Putting your life back together after the death of a spouse can seem like an impossible task, especially when the death is sudden and unexpected. Ryan Tubridy’s guest this morning was forced to start again three years ago, when his wife, Peggy, passed away.

In 2014, Colin Murphy was 45 and living in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife and young son. He had emigrated from Cork in 2002, after answering an advert in the Irish Independent looking for bartenders for an Irish Pub in Baltimore.

He met and fell in love with Peggy while working in the James Joyce Pub, and proposed while on holiday in California. They married in 2005 and welcomed a son, Padraig, in 2007.

Colin described how his life was changed utterly at 8 am on January 18th, 2014, when his 7-year-old son woke him to say that his mother was “not talking to him”. Padraig had slept in his parents’ bed that night, and Colin had gone to sleep in his son’s bed, having worked late in the pub.

“He said, 'Daddy, Mammy’s not talking to me'. And my first reaction was, well what did you do? I told him to go in and say sorry for what you’ve done. He came back a minute later and said 'no Daddy you don’t understand, Mammy’s lips are purple and she’s not moving'.”

When the emergency services arrived, Colin said it was “like a scene from a movie”. Police asked him questions while the paramedics and fire crew worked on Peggy upstairs. They came down a few minutes later to tell him that his wife had passed away. She had suffered an arrhythmia of the heart.

“I still thought they’d save her and it would be ok. I was thinking of Padraig downstairs and thinking, what am I going to tell him? How am I going to tell him that his lovely mammy is gone?”

Colin told Padraig that his mother was sick and had gone to the hospital. It wasn’t until the following day that he told him that she had passed away. “I didn’t really cry and he didn’t really cry at that point,” he said.

Colin moved back to Ireland with his son, where he has the support of his family. Colin works part time in the Blue Haven Hotel in Kinsale and tries to spend as much time as he can with Padraig.

Transitioning to life without Peggy has not been easy. He misses holding hands and the intimacy of the relationship with his wife. Still, he and Padraig keep her memory alive. He’s now living in Kinsale, a town that was special to his late wife.

“Peggy and I had travelled there many times and she had travelled there with her college in 1992. There was a great picture of her sitting on the old walls of Kinsale and I’ve taken pictures of Padraig on the same walls in the same place.”

When his son is older, Colin says, he’ll explain how special that photograph is.

To listen to the full interview, click here.

Written by Rhona Tarrant