Today: 23 November is International Survivors of Suicide Day.
Tomorrow: 24 November is the anniversary of Doctor Who.
Across the world, people are gearing up to celebrate fifty years of Doctor Who. I wasn’t born in 1963 and neither was my husband. It’s odd to think about a time before either of us existed.
I remember how much he loved Doctor Who. Not the modern version, or the movie version, but the old series which finished in the eighties. He didn’t approve of the new boys – McGann, Eccleston, Tennant and Smith – he much preferred the incarnations from his childhood who fought Daleks and Cybermen with recorders, jelly beans and oversized scarves. He had most of those classic episodes on video or DVD.
‘The BBC used to reuse the tapes,’ he said, ‘so some of the footage is lost. Some episodes only exist in people’s memories now.’
Once when I gave up smoking and needed something to do with my hands I knitted him a scarf exactly like Tom Baker’s. I bought 100% wool from Spotlight and carefully braided the different coloured yarn into the back every time I began a new stripe. It took all winter. When I had finished, I tied long pieces of wool into knots to make tassels at either end. He hung the scarf over the back of the door in his games room. I never saw him wear it.
He had shelves full of Dr Who memorabilia, hard-covered annuals and paperback fan fiction. On the day I moved out he sold almost his entire collection to his online gaming friends. As I packed up my clothes and took my hairdryer and makeup from the bathroom, I had to negotiate my way around a steady stream of visitors. They were young men who wore baggy jeans and black T-shirts. The slogans on their chests referenced Star Trek, Sonic the Hedgehog and Space Invaders.
The next time I looked into his games room, the day he went missing and I found his body in the study, the room was empty. Not even the expensive scale model of a Dalek remained. The Tom Baker scarf was gone.
Images of Doctor Who are all over the television and the internet as the anniversary of the first broadcast approaches. I see Tom Baker wearing his scarf and it reminds me of my husband. I’m sorry my husband is no longer here to participate in all the excitement, that he can’t quote the lines from the first episode to anyone, and that the scarf is gone, thrown away, lost.
‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ people say.
He’s not really lost, because lost things can sometimes be found.
I’m still here, I still exist. He only exists in people’s memories now.