I remember staring at a picture of Sally Thorneloe, the wife of the charismatic CO of the Welsh Guards as she stood ram-rod straight at his funeral, her face drawn with grief but perfectly composed, and thinking 'that could so easily have been me'.
I had practiced the expression her face was wearing. My beloved and I had discussed at length how he wanted his Military funeral conducted, how I should 'represent' him. It was the subject of heated discussion and debate amongst my fellow Army wives. Some expressed real confusion that we had a kind of macabre code of conduct, some felt that it was 'unnatural' - and maybe it was. Maybe it would have been completely unsustainable in the face of such enormous grief and loss, but I knew that Sally was wearing 'that' face because Rupert would have been proud of her for doing so.
I've discovered Google Blogs search - I know, it's pathetic that it's taken me so long! and I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of blogs I have come across written by Servicemen's widows. I am genuinely humbled by the strength and courage of those legions of women - all honouring their husband's memories whilst trying to find their way.
My beloved served in Northern Ireland during the troubles, in Kosovo and in Iraq amongst many other places and I have been in the ranks of those who wait and watch in fear. I know how it feels to feel sick every time the doorbell or the telephone rings, to panic when comms go down, to feel the relief to hear that it was 'someone else' and then the desperate sadness for 'someone else's' family - I have attended too many heart-breaking military funerals, but my husband always came home, and my God I am so very grateful.