Two loves of his life
Glued to the TV, tears sprung to my eyes. What a brave lady, I thought. It was May 2002, and I watching a Panorama documentary called Please Let Me Die.
Producers had followed the case of motor neurone disease sufferer Diane Pretty and her husband Brian, as Diane fought for the right to end her own life with dignity.
Trapped in her body by the cruel degenerative disease, Diane was physically unable to take her own life. Yet, by law, anyone who assisted her would face 14 years in jail.
Her bids to the High Court, House of Lords and European Court had all failed. And, two weeks later, poor Diane passed away aged just 43, in the manner she’d always feared – in a hospice, drugged up on morphine, struggling for breath. Heartbreaking.
I felt deeply for Diane, Brian and their two children, then 25 and 23.
But it awoke something in me, too…
I’d been a single mother of three for seven years.
I was sick of being lonely, but had never done anything about it. It’s time to start livingli i again,i I realised.li
Life is short. Diane’s story had made that all too clear.
So, when a friend asked me to go to a local singles club, I said yes.
After a few visits, I made a lovely group of friends. Then, one Sunday a couple of months after the documentary, Diane Pretty’s widower Brian walked in.
I recognised him from the documentary, and I’d known he was from Luton, but it was still a real coincidence. His story had encouraged me to get out more. Now, here he was!
I introduced myself, and Brian soon became part of our group.
We’d all go out together, and Brian was often our taxi driver. We just clicked. Brian had dedicated the last few years to caring for Diane and fighting for her right to die. After she’d gone, he’d found himself lost, lonely.
Then, one Saturday night, he phoned me.
‘I’m at a bit of a loose end,’ he admitted.d itt d ‘What‘Wh t dod people do on a Saturday night?’
I suggested the cinema, and was thrilled when he asked me to join him.
We went on a few dates and I knew we were developing feelings for each other.,
We were cautious at first. But Brian was open about Diane. She’d been very clear she wanted Brian to go on and live his life, fall in love again.
‘Diane was ill for so long, I did most my grieving before she died,’ he admitted sadly.
I admired how strong he was, how much he’d fought for her.
Eventually, we became a couple, met each other’s kids – all grown-ups by then.
They were happy for us. Especially when, a couple of years later, Brian proposed.
Brian carried on working for the national campaign group Dignity in Dying,
We were brought together by my hubby’s late wife By Carol Harris, 61, from Luton I admired how strong he was, how he’d fought for Diane
and became a patron in 2004.
But, just before our wedding, he sat me down.
‘I’m thinking of giving up the campaigning,’ he said.
It’d been such a huge part of his life with Diane, he worried it’d make me feel uncomfortable.
‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s part of who you are. Carrying on is what Diane would have wanted.’ ‘Thank you,’ Brian smiled. We married in July 2005. It was a lovely family occasion. My son gave me away and Brian’s daughter was his ‘best person’.
Diane is still very important to Brian. His eyes still light up when he talks about her.
We have photos of her around the house, and a box of letters to Brian from well-wishers before and after her death. I’ve read them many times.
Brian will never give up the campaign Diane started, lobbying MPS and spreading awareness. It made him the man I fell in love with.
And, through Brian, Diane’s legacy lives on.
Diane and Brian in 2002 After losing the House of Lords appeal
Our lovely wedding Going strong He and I will fight on together in Diane’s memory
Devoted Brian stood by Diane to the end