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 http://www.memorialjewellery.com.au/ and I'd forgotten that I'd ordered the heart-shaped locket (see previous post http://boomayhew.blogspot.com/2009/07/not-sure-about-this.html) . 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.