THIS has not been the year I had planned for myself, if I’m honest. It’s the same for you, I imagine. Maybe you had holidays booked. Plans and schemes that have been delayed or fallen apart because of the pandemic.

Me, I was hoping to … Well, what exactly? I’m not really sure. To reconnect, I think. To remember who I once was maybe. To try to patch my life back together, at least partially, after it was torn apart.

It is now almost 10 months since my wife Jean died in Strathcarron Hospice in Denny. She is still the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.

I had hoped that this year I could go and meet the people I’ve seen little of in recent years because of Jean’s illness, plug myself back in as it were. Instead, life, as it has for all of us, shrank to four walls with the odd socially-distanced visit to the supermarket.

Because of Covid-19, I’ve spent the last few months at home with my daughters and my grief. I can’t begin to quantify what that has meant.

There were days, certainly, when I was quite happy to have a reason not to go out. Mostly, though, I’ve felt stuck inside and stuck inside my head. Not necessarily the best place to be. Jean comes and goes in dreams and memories. Sometimes close, sometimes far away. Either way, it hurts and heals.

Last week I read Ian Ridley’s new book The Breath of Sadness, about his life after the death of his wife Vikki Orvice at 56 (the same age as Jean) in February last year. It’s a raw, sad ache of a book, heavy with feeling. (How could it be otherwise?) Reading it, I felt waves of recognition as he described the lurching roil of his emotions.

I was also maybe a little jealous that he found some comfort attending county cricket last summer. It’s not a game I have any interest in but that idea of being out in the world (even if you still feel outside it) is appealing.

We have all had our lives reduced down so much this year. Friends and family kept at a distance, in a bid to keep them safe. Out of love, really. We have all been missing the lives we used to live.

Now that lockdown has eased a little, I often find myself going for a drive most evenings. Just to get out of the house, to have some sense that I still exist in the wider world. Football on the radio, voices echoing in empty stadiums, the sound low, the signal clear but distant; a signal of life still just beyond my reach. But one day, soon I hope …