I’ve been a bit quiet here in the last few weeks. We had an incredible Inclusive Jobs launch event, but it relied on me sitting in front of a room of sixty people and it took me what felt like a week to recover. Then we had a strange week or two — some incredible clients, but at a different stage than I’d imagined; an event I went to alone that I thoroughly enjoyed (but then got lost on the way home and had a panic attack, of course), and in between talking to customers and working on an eBook I wasn’t sure what to write about, if anything, and then —
And then I blinked and it was Bonfire Night. If you’d have asked me before I turned 22, before I found a reason to celebrate someone, I had a story about a bonfire and a hospital trip and a scar and years of being called “Harry Potter”. Maybe I'd have said that I thought fireworks were pretty but got scared when they were loud. Maybe I’d have dug deep and talked about Guy Fawkes’ signature, about history...
Today is Michelle’s birthday. Some days I get accused of being flippant because I’ll drop “my late wife” into conversation (I think everyone knows – then I remember I have to tell people); sometimes people think it’s too many details or six years is too long ago to mention (or too long ago to be grieving, but those people can get in the bin). Some days I’ll tell people the moment I meet them, some days I’ll wait six months.
We went to sleep one night the happiest and most hopeful we’d ever been. She was 29, I was 27, we’d ordered Poppy a week previously and she was 12 weeks pregnant. Everything changes.
Chelle was incredible and clever and vivacious and stunning. I miss every day we were together, and every day we were business partners, and I know she’d be right there with me now if she could be. She’d have made an incredible Mum. I remember the days she was fierce and told me I could do all the things I didn’t think I could. She’d tell me if she thought I was about to make a stupid decision, yet had my back on every one I made regardless. She thought any day I wasn’t trying to change the world or “put a dent in the universe” was a day wasted.
I miss her.
Grief plays games with you - there’s no map to this and no straight road. Whenever I’m faced with a choice, I still want to be able to call and say “hey, this happened today, what should we do?”, and I continue to wonder what she’d have made of the choices I’ve made trying to navigate life since.
Some days I can’t follow my own advice, but it still remains the same:
💙 Take two minutes and tell your husband or wife or partner you love them. Hell, leave them a message the moment you see this. Talk about the shitty topics. Life insurance. A will. Funerals. Whether you’ve got their blessing to fall in love again five or ten years later. How you’d live your life alone. A map to try find happiness.
💜 Don’t fight with your kids and then go to sleep. Fight with them and make up and tell them you love them whatever happens. Tell your parents you forgive them. (You will, in the end.)
🧡 Call your best friend you’ve been too busy to call. Sod the moral high ground. It counts for nothing. Make plans for lunch. Grab the extra cocktail.
💚 Normalise telling people they mean something to you. Family, friends, colleagues. The people you’ve lost touch with, the people you’d like to find yourself closer to, and the people you think will always be there. And chase the things that matter to you.
This is history.
This is our history, and I like to think she’d be proud of it.
I’m going to go watch some fireworks, and think about how lucky we are to be able to tell stories of the ones that sparkled.
Michelle Amanda Darby Inman
05/11/1987 - 13/06/2017