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Source: Adults

Author: Heidi Peyton

Title: I became a single parent overnight.

We got back from a weekend break in Cornwall in the early hours of Monday morning. We had argued all the way back and I remember thinking ‘never let the sun go down on your anger’ so I whispered ‘thank you for getting us home safe’ to my husband. He leant over and kissed me without saying a word. Just hours later he was in hospital having suffered a massive stroke causing right-side paralysis and loss of speech, and I was left ‘holding the baby’ - literally.

Suddenly, overnight, I had to deal with everything: our three young children (aged 5, 3 and 22-months at the time), my husband’s appeal at work for unfair dismissal (the reason we had been arguing), the sale of our home and our finances. The sense of responsibility was overwhelming and at times I didn’t think I’d ever be able to cope. I realised how dependent I had become over the years.

Our finances were in dire straits. We had no critical illness insurance in place anymore, and I discovered debts Chris had kept hidden from me. I became disillusioned, frustrated, and angry with him. He had lost his wedding ring on the beach in Cornwall and I began to wonder if that was an omen.

Friends and neighbours rallied round and the support was superb. The kindness of complete strangers even was astonishing. Mostly though, I felt terrified, and the loneliness at night was crushing.

Slowly I began to piece our shattered lives back together. I tried to focus on the children and I took my comfort from small triumphs: finding the right allan key to fix my son’s balance bike, a trip up into the loft!

I took the children back to Cornwall at the end of the summer. I sobbed when we went back to the beach where daddy had been surfing just hours before his stroke. I felt empowered now though - a mother on an adventure with her children. I hope they will always have some happy memories of that trip.

My husband remains in a specialist brain-injury rehabilitation unit where he continues to make a slow but steady recovery. In many ways we have both had to learn to walk again.

I found his wedding ring in a pocket of the picnic bag the other day. I’m taking this as a good sign that we’re going to be OK.

Published on writebuzz®: Adults > Features

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