Saturday, August 29, 2009

The last Bank Holiday weekend of the year*

True to form, the monsoon rains came just as the bank holiday weekend was about to begin, swiftly joined by the mandatory 20 mph snail's pace on the M25.

I drove home with a heavy heart ... on bank holidays we used to socialize, have friends over ... Cliff would make the best cocktails in the world, and perhaps a barbecue, or I'd put some food together, so people could "graze" - nothing formal ever! We'd use the extra day to chill out together, having a lie-in and watch TV, or he'd insist I rest while he worked on the house, and we'd have a big roast dinner together.

So it was a nice surprise when John, Coxy, Paul and Lisa came round to spend the evening ... and John additionally helped me word the "Seller's Ad" for Cliff's van on EBay. Paul manage to get two minutes alone with me, apologizing again for upsetting me and letting me down. When his eyes filled with tears, I saw genuine remorse and regret. He has now realized the impact his actions had on me, my emotional and mental psyche ... as well as my confidence and trust in others, myself and this brave new world. And it hasn't escaped my notice that his wife is drinking heavily again ... she won't survive another round of blood and potassium replenishment if her liver and kidneys fail again. That said, I will not leave myself in this position again, nor will I carry on relying on him.

The package (with photos of Cliff's 40th birthday thirteen years ago) that Tina sent me duly arrived this morning. I have been looking at them, on and off all day. It was a lovely thing to do. To duplicate all her photos of us and post them down to me. More precious treasures to keep in the safe. JUST IN CASE ...

My beautiful friend Vicki is spending most of Sunday and Monday with me here, and I am really looking forward to having all that time with her. No work, no chores, no other guests. Just us. (Thank you Bobert for sharing her with me this long weekend.) The Neff Ovens and hob that Cliff installed just before Xmas will go into shock ... because they are actually going to get used tomorrow ... I'm cooking Italian because we both love it, and if we are too busy talking ... we can eat it whenever we like.

And because tonight is the only time that I shall be alone (not that I'm complaining), I've made the most of it and had a really good hard (and long) cry. Whilst writing this post, I was listening to Nina Simone, because it reflected my mood this evening, and I've included a couple of her songs here along with Rod Stewart singing, "Everything I own".
*which means it's almost been 8 months now ... the time seems to be flying even though it seems to be standing still. Perhaps because I am? Or because I am moving so slowly forwards? Understandable.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wise words from Winnie-the-Pooh

Today, whilst googling quotations to use in a presentation for work, I came across a website which listed Winnie-the-Pooh's quotations exclusively and was struck by how poignant and how meaningful, apt even, they are today.

I used to believe in forever . . . but forever was too good to be true.

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

It's so much more friendly with two.

"Pooh, promise me you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I am a hundred."Pooh thought for a little."How old shall I be then?""Ninety-nine."Pooh nodded. "I promise," he said.

Some people care too much, I think it's called love.

The more he looked inside the more Piglet wasn't there.

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you.

If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever.

Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would I'd never leave.

Not a Bear of No Brain at All after all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A new bag

The shoe man came back into work, and as I bought two pairs of shoes the last time he visited only a month ago ( I couldn't really justify buying any more.

Luckily he also sells handbags, so I treated myself to a really nice dark brown, soft Italian leather, MASSIVE bag. It'll come in handy for my trip to Savannah (on the plane).

I love handbags. I have bags inside bags (inside bags) so that I can store them all. Every time we went on a trip, even a day trip to France or Belgium, Cliff would tease me and say, "oh look, a handbag shop and you NEED one of those Boo." I'd make a noise like "oooooooooooh" and practically run into the shop, like the proverbial kid in a candy store.

As I was looking through the bags, I was inundated with such vivid memories of being with Cliff whilst buying other additions to my collection; in Jamaica, in Hong Kong, in London, in Chelmsford, in Ostend, and in each memory he was always the same ... patient, grinning at my childish excitement and pleasure, trying to steer me towards the better-made or sometimes cheaper options on offer.

And instead of the sadness that came with buying the shoes, my heart was smiling when I bought the bag.

Smiling at the memories.
Smiling at him.
Smiling at how proud I still am to be his wife.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Pearl Fishers

Today I am missing my Dad as well as Cliff. I mean really missing my Dad in a way that I haven't for years. I think they shared a lot of traits and strengths, and were both "real men". They both worked damn hard to make sure that I had things and experiences and opportunities that I might not have had otherwise. They would have both died for me. My Dad always told me that, "men are a dying breed" and that he could finally die in peace because I had finally found a man.

It doesn't seem right that I was privileged to have had this father and this husband - worlds apart from others - to have them snatched cruelly away. It sure as hell doesn't feel fair to Cliff that he died at 52 - if there ever was a man who knew how to live, and lived, really lived ... it was him.

Then I remind myself, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Given the choice, it's a no-brainer ... I would absolutely, in a heartbeat ... rather that I had this father and this husband above any other ... even if it meant that I had to lose them. Hell, yes.

If my sister Honey is reading this, don't click on the YouTube links unless you want to have a good cry ... this is the soundtrack of our childhood, although I have not included "I want to be like you" from The Jungle Book, and "Shall we Dance" from the King and I etc. - but we listened to those ones with Mom :-)

Below is a selection of music that my father loved with a passion. He had the most amazing tenor voice, and I remember him performing/singing all of the tenor parts below. The soprano additions are pieces that he loved to listen to. I learned to sing at boarding school ... he paid for the professional lessons ... yet never got to hear me sing ... that's my regret about my Daddy.

My favourite is the Pearl Fishers ... and we need to get the old reel-to-reel tape recording that we have of him singing it with a friend in Bahrain, re-recorded onto a CD. Most of all because, even though they are singing it beautifully, they are in fact shit-faced ... and you hear one of them fall off their bar stool, swear, get back on, and carry on .... just like true professionals :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another parallel to Lynette's** world today

Just watched the X-Factor auditions and the best one was this entry without a doubt:

He's is in a league of his own, in my opinion. Very impressive first audition ... he literally owned the stage.

I really really enjoyed watching and listening to this, however it was bitter-sweet. Bitter because Cliff and I loved this song, it's an old Joe Cocker number, and we used to belt it out, and push the speakers to their limit :-) Sweet because I smiled and even sang along.

I didn't cry, but my soul was calling to him.

Perhaps Simon Cowell* stunned me into not crying because I've never heard him be so complimentary AND he gave him a standing ovation ;-)

* Simon Cowell went to the same boarding school as we did, but I'd just like to point out that he left just before I joined, because he's much older :-)
** Lynette, a "sister-in-arms" of mine, also managed to watch a TV show today that poignantly highlighted her loss - and didn't cry either

An old photo or two

An old friend of Cliff's (Saeid), of ours actually, left me a message on Facebook to say hello ... and whilst replying, happened across a photo of Cliff that he had uploaded.

This is the photo. I had to smile, it was such a typical and familiar reaction of his, to show this degree of facial leakage. Clearly the person in the middle is not a close friend of his and therefore he is letting it be known that the familiarity he is displaying is not earned ... "Get your hand off me"! Yet the person in the middle is totally oblivious to that fact. LOL :-)

This made my day. A smile instead of sobs, was the unexpected bonus.

Then I remembered that I had this poorly scanned photo of me on our honeymoon, so have added it too. God I was so happy ... we both were. I have aged a millenia, since this photo was taken just over eight years ago, and am not surprised.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seven good surprises in 24 hours

My goddaughter Georgia left me a box of chocolates at her mother's house (my friend Vicki) along with a thoughtful note which really touched me. She's 22 now and a stunner in an Audrey Hepburn way. Cliff used to say whenever in her company ... "she CANNOT be talking to ME. Can she?" ... she is as outspoken as she is beautiful, and funny too. After Cliff died, she sat with me quietly for half an hour, outwardly strong, and astounded me by being so adult and looking after ME. Her initial reaction upon being told that he'd gone was to run to her jewellery box and put on the Tiffany necklace that we bought for her on her 21st birthday seven months previously, and I don't think she removed it for 3 months. I remember how she would keep touching it ... her face dropping sometimes, but at other times smiling at his memory. Vicki reported that many of the doormen at the clubs and bars that Georgia frequents were asking after me and how I was coping, sending their love. I don't even want to contemplate what she says to them!

And after the chocolates, it got better. Whilst I was drinking my fourth cup of tea with Vicki, she asked if I had plans for the bank holiday. No I didn't. What about I come up and spend a couple of days with you? (my home rather than hers because my dogs haven't had their booster jabs yet and therefore can't be boarded which is precluding me from visiting my sister and other stuff, so I MUST pull my finger out and sort it). Yes, PLEASE. In a heartbeat. I love her ... we have remained the most loyal of friends over the past 27 years. I'm looking forward to spending quality time with her, and the reflexology treatment that she's promised me.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was going for a session with my bereavement counsellor. She told me that she thought I was balancing "things" well, i.e. sobbing each evening, yet managing to keep my shit together at work during the day. Eating a balanced meal at work vs. cereal at home and finally managing to get enough sleep at night to survive on. She asked if I was still haunted by feelings of guilt and I admitted that occasionally that particular demon would raise its ugly head and attack me, but that on the whole, it had been banished, to be replaced by the softer version of "regret(s)" and we both agreed that there is not one human being on this planet that, who after suffering a loss, doesn't experience regret. Regret that there is no more time to do things that we wanted to do WITH or FOR that person. She asked how I overcame the extensive guilt that I excelled at torturing myself with for months and I explained that when I realized that it was consuming me to a point that it could have destroyed me ... I visualized two plain wooden boxes. One box was labelled Justifiable Guilt and the other, Un-justifiable Guilt. That over the course of those first six months, I had eventually consigned all the guilt to the latter. She scribbled away furiously and announced that she liked that because it was simple yet effective, and asked if she could share it with her other clients. I mentioned that the psychiatrist that saw me diagnosed me as being clinically depressed, then went on to argue my viewpoint which is this. My definition of depression is being sad without a reason. I am sad, beyond sad really, but for a reason. She agreed. I didn't mention that a couple of Cliff's friends took the anti-depressants that I was prescribed off me when they found out that I had experienced suicidal thoughts whilst taking them, and that I was dreading talking to the shrink about it at my next appointment in September. She smiled when I confided that each time I had to think over something or make a decision or even a simple choice, I initially acknowledged my gut reaction, then sat quietly to speak to Cliff, and that his advice would come from WITHIN me, as though his rationale had, through some kind of osmosis, taken residence there, and that so far, I hadn't made any major mistakes other than trusting the wrong people or expecting too much from people who had questionable standards or morals. Additionally that I was still applying invisible labels above people's heads (such as "can tell anything", "dog-sitter", "can phone at 02h00", "financial advice", "will deal with any shit for you" etc) and that I sanity-checked with the person whose skills or qualities matched the dilemma. I explained how writing this blog and participating on the Grief Healing Discussion Board helped me. I admitted that I still want to be with him, that I really do not want to be here ... but that I had no other option because my childish fear of committing suicide, only to find that I was sent to a different place to where he is FOR ETERNITY was an even worse scenario to the one that I find myself in. Summarizing our session she reminded me that feelings are magnified when we grieve (perhaps that's why I almost went through someones door with a samurai sword then) and that she thought I was doing well, due to my ability to apply some degree of rationale and logical thought/analysis to my grief. Her one concern was that I cry in private, exclusively. I think this is normal ... to cry publicly at first, eventually learning to mourn when you are alone. Not so. Apparently it is important to cry with someone sometimes - she didn't explain why but I'm guessing it's so that you don't bottle things up, panicking till you can be in a safe place where you can let go, for evermore. I'll ask her why next time we meet in 3 weeks. Her parting gift to me was a coping mechanism which I like the idea of ... she said that when things are bad ... lower than low, when you can't see beyond the pain ... when emotions are too black for too long, and when I felt lost, and completely alone or scared ... to stand at the top of the stairs and breath deeply, exhaling each time I walked down a step ... counting to ten. When arriving at the bottom of the stairs, to visualize walking along a beach until coming upon a treasure chest and key. Inside the chest are things that you want or need ... such as strength, patience, compassion, kindness etc ... and you are allowed to take whatever you need from it. But before shutting the chest you can also "park" something in there - such as an overwhelming feeling of guilt about something, a grudge you may bear someone that is making you angry and overloading your emotional grid ... then as you walk away, you get to toss the key in the ocean. But each time you return, the key is always conveniently back next to the chest, and there may be different qualities in there - basically what you need is there as if by magic ... and the thing you left there previously will have mysteriously disappeared. There is a caveat - you cannot park feelings that are synonymous with grief, such as sadness, tearfulness, anger in general, or grief per se ... but you can park individual issues (e.g. my recurring self-flagellation about not successfully quitting smoking, so that he would have, thereby avoiding his stroke). I reckon the treasure chest is going to be a familiar haunt of mine from now on ...
Another friend, Tina, sent me a message via Facebook to say that she has copied all her old photos of Cliff and I, and these arrived yesterday by recorded delivery. I have yet to collect them from the local post depot, but I am so looking forward to looking through them. Another lovely, thoughtful gesture that means the world to me.

The person who upset me recently by abusing my trust ... which really fucked with my head actually gave me a full unreserved apology.

The cremation jewellery arrived from and I'd forgotten that I'd ordered the heart-shaped locket (see previous post . I waited to look at it till my friend and colleague, who is also a jewellery designer arrived. She was impressed with the workmanship after casting a professional and critical eye over it. I love it. Very less is more. Not at all obvious that it has a secret purpose. I'll follow the very clear instructions that arrived with it when I feel ready. NOT YET. I sent them some glowing feedback to include in their testimonial page on their website because their customer service was excellent, not to mention the empathy that they showed me.

And the final gift during these 24 hours? I awoke at 07h00 this morning, remembered that it was a Saturday and snuggled back for more zzzzzzzzzzzzz ... to be rewarded by the most vivid dream .... I was with him and it was sooooooo good to hear his voice, touch him and be held, amongst other stuff ;-) I haven't dreamed about him for quite a while and kept wishing that I would. Best of all, when I awoke, I could still remember all of it and wasn't too upset. Even when asleep I seem to be aware that it isn't quite real, that he has really gone. And this was reflected in the fact that a couple of things that he said didn't quite ring true, i.e. I knew he wouldn't normally speak that way, and it registered with me during the actual dream, yet I chose to ignore it and simply enjoy being with him, looking at him. Those clear blue expressive eyes and that smarmy grin. Him.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rabbit in headlights

I don't know which way to run today, but I do know

I want to escape from work

Because I need to have a good hard cry

So I feel panicky

Because I'm keeping it in

And I don't know how long I'll succeed.

Only got 45 minutes till I go to see my counsellor ...

... breathe, breathe, calm down. Be still ... and it will pass.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

She made me laugh

I confided to one of the PA's here at work that I still have Santa's up in my house because I can't bear to take them down (because Cliff put them up).

She looked horrified.

And said to me, "You can't do that. It's bad luck."

At which point, I replied, "Feckin' bad luck? Are you shitting me?"

And then we both fell about laughing at how ludicrous her statement was.

We laughed until tears fell down our faces.

And I don't feel bad for laughing.

And it felt good.

And he'd have laughed too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Boarding School Friends

I love my old friends from school so much. There is a special closeness, a bond that is unbreakable.

I received an email today from my room-mate throughout the VIth form, and have pasted an excerpt below. She emailed to see how I was and to tell me that they are moving from Malta to Cyprus.

Cliff and I hired a villa in Gozo for a week and spent a day in Malta with Jackie and her beautiful family. In fact, we all went to Mtarfa to see the hospital where Cliff was born, and it is this that she refers to below.

For me Malta is so much tied up with you and Cliff in an inexplicable way (I mean you were here just the one time but it's really strong) and I wish there was something I could do to say goodbye to that before I leave. Maybe I can go and light a candle in the Church of Mtarfa or something. Any ideas? Strange thinking on my part? Or maybe you understand what I mean.

I had to take a big gulp at my desk, as have already shed some tears here earlier today, and crying isn't really condusive to driving on the M25, where I am imminently heading ... but I love her for the sentiment. It's such a touching, tender thing to do for him and for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A can of tomatoes

It's the little things.

It's always the little things that set you off.

Having spent Sunday morning with Shaun and Gary, I found myself on a more even keel ... felt stronger again. They had scared my imaginary monsters away.

Then I opened my cupboard door last night and started howling when I looked at the tin of tomatoes.

Because he had bought them.

Because he looked after me in such a fundamental way.

Because he loved me so much.

Because he cared so much.

Because he had so much patience with me.

Because he had held the tin of tomatoes and I could visualize his hands and the exact shade of skin colour of his hands.

Because he won't be buying tins of tomatoes anymore.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A random memory

Today I remembered Cliff picking me up from my commuter bus one evening and asking me if I had seen the sun setting.

I had not.

I could see him working out something in his mind.

And off we sped in his little white van, much faster than he ever normally drove.

Past Brands Hatch and up a high hill.

To be rewarded with a quick glimpse of the most spectacular sunset, just before it disappeared.

"Who else do you know who would take you to the highest hill they can find, and drive like a lunatic, so that you wouldn't miss this sunset?" he asked me.

Who else indeed.


Cliff's legacy

I really did hit my lowest point in relation to feeling wobbly, insecure, vulnerable, childlike, lost, unsafe, and so totally alone on Friday evening and late into the night.

I cried and grieved for Cliff, physically missing the way he made me safe, the way he knew how to deal with the unknown, the way he dealt with people and their nastiness.

I cried like I never have before, and it felt as though my entire body, the essence of me, on a primeval level was mourning him, along with my soul, the emptiness of my arms, my heart, my mind, ALL OF ME and parts of me I never knew existed all came into play at once.

I cried because I had to admit to myself that someone was not really a friend, or at least, not the sort of friend that I wanted or needed ... I cried because I knew I would have to tell our friends when they visited on Sunday, and I cried because I knew that that they would go BALLISTIC and just didn't want the additional unpleasantness that it would cause.

It was as if every cell in my body was screaming for him, willing me to magically time-travel back to when I had my two boys - Cliff and Hammer (our Rottweiler) ... when I was unknowing, when I knew nothing about fear, when I could live in lala-land, and did. And it made me love him even more, I swear it - I could feel my heart swell with the emotion.

Then, even more frightening, in retrospect ... I felt the fear drain away rapidly, to be replaced with an insane bravado, where I felt as though Cliff's power, mindset and self-preservation had taken residence in my own body ... and was contemplating grabbing his samurai sword and marching round to confront the person who had upset me, betrayed me, then reacted as though he was "put out" that I dared confront him/criticize him for his wrong-doing. WTF was I thinking? Sweet Jesus.

I was just putting on my Levi's and ... saved by the bell literally, the doorbell rang ... and there they were. Shaun and Gary. Two hours early. It was so good to spend the morning with them chatting. It was easy, as it always was. We laughed, we talked seriously, we gossiped, and we talked about Cliff a lot :-)

Neither of them mentioned the Santa's that still adorn our home and I know they saw the big one. You can't miss it ... no way Jose, not in a million years :-)

After a couple of hours I had to tell them (an abridged and toned down version) of my "falling out" with person mentioned before because they have met this person and might have bumped into him as he lives on my street, plus I am not too big to admit that I am not big enough to deal with this in reality (and if I am, I'm not capable these days, I'm far too emotional)... and then focused on remaining outwardly calm, relaxed and cool about it whilst watching Shaun's body language go through various stages (no eye contact, rubbing head, false wide smile, voice raised and purposefully slow, pacing, back to rubbing head a lot). This is how he reacts physically to any form of aggression, threat, or if he is pissed off or upset. Happily, he bounced back from the kitchen, announcing that "there is more than one way to skin a cat" and decided on a civilized and mutually beneficial way to resolve it. He can work off his debt, labouring for them when they finish the roof, bay window, and clear all the rubble and rubbish from the garden and driveway. Excellent. As far as I am concerned, it's dealt with, because it will be. I know these men from
old ... they'll be polite but he will know that they are not asking ... not really.

Which also means that I will have to reveal the rest of the sorry story when I see them next, that there is actually more money owed, and the matter of his not returning 3 of Cliff's tools, as requested, as well as his wheelbarrow. Marvellous. The end result of which will be a gentle lecture about not trusting people willy-nilly etc etc. And me getting tongue-tied and extremely red-faced and admitting that they have a point and probably crying. All futile because we all know and accept ... we did years ago ... that it is part of my genetic make-up. All very frustrating because they know that they will have to mop up the aftermath of my misplaced trust on more than one occasion in the future.

But I know beyond any shadow of doubt that they will. Cliff's legacy. It felt as though I had a little taste of him again today, of how life was before ... and it expelled all the fears, insecurities, doubts, paranoia, and helplessness ... and thankfully any irrational, not to mention insane, plans to wield a samurai sword disappeared alongside the negative emotions.

Mental note - remember to give Shaun the damn sword next week.

Gary kept going quiet and I could see he was struggling with his emotions, you could hear it in his voice and his eyes were so so sad. I couldn't bear to watch his pain, because I knew I'd lose it big-time. It occurred to me at one point that it had finally become real to Gary, because it's been 7 months just over, and because we left the old home-town, his absence wouldn't be immediately apparent. Visiting our home, to be greeted by me and two dogs, however, must have been a sharp slap of reality. When we went into the bar-room at the back of the house, Shaun said to me, "Is that his jacket?" "Yes," I replied. And he smiled at it, as if he was smiling right at Cliff. And Gary immediately stretched his hand out, and gently touched it, as if saying hello. I liked that. A bit of tenderness after all the head rubbing was good for restoring the equilibrium.

Feeling stronger, I then drove down to the coast when they returned home, and visited an old girlfriend E, met her adorable little grand-daughter who is a delight ... a sweet-natured and beautiful toddler, and got to meet her son again, as an adult :-) I have to say that he is very nice eye candy these days. Eeeeeuwwww, that is SO wrong on so many levels. It was lovely to chill, chat, gossip and drink gallons of tea. She showed me a photo of Cliff and I that she has had pinned to her bedroom wall since Cliff died, and I couldn't stop my eyes wandering back to it. It shocked me so much - how much we had aged, and how much my beautiful Baba had aged over the past couple of years. Because I was with him every day it wasn't noticeable to me ... but it saddened me intensely, and I quickly became very aware of the presence of my worst demon rearing its ugly head, priming me for a good session of "WTF didn't I notice. WTF didn't I send him for a private health check. MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA". I started to retreat into myself, feeling the tears and guilt rising, and as if by magic, E reappeared back into the room, shoving a jar of homemade damson jar into my wringing hands :-) Then, saved by the bell yet again ... I had set the alarm on my cellphone to remind me to leave for a family barbecue ... I knew that time would fly when we started chatting!

And moved onto Dad's and Jenny's to pick them up along with Cliff's older sister Jean, who is over visiting from Holland for a couple of weeks, en route to John and Sharon's for a yummy barbecue, complemented by the comfortable and contented way that I can wrap myself up in his family. I felt a huge sense of relief at seeing Dad, especially after his being diagnosed with skin cancer only a few days ago. He has to be alright. I cannot contemplate any other option and will not. It was really lovely just to be with them all and I only struggled once ... when an old Frampton song came on the radio ... and I almost asked John to turn it off, but knew if I opened my mouth I'd sob, then the pain turned into a small smile, memories and I found myself singing the chorus with John, albeit quietly. But still. Oh I wish I could sing it to him again, sing it along with him, sitting on his lap, comfortably fitting under his chin and arm in that old familiar way.

After that I kept drifting off, and smiling at open space ... and in my mind's eye, I could see him clear as day, looking at me the way he did, the brilliant blue of his eyes, the smarmy grin he'd grace me with, and at one point, him, winking at me across everyone. Only you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Real friends

I am missing Cliff more now. I feel his absence even more acutely.

Someone has betrayed me - and this has caused my boat to be rocked even more onto an uneven keel.

There will be trouble ahead.

You can't help bad luck ... they've mistakenly assumed I would tolerate it.

I will not ... specifically because they show no true remorse.

Yesterday I was inconsolable.

Today I am cold and indifferent.

I have thrown them away like a pair of old shoes, and

feel strangely relieved.

They weren't good friends to start with. I just thought they were.

But it was always imbalanced.

We gave ... they took.

We are poles apart.

Worlds divide us.

And there's no going back now.

On the other hand, two real friends rang me today and asked if they could come up and see me for the afternoon/evening, and arrived within the hour.

Did my old friend sense there was something wrong?


They brought a calming effect on my psyche and I love them for it.

And tomorrow, two of Cliff's friends are coming up to spend the morning with me.

I should imagine someone else's boat will capsize,

and it won't be mine.


If it doesn't come round fast enough, I know enough people who will give it a helping hand.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another small step

Since Faye (one of my most valued sounding-boards who I sat next to) has gone on maternity leave and our regular driver Tony went on a four month jaunt around the world, I haven't felt like catching the commuter bus to work.

In fact I liked driving to work in my own car for a couple of reasons:

1. I can smoke more Marlboro Lites
2. If I started crying at work I had the means to go home early if need be

Well, Tony is back now and today I went on the bus for the first time in three months, which meant that I COULDN'T ESCAPE and guess what ... it was fine.

So, I've booked myself on for next week too :-)

Cliff would be pleased - he hated the thought of me driving on the M25.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trying to get into a different mindset

and it's going to be difficult.

Because Cliff's Dad has now been diagnosed with skin cancer


Because it just will be hard, everything is these days, but I so want to.

Here is a poem that pretty much sums up where I am striving to be, and I think perhaps it might just speak to a widow friend of mine (J).

You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all he’s left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or it can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he’s gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind
Be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he’d want
Smile, open your eyes, and go on

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mustard, thumbprints and sleeping tablets

Isn't it remarkable that we find pride in the smallest achievements now?

I have finally wiped off his mustard smeared thumbprint inside my fridge, along with throwing away his almost empty pot of mustard AND I FEEL SO PROUD OF MYSELF!!!!

And it only took me 7 months and 1 week.

One of our Senior Managers at work told me that he thought I was "coping admirably outwardly at least" and asked what my coping mechanisms were. I confided that, "I aim low. If I don't, I feel like I am failing and that sends me backwards fast". He laughed and agreed that it was a good strategy :-)

I haven't slept for the past three nights, and have had to concede that I need some sleeping tablets, just for a few days, to help me train my body and mind into the pattern of sleeping again. It's unbelieveable - I feel so exhausted all the time, yet when my head hits the pillow, my brain goes into overdrive, sleep does not come ... causing me to get more and more upset and stressed ... clock-watching ... until daylight comes ... then I can feel it coming to me. WTF? If Cliff were here he'd tell me that I'd slept enough over the years to get by without any for at least a month ;-) ... unfortunately sleep doesn't work like that, so bring on the drugs.

YAWN ......

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The last little treasure

Cliff was always bringing little treasures home. His finds. His spoils. He loved boot fairs and charity shops, always having the patience to trawl through stuff.

Over the years he brought home little treasures that he collected, or things for our home, or others, or little things he thought I might like. Items that immediately come to mind are:

a Chinese lacquered jewellery box (that I store my sewing stuff in)
oriental ornaments (still in our display cabinet)
an antique pharmacy glass display cabinet (which I love and we had planned to display mementoes from our travels within it)
a desk toy that displays different time zones, the temperature, time, date etc (on my desk at work)
books, especially regarding antiques and collectibles (of course)
period fittings for the house and projects that he was working on
an antique press (for printing)

really the list is endless.

I have a house full of his collections, his treasures, the things that gave him so much pleasure, including silverware, coins, and glass. As well as, due to his habit of hoarding things that might be useful one day - pieces of wood, glass, kitchen worktops. Our jacuzzi and wall hanging toilet and sink resided in the hallway for almost two years and now looks stunning in the bathroom that he built in the side extension - all his own work - in time for our wedding anniversary 5 years ago. I have a filing cabinet full of electrical plugs, bulbs, fuses, and stuff that I don't even understand. I have just been told that the roof tiles on our driveway are worth around £1000 and a good friend who is finishing our roof off is going to sell them at the best price for me, because he knows his stuff and I can trust him :-)

I remember him picking up stamps for his Dad, in fact, shortly after he died I found the most recent offering and duly passed them on for him.

When Vern and I cleared out his van, we found his last treasure ... a Lilliput Lane "Fisherman's Cottage". They are very collectible these days, and many many years ago I seem to remember being given a couple of these as a leaving present from the Canadian Insurance Company that I worked for, which I duly lost through moving and a long-dead relationship going awry. I much prefer this one. Thank you Baba.

I will miss these little surprises and the look on his face when my own turned to glee.

I will also always miss watching him saw a piece of wood, without measuring it or the space it was intended for, to be amazed time and time again, at his ability to cut the wood precisely each time. Me - I couldn't do it with a skill saw (if I knew how to work it), a ruler, a mitre and a vice! He really was talented at restoration work and creating/building. Things that last. Me - everything I do will fade, it's only paperwork. I love being surrounded by what he has built ... it makes me feel safe and close to him.

Didn't like that feeling

Yesterday I felt so angry.

Angry at the injustice of it all.

Angry at being sick and tired of always being sick and tired.

Angry at others who don't cherish their loved ones.

Angry at others who don't live life like he did, and therefore were in my opinion, I am ashamed to admit, less worthy of breathing air. Air which he could breath instead.

Angry with myself for not cherishing him as much as I could have.

Angry at anyone who hurt him.

Angry that I can't remember the sound of his voice.

Angry that I can't remember where our camcordings are so that I can listen to his voice.

Angry that even if I found the camcordings, I probably wouldn't be able to watch them because I'd get so damn upset.

Angry that the person on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" didn't know the answer to the question.

Angry that people say, "You know where I am" to me. Yes I do. You are lying next to your husband in bed, not knowing this fear and pain and loss. Angry that they say this because it makes them feel better not me.

Angry that someone had the audacity to moan about her husband to one of my widow friends. Angry that someone can be that fucking insensitive. Angry that she will probably conveniently forget what she has said instead of doing the decent thing and apologizing. Angry that it is my friend who is left smarting from these words, yet the other person is, yes ... lying next to her husband in bed, not knowing this fear and pain and loss.

Angry that I can predict people's behaviour and that they never let me down. Angry that this is a travesty in terms if I ever heard one. Angry that they think I don't know. Angry they think I'm not going to deal with it in my own way. Angry that they then harassed me if I didn't answer their calls because they needed their guilt or fear of being "caught" assuaged.

Angry at the text I received 6 months ago, and at the fact that the person who sent it thinks it's ok to re-write history and pretend that it didn't happen.

Angry that people have assumed that I am getting better, because I sure as hell don't feel like I am.

Angry that my neighbour disconnected Sky to my bedroom because he was moving the wires in my living room without being invited to do so.

Angry that my neighbour borrowed Cliff's wheelbarrow without asking and hasn't returned it.

Angry that people don't think of the consequences of their words, actions or lack of the same and the devastating long-lasting effect it has on me, on top of this god-awful unspeakable agony.

Angry that another neighbour rang my doorbell to enquire as to whether her husband had been in touch because she didn't know where he was. WTF would he tell me? Angry that she is so self-obsessed and selfish that she only asked how I was as an after-thought, after she bored me with her minor complaints which she has brought on through her own behaviour. Angry that she only ever visits if she wants something. Angry that she has never, not once come round with a dinner, a kind word, or an offer to run an errand or ask if I want something bringing back when she goes shopping.

Angry that I have to ask for help, when people, I felt, should intuitively know, by magic, exactly what would be helpful for them to do.

Angry that someone has, under the guise of "being concerned" dumped even more pressure on me. Where does she get off?

Angry at the world.

Angry at people who drive too slow.

Angry that all our dreams were smashed into smithereens.

Angry that he died.

Angry that someone keeps telling me she knows how I feel. How the fuck can she. She does not.

Angry that I was angry.

Angry that I am not comfortable with the feeling of anger.

Angry that people talk shit.

Angry that I hate the world.

Angry that I hate my life.

Angry that he hasn't come to get me.

Angry that I feel almost paranoid because I can't afford to be taken for a ride, financially or emotionally.

I could go on ...

Today I am exhausted but feel better for having vented, at times by screaming invariably irrational statements at the top of my voice whilst walking around the house cleaning and tidying.

But still, I don't like the emotion. I am not at home with it. It doesn't fit in my body with ease at all.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sunsets alone

It never ceases to stun me ... the fact that I can be in a room full of people and still feel alone. It is a feeling that is so primal. It's like you are standing there and you can literally feel your soul crying, but you aren't outwardly, at least ... but then you have to escape so that you can.

I left these words on another widow's blog but decided to publish them on my own because it's how I feel every time I socialize.

Before Cliff died, even if he wasn't physically with me, I might have wished he was there, but I never felt like this. Just knowing where he was was enough.

I need to know you're okay

and yesterday, having shared with another widow that sunsets always set me off, yesterday's actually gave me comfort. Enough comfort to turn my sobs into real laughter.

I was standing looking out of my window at the sun setting over the hills behind our home, sobbing, begging him to give me a sign that he was alright. In my mind I thought - like pushing the sun so fast behind that hill so I KNOW. Then told myself off for being so ludicrous. I went into another room to fetch some laundry and returned to the spot I'd been standing before, and right before my eyes, through the blurred tears, the sun literally sank so fast behind that hill, that it took my breath away. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it was such a spiritual moment and I felt overwhelmed with love and the beauty of it. Sobs turned into laughter.

He's alright, I'm sure of it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The real answer to "How are you?"

I feel like I'm waiting to die ...

or perhaps I'm learning to live ...

or ... I'm on the cusp of the two ...

I'm not sure anymore.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

7 months today

7 months ago today, my world ended.

It feels like yesterday.

It feels like a millenia ago.

I still feel raw, as though someone has peeled the skin off my feelings and left the nerves exposed.

I still do NOT want to be here.

But I am learning to fight.

Even if this totally sucks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All roads lead to him

It doesn't seem to matter what I'm doing, thinking, saying ...

all roads lead to him.

Watching "The Wire" last night, I couldn't quite grasp what was going on and found myself saying out loud, "I wish you were here baba, you'd know and you'd explain it to me."

Listening to new music, I still manage to apply it to him.

Earlier, I looked at a picture that was taken of me at work about a year ago ... and my first thought was, "that was my face before Cliff died".

The very instant I awoke this morning, I said out loud, "I miss you baba ... I can't wait to see you again."

Yesterday I had a meeting with my line manager and she asked how I was getting along. I looked her straight in the eye and said, "I still absolutely do not want to be here, but I'm not going to commit suicide, so I've got no option other than to carry on learning to live whilst feeling like this." I feel as though I can be blantantly truthful with her because she was widowed herself some time ago.

I receive an email from The Times asking me if I would like a financial makeover, and in a heartbeat, I respond silently in my own mind saying, "No, I'd like my husband back please".

I find myself wondering if he flits around following me, or if he stays at home even when I am not there, whether he visits the place where we got married, or if he has gone so far away now that he hardly thinks of me now.

Because I think of him all the time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shirts for sale

I work in a large office and we regularly have people come in to sell things, like shoes (as I mentioned earlier in my blog).

Today's offering was clothes.

Being female, of course, I wandered over to have a look, even though I don't tend to have the motivation to buy these days, at least I am starting to look again. I quite liked a hoodie, but the colour looked all washed out, so I moved on.

And found myself staring at the Fred Perry/Lacoste polo shirts.

Just staring for the longest time.

Mute, couldn't move my feet ... didn't know what I was doing there.

A friend walked over and said, "C'mon, let's go out for a smoke".

Thank god ... don't think the woman would have appreciated all the tears and snot all over her designer-wares.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Songs that can bring me to my knees ...

Driving home at 80mph, and feeling tired (due to only having 2 hours sleep last night ... why oh why is it that the grieving who are so damn tired, tired unlike at any other time in their lives, are denied the ability to sleep ... it's absurd), this song came on and it cut me to the core, it played on my heartstrings ... it took me back to a time and place when we were carefree, happy and ok, perhaps a little reckless, but damn we had fun and we loved each other so much it was beyond words. (strangely, this is listed as a "good funeral song" on this website, and when I re-read the lyrics, it struck me that this is yet another one of the tunes/songs from the soundtrack that was our life ... that has morphed itself into taking on a new meaning for today).

The tears flowed thick and fast, and I noticed a male driver who had been driving quite close to me, suddenly pulled back. He probably thought I was hormonal, or had an argument with my boyfriend. If he knew, if he could be inside my head, just for 30 seconds, it would have probably scared the shit out of him. In fact, he'd probably would have left the motorway at the very next opportunity.

I don't want to be inside my head. I want him back. I want my life back.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Time Traveller's Wife

This is one of the best books I have read. I sobbed when I read the ending, and that was before Cliff had died.

Today, I would give anything to be in this position and I can remember thinking, when I read it, that if Cliff had no option other than to be like this, I would still have loved him and stayed with him.
It's weird because today I feel as though I was with Cliff my entire life, and perhaps through other lifetimes. I still feel him near me sometimes. I think about what he would do and say before I act (most of the time). So, I strongly identify with this story. My counsellor tells me that it is because love is eternal.

They have made the book into a movie and I'll wait for it to come out on DVD otherwise I'll go hysterical at the cinema ... and save it for when I need to have a really good cry, not the everyday crying that I do, but a big cry.

Here's the trailer:

and here's the book:

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Happier today

I need to remember not to trust blindly.

I can't.

Because he is not here.

Weighing up the disappointments next to the goodness in my life gives me perspective.

I am lucky.

I have some very good people around me.

I have my family, his family, Vicki, Spike, Gaynor, Tina, Liz, Eve, other friends and friends/colleagues at work, his friends (and they are the most loyal people you'll ever come across), and beautiful friends from both the boarding schools that I went to, and they wrap me in love and solid advice from afar. Not to mention new friends who I have not met and may never meet, but I still class them as my friends - people whose blogs I follow, people who I talk to on the Grief Healing Boards.

Other people's actions and values are not my responsibility.

It is my responsibility however to be aware of their standards, and trust them accordingly.

I've been here before, and must remember the lesson. That's what he'd tell me.

The world isn't such an ugly and frightening place after all.

It's just that it seems that way sometimes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let down again

Why do people mistake kindness as a weakness?

Because it is not.

Do people actually think I am stupid?

Because I am not.

The fact that I am married to him should give them half a clue.

I choose to behave the way I do.

Scatty, girlie, giving.

There is another very cold side to me.

And they won't like it.

Problem is, neither will I.

WHY fuck with me when I am at the most vulnerable I have EVER been in my life.

Time to see Cliff's brothers-in-arms methinks ... I need reassurance, protection.

I need him, I want him, I miss him.