An amazing, kind stranger has written Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas a note for every day of the year since his wife’s death.
Simon’s wife Gemma died just three days after a cancer diagnosis at the end of November, leaving behind her husband and their eight-year-old son, Ethan.
The presenter has spoken openly and honestly about his struggles since losing Gemma and has been sharing his story with his followers on social media – and through his blog A Grief Shared.
Today I am crushed with indescribable pain. Just three days after falling ill with Acute Myloid Leukaemia, my dear wife Gemma passed away yesterday evening surrounded by her family and friends. If you are a prayer – pray for my boy Ethan. 8yrs, precious and in bits. Thank you.
— Simon Thomas (@SimonThomasSky) November 25, 2017
Gemma died from acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) – a cancer of the blood which affects the bone marrow – and Simon revealed she’d been turned away from the doctor and ‘told to rest’ before being diagnosed.
Simon now hopes to raise awareness of the disease and wants to inspire people who’ve suffered a loss, by sharing his story.
One thing Simon has been doing is sharing photos of ‘snack notes’ he’s been writing for Ethan.
— Simon Thomas (@SimonThomasSky) January 11, 2018
The snack notes are inspirational and motivational messages which Ethan takes to school to ‘keep him going’.
Now, a stranger has taken it upon himself to write a note for every single day of 2018 for Simon, too.
In his latest post, Simon wrote:
Today’s #snacknote is a bit different.
Since Gemma went I have been so moved by the support and messages I get from people on here, people I haven’t even met, yet people who care about me and what I’m going through.
A guy called Dan Ritchie, who I have yet to meet (but will) had seen my notes for Ethan and felt I needed some too, to encourage me and help me keep going when I feel like giving up. So he’s written me a daily note too – for every single day of the coming year! That’s #lightinthedarkness right there.
Today’s #snacknote is a bit different. Since Gemma went I have been so moved by the support and messages I get from people on here, people I haven’t even met, yet people who care about me and what I’m going through. A guy called Dan Ritchie, who I have yet to meet (but will) had seen my notes for Ethan and felt I needed some too, to encourage me and help me keep going when I feel like giving up. So he’s written me a daily note too – for every single day of the coming year! That’s #lightinthedarkness right there.
Fellow sports broadcaster Jake Humphrey tweeted:
Wow. Wow. Wow.
The kindness out there can be completely humbling. Dan. Whoever you are, wherever you are…We need a whole world of Dans.
Could not agree more.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
From @SimonThomasSky’s Insta. The kindness out there can be completely humbling.
Dan. Whoever you are, wherever you are…we need a whole world of Dans.
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) January 23, 2018
Simon and Ethan endured both Christmas and New Year in a few weeks after losing Gemma.
On Christmas Eve, Simon posted:
A time for each other. A time for holding that person you cherish that bit closer. A time to say I love you that bit more intensely.
A time to eat drink and be brilliantly merry. I will remember those times with my wife Gemma tomorrow & miss her so very much.
Happy Christmas xx
Eight weeks ago I lost the love of my life. Gemma was everything – my soul mate, my rock, the wind beneath my wings and a beautiful mum. The pain of life without her is at times too much to bear but out of this heartbreak the light will shine again. Life is so precious. God Bless pic.twitter.com/wmwDmkQipM
— Simon Thomas (@SimonThomasSky) January 19, 2018
After New Year, Simon shared a heartbreaking message saying he was returning to the family home for the first time since Gemma had passed away.
So tomorrow it’s home time. Except it’s not the home I want to be in anymore. Since Gemma went I’ve managed 30 seconds in our bedroom before breaking down. The room where we slept and held each other, now a room of pain.
Now is not the time for snap decisions and new starts, but how on Earth do I deal with a house that has her creative touch woven into its very being? A house that sings Gemma?
Our friends have been beyond amazing, yet I now feel not just in a different place to them, but in a different universe. The meals, the play dates, the fun is now achingly different. As their family life continues and for some, new babies arrive, I feel like an alien.
It’s like my life has been put back into reverse. In three horrible days I’m back to being single. Back to having no idea how to really cook. Back to the place I never really enjoyed. Career suddenly in reverse. The massive difference now is I have my precious boy to look after. I pray to God that if nothing else, I can do this last bit.
You can read Simon’s blog, A Grief Shared, here.