Kerry-Anne was a special daughter, caring sister, devoted girlfriend and beloved friend.
Kerry-Anne was the girl of my dreams. I had many a time sat back and thought to myself just how perfect life had turned out and how lucky I had been to have found Kerry-Anne – she was the complete package and ticked all the boxes. She was beautiful, affectionate, caring, thoughtful, exuberant, and had a fantastic dry humour and wit about her – though first and foremost she reciprocated my love.
Kerry-Anne was an extremely happy person and had a special radiance about her which touched all who were fortunate enough to have met her. We first met 10 years ago through numerous summer days out we had spent at country shows with mutual friends. On these occasions, I was attracted by her good looks and her energy, particularly the way she loved playing with the children (my, then young, niece Victoria and her cousin Jake).
When we started dating we fell for each other very quickly – it just felt right and knew we belonged together. We loved being in one another’s company and therefore did most things together – during our 6 years of living together we had spent no more than 10 nights apart. We had mapped out all of our plans and dreams, and were very excited about the prospect of raising a family in the near future (we both loved children and Kerry-Anne would have without doubt been the best and most natural mum).
On my way back from work on Wednesday 26 November 2008, I called Kerry-Anne to let her know that I was going to pop into the St Luke’s Pinner social club to watch the Champions League football and have a few drinks with her dad and friends.
She told me that the shoulder pain she had been suffering from during the week had got worse (we had swapped sides in bed the night before so that she could be more comfortable).
We agreed that it would be best for her to visit the doctor the following morning for a check up. When I got home from the football later that evening, it was evident she was in quite a lot of pain and she had therefore been taking various painkillers (I questioned precisely what at the time to ensure she was not overdoing it on the dosage). I rubbed some ibrofen muscular pain relief gel into her shoulder to try and help her. We stayed up a little later than usual that night, to catch up as we normally would in the evening.
In the early hours of the next morning, and having been unsettled throughout the night, Kerry-Anne told me she was going into the spare bedroom for a while to allow me to get some sleep before our routine early rise for work. A few minutes after 5am I heard a noise. When I went to check on Kerry-Anne I was alarmed to find her lying on her front in the lounge. Initially, and perhaps somewhat confused at the time, I thought she must have been lying in this position to be most comfortable for her shoulder pain (or perhaps even joking around with me as we often would).
I asked her several times what she was doing as I approached her. When I turned her over I knew something was very wrong. I immediately called 999. I then did everything I could to try and resuscitate her. I was constantly talking to her, pleading with her to stay with me and telling her that I loved her. When the ambulance did finally arrive, my initial reaction was relief, though this was immediately replaced with a feeling of disbelief at what was happening in front of me, realising that it was probably too late. The first thing I did was to call Kerry Anne’s parents and urge them to get round quickly (they live minutes drive away). I distinctly remember hearing their footsteps walking up the stairwell, in the knowledge of what they were about to confront.
Kerry-Anne was age 30 and seemingly healthy. We later discovered at the inquest that she had suffered a cardiac arrest, as a result of viral myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). Kerry-Anne is now at peace with her grandparents at St Mary’s church, in Cahir Co. Tipperary (the place of her Christening). The whole family has been left devastated.
The sudden and unexpected nature of Kerry-Anne’s death makes things extremely difficult to come to terms with (providing no time for any preparation or goodbyes). Kerry-Anne was very special and the most precious person in my life – she meant everything to me. She was my soul mate and the person who I confided in and shared everything with, so life is very empty without her. I am, however, extremely thankful for the precious years we shared and I will be eternally grateful to Kerry-Anne for the unconditional love she gave me.
I am finding that the best coping strategy is to avoid thinking about the future without Kerry-Anne as this is too painful. I prefer to focus on positive things and I am therefore keeping busy by running, going to the gym, learning to cook (Kerry-Anne spoilt me in this respect, though I am finding the chore of cooking surprisingly therapeutic), learning to play the guitar and yoga.
CRY has been an immense source of support for me and through their family conference and bereavement days; have enabled me to learn much more about the medical conditions associated with SDS; and given me the opportunity to meet and share experiences with other families affected by SDS. I am therefore intent on doing my best to help CRY.
Kerry-Anne and I spent many a Sunday afternoon in Pinner Memorial Park, with a picnic listening to their summer jazz concerts and this therefore seemed the most appropriate location for a memorial bench and tree (a double blossoming wild cherry tree). It is very peaceful to sit by the pond, especially in the spring when the wildlife comes to life. The quotation on her bench reads:
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
Sources of support I have found helpful include:
Dr Andy Hogarth, Specialist Registrar, Cardiology (and best friend from University)
Canon Robert Plourde, St Luke’s Church Pinner
“I wasn’t ready to say goodbye” – Brook Noel and Pamela D.Blair, PHD
“On grief and grieving” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
“Death and how to survive it – Kate Boydell
“Grief counseling and grief therapy” – J. William Worden
“Bereavment” – Colin Murray Parkes and Holy G. Prigerson
“The art of happiness” HH Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler
The songs which were played at Kerry-Anne’s funeral were:
“”Stand by me”” – by Ben E King
“”You do something to me”” – by Paul Weller (this was meant to be our first dance)
I also wish we had played “Isn’t she lovely” by Stevie Wonder