In April, 2013, I was starting up a new business in France and enjoying life with my partner of 13 years, Adrian Wrigley. In May, I had a fall and everything went pear-shaped after that.
Lumps were discovered in my neck. After a course of antibiotics and numerous blood tests (maybe it was just cat scratch disease), I was rushed to hospital and had 21 enlarged lymph nodes removed from the right side of my neck. A few weeks later, a port-a-cath was put in to my chest in anticipation of immediate chemotherapy.
However, I had been putting off a second hip revision (I had my first total hip replacement when I was 21). I'd been walking on my second metal and plastic hip for 23 years, and I was pushing my luck. The bone surrounding the implant was a maze of fractures. My orthopaedic surgeon showed me how the bone was like a geode, hollow in the middle. It had been very painful for a number of years, but I kept putting it off due to my fear of the agonising pain I'd experienced with the previous two hip replacements.
My haematologist in Bayonne told me to get the hip surgery as soon as possible, as I would likely be needing chemo soon, so Adrian drove me to the Clinique St Etienne, and we scheduled a date for mid-August.
All this time, Adrian was becoming more and more concerned about my health. He became more distant and obsessed with finding a cure for the lymphoma, which I now know to be SLL, Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma. He started looking more and more hagard and grey, so I suggested he take a break and visit his mom in Cambridge some time in July. After a week, he told me he was flying out the next morning.
There were a lot of things he told me that weren't true, it turns out. He did an excellent job of covering up his intention to commit suicide.
On the morning of July 7th, I called Adrian, but he wasn't in his mom's house. His bicycle was missing from the garage. I knew. Everyone tried to assure me that he had just gone for a bicycle ride to "clear his head", but I knew. I stayed in France with our two dogs and four cats. I had difficulty walking, so I chose to stay on and wait it out.
A friend, Neale Upstone, set up the website "Find Adrian Wrigley"to get the word out about Adrian's disappearance. I'm keeping it going until we bury his ashes on his birthday 16 April, 2014:
Adrian's badly decomposed remains were eventually found at the end of the very hot month of July in woodland around the corner from his mom's house...where I am now living.
He had hanged himself, most likely in the early morning of July 7th. Why the police hadn't searched the woods so close to the house, I will never know. I had his remains cremated as soon as possible and dug my heels in for a rough ride.
I went ahead with the hip replacement surgery 2 weeks later, spent 6 weeks in physiotherapy learning to walk again, and moved back to the UK with our car and caravan, as well as all the animals, at the beginning of October...all thanks to the help of friends and family. I don't know what I would have done without them.
The hip is still healing. I'm doing my best to cope with the depression and nightly dreams of the woodland horror at the end of the road, and now I have the chemo-immunotherapy to cope with.
I have always worked and managed to support myself. For the first time in my life since leaving home as a teenager, I gave up work, and depended on another person for my financial support. I trusted Adrian. But something wasn't right with him, and he couldn't tell me.
Now I feel ill from the lymphoma, cannot work, I am in debt, and I am not eligible for regular benefits because I haven't been living in the UK for "two of the last three years", according to the new government policy. It doesn't matter that I was a lecturer and paid taxes in the UK for 8 years before following Adrian to France where he intended to write the book on fiscal reform that never got written. Or that I am a British citizen (as well as a Canadian).
In November, Adrian's ginger cat, Diego, was killed by a car on the same road where Adrian died. I am living in the room that Adrian and I used in his mom's house whenever we visited. Now that the leaves on the hedge are gone, the view from the window looks towards the trees where Adrian ended his life.
Any money donated will go towards supporting me and my 2 dogs and 3 cats. The lymphoma I have is incurable, and I have no idea what the long-term prognosis is. At some point, I want to be able to move in to my own place. This will be a challenge, though, with the animals.
I call it "stupid cancer", and I feel that I can kick its butt. Cancer took my mom's life when I was 12 and she was 42, and I have no intention of going through what she experienced. I just need the strength and some support to do it.
If you do decide to make a donation, it will go to my PayPal account in the name of Jean Evans. If you cannot make a donation, it would be great if you could take a few minutes to share this site with your online contacts.
Lorna Jean Evans
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