“The response my late husband always gave people when they asked, ‘How did you meet Becca?’ was always: ‘in Starbucks.’ I hate to disappoint, but this is this truth. I was sitting with my nose in a book when he plopped himself down. ‘Hi, my name is Dan,’ he said, matter-of-factly. We chatted about everything and nothing for 2 straight hours until he asked, ‘Are you free this evening? My brother is in a band and has a gig later tonight, if you’d like to join.’
Obviously, I couldn’t say no to that, so we went out for dinner, chatted, drank some more and then made our way over to the gig. He led me backstage (I know, I was shocked too!) and introduced me to a man who looked like he was impersonating Russell Brand. Russell Brand’s lookalike turned out to be Dan’s older brother, Matt. We chatted and hung out with him for a little while, until Dan told me he had someone else I ‘had to meet.’ We wondered back through to the main entrance and found Emma. Emma introduced us both to Mowgli, and thus, the four musketeers were born. A lot of laughing and drinking later, we went in to watch The Joy Formidable play their set, and of course they did not disappoint. I was politely informed by Dan that ‘I was coming to the after party to hang out with everyone a little more,’ and, well… That is a night some people don’t remember, but I will never forget.
It ended with me stuffing my face with pizza and watching Predator with, little did I know it then – my future husband.
Dan and I continued to meet up and do crazy things. We with Emma and Mowgli a lot and got into all sorts of mischief in London. We decided he should have a tattoo, so Emma, a tattoo artist, designed an incredible piece for him. We went to play junkyard crazy golf and drank champagne outside tower bridge. Before I moved in with him, we went to see Matt and his wife, Frankie. There, we went to the zoo, walking around in the sun and generally having a beautiful day. We hung out with his nephew, Noah, and his mum and dad a lot too. I loved getting to know his family.
One important thing I should mention, was that Dan had a very rare form of cancer (called a pleomorphic sarcomatoid carcinoma). He had been told later on it was terminal, and it would eventually take his life. He dealt with the news extraordinarily well, and documented his journey on his YouTube channel and Instagram, with the aim to help as many people in life as he possibly could, whether they were affected by cancer or not.
After all of these adventures, we decided to have an even bigger one – we got married on September 12th, 2018, after he asked me to marry him just a few weeks earlier on August 21, 2018.
The weather was amazing on our wedding day. He coped so well he didn’t use his cane the entire day, because at this point he had lost a lot of weight, his Lymphedema was too painful to imagine and he relied on a cane to walk. But not that day. Our friends put so much together in such a short period of time for us to rush the wedding, I have no idea where I would be without them.
However, between all the amazing things we did, were the horrible things. The hospital appointments, the tests, the trials. Since meeting Dan, I hadn’t missed a single hospital appointment. I sat with him during the bicycle trial, and when he was told he couldn’t continue it. I stayed in the Royal Marsden in Sutton with him for two weeks when his bile duct blocked, he went jaundice and had surgery. I waited outside the operating room when he had surgery without general anesthesia, and tried to block my ears in case he was making noises indicating he was in pain. In the Marsden, I would stay in his room with him until 1 or 2 in the morning watching random movies and making the nurses laugh.
I sat up with him when he was in too much pain to sleep. When he was being violently sick, we set up camp on the bathroom floor and tried to pretend we weren’t there because he was ill, but because we wanted to! I memorized all his medication and could tell the nurses exactly what he was taking when and how much. I would clean his throw up off the floor when he didn’t make it upstairs. I’d be covered in his blood when his tumor tore open, and hold him up to make sure he wouldn’t faint or go into shock. Rubbing his back and feeling all the nodules of the tumor popping up at a rapid pace. I didn’t leave his side the whole time he was in the hospice.
I thought we had only been in there three days, but it turned out later it had been eight. Eight days and nights I sat in the chair next to him watching him getting weaker and weaker. Eight nights not being able to even leave his side to go to the toilet without panicking. He said his last words the night before he died. I said to him, ‘I love you,’ which I said in almost every sentence at this point, and he opened his eyes, held my hand and said, ‘I love you too, but this is ridiculous.’ He proceeded to remove his oxygen mask. It was such a Dan thing to do, to choose his time. The next day his family and I held his hands and said our goodbyes all together. He cried. We cried. He passed away peacefully on September 28, 2018, just 16 days after we said ‘I do.’
We were inseparable. He was my best friend and supported me no matter what. It doesn’t matter how long you know the person; what matters is how you spent that time. I never imagined I could give up everything I’ve ever known and give up my life for someone else. I have done things I never imagined I could or would be able to do. I was once scared of blood, needles and vomit. Now, they don’t phase me at all. It has been suggested to me that I have PTSD, as I see his blood on my hands when I look at them. I panic and feel I need to wash them, but I know the blood isn’t really there. I still hear his voice. I can still hear his encouraging words. I can still hear him tell me to stop crying, because life is good.
Dan gave me more than I could have ever asked for in a husband. He filled my life with crazy adventures, but not only that. He filled it with love and midnight chats and planning for the future we knew we would never have. We would plan children, houses, holidays and so much more. Through even the hardest times, we would be laughing and joking. He bought me back to life when I thought it was over, he dragged me out of the dark to see the light and the good in the world. I am who I am today because of him. I now try to share as much positivity in the world through YouTube and Instagram, and encourage people with my little slogan: ‘Smile, I dare you.’”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becca Thomas of Kent, England. You can follow her journey on Instagram, and her website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more stories from those experiencing grief and loss:
SHARE this story on Facebook to encourage others to cherish every moment and love what matters most.