MARIE Hopwood describes it as a year of absolute hell, one that left her unable to remember what even her closest relatives look like.

The 48-year-old suddenly went blind and endured a nightmare 12 months of depression which, she says, made her want to die.

But Marie found the will to live again and says she owes it all to the love of her husband Paul.

Paul, 52, quit his job with Flintshire Council to become Marie’s carer at the home they share in Hill Court, Wrexham.

Now the couple are rebuilding their lives and planning for the future.

“It all started in April last year when I went to the Maelor Hospital for dialysis,” said Marie, who has suffered with kidney failure for more than 20 years.

“I was sat in a room when all of a sudden it went almost totally dark. All I could think was the sun must have gone in but a nurse told me it was still shining brightly.

“I burst into tears, I could hardly see anything. I only had about five per cent vision and within an hour I could see nothing at all.”

Deeply upset, Marie went with Paul to the home of her mother, Thelma McNee, in Stansty. But things were to get even worse.

“I was sitting down when suddenly I fell unconscious. I stopped breathing and Paul said my eyes rolled into the back of my head.”

An ambulance was called and paramedics treated Marie, but she refused to go to hospital. Arrangements were made for her to attend the Maelor the following morning.

“I tried to go to sleep during the night but the whole thing was so horrific it was almost impossible,” she recalled. “When I did eventually sleep I had terrible

The next day, after a series of tests, it was established that Marie had suffered a stroke. There had been blockages in arteries in her brain and behind the eyes. The news was a hammer blow.

“At first I was in shock,” said Marie. “But Paul took charge. He immediately left his job with the lighting department at Flintshire Council and became my carer.”

As the couple tried desperately to reorganise their lives Marie fell into clinical depression and there were times when she wanted to end her life.

“I kept saying that I wouldn’t go for dialysis, which meant I would certainly die within eight days. But each time Paul’s complete love persuaded me to carry on.

“The harder I tried to push him away the stronger he became.

“Paul and my mother have been unbelievably good throughout all this time. I would like to thank them so much.”

Marie said the biggest sadness for her is that the stroke has affected her memory in such a way that she cannot remember what Paul and her mother look like.

“There are some things which I can recall, but people’s faces are a complete blank and that does make me feel sad.”

But she says her depression is now much better and she wants anyone who is going through a similar experience to gain hope from her story.

“My life will never be the same – I am not going to regain my eyesight,” she said.

“But I have got my spirit back and that is so important.”