Guest blog: “Facing the ‘firsts’ without Simon”

4 min read

After losing her soulmate Simon to a brain tumour last November, Emily Penwright writes a poignant blog on how she is finding ways to get through the anniversaries and birthdays they once shared together…


Firsts are usually a reason to celebrate. First words, first steps, first job. But this week, as I face a stream of firsts, it will be one of the hardest times of my life.

The beginning of March was always a joyous time in our house, when laughter and the clinking of wine glasses were the soundtrack to our lives. The day I met Simon, 2nd March, Simon’s birthday on 6th March, and the day I married Simon, 7th March, were dates marked on the calendar in anticipation of happy, good times.

But now, as these dates arrive, Simon is gone.

How do you fill the void that your soulmate leaves behind?

Si swept into my life on an ordinary night in March 2017 in a local pub. But it was clear from the outset that there was nothing ordinary about this gorgeous man. We had an immense connection on every level. We’d both come out of relationships after more than 20 years and each had two daughters. We shared the same values, enjoyed the same things. It felt like I’d met the other half of me.


Ten days later, Si called to tell me he loved me, and I knew it was forever.

After a year, we moved in together before buying our beautiful home in Stewkley, Buckinghamshire in March 2019, where my daughters, Megan, now 18, and Maisie, 13, (pictured below with Simon and me) lived with us and Si’s daughters Sophie, now 25, and Becki, 22, came to stay.

Life was never dull. If Si wasn’t running around with one of the girls on his shoulders, he was riding round the village on Maisie’s little bike. And he was the reigning champion of Xbox Lips in our house, putting on a pink wig and singing his heart out to score the most points. It was no wonder my girls loved him. He made each day brighter just being in his presence.

Though I’d never been married before, becoming Si’s wife on 7th March 2020 was the easiest decision of my life. In the speeches, Si quoted one of his friends who’d said that when he looked at us, he saw the definition of love.

On our first wedding anniversary, we surprised one another with gifts. As we tore off the paper, we started laughing. We’d bought the exact same presents – the same wedding photo put onto canvas, in the same size. You couldn’t make it up.

Then, one morning in January 2023, Si woke up with a terrible headache, complaining he could smell and taste something foul. By the end of that day, a CT scan had showed a mass on his brain and a doctor had used the word "cancer".

But it was so much worse than we could ever have imagined. Si had a glioblastoma (GBM). How could a man with so much life in him be told he only has 12 to 18 months to live?

Si was incredible. He underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. He lost his peripheral vision, which meant he could no longer drive and had to sell his beloved cars.

But despite knowing the outcome, he maintained such a positive mindset. “Get up, get dressed and get out,” was his motto. And he did that every day for the next nine months.

Last October, Si was thrilled to be best man for his school friend Malcolm (pictured below), making a speech that had everyone in stitches. Afterwards, we enjoyed a trip to Cornwall to a clifftop hotel that we’d seen once and always said we’d visit.

But two weeks later, he started being violently sick. His tumour had grown and he was deteriorating quickly. Si was moved from hospital to Willen Hospice. Bit by bit, he was slipping away.

Si died on 27th November with all his family by his side, at 2:20pm – the exact same time he was born.

There are no words to describe the excruciating pain of losing my husband. Each day I had to follow his motto to keep getting up and dealing with the day ahead, filling my time with my girls, friends, and family.

Raising awareness and funds for Brain Tumour Research was also a lifeline to staying busy. I’m determined to continue the hard work Si and I started, supported by so many of our loved ones, which has raised more than £42,000 to date.

But there are some days when staying busy isn’t enough to fill the void. This week, we ought to be celebrating Simon’s 53rd birthday and seven years since we met. I’d give anything to just cuddle up to Si on the sofa, with a glass of wine by the fire. Instead, I’ll be with the girls and Si’s parents, thinking about the wonderful man we loved and lost, and visiting his grave.

But I know Si wouldn’t want me to shut fun out of my life. So, on the date of our fourth wedding anniversary, I’m going to a comedy show with a friend, to try to swap my tears for laughter. I know it’s going to be painful and I’ll want to just hide away from the world. But Si brought so much positivity to my life and I want to keep the essence of him alive, on these difficult days and always.


To donate to Brain Tumour Research via Emily’s fundraising page, please visit:

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