effort. But it was the right move and it has been lovely reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. When tragedy strikes it really does show you who your true friends are and I am eternally grateful for those of you who picked me up and kept me going. Also who can say no to having three sets of fantastic grandparents close by.

When I think about our idyllic life in sleepy Tulbagh I get so homesick. I miss Darrell so much ,but I also miss the mountains, the space, my friends, our beautiful home, our garden. The garden we both worked side by side to create something outstanding out of almost rubble, obviously helped along by Tulbagh’s fertile soil. I miss the vineyards, the orchards in Spring, the place we got married, the crazy Main Road on a Saturday morning. I miss Darrell.
If I close my eyes tight enough while sitting in my new house in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town and listen to all the suburban sounds around me I can almost imagine I never left Cape Town for Tulbagh, never married Darrell, never truly felt loved or knew what it is to be in love, and that all frightens me so much. This is what keeps waking me up at night. Literally my worst nightmare. And then I open my eyes and I just want to remember. I want and need to remember all the mundane things, every time he changed Elijah’s nappy, every time he cooked me dinner, every time I fetched him from the airport, every time I went to meet him at his helicopter with his favorite ice lolly. Every time he made me smile. Every time he held my hand. Every time I said goodbye to him and told him to fly safe.
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  1. Luke

    Reading this, tears just started running down my face. I was so blessed to have him as my gym training buddy. How he loved you! Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and I am sending you love and strength for he journey ahead. You are one amazing woman and you have such power in you Lx

  2. Jo-Anne

    So Beautiful Angela! Praying for you on your sunshine journey!

  3. Leigh

    Angie I had no idea when seeing u at the reunion. What a wonderful tribute to your husband and what a dear child you have. Reading your story is truly touching and a reminder of how precious life is. Xox

  4. Tracy

    Such a devastating and raw reminder of what you and Elijah face everyday. This hit me so hard I lost my own words and I sobbed through the last part. I don’t know how anyone ever comes to terms with what you and Elijah had to. Life is so horrendously unfair, Darrell was such a gentle, loving man. The very, very best. xxx

    1. Angela Rea

      Thanks Tracy. You are always so supporting and loving! Xxxx

  5. Christina Coetzee

    Honoured to have known Darrell, and to have seen you both so excited to turn that Victorian old Dame into the stunning Rea family home, and birth-home of your gorgeous son Elijah. xxx

  6. Faziela

    Only sending you love and light. To you and little Elijah, sending just lots of strength and may your husbands love Always remain with you.

  7. Landi

    Goosebumps…tears…. what u and Darrell had, so many others can only dream of. You’re are such an amazing wife and mommy, to treasure all your memories and one day share them all with your beautiful little boy.
    May God’s Grace be with you always and remember to look up every now & again, smile and wink an eye, at your Guardian Angel… Darrell will ALWAYS be with you both ❤❤

  8. Jana

    I don’t know you but I am sending you love and best wishes. Your post has helped me, thank you ❤

    1. Raheelah

      this is very beautiful, sad, touching. Sending much love and strength. you are an awesome mommy.

    2. Angela Rea

      Thank you so much. And I am so glad I could help you in a small way. Xxx

  9. Liezl Veiga

    Although i dont know you personally, i can see that the love you and your husband shared in your short time together, was greater than the love some couples share over 50 years. You were soulmates. I cannot begin to imagine the devastation you faced in this tragedy. Thank you for reminding me to love my husband a little more today xoxox

    1. Angela Rea

      We really were two souls joined. I am so glad I could remind you to love tour husband every minute of the day. Xx

  10. mommabeartrax

    You have an easy and exquisite way of writing…and this piece made my tears unconsciously fall…and made me squeeze my husband tighter. Sending big hugs. X

  11. Bree

    Beautiful! Well done strong mama!

  12. NAWHAAL

    THIS IS SO SO SAD…MAY YOU GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH MY DARLNG…STRONGS TO YOU AND YOUR SON

  13. Natasha

    I don’t know you like many others have said but I wish you sunshine to brighten your path. Your story is a beautiful if rather sad one but live through the treasured memories you made together. Let Darrell live in your boy. Big hugs❤

  14. jenny mayhew

    You remind me of my own daughter who list her hysband just seventeen months ago . the saddest day if our lives .and it’s hard to look into her eyes and see the emptiness their is so heartbreaking .
    But I can now see a little sparkel there some days and that gives me hope for the future for her to. But she has two beautiful children who remind her every day if the most fantastic man who shared her life for twenty four years .good luck hun.

  15. onemerrymama

    Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss. It really makes me want to hold my family a little closer tonight.

    1. Angela Rea

      Thank you so much for your kind message. Xxx

  16. acapetownmom

    I just read this for the first time and I am utterly heartbroken for you and Elijah. I had never know what had happened to your husband but my goodness for it to have been as a result of such heroics…

    God bless you and Elijah. 💛

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