It's taken a long time to feel able to write about what happened on that fateful day in early November 2012. Following a meeting at the school to discuss our daughter's proposed school ski-ing trip, I met up with Henry in the local bar for a meal with friends. The proposed day's golf had been cancelled due to heavy rain but it had been too late to cancel the meal afterwards, so we all met up for salmon baked in the oven and copious amounts of alcohol. Them, not me - I had to be up early the following morning.
I had my usual half of Guinness and was persuaded to have another one before I came home as our daughter was home alone. As I left, Henry was organising a Christmas meal for the next golf day, which would be held in early December. I took myself off to bed and he came into the bedroom, stood in the doorway and said what a good night we'd had and how pleased he was to see me having another Guinness. That was the last conversation I was to have with him.
I woke up the first time at 1.30 am. Did I hear anything? I think now that I did, but believed it to be our son coming home from his stint in the bar/restaurant where he works. Certainly nothing untoward. I went back to sleep. I woke up again at 4 am, saw that the light was on under the bathroom door, needed a wee, so instead of disturbing Henry, I went to the main bathroom. When I came back to bed, I realised that his side of the bed hadn't been slept in. I started to realise something was wrong, but it wasn't unusual for him to be reading in the living room or watching golf when he couldn't sleep. I opened the bathroom door. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found there.
Henry was bent double over the bath, with his lower body in the air. I knew immediately that he was dead..
What to do? I walked backwards and forwards from the bedroom to the bathroom to the living room and back again. I got into the bath and talked to him. I stroked his ice cold arm. I stroked his back. I asked him if he'd done a silly thing. All this is so clear to me that it could have happened yesterday..
I rang his sister, who lives at the opposite end of the street from us. She came with her husband very quickly and rang for an ambulance, which seemed to take absolutely ages before it arrived. In no time at all, we had about twelve people in our tiny house. The doctor told me that Henry had died of a broken neck. He'd fallen into the bath and died instantly. There was only a tiny amount of blood and some yellow liquid where he'd been..
I remember ringing our eldest son in France before he left for school at around 6.20 am and breaking the news to him. They finally took Henry away at 7.20 am. They performed a post mortem immediately and I had to go to the police station at 9 am with a translator and make a statement.
The next few weeks were like I was existing inside a dreamworld. I expected Henry to walk in through the door at any moment. I still do. People tell me that the memories will bring me a great deal of comfort, but I'm not ready for Henry to be a memory. I want the real Henry, sitting in his chair, watching golf, making me cross.
I'm now starting on another journey. Getting used to being on my own with my teenagers, instead of being half of a couple. I'll let you know how I get on.