Approaching four years ago, my life changed forever. I lost Alice, she died suddenly and in traumatic circumstances. The last time I saw Alice we hugged told each other how much we loved each other; who would have thought just a few hours later I would never see her again?
I remember the feeling when I found out that she passed away, it was a feeling of absolute devastation. It was a feeling so immense, so complex that it is almost impossible to articulate or convey in words.
The world robbed me and Alice, of not just each other, but of our futures. In the months and weeks leading up to her death we were both planning our futures. We would spend hours discussing getting married, having children, where we would live and where we would go on holiday. We were inseparable, I remember she would call me sometimes in the morning and just sing to me. We would talk for hours and hours about life, the world and everything in between.
Three days after Alice passed away, I was due to have an interview to start an access to university course; it was something me and Alice spoke about alot. Alice was working to becoming a mental health nurse and me a social worker, we would have both finished our courses in the same year.
I don’t know how, but I somehow made it to that interview, for me it was survival, I knew I couldn’t allow myself to slip into grief, I knew I couldn’t allow myself to become psychotic. I unfortunately got knocked back from that interview because I failed my maths exam but after a few carefully worded letters I eventually was accepted and started my four-year journey to becoming a social worker.
I invested my everything into that journey, being someone who left school with no qualifications and a former service user myself presented some challenges, but I soldiered on. This soldiering on took me into where I am now, the final year of a social work degree. However just when approaching the end something cataclysmic dawned on me, something that caught me off guard. I started the journey into social work with my soulmate Alice, I am now facing the terrifying reality of concluding it alone.
The crushing reality has hit me that there will never be another holiday, another hug, another laugh, another kiss, another smile for Alice and I. There is only a dark absence, ever present, a part of me ripped away.
When my colleagues and friends are thinking about and planning their future, I cannot even fathom what I will do, or where I will go. This leads me to the original question; how do you continue in social work when you have lost everything?
Well I came to the conclusion that there is no continuation from what I started with Alice four years ago, I will always be scarred and damaged by what was taken away from me and Alice. I will always have a sleepness night, a cry in a dark corner or moments of complete and utter despair. The future that me and Alice were hoping to have, will never materialise and nothing will ever come close.
There is however one thing that allows me to exist, and that is holding onto hope. Not hope that Alice will ever come back, or my life will ever return to a normality, but hope I can make it to the next day. Hope I can wake up in the morning and potentially make a positive difference to someone’s life, hope I might be able to bring a smile to someone else’s face. Sometimes when your mind dwells in the future, you lose sight of what makes the present so powerful.
The trivial things that we busy ourselves with in this existence have melted away for me, because at the end of the day, none of it really matters. If you go into a given day with a goal to make one person smile, one person feel slighter better about themselves and the world then you can rest at night being fulfilled.
No matter what, I will complete my degree and in a matter of months, I will (hopefully) qualify and be working as a social worker. I don’t have a plan as to where I want to work, what area I would look to specialise in; I don’t even have a plan as to where I want to live. What I do know is that if I plan to just try and make one person’s life a day a little easier that if I takeone day at a time and perhaps kindle a bit hope in people on the way. Then the rest will fall into place just fine and perhaps allow me to start all over again.