Four years ago my life changed forever.
I lost Alice.
She died suddenly and in traumatic circumstances.
The last time I saw her we embraced and told one other how much we were in love; so who would have thought that just a few hours later I would find out that I would never see her face again?
I remember the feeling when I heard the news that she had passed away.
A feeling of absolute devastation.
It was an emotion so immense, and so complex, that it is almost impossible to articulate or convey in words alone.
The world robbed me and Alice, of not just each other, but of our future that we’d spent so many nights planning together.
In the months and weeks leading up to her death, we were both setting out what the coming years would bring us. We would spend hours discussing getting married, having children, where we would live and where we would go on holiday.
We were inseparable.
I remember she would call me sometimes in the morning and just sing to me. We would talk for hours and hours about life, the world and everything in between.
And then she was gone. And I was left alone.
Three days after Alice passed away, I was due to have an interview to start an access to university course; it was something me and Alice spoke about a lot. Alice was working to become a mental health nurse and me a social worker, we would have both finished our courses in the same year.
We would go out there and try to make the world a better place together.
I don’t know how, but I somehow made it to that interview. For me it was survival. I knew I couldn’t allow myself to slip into grief. I knew I couldn’t allow myself to become psychotic.
I unfortunately got knocked back from that first interview because I failed my maths exam, but after a few carefully worded letters I eventually got accepted and started my four-year journey towards becoming a social worker.
I invested my everything into that journey. As someone who left school with no qualifications, and also being a former service user myself, the journey wasn’t always easy and I faced challenges along the way.
But I soldiered on.
This soldiering on took me to where I am today, drawing towards the latter stages of the final year of my social work degree. However, just as the finish line loomed in sight, something cataclysmic dawned on me, something that caught me off guard. I started my journey into social work with my soulmate Alice, but I am now facing the terrifying reality of concluding it alone.
The crushing reality has hit me that there will never be another holiday, another hug, another laugh, another kiss, or another smile for Alice and I.
There is only a dark absence, ever present.
A part of me ripped away.
As my fellow students are planning their futures, and deciding where to apply for their first jobs and what areas they wish to practice in, I can’t even fathom what I will do, or even where I will go.
This leads me back to that eternally damning question which is always on my mind- how do you continue in social work when you have lost everything?
I have at last reached the conclusion that there is no continuation from what I started with Alice four years ago.
I will always be scarred and damaged by what was taken away from us.
I will always have sleepless nights, lonesome tears in the dark, and those moments of complete and utter despair that leave you nothing but spent and empty.
The future that me and Alice were hoping to have, that we wished to have, will never materialise.
Nothing else in life will ever come close to those reveries we shared.
I built my future on dreams that will never come to pass.
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?
There is however one thing that allows me to exist, and that is holding onto hope.
Not hope that Alice will come back to me, or even that my life will ever be the same again, but hope that I can make it to tomorrow, and that each dawn will be a little brighter than the one before.
Hope that I can wake up in the morning and potentially make a positive difference to somebody else’s life.
Hope that I might be able to bring a smile to someone else’s face.
Hope that I can make the world a better place.
For me. For us. For Alice.
The trivial things that we busy ourselves with in this existence have melted away for me, because at the end of the day, none of it really matters.
If you go into any given day with a goal to make just one person smile, just one person feel slighter better about themselves and the world, then you can rest at night being fulfilled.
No matter what, I will complete my degree, and in a matter of months I will (hopefully) qualify and be working as a social worker.
I don’t have a plan for where I want to work or what area I wish to specialise in. I don’t even have a plan for where I want to live.
What I do know is that if I try and make one person’s life a day a little bit easier, that if I take one day at a time and perhaps kindle just a little bit of hope in people along the way, then the rest will fall into place just fine.
Then, as I go about spreading those little bits of hope to others, then perhaps the world will pay me back and allow me to start all over again.
That’s how I plan to continue in social work. Even though I have lost everything.