Or, I suppose it's easier to count it as two years, (spread over a leap year hence the odd "1" at the end).
That's how long it's been since my husband took his last breath, since I became a widower and since the world as I knew it changed forever.
As I look back I recall it was a very long night following a very long day which was a roller coaster of emotions from 01:58 when I first received the call from the hospital advising me Stephen had become acutely unwell and asking if I'd like to visit him. I was there at 02:16 but it was after midday before I was allowed to see him.
By this time he was securely wrapped on a gurney hooked up to loads of machines with tubes and wires all over him ready to be put in an ambulance and sent with blue lights flashing to a neuroscience specialist unit.
Shortly after his arrival he was seen by a consultant who immediately came to advise me what he had found. Stephen was unresponsive to light. This meant little to me at that time but it basically meant he was already brain dead and, although a variety of machines were keeping the mechanics of his body "alive" the chances of him ever opening his eyes and smiling at me were gone. It was now just a waiting game.
We were told that sedatives would no longer be given to Stephen and eventually mechanical support would be withdrawn but, as he was a strong young man of 32 then we may have days as opposed to hours to say goodbye to him. This was like nature mocking us. Firstly it claimed Stephen too many years too soon and then it toyed with us and threatened to torture us for an indefinite period just waiting for the inevitable.
Stephens final hours were peaceful. It was 04:30 the following day when he exhaled his last breath. Fate had allowed Me, his parents, my parents, his brother and some friends the opportunity to say goodbye. Wishing he could stay but allowing him to leave and go on to wherever he had to go next.
The next few days, weeks and months are a bit of a blur. Gallons of tears, recalling some wonderful memories and feeling bitter and cheated at the cruelty of life.
Looking back though I learned lots at that time. I learned a lot about myself and about those around me. More importantly though looking back I can see that actually I am a stronger person than I realised and I still firmly believe things happen for a reason.
With this in mind I truly believe if Stephen could have gone to a "pick'n'mix" counter and build a new partner for me then the person I met just nine months later is precisely that person. I guess I have another guardian angel now. This one is called Stephen and I'm sure he's never far away.
Two years on and a lot has changed. I sometimes wonder what Steve would say if he could come back and have a chat and review the past two years with me. What would he tell me off for and what would make him proud? I can guess and I'd probably be pretty close.
Time hasn't made his passing a less bitter pill to swallow and it hasn't made the hurt any less but I've got used to this feeling. Like a numb ache you can't get rid of and the feeling that something isn't quite correct, like wearing your shoes on the wrong feet.
I have a lot more happy than sad days now and I have things to look forward to. I'm not sure if I will ever feel like I used to but I'm not sure I want to. I'm proud of my 'scars' and wear them like medals of an ongoing battle where every day is a triumph.
As I start my third year as a widower, all be it a partnered widower, there's a tinge of sadness for what may have been but, I am excited about what the coming year may bring.
Thank you Stephen for our happy years together, thank you for being my guardian angel and thank you for continuing to make me smile, even in your absence your memory makes me smile. Sleep peacefully. Finally though, thank you to my Jonathan for being so patient and understanding.
Love, hugs and best wishes to you too and to everyone who remembers Steve and looks back fondly.
Xx M xX