WEST WALES -- Ruth Davies is an accidental blogger. A tragic accident made her a widow at the tender age of 28 and released a river of emotion from deep within that comes out as periodic blog tributes to life with her late husband, Emrys 'Ems' Davies. Her blog, The 7 Journey, grabs readers by the heartstrings and does not let go. Her raw, open pain clearly and poignantly expressed without a trace of self-pity, transforms and confronts the reader with their own pain, and, mortality.
Death, we are often told, is a natural part of life. Yet no matter how much our rational mind nods in agreement, the sudden loss of one so dear leaves victims beyond the family. People nod, mumble and just try to avoid the subject. It is almost as if somehow talking about such a loss could make it contagious. Everyone desperately wants life to return quickly to "normal" after a "proper period of grief" passes so we can just get on with our lives. Somehow brushing death aside, avoids facing the realization that not one of us is escaping this planet alive. Most don't want to hear or talk about it and EVERYONE should read her labor of grief and love.
Precisely because Ruth Davies won't forget, we are the grateful recipients of her periodic bursts of courage. When we go to sleep at night, we can push aside unpleasant memories. That is when Ruth's memories of Ems come out the strongest and she reaches a point where she feels she 'must' share them.
"It's been tough passing so many milestones without him: He died just before our first Christmas, a couple of weeks ago he was six months gone, last week was his birthday and this Sunday (today) was our first wedding anniversary..." Ruth replays these in her mind's eye rarely looking up from the place she tries so very hard to pull these memories from. Words poured out from deep inside someone by all estimates much too young to experience them. Yet she has such a strong sense of faith and responsibility to remember and convey them in as much detail as she can muster. There was a quiet urgency, a not wanting to forget a single moment as each precious strand came lovingly from inside a deeply closed vault.
As we sat talking on Friday, Ruth would spin and rub Ems' wedding ring on her thumb. Questions about Ems transported her to a place where words tumbled from within like a torrent but were always delivered looking for the utmost clarity as if she personally owed it to Ems to get every word and memory precisely correct.
Ems, 25, was an engineer when he passed. That fateful night no one knows what happened or why. He was found near his next engineering project and seemed to be getting the lay of the land on a full moon lit night. That water treatment plant was next to the fateful set of railroad tracks. Could he have been looking down, reading or sending a text message? Could the wind have been blowing in the wrong direction to hear the train before it was too late? Could he have stumbled and tripped in the darkness on the tracks? No one will ever know for sure and, like in the movies, it is a moment that changed everyone's life forever.
Everyone who knew him loved Ems. She recently created a wonderful Facebook tribute page. She poignantly recalled the details of their last day together and thankfully they had enough tender last moments together around two slices of toast than many marriages have in a lifetime.
"Why is it called The 7 Journey," I ask? "Oh that's easy, we always joked about how the number seven has always been in our lives from our house (number 77) to it being in our wedding date, our first date was on the 17th, we got engaged on the 7th and everywhere else in between. It is the number of completion. Ems has completed his journey here, now we go on together."
Ruth does not know why she writes. It just builds up inside of her and comes tumbling out. You see their wedding photos, video channel, Ems infectious smile everywhere and are transported to memories of people in your own life long gone. Her blog has, she said, "brought many of the hardest, toughest women I know, the last one's I would ever expect to, gushers of tears."
When I ask if maybe this is her journey, to help others experiencing loss deal with and go through rather than push aside grief through frenetic activity or drowning their sorrows in a bottle, she thinks for a moment then says, "Maybe. I never intended for it to be that way. It was just my way of letting it out."
The Dutch have a word they use in these moments, 'sterkte' or wishing the bereaved family 'strength' to get through their loss. The 7 Journey confronts the reader with its openness and allows one to experience their own pain in the quiet of their own space, in their own time. Ruth has no idea why she blogs except she knows she feels much better when she listens within and releases the built up pressures of her own emotional dam. That we all get to take this remarkable trip with her is our gift and a remarkable tribute to their life together.
Sterkte, Ruth, and thank you.
Follow Denis Campbell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@UKProgressive