Rockingham man who married dying woman opens heart in letter to the Courier

Sophia Williams. Pictures: Facebook.
Sophia Williams. Pictures: Facebook.

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THE husband of the woman who passed away from her battle with cancer for 15 years shortly after getting married says he is overwhelmingly distraught, devastated and disgusted at the thought that Sophia’s story might leave the world feeling less love than before she passed.

The wish and decision to marry was mutual and had Sophia’s mother’s knowledge and blessing.

This was her dying wish and was well planned.

As to how anyone could think there was any motive other than pure love behind the reasons we decided to get married… my first marriage… is beneath me. No one spoke to me about this until I received a letter recently saying that our marriage had been annulled. Nearly two years after! It is not like I can do it again!

Our marriage was to be something beautiful for both of us to look forward to and share in the midst of the most terrible of times.

We were already in every sense defacto/married for six wonderful years. We spent every part of that time focusing on healing, working and playing together.

Some people have asked why we left it so long to get married. Well, ironically what sparked our decision to get married was a lengthy Skype call with Sophia’s mother on my birthday in September, where she suggested that we get married. I said “what a wonderful idea”. Sophia said the same.

Her mother sent an SMS straight after the phone call: “I still think you and Mal should get wed”, “please God you think about it…I would be over the moon to have him as my son in law”.

Sophia replied: “It would be a beautiful small secret wedding too”.

My stepmother brought a ring to place on her finger. I proposed straight after, Sophia said yes and was so excited. We chose a local marriage celebrant online. Diane came out to visit us; she was wonderfully caring, compassionate and professional. We completed our notice of intended marriage and discussed location etc.

Sophia typed a statutory declaration to shorten the one-month waiting term as time was not on her side.

Pam – the amazing head nurse from Silver Chain who also knew how much we wanted to get married, cared for Sophia and I for quite some time and was there on the day we married – signed off on it and the hospice doctor wrote an accompanying letter. Sophia’s mobile phone, which I have left intact, is full of wedding dress searches, as well as holiday destinations (God bless her, she never gave up).

Being my first marriage, combined with the stress of my terminally ill partner in a home hospital bed, having to pick her up to put her on the toilet, doctors and nurses coming and going, it was a very surreal, traumatic and horrible day – one I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

When asked to place an ‘x’ on behalf of my beautiful, intelligent and articulate wife on what I believed was ‘our’ only copy of ‘our’ marriage certificate, I said I would scribble her autograph for her (I didn’t trace anything).

At the time anything less seemed undignified. It was accepted and no one objected, including the marriage celebrant.

If that was going to be a problem, I wish someone would have told me.

Sophia was not in a coma and possibly/thankfully to alleviate the awkwardness of the ceremony, it was explained to me by the Silver Chain head nurse (Pam), who obviously had a lot of experience with death, that she was not unconscious, that she was still listening and that hearing was the last thing to go when someone is terminal.

After that came which I could only say was the worst day of my life – when Sophia drew her last breath in my arms. It saddens me that her Facebook page which she nominated myself to look after has turned into somewhat of a mudslinging area to which I haven’t replied.

I have not changed my phone number for 30 years. It’s disheartening my phone has not rung, how I have not heard from any of the people that I loved, cherished and would have done anything for; the people that I called family have become so distanced.

I draw strength from the fact that if I had a chance to do it all again, I would not change a thing.

I am currently in the process of pursuing legal action to honour Sophia’s wishes and finally let her rest in peace, love and light.

Namaste Sophia, I will always love you, my yoga princess.

Malcolm Byrne, Rockingham

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