Well all I can say is the past 48 hours have been surreal. From midnight Friday night when Stewart worsened to now has gone by in a haze.
I am grateful that we had the time to say how we felt about each other and I am grateful he didn't suffer for longer than he did, but I am so sad that he isn't here, he was truly my best friend.
He died in my arms, just the two of us, just as we had wanted. He managed to tell me he loved me during the night and told the kids that he loved them and always would when they visited early on Saturday morning. He had love surrounding him the whole time he was ill, but none more so than those last few hours.
The nursing staff at St Gemma's were amazing and gave us all the support we needed to get through those first few hours. Leaving him there was the hardest thing I have ever done, but getting into bed last night knowing he would never be there again was so difficult.
My children have amazed me with their maturity and care and their promise to be there for me.
The funeral was held today (we bury our dead within 24 hours) and I had requested that the hearse brought Stewart home before we set off for the funeral. We then went to the synagogue where there must have been 100 people, but nothing could have prepared me for the number of people at the funeral at the cemetery. It is estimated there were between 400 - 500 people, I have to admit I didn't realise we knew that many people. Not only were. all our family and friends here - some travelling from the other ends of the country but all the clergy from Leeds were there - and between them all they took the service, something I have never seen done in all my years and truly a great honour. The honour continued when Stewart was lowered to his final resting place by four Rabbis - again something that only ever happens for other members of the clergy. Our sons recited loud and clear the mourners prayer at the grave side, so heartbreaking to watch them aged 17 and 14 having to do this. It took over 1 1/2 hours for the mourners to file through the hall to pass their condolences on to us, something that usually only takes 20 minutes tops.
Tonight was our one night of "shiva" - prayers as tomorrow night is a festival which cancels out the other 6 days. To sit in my sisters house, which to be honest is fairly large, and to watch the queue of people up the driveway and down the road waiting to come in and pay their respects was overwhelming. Not only did we fill the house with people, including the kitchen, but also the garden, the driveway and partially the pavement outside. People came from all over but to see the support the kids had, especially Jamie whose friends all came over from Manchester was amazing. Even three of the Rabbi's that were on the trip he took in the Summer were there. Mind blowing is all I can say.
The prayers were recited by my dad, one of the clergy who is like an uncle to me (his eldest daughter is one of my oldest (not age but in long standing) friends, and a speech given by the Rabbi I work with was amazing. The speech was so spot on, Rabbi Levy had Stewart down to a tee, his words were moving and funny and he even made a point of talking directly to Gemma at one point to connect with her - he also lost his mother aged 9 - all of which made an amazing speech in memory of my darling husband. No one could ask for more.
I have to say that the emails of comments from here, emails from UKsers, my amazing and wonderful family and friends have given us all strength, but to see so many people come to pay their last respects is mind blowing. As I said to Alex, when we are down we have to think of today and be proud that the man who obviously touched so many people was our daddy and my husband and we are the lucky ones to have been part of his life.
Stewart was a large man, in stature and in size but he was a true gentle giant. I have heard things about him in the last 24 hours that I never knew and I am so proud to have him choose me as his wife and to have spent the last 20 years with him.
I will be at my sisters for the next week so that visitors can call and prayers (without the memorial bit added) can be said so that the boys can continue to say the mourners prayers (which they are required to do every day for a year) in the comfort of family and friends before stretching out to the synagogue with all it's members.
Once again thank you for your supportive and warming messages. I am a lucky lady, not just because I have shared my life with someone so special, but because of all of you.