Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
Becoming a widow at the age of 26
Nothing could have prepared me for the anxiety and quiet desperation grief would bring. I floated around outside of myself in disbelief. The numbness soon turned to anger at the world, intense sorrow, and a yearning so unbearable it made me nauseous. It has been almost four years since I lost my husband and the love of my life to brain cancer. Dale was just 32, I was 26. Time lost all flow. I still catch myself holding my breath. I struggle with anxiety – a symptom of grief I least expected. No one ever warned me that grief felt so like fear.
Dale played more than one role in my life, he was my partner, muse, most trusted confidante, music collaborator, travel companion, lover, mentor, best friend ... all wrapped into one magnificent human being. He had the ability to find words I struggled to. He blessed me with perspective and belief in myself when I was at a loss. He knew me better than I knew myself sometimes. No one made me belly laugh like he did – no matter where we found ourselves, if we were together, I was home. Those once familiar places are now strange and unrecognisable.
Dale faced his diagnosis with unbelievable bravery; he never gave up, choosing to stay positive and live each day to the fullest. ‘No more waiting!’ was his call. Although confused, devastated and afraid of what the future held for us, I chose to follow Dale’s lead, to breathe, celebrate the small wins and focus on what we could control. ‘One day at a time’ was our mantra. I am grateful that we realised the importance of having honest conversations, continuing to play music, and celebrating our love in our final months. Little did we know we would only have nine months left together. Dale lived and loved furiously until the end. He was the ultimate gentleman with a heart the size of an elephant – loved by everyone he knew and met. I grieve the milestones untouched, the melodies unwritten and the future we so desperately hoped for.
When I feel a wave of grief come over me, I try to focus my thoughts on how miraculous it is that we found each other in the vastness; that we came, we saw, we held, sang, danced, cried, laughed, wished on stars, and pondered the mystery of life… all in a flutter of space and time. The pure wonder of loving Dale and being loved by him will never leave me. I am still learning to make peace with the unknown. I find beauty in the suffering through creativity, remind myself that everything is getting older and nothing in life remains the same. "It doesn't really matter if you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair or let your arms lie on your lap... the drill drills on” – C.S Lewis: 'A grief observed’.
To anyone out there grieving a life-changing loss, my heart breaks with you. To those of you living with a brain tumour diagnosis – I’m rooting for you; never give up!
I have recently set up The Dale Barclay Fund in support of Brain Tumour Research, in memory of Dale and his ginormous heart and spirit. Upon diagnosis, Dale was given little-to-no hope; we were immediately informed that glioblastoma (GBM) was incurable – that there were no effective treatments beyond surgery. There is a devastating lack of funding into research in this arena. I’m joining the fight to increase awareness and research funding, to give hope and improve outcomes for patients and their families.
Dale left behind an unfinished recording of his song ‘Wild at Heart’. Myself and our dear friends came together to finish the track in his memory. We have released the song both digitally and on 7” vinyl in aid of Brain Tumour Research. To listen to Wild at Heart and buy a digital download or a 7” record to support Brain Tumour Research go to https://dalebarclay.bandcamp.com/releases