When Christina Schmid’s husband, Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, was killed on October 31st, 2009, the day before he was due to return home from Afghanistan, her world fell apart.
The 30-year-old bomb disposal expert had defused 64 roadside bombs in five and a half months, but died defusing the 65th.
In order to come to terms with her tragic loss, give their eight-year-old son Laird a record of their past, and honour her husband’s memory, Christina has penned a poignant memoir, Always By My Side, about her life with, and love for, the man everyone affectionately called ‘Oz’.
In an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine, she talks movingly about her brave, humble soul mate, and how she endeavors to fulfill the promises she made to him before he died.
One of the discussions she recalls concerns how he felt about her meeting someone else if he was killed in action.
Now, Christina, 36, has indeed found love again, but feels sure that her husband would approve.
She tells HELLO!: “Oz said, ‘If you meet someone who will look after you, then that’s lovely.’ So I feel I have his blessing.”
However, Christina wasn’t looking for love when she met handsome Mark Clarke last year – she was queuing for coffee in her local Starbucks.
The couple became friends, but as their friendship grew stronger, Mark, 30, who is also coincidentally a serving member of the armed forces, fell for Christina.
As time passed, this feeling became mutual, but Christina’s love for Oz remains steadfast.
“Meeting Mark has not in any way diminished the strength of my love for my husband,” she tells HELLO!
“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. But I have been lucky enough to meet this lovely man who cares deeply for me and wants to be with me – and I adore him.”
Christina has her young son’s approval, too. Although Laird idolised his step-father, Oz, whom he called his ‘daddy’, he constantly asks if his mother and Mark will get married.
“He wants brothers and sisters,” says Christina. “Children don’t understand; it’s more complex than that. But I live very much in the present these days. Oz’s death taught me that.”
Despite Christina’s newfound love, Oz is still part of all their lives, including Mark’s.
“Laird and I talk about him all the time,’ says Christina. “A song will come on the radio and he’ll say, ‘Daddy liked this one.’”
Now Mark and Christina are hoping to formalise their love with a blessing.
Christina tells HELLO!: “I didn’t know if I would ever be able to love again after I lost Oz, but Mark has taught me that I can; that I have a lot of love still left to give and a lot of life left to live.”
SEE THE FULL EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE IN HELLO! MAGAZINE, ISSUE 1221, OUT NOW.