Monday, August 17, 2009

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.


  1. Boo,

    Glad you've got support to deal with this stressful situation. I'm sure Cliff was winking at you across the crowd. I'm sure I've felt Austin doing the same, like he did so often in life.

    Have a good week with peaceful moments (and keep the samurai sword put away:) ).


  2. I will ... I promise. This will be a stressfree week - have battened down the hatches for the work week now cxxxxxx

  3. Just sending (((HUGS))). Friends are wonderful!!! And they turn up just when you need them the most.

    So sorry about your falling out but that person doesn't sound like someone you need to be around right now.

    And yes, give that sword away for now! :D

  4. L - yes, I feel so much better having spent time with those two, that I am making sure that I build time into my weekends to pop in and see them, at least every two weeks ... I need them to keep my confidence and security feelings up. Plus they are great company and good fun :-)