Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vikings and Weddings

Thankfully I can avoid the sound of the waves lapping on the shore ... there is a beautiful view down the hill of the sea but I can't actually hear it.

There are 12 of us hiring 3 Summer Houses in the same area, so it's all worked out well ... plenty of company if you want it ... and enough peace and quiet if you want to chill out and read a book, and I manage to fit two books into the week as well as enjoying peopleTM

It's lovely to be round everyone and I am coping pretty well ... of course I miss Cliff immensely, but I can have a little cry in the shower every day and that seems to get me through. I'm also faithfully taking a Berocca a day because my immune system is still low ...

Jenny tells me that I was crying in my sleep, but thankfully I don't remember a nightmare. I tell her that Fred (my deaf dog) was crying pitifully and whimpering in his sleep a few days previously, so much so that I woke him up. I suspect that he was dreaming of the bastards who used to beat him.

The highlights of the week are:

(I'm on the far left)

The Wedding (obviously) ... it was a lovely day in more ways than one. The weather was glorious, the bride was beautiful, and everyone had a good time. When they exchanged their vows, I had to swallow the most enormous lump in my throat because you can't help but remember your own wedding day, your own vows, looking into each other's eyes, broken dreams and a stolen future. Jenny and Esther both check that I am OK and I get myself back on track. We've travelled a long way (1000k) to watch them tie the knot and I'm damned if I am going to ruin it by completely losing it. That afternoon I have to literally run out of a bar though, because Robbie Williams' Angels is playing, and again in the evening, during dinner, I have to go to the toilet quickly because I can feel the tears welling up and am scared that the dam is going to burst ... I lean against the cool wall and focus on breathing, holding myself, stroking my own hair, let out a few tears, and march back like a warrior.

I'd just like to point out that I am laughing hard in this photo which has caused the double-chin to appear ... it is NOT a permanent fixture ;-) This was taken when we went to Ribe (the oldest town in Denmark, where they have a marvellous Viking museum).

Going to choose Es' wedding flowers with her.

Having some quality time with Cliff's family.

Copenhagen - Jenny and I went to see The little Mermaid which was some walk from Tivoli Gardens which we also visited, as well as the shops, naturally. I had a little stomp around Chanel and Louis Vuitton because I can no longer afford anything there, so settled for a moody version of a Chanel purse and Vuitton handbag, getting a good deal by sitting on the cobblestones and haggling. I was pleased with the result, but even more pleased that I was able to act the way that I did when Cliff was there with me. I am, however, less pleased with myself, when in spite of the parking sensors on my car, I manage to reverse into a wall in the car park in Copenhagen. Luckily the paint (from the wall) completely washes off, so no harm done.

My other purchases are Viking fridge magnets (including a fun one that you can dress up) because they remind me of Cliff and are also a good keepsake from the trip ... I had wanted to give Cliff a Viking Funeral ...

All in all this was a really good week - my only really wobbly moments are when I hear fireworks whilst reading in bed and I lay there wishing for them to STOP because the noise upsets me. We both loved fireworks SO much, as did our Rottweiler, Hammer. Another bad moment is when I catch a glimpse of Jean and realize how similar her forehead and hair is to Cliff's.

When I say goodbye to Es I have to walk alone down to the car quickly and have a few tears. God, this is tough.

The journey back is easy and relatively fast.


WTF - there are no lights working downstairs. This compounds the fact that I don't know what the hell I am doing, and that he is gone ... so I start sobbing, find a couple of candles and cuddle my dogs for an hour, talking to Cliff. I am relieved to be back with his ashes and our stuff. I am relieved to be able to let it all out. There is also a message to say that my Auntie is probably dying and a beautiful letter from to thank me for the donations raised (instead of flowers) in memory of Cliff. I am exhausted and take the dogs to bed.

Tomorrow is another day. Tonight I need to sleep. I get into bed, smile and say "Night, Baba .. love you."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Driving on the wrong side of the road

We drove through 6 countries in 24 hours, starting the journey in Dover... which is a place of memories for me.
Firstly, I went to boarding school there for 5 years, and still miss those old friends. I think there is a special closeness to friends made at British public boarding schools. I am still in touch with many of them; Kendra, Kathy, Jaki, Andrew, Geoff and recently others via Facebook.

I was also a Hostess for Hoverspeed on one of these hovercraft for a year when I was 19 or 20 ... and shared a house with two other hostesses. Our garden backed onto the White Cliffs of Dover and we used to party hard. We found out after renting the house that it had previously been a brothel ...I expect that the men who used to knock on the front door thought that our uniform was part of the service.

It is also the departure port for many trips that Cliff and I made across the water to buy duty frees and have a fun day out.

Poignantly, I now remember Kendra playing this song to me in her car in New York when I was 30 ... because it had the line, "as I wander along the white cliffs of Dover" in it ... I remember suddenly wanting to cry when I heard it. It was to become Cliff's signature tune for years for different reasons. When I returned from New York, he and I became involved and Kendra and I had NO idea of the heartache that was in store for us ... the loss of her two year old angel Sascha, and losing Cliff.

When on board the ferry I buy a bottle of Absolut and cannot stay in the shop as we used to browse through it together. I am scared that I am going to start looking for him. I avoid walking past the fruit machines (one-armed bandits) because they will taunt me ... he's gone, he's gone.

I sit down and fight back the tears as I remember him telling me that if there is a problem on board the ship, to hold his hand and not let go. He was a true Piscean and an extremely strong swimmer.

When we leave the ship I feel butterflies (which feel like hippo's) in my stomach ... this is to be my first experience of driving abroad, and on the "wrong" side of the road. Surprisingly I find it remarkably easy under Jenny's tutelage. I find it hard to control my feelings when we stop to buy cheap cigarettes because they have different cocktail making ingredients on display and Cliff would have had a field day... I have a little cry in the toilet and talk to him. We drive through France, Belgium and Holland in a couple of hours and I feel nostalgic pangs as we pass Gent because I lived near there as a child in a village called Sint-Martens-Latem. As a teenager I used to walk to the end of my road and sit here to smoke.

We then cross the Dutch border and I have to turn my emotions off so that I can focus on driving ... seeing signs for Breda and Bergen op Zoom actually physically hurt me. They may as well be scorpions' tails ... the last time we drove this way, we were having fun en route to see Cliff's sister Jean.
After a break, we drive all night through Germany and Denmark. We are a convoy of 3 cars (2 Dutch, 1 British) and the weather is atrocious.
When we arrive in Denmark, Dad says to me, "a certain someone would be so proud of you," and a little while later he tells me that HE is proud of me too. This means the world to me and is extremely opportune because at that moment in time I am longing to share the experience with him.
The summer house is lovely. The first thing Jenny does is make ice cubes for my vodka and cokes while Dad and I empty the car.
I'd just like to thank Mel for being a true Spartan Warrior and inspiring me to make this trip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Little Mermaid

This is the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Hans Christian Andersen played a big part of my childhood, so I'd love to visit her while I'm in the country. PLUS IT WILL STOP JENNY AND I BLOWING TOO MUCH MONEY IN THE SHOPS if we take a break to see her.

A Danish colleague has warned me that the Danes may have loaned her to China though ... probably because they have sent some of their terracotta army over to Europe (which Cliff, Lizi, Adam and I went to see at the British Museum last year, finishing off the day by getting pleasantly mashed in a pub).

We'll see ...

I feel a bit like her right now ... sitting on a rock by the sea, and heartbroken. Read the story ... philosophically it has an uplifting ending that I can truly identify with right now.

Internet, I'll be back on the 27th May.

Might not be able to avoid the sea ...

... but I can wear my hat which looks like this (thanks again Kathy for giving it to me), so that should eliminate the sound of waves lapping on the shore.

Looks lovely and peaceful. A good soul-healing place. There is also a Viking village/burial ground nearby which I'd like to explore. I'll be sad not to visit it with Cliff, but my mind still craves education and he wouldn't want me to not go if I am only 5 km away.

I think I'll be bringing back gingerbread men or perhaps a gingerbread house for the girls at work as that is the local food speciality.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting ready for an adventure

On Friday, Jenny, Dad and I are driving from France, through Belgium to Holland to have lunch with Cliff's other sister Jean. Then we are following Jean and Ruud through Germany and onto Denmark where Cliff's niece Esther is getting married to Len.

I'm not saying that I'm getting excited, but half of my stuff is already in the car, ready to go.

I love to be with them all because it's ALMOST like my previous life then ... but not. It feels good to get excited about something though FOR THE FIRST TIME :-)

I know that Cliff will be watching me driving all the way. Thank you Cliffy for buying me the satnav. I wish that he was going to be there to supervize my first time driving abroad, but I've got his sister and she has TONS of patience with me.

Just need to be careful when turning into a road and on roundabouts. At least most of it is on autobahns/freeways. Jean and Rudi may find they are following US ;-)

My emotions are trampolining around as I expected ... excitement, sadness, fear, more excitement. This trip and wedding will be bittersweet for me and for all of us, but I am DETERMINED to enjoy people when I am with them. Now that I am at the four month stage, my grieving has turned into a private affair ... just me and him in the evenings, just as it always was. I will use the shower to cry in and WILL AVOID THE BEACH at all costs because I know that it is too soon ... too painful. Even hearing waves lap on a shore on TV sets me off. It is HIM. My beautiful Piscean husband.

I think I can do this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I can't get angry with him

I know that most widows get angry with their husbands for leaving them.

HOW CAN I? He didn't want to leave me. He tried to prepare me, in fact. I think that he subconsciously knew ...

Even as he was dying he worried about me. (See

You don't get any more selfless than that. That IS love. Which makes me unbelievably lucky and privileged, even though I feel like my soul and heart have been put through a mincing machine.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Identify your losses

Thank you to my friend Phyllis for passing this onto me:

One reason grief disrupts so many aspects of your life is because your loss is not one isolated loss. You will miss so many qualities and facets of the person you lost that each will become an opportunity to experience grief.The range of things you need to grieve for may surprise you. Identify your losses and be prepared to grieve for each one. Use the list below as a starting point.

• your companion
• your lover
• your encourager
• your "entertainer"
• your source of delight
• the one who shares your private jokes
• your breadwinner
• the one who knows you so well
• the shoulder on which you cry
• your cook
• the arms that embrace and comfort you
• your mechanic
• the one who always cheers you
• your best friend
• your pride and joy

I'd add:

my compass
my soulmate

I'd love to be able to lay my head on his chest right now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I cannot believe that all the love in my heart for him ... the power of it ... is not enough to magic him back.

It's unbelievable.

The amount of love that I have for him is phenomenal - it almost scares me.

Reminds me of an old dance tune:

If you were in my heart
I'd never forget you
If you were in my heart
I'd hide you, protect you ...

Friday, May 1, 2009

The next major hurdle

May the 4th is my 45th birthday.


After my father died Cliff held me for 5, maybe 6 hours, while I sobbed and sobbed, "I don't want this birthday". I cannot believe he is not going to be able to hold me through this one. I want him, I need him, I love him and I so do NOT want this birthday.

My big sister has the pleasure of my company on the day. Hopefully we can just get shitfaced and May the 5th will arrive quickly.

I keep thinking about the birthday I had two years ago, when he planted shrubs in the garden for me and I moaned because he didn't spend time with me.

And my 40th birthday that we spent cruising the Caribbean, disembarking on my birthday to visit the resort in Jamaica where we got married in 2001.
And he spoiled me with sapphires, rubies and diamonds.

God, I LOVED being spoiled by him.

Just being with him was the best thing though. Better than any diamond.

I'd like to dedicate this poem to Cliff on my birthday. Thanks to Kendra for sharing it with me. She's right - it speaks to me.


A name shattered to pieces
A name shattered in the void
A name that never replies
A name that I'll die calling

The one word left in the soul
To the last I couldn't pronounce
My Beloved
My Beloved

The red sun hovers over the hill
And the deer moan woefully
I'm calling your name
On a lonely hill

I call your name in great sorrow
I call your name in deep sorrow
My voice reaches towards the sky
But the sky is too far from the earth

Turn me into stone
I'll call your name till I die
My beloved
My beloved

by a Korean Poet, Sol-Wol Kim (1902-1934)