Friday, September 25, 2009

I felt happy ... yes really. HAPPY. For the first time in nine months.

It was around this time last week that I realized there was no way that I was going to make it to our school reunion dinner in London.

Because I could not face getting off the train at the end of the evening, to find that Cliff would not be sitting there, waiting to take me home.


Feelings washed over me, overwhelmed me ... I wanted to go so badly, to see those people who meant so much to me and still do, people who I still miss. I felt pathetic, guilty and sad that I could not face my demons and fears. I felt as though I was letting my old friends down by not going, when some of them had managed to fly over from Australia, the US and Canada. I felt the aloneness that you can only feel, having lost your soulmate. I felt the loss so deeply I could barely breath, working myself into such a state, that it was 05h00 before sleep came to me.

I woke up at 18h00 on the Saturday, feeling wobbly yet determined to make the reunion dinner in Dover. It took a while to do chores, get ready and get in my car, but I made it.

As I walked in the butterflies started fluttering around in my stomach, primarily because I felt shitty about not joining them all the previous evening, then I spotted someone right next to me who I recognized ... Debbie. And had just opened my mouth to say hello ... when Anjali wrapped me up in the most enormous hug and somehow knew when it was alright to let go. I was okay. Then one by one, more hugs, kisses, smiles, laughter ... I think before the main course was served, I had almost said hello to each and every one of them.

It was easy, and as though time had not passed at all, so relaxed were we in each other's company. Sure it was emotional, but it was for everyone. There were no tears, everyone being determined to have a good time. Old friendships slipped back into their old familiar ways. New friendships were made along with promises to meet up. And for me ... best of all was the fact that no one ignored the big fat elephant in the room and everyone acknowledged the fact that I had lost Cliff, so there were no awkward silences, thus ensuring I did not feel different somehow.

All night someone stayed by my side. I felt looked after, loved even. As they walked past, these old friends would simply pause to squeeze my hand, or put an arm around my waist. The boys (men now) supplied me with plentiful bear hugs and that felt so good too.

We caught up on news, we laughed and laughed and smiled and smiled. I realized that I hadn't felt that safe since the evening after Cliff's funeral when I was surrounded by his closest friends, who at the time formed a net around me, to ensure that I would be okay. It felt like I had come home, because, anyone who has gone to boarding school will understand, these friends are more like family.

I was shocked to realize that I was happy. For the first time since January the 5th. And didn't feel guilty. For the first time, the fact that Cliff was dead was not front of mind, even if I was talking about him when encouraged to.

It was perhaps 03h30 when the last of us vacated the bar and retired to our rooms in the hotel, causing me to oversleep the following day. After checking out, I drove to our old school, parked on the Close and walked around taking some photos, keeping an eye out for any of the Old Dovorians, to no avail. It was peaceful there, and I found myself humming:

(Madonna - This Used To Be My Playground)

whilst thinking about other old friends who had not been able to join this reunion, before heading up to Western Heights (the clifftops in Dover where we used to smoke, drink and get "up close and personal") to see if I could find everyone to say goodbye. Stupidly, I forgot to make a note of one of their mobile phone numbers. After being approached by the third man who resembled what I imagine a sadistic torturer/serial killer looks like, I headed back to my car.

It was meant to be, I thought. You are not strong enough to say goodbye to them.

And drove home.

I have lost every evening since to Facebook.

We are planning on having mini-reunions in Brighton and London. One old-girl and I are going to meet for drinks in London. One old-boy and I are going to meet for drinks near where I live when he passes through. Many of them sent me messages, saying ... well done for coming, here's my mobile number if you need to talk, my door is always open to you, I'm proud of you, I love you.

And I love them. Not only just for being them. But also because they have given me hope. I was always happy when I was with Cliff and had got used to not being so. I had a taste of it again last Saturday, and it felt alien almost, but so so good.

So, I will definitely be keeping in touch, and to ensure that I attend the first of these mini-reunions, Lionel (who I have known since I was born) is picking me up en route.

I know I am going to crash and burn, but I know that I can be happy. That's hope.


  1. Boo, that is the best thing I've read all week.

    It is such a shock, isn't it, when you realise that you are allowed to be happy? That you can laugh and have fun, and still love him. That it is exactly what he would want you to do. Because it doesn't mean that you are forgetting him one iota - he is still firmly locked there in your heart.

    And don't worry about sliding back into the pit. Now you have seen what it looks like at the top, you have something to start climbing out again for.

    You really have put a big smile on my face tonight.
    J xxx

  2. *clapping loudly*

    SO GLAD to hear that you had fun at your reunion!

    Sometimes it just feels good to laugh and get away, doesn't it! (HUGS)

  3. thank J, I'm glad that the magic of the weekend has reached you in Wales and put a big smile on your face too :-) Yes, it was a shock to realize that I had grown used to being not happy, and almost accepting it as the norm! Hope is a great thing, without it you have nothing.


  4. aww Lynette, I can almost see you clapping :-) God yes, it felt good, so good in fact, it powered me on to have a strong week HUGS to you xx

  5. i'm happy for you, Boo. it's a huge step and your words are so exuberant. you are blessed to have so many friends. i feel ashamed of myself for not being further along.

  6. womanNshadows, thanks hon. Don't you dare feel ashamed ... we all go through this at our own pace, and if it takes old friends flying all over the world to make me happy right now, that isn't going to happen too often! I hope you are feeling a little better ... it always makes it so much more painful when you are ill. HUGS xx

  7. Beautiful blog entry and good to read about your reunion experience. Unfortunately, I only made it to Dover for the lunch/afternoon so missed seeing you in the evening. I'm so very sorry to read about the loss of your beloved husband. I think you're very brave to have made it to the Saturday evening and glad it was a good, positive experience. Hopefully catch up at the next reunion. I'm also local to Dover in Ashford. Take Care...kindest regards, Diane x

  8. Wow Boo, you are so inspiring! I look forward to feeling happy again. I've made it to feeling ok and fine but I know that happy is out there some where. Thanks for sharing your joy and for reminding us that what we feel normally as widows doesn't have to be our long term normal. We can feel joy again, with our husbands safe in our hearts.

    Have a great weekend!

  9. Diane - am so sorry that I missed you and hope you feel better now.

    Debbie - I was shocked when I realized that I'd taken it for granted that happiness wasn't on the agenda anymore ... and that I could be. It's wearing off now, but at least we know it's attainable :-) xxx

  10. Boo I am so happy for you! These feelings do give us hope!
    big hugs

  11. thanks CarrieBoo, hope you are getting stronger daily xx