Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009

It's coming and I'm still fighting it.
Why can't I accept that I cannot change that which will have its way?
Why do I persist, in making it a harder battle, by fighting the tide?

My head knows this for a fact.

My heart, obstinately, stubbornly, illogically - is a maverick. It never gives up. Even at the cost of further heartbreak.
Why won't my head and heart communicate?
They are like an old cantankerous couple who never speak to each other anymore.
They are the antithesis of what Cliff and I were as a couple.
Yet, it still persists on resisting.

Resistance is futile.

This time ... between Christmas Night and New Year's Eve ... has been a time of reflection, memories, love, love, and more love ... an admission of realization, a time for mourning, feeling the loss to the greatest extent that I have so far, a time for him, for us ... a downtime.

This time last year
This time last year
This time last year

ad infinitum ... or should that be ... ad nauseum?

It is what it is.

It is already past midnight in Australia.
It's coming.
I can see the translucent, faded water colours of him, and they follow me around the house ... even the fireworks in the garden appear thus. I remember exactly what he was wearing ... this time last year. Those clear blue eyes. The love. The hugs.
I wish it were January the 8th.

I shall be able to expel these demons yet still keep the water colours when January the 8th is here.

This is like being in an alternate existence. On a different plane ...
I have shut down and will not let anyone trespass on this time. It is sacred and even if I can't explain it, I know that I must do this.

I've earned this time. I've lost my husband, I've had two periods this month thanks to the two full moons, I've had to drive in the snow, I've had to not have hot water or heating, I've had to admit that he's dead.
I've sat here, arms outstretched, willing and begging the water colours to solidify, brighten and hold me once again.

I hold him in my heart.
Fuck 2010 and fuck 2009.
Bring on 2010. He'll always be with me, and I with him. No one and nothing will ever break that. Many tried, and failed miserably. We had a closeness many would not even begin to understand, would not be able to define even ... our souls are still entwined, just as the palm trees where we married are.

Time is insignificant when placed beside eternity.

Happy New Year, darling. I'm beginning to understand. I know that you have more to teach me, possibly even more than you already have.
I may fall over. But you taught me never to give up. Ever. My trust in you and my love for you knows no bounds, and I feel your love all around me.
I don't care what the date is. It's just another day.
But still, I wish it was January the 8th 2010.
At least I'm not saying I wish it was 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago ...

Perhaps I'm not battling after all, just dreading the feeling, the pain swelling as Big Ben strikes midnight, hearing the fireworks.

I must try to remember that the anticipation is always worse than the reality.
After all, I watched him take his last breath. What could be worse than that?
Tomorrow I can cast off my self-imposed vows of solitude.

I can emerge and transform, learn and grow.

Tomorrow. And I can take yesterday along me with the ride.


Happy New Year.
Please raise your glasses to the kindest, sweetest, gentlest man I ever knew at midnight. I shall.

... and please don't expect me to answer the phone.
I still can't.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 30th, 2009

Today, please keep Kim close in your hearts and wish her strength, because it is the first anniversary of her soul mate's death.

RIP Warren.

A true hero.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boo's choice

For some reason, I have been struggling with myself recently ... about a decision I had to make in the early hours of January 6th 2009.

When Cliff was moved from ER to another ward, having suffered a massive stroke, the lovely Irish sister there told me that because I knew him better than her, that I was to tell her if I thought he needed more diamorphine (or morphine, I forget which) ... and at the time, he didn't seem agitated, rather he appeared to be sleeping, but his breathing was noisy. That's the only way I can describe it ... but he didn't appear to be in pain.

Up till the Senior Sister mentioned this to me, I hadn't even considered that he might be in pain. I simply assumed that he was dying, he was unconscious, he was sleeping, he would not wake up, and that my voice was reaching him on some level ... that he could hear what I was saying to him, and that he was not afraid.

I can remember the fear and panic rising within me when she said that.

PAIN. God no. I would not let him suffer.

This man would have died for me. I loved him then and love him still.

For the first time in his adult life, he was laying there, vulnerable, unable to protect himself, and he was the bravest, strongest man I ever knew.

And there was no way on earth that I would let him suffer any pain, that I would not protect him, that I would not do what was best for him, as I know that he would have done for me.

I knew beyond doubt that he was dying.

To give some context, let me share that at the time, I also remembered my big sister telling a nurse - in a different hospital - that, "it's about time she had some TLC, don't you think?" on the third day after our Mom suffered her fatal stroke. Her breathing also become more laboured/noisy, in fact, it sounded a great deal worse than Cliff's. I was pretty oblivious to the cryptic conversation that was going on next to me, until my sister gently explained to me that it was common practice to give patients an extra shot of diamorphine to help them die peacefully, painlessly and that, "it wouldn't be long now". I remember leaving the room when they administered the shot, because, even though in my heart, I absolutely knew this was the right (and loving) thing to do, I just couldn't watch it. I was 29 years old at the time.

So I understood what they were offering us.

The only issue I had was this. If he wasn't in pain, surely it would be better to allow him to die "naturally". That was it. But I would NEVER have taken my own selfish wish - of delaying his death - into consideration. NEVER. And, I didn't.

I announced to John (and Cliff) that I was going for a cigarette, and he came along. I can remember smoking that cigarette furiously fast, then telling John that I was going back to Cliff - and John extinguishing his cigarette half-finished, because he would not leave my side, just as I would not abandon Cliff. We quickly returned to the ward, and I went straight to the Sister and looked her in the eyes, asking her, "is there any chance at all that he might be in pain?"

She said that he might be uncomfortable, and in a heartbeat I asked her to administer the extra dose. I didn't even stop and think. There wasn't a choice as far as I was concerned. This was the ONLY choice.

I told Cliff that they were giving him something just in case he was in pain, and not to worry, there would be no more needles because there was a line in his arm already. That he could sleep, and that I loved him, loved him, loved him, and always would, that he didn't need to worry about anything anymore, that he didn't need to worry about me - I would be alright - that he could just relax and go to sleep. It's OK darling .... I shan't leave you, not for a second, I'm here baba ...

Within 5 minutes, his breathing went very quiet and I never left him or cried. I left him for a total of around 30 minutes during the 12 hours that passed between him having the stroke and taking his last breath. And never let my voice falter in front of him. I held him, soothed him, stroked his hair, held his hand, all the while talking, later whispering to him.

I can remember holding my breath literally just before he took his last - as if I knew on some primal level ... and when he stopped, I wanted to carry on holding my own - but my body would not allow me to do this.

I knew I had done the right thing. I was so relieved that any pain he may have had was short-lived and that he went without pain or fear.

It brought a whole new meaning to the old saying, "If you love someone ... you have to let them go" - I had had to literally put those words into action twice ... firstly, verbally telling him it was OK to go ... secondly, agreeing that they administered extra meds.

But almost 12 months later, I started questioning the decision that I made on that darkest of nights.

And right on cue, my favourite counsellor, Marty Tousley published this post and article from the New York Times. I read the whole article, and the viewers' comments.

And again, felt relief.

It had been the right decision all along.

If you truly love someone, you have to let them go. It's the last loving and caring thing you can do for them. It's a selfless act ... and it proves to them and to yourself, how much you love them. Because you put their needs above your own ... in fact you don't even stop to consider your own because they do not matter.

Only you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Baby Steps

Ok, so yesterday ...

I tidied and cleaned up some ...

... went to the shops for essentials and non-essentials (but yummy)

... which meant I got washed and dressed ...

... and ate something other than Special K with Red Berries ... since Manda's Xmas Dinner ...

... and spoke to Vicki (yes, I answered the phone!)

.... and I never thought I'd say this, but thankfully ... the snow has all melted ... (so I can drive at more normal speeds)

Today's aims and goals are:

asking Paul to re-set my boiler

do laundry

have a bath

make some of those overdue phone calls

Tomorrow, I need to stay in all day because I have bought myself a Christmas present (which is due for delivery):

the new i-phone (it is GORGEOUS and I got it much cheaper than I thought I would)


the hands-free thingy so I can talk when driving (although I'm not entirely convinced this will fit the phone, even though O2 have advertised it as such)

Can't wait to play with it ... I can upload photos of Cliff, family, friends, plus music and loads of stuff ... mmmmmmmmmmmm ... and upload those all important apps ... and it won't cost me any more than my current monthly contract does :-)

[it's all Sara and Manda's fault(s) for showing me theirs]

... so while I'm waiting for the courier to rock up, I will finish off any outstanding household paperwork (yawn) and vacuum the house again - it needs it because I bought the dogs two teddy bears yesterday and Barney has been shaking their innards ALL over the house, and I mean EVERYWHERE. It's worth it to see the happiness it brings him.

Then I shall pop down the coast on the 30th to see family and friends - that will be good. I'll be ready. NOT YET.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Step AW-AY from the laptop

I need to reconnect to the world soon.

I have lived in my lounge, since my heating and hot water went off, mainly because of the heater in here.

And rather than ask for help ... for some odd reason, I didn't want to ask the neighbour to come into the house on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day ... as if it would mean that he was trespassing on some kind of sacred ground or magic ... inexplicable, but I know what I felt.

It's time ... Cliff's candle is dying. I have kept vigil for what?

I don't know that either, but I'm glad I did it.

I wouldn't even answer my phone during that time ... choosing only to communicate, through my laptop to other widow/ers.

When I feel like this, it stresses me ... the phone, I mean.

It really fucking stresses me out ... because I need the downtime, I need to be alone with him and just be. I cope, I visit the deep dark place and I crawl out of it again. If I can't answer or use the phone, then I feel guilty that I can't in case I am upsetting people. Then I get cross with myself because I can't understand my own behaviour. It is what it is. I have to do it to cope. Fact. I'm okay, or not ... but speaking or the thought of is pushes me over the edge. WTF? Completely out of character, I know ... or is it? ... it is reminiscent of the times that Cliff accused me of sulking ... and I was not ... I simply could not find my voice because I was upset. Which made me appear as though I was in a funk.

They'll get over it, whereas I am not going to get over losing Cliff. Fact.

But still ....

Anyway, I am going to have to surgically remove the laptop from my body because although it has served its purpose for the duration ... and I have expressed so much of what I feel and think about, writing through my pain and fear and hope ... and some of the stuff I read really helped me (when added to my already existing beliefs) ... I think I started to delve too deeply, you know. I mean, WTF am I looking for him in cyber-space? I am not going to find him here, or solve any mysteries, or find the answers that I seek so desperately to find.

Branching out from my last post about scientific research, I started rummaging around the NDE site, and read an experience written by a respected and qualified scholar on the subject who has lived through a near death experience (NDE). It is quite long to read, but I was trained to speed-read many years ago, so that fact did not hinder me. I found it fascinating, believable, and comforting, right up till the very last line, when her statement literally sent me reeling, into a panic attack, bringing with it further grief and sadness, more loss ... and then I remembered womanNshadow's cries that she had been told that when we die, in our after-life, we are no longer married, and her anguish about it. The statement that I read conveyed the self same message and I freaked out. BIG STYLE.

"... This gift, the Earth life given to us, comes with a catch: We are to give the gift back. We cannot keep the life we have on the Earth realm, not our possessions or attachments or relationships. What we can keep is our memories and our feelings of what we have integrated into our heart of hearts from the experience of being here, plus the love we have shared with others..."

How can she SAY that? And so calmly! Does she not fucking love her husband? Or what! I am tortured, anguished and my thoughts are finally, starting to leave the fear behind me. I am parking it in that trunk on the beach. The one with the padlock and the key. But it decked me ... just as it did my friend.

... and now I feel embarrassed because I remember leaving her a comment saying something to the effect of ... if you read something that you cannot identify with, that goes against your beliefs you can choose to ignore it ... no one on earth knows what happens after we die.

It's not that simple, is it? I wish I hadn't been so glib in that comment. Until it's happened to you, you really don't know.

Like I said .... step awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay from the laptop.

I promise I will ... and it will be today.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some evidence (sort of)

Further to my need to understand further (on Christmas Day), I sought out some reassurance ... and found some interesting (academic/medical) websites which share research about Near Death Experiences. There were no firm conclusions (as suspected), however trials are ongoing, so I am adding the links in my "Useful Resources" section.

Having speed-read through the clinical studies, one paragraph in particular stood out for me, as follows:

No one physiological or psychological model by itself
explains all the common features of near-death experiences.
It is plausible that some features of these experiences may
be attributable to neurochemical mechanisms, whereas others
may be understood better as psychological reactions, and
still others may resist explanation pending the development
of new models of mental function. The paradoxical
occurrence of heightened, lucid awareness and logical
thought processes during a period of impaired cerebral
perfusion raises particularly perplexing questions for our
current understanding of consciousness and its relation
to brain function. As prior researchers have concluded,
a clear sensorium and complex perceptual processes
during a period of apparent clinical death challenge the
concept that consciousness is localized exclusively in the

That will do me for now. Science and technology cannot explain how some patients who suffered heart attacks, experienced NDE's or indeed why their consciousness seemed to become more "fine-tuned", nor can they explain how people remembered information that they should not have known whilst unconscious - e.g. things that happened in theatre.

For ease, here is the link (from where I found the above paragraph).

Right now, it's enough to have a Scientist admit they cannot prove that when we die, that our consciousness, soul or essence, whatever label you prefer ... dies with us. In other words, it is therefore plausible that we live on in another form.

What a way to celebrate Boxing Day!

I've not moved or made those promised phone calls yet and I'm sorry, however, I need this time for him and for me.

Tomorrow is another day.

2010 is coming

Photo courtesy of Martin Thomas. Please respect the copyright of this image, even though I have not. For more information, please see the photo where is was uploaded by the photographer, and read the accompanying post in my friend's own (very amusing) words. If you would like to enjoy more of his work, you can find it here.

Last night, after my last post, I checked in on the blogs that I follow, and this time it was Dan who held my hand and got me through it. What would I do without my fellow/grief-bloggers? I don't know ... they are as important and special to me as my oldest friends and family now. It's so vital to have a connection with those who know what it is to be burned by the flames of loss, because they understand ... because you simply cannot explain adequately what it is that you feel.

I finally fell asleep at around 09h00 this morning, and only awoke an hour ago, courtesy of my dogs, who, I am ashamed to admit, were both sitting there with their legs crossed, although they seemed more intent on procuring some of Manda's turkey from the fridge than they were on relieving themselves and I happily obliged as way of apology to them for sleeping the entire day away.

Cliff's candle is still burning. It's the candle that Tina (my friend and assistant) bought me as part of her goodbye present when she finished her contract at work. The candles that I lit for the Dragon and for the light that is in the lives of my friends on the Grief Healing Boards as well as my fellow-bloggers have both burned themselves out now. Cliff's candle is soothing and emits such a soft peaceful light. It is warming.

Sleep has brought me a reprieve. I feel rested, a little more sane, perhaps stronger.

And now Christmas is officially over, and my tears for him are spent for now, my thoughts turn to the new year, towards which I am being pulled. In one way, I want the year to be over. In another way, I don't, because it's as though I am moving further away from Cliff. Ludicrous, I know. It's my widow-brain. If I look at it from a different perspective, I carry Cliff in my heart, our love is ever present ... and the new year will actually signify that I am moving towards him, not moving away from him at all.

It's only 4 days till New Year's Eve. How can it be? It seems only a week ago that we kissed and held each other - "Happy New Year, Baba," - at midnight, on the patio having watched that last firework.

The whole year feels wobbly and fuzzy ... a constant struggle and battle. I can remember every tiny detail of him leaving, the funeral and then .... it is like a void. There are vague memories of Sweden, but they seem surreal. Business meetings in different parts of the UK - and I find it hard to remember where exactly. Seeing people who are important to me, yet when I try to recall the specifics, it's as if each time I have seen them - that all these times have merged into one. Bizarre. Savannah is a nearer and more prominent memory ... but also appears other-worldly to me now. Stranger still, it's as though he has been here with me this year, and in a way, I suppose he has ... it's just that I haven't adapted or learned how to understand how.

What is more real to me is the love and support that my family and friends have given me all year, it's supply never-ending and unconditional. That is what is left of this year in reality. This blog will serve to fill in the blanks when I am unsure of what happened and when. It will also serve as a record of my progress, and if I ever doubt that I mourned him, missed him, loved him enough, it will serve as evidence should I attempt to wear that hair-shirt once more.I've lost a year of my life. I don't mind, how could I? I mean, Cliff has lost his life, what's a year to me? Or three ... or ten?

I'm not sure why I have been broken ... there must be a reason for it, but it's purpose has not become clear to me. NOT YET. It's forming ... slowly, unclear, blurred, but there is a vague outline coming through the mist and fog. Something to do with learning, love, belief in his unending love, becoming a better person, making him proud of me, finishing what I promised to finish, working hard, being a good friend, helping others who are in pain. There is a calling almost. And it relates to bereavement work strongly. Not sure. I might look into Bereavement Counselling courses and qualifications. It might even help me along this journey. I'm sure Kendra (Biteena) explained that was why she qualified in this field. Clearly not ready. NOT YET ... to be a counsellor ... I am still vocalizing what I'm going through ... if I'm speaking how can I listen? You have to be an excellent listener to be a good Counsellor. NOT YET.

Next year is as clear to me as my recollections of this year. How so? It has not happened yet - although I have played out scenes in my head .... seeing old friends, family, travelling, lighting the fuses on two large fireworks, decorating my home, work ... -ing on projects to my full capability, a new boss, dog-walking, confidence growing ... the waves hitting me less often, the next step, the next hurdle, loving him, always loving him still. Working on the photo project (my other blog), the Conference on Widowhood, and finally, the unknown. I have nothing to fear, not really, my worst fear already being realized. Having finally found a good doggy-hotel I am going to visit family and friends for weekends, more often. I will be able to visit Jean in Holland, my sister, my nephew and niece ... have girlie nights in London with Sara. I will be able to sit down with Dad and have a couple of drinks with him, go out with John, pour Jenny a Bailey's and insist she join me in another ... enjoy the company of my god-daughter and have her here for a sleepover. Arrange another mini-school reunion.

So to next year ... 2010 ... I have had 2 invitations for NYE (not counting my nephew's) and remain undecided. During the early evening I am adamant that I will spend time talking with my new "family" overseas ... the new friends whom I am privileged and honoured to walk along this path with, and ... need to make a decision on what to do. One option is to attend an old skool dance in the dive beneath where we lived on the coast. I am pretty sure that I will not be able to dance my way through the pain. NOT YET. I feel too old for it, I feel too childish for it - without him. I think I need to be with some of the pallbearers instead. I need that connection to him - the sarcasm, the dark humour, the camaraderie, the things that are unspoken are sometimes as present as those that are. Just being with them, all sharing the secrets of times past will fuel me on, and they shall let me cry ... for a short while. They'll even join me briefly, as long as I never talk of it again. More secrets. Secrets bond us. They have always included me in theirs and Cliff always told me that they didn't normally, if ever and he loved that they made an exception in me ... he loved that these men that he respected and liked - his true friends (you know, the special ones who are on an equal standing to yourself in terms of standards, ethics, morals - the unwritten code), the few in between ... would quite often bear their souls to me and I could no more betray their trust than I could stop loving him. Yes, that's where I'll be when Big Ben strikes midnight. They shan't let me fall. They have never ever, not once, betrayed my confidence in them either. This is a prominent part of his Legacy.

And after NYE? Well there is January the 5th and January the 6th to get through. The anniversary of his stroke and death, respectively. Hard to grasp. Hard to believe. My friend, my beautiful friend Vicki and I are walking 8 miles on January 6th - along the seafront where we lived, where his presence is as palpable as it is at home - bracing ourselves against the wind and cold, taking comfort in the ocean, and doubtlessly adding more tears to the ocean I will have cried in my journey towards healing ... and memories, with the promise of a good hot meal in a local pub afterwards. All in his memory, to honour that giving and generosity of spirit that he embodied to perfection ... and we shall channel this by donating the funds raised through Sponsorship - to the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation and through the generosity of my company donating a fixed sum, also to Widows Rights International. It's something positive to focus on. It provides me with a firm exercise in grounding myself and this loss, keeping some semblance of perspective ... it could be worse. I am not cursed as some widows are today - outcast, with no shelter, protection, support or means of feeding myself. It's humbling.Knowing, and for once, remembering that it is always the day after that hits the hardest, I have taken January the 7th as annual leave, and will doubtlessly mourn him till I am spent, once again.

Then, for me, for us, the New Year will truly start on January the 8th. Like the Chinese, I now have a different New Year's Day. Perhaps it shall always be so. I quite like that because it demonstrates the impact and importance of him in my life, as well as commemorating the loss of him - the fact that it has changed me. I like the fact that it has broken the rules of the Gregorian Calendar. I've always been known to break rules, although never to the extent that he did.So, my next goal is to reach January the 8th.

A fresh year. New adventures, taking him and his love and wisdom forwards with me. Growing. More baby steps as well as big ones. Holding my head up, reaching the pits of despair but knowing that I can crawl back towards the light and life itself, time and again. Heartbroken but never permanently broken ... rather, broken and remodelled. I am his wife.

Which leads me to today's photo. When I saw this earlier today, on my old school-friend's blog, it depicted for me so well ... my hopes for this new year. The old year softly melting away, the light behind it that I am marching or sometimes crawling towards, the possibilities, the unknown not yet come into focus. I think it's such a beautiful photo. What a talented photographer he is. I'd like to learn, but haven't quite got enough enthusiasm, simply because I cannot capture the subject that I most want to. But I still enjoy his photos ... they remind me that there is life still to live ... and one day ... NOT YET ... whole-heartedly enjoy. I'd like to call this photo, "Hope in a New Awakening", but it is not mine to name.

I forgot about the day after ... Boxing Day 2009

Boxing Day 2000 - Dominican Republic

I forgot about the day after ... it's always worse than the day itself.

I forgot that you can't suppress* the feelings and the hurt.

I forgot that if you try so hard to battle through ...

that it's always worse afterwards.

I am so tired, yet I cannot sleep ... the tears have come.

The pain has come.

And it's all I can feel.

I can see these translucent faded water colours of him moving around our home - my memories.
I am willing him to be here, yet he cannot.

I miss you so much I can barely breathe.

Every cell in my body is screaming for him.

Every cell in my body hurts.

Every cell in my body feels as though it has been amputated from him.

Grief is physical, emotional, cerebral, and above all - primal.

It has aged me ... it's not a complaint, simply a statement of fact.

It makes you make noises that are inhuman ... they sound primitive.

You are suddenly aware that you have been rocking as you sit, just as the insane do, and that three hours have passed in what seems like a minute.

You lose yourself in the loss.

There are so many levels and facets of what you miss that you find yourself mourning new losses within the loss itself, always surprising and wounding you when you are not expecting them to attack. I shan't even attempt to list them anywhere because the list would be infinite.

I want to lay down with him.

I want to so badly that I can almost feel him.

I sense him near me trying to reach me but I don't know how to connect to him because he can't teach me. There is a flickering - of our souls touching - a connection, but it is fleeting. Sometimes longer, as if he knows. We could communicate like that, separated by geography when he was alive. It's tenuous now, but still present. Ethereal almost. And takes my breath away ... or do I hold my breath? I'm not sure which.

I want to understand**, but I know that no one can tell me or teach me, because no one alive actually knows. There are people who say they can talk to the dead, others who say they have had near-death experiences, but we only have their word on that ... and the person who I can completely trust can no longer give me counsel or guide me.

I have to rely on his voice within me now, and that takes strength, resolve and faith. It makes me agonize over every decision, because I am so desperate not to let my own voice lead me astray. I remember the lyrics*** to the song that he used to play for me 15 years ago, when I was frightened of getting hurt if I gave my whole heart to him, and they hold even more meaning, poignantly now.

This beast is relentless and exhausting. Like water, you can compartmentalize it for a while, then it finds its own way. I've got to let it out because ... I have to ... if I don't I'll probably end up sectioned or physically ill.

I just want to lay down with you.

I never thought you and I would be apart.


* Revelry - Kings of Leon

What a night for a dance,

You know I'm a dancing machine

With a fire in my bones

And the sweet taste of kerosene

I get lost in the night

So high I don't want to come down

To face the loss

Of the good thing

That I had found

In the dark of the night

I can hear you callin my name

With the hardest of hearts,

I still feel full of pain

So I drink and I smoke

And I ask if you're ever around

Even though it was me who drove us

Right in the ground

See the time we shared

it was precious to me

But all the while I was dreamin of revelry

I wanna run baby run

Like a stream down a mountainside

With the wind at my back

I don't ever even bat an eye

Just know it was you all along

Who had a hold of my heart

But the demon and me

Were the best of friends from the start

So the time we shared

it was precious to me

All the while I was dreamin of revelry

Dreamin of revelry

And I told myself boy away you go

It rained so hard that it felt like snow

Everything came tumbling down on me

In the back of the woods

In the dark of night

The Palest of the old moonlight

Everything just felt so incomplete


** my understanding


You didn't die

you just changed shape

became invisible to the naked eye

became this grief

it's sharpness more real than your presence was

before you were separate to me

entire to yourself

now you are a part of me

you are inside my self

I call you by your new name


'although I still call you 'Love.'

- Dónall Dempsey


***Have a Little Faith - Joe Cocker

When the road gets dark

And you can no longer see

Just let my love throw a spark, baby

Have a little faith in me

When the tears you cry

Are all you can believe

Just give these loving arms a try, baby

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

When your secret heart

Cannot speak so easily

Come here darlin'

From a whisper start

To have a little faith in me

When your back's against the wall

Just turn around, you will see

I will catch ya,

I will catch your fall

Just have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

Well, I've been loving you for such a long, long time baby

Expecting nothing in return

Just for you to have a little faith in me

You see time, time is our friend for you and me

Cause for us there is no end

All you gotta do is have a little faith in me

I said I will hold you up, I will hold you up

Your strength gives me enough

o have a little faith in me

Hey baby, oh, baby

All ya gotta do is have a little faith in me

All ya gotta do is have a little faith in me

A little faith in me

Friday, December 25, 2009

I made it through

I've spent the day with Manda and Mick, and my godchildren Daniel and Kirsty, as well as Manda's cheeky brother Phil ... and without any tears.

I did get a lump in my throat, just once, when Manda toasted "absent friends", and couldn't speak except to say "cheers".

Dinner was lovely, and I managed to eat a child's portion.

Although sometimes it feels as though life is unfair, almost paradoxically, I am aware of how lucky I am to have the family and friends that I am blessed with.

And I was so so privileged to share a third of my life with the most special magical man.

Merry Christmas everyone.

It's almost over for this year, another hurdle defeated.

Tomorrow, I plan to be at home, have a lazy day with the dogs, get the heating and hot water put back on, and phone Cliff's family as well as my own.

The real thing

At precisely one minute past midnight - the time when Cliff and I would kiss each other, "Happy Christmas, darling," and savour a cocktail, or vodka, coke & ice, or some bubbles ... perhaps straight after a firework or two going off at midnight, as we settled by tree to exchange gifts ...

... I lit two candles. One for the Dragon and one for my husband. I said, "Happy Christmas, Baba ... Happy Christmas, Dragon."

Yes, I cried.

I spoke to him, I kissed his photo, and the scatter-tube that holds his ashes*.

But now, with the lights dimmed, surrounded by my sleepy dogs, the light from those two candles is making the lounge seem so peaceful. There is strength coming from the light that they are in our lives.

Two fearless men.

Two women trying to overcome their fears.

And two warm beautiful candles.

I am no longer tensed up dreading, fearing even ... Christmas.

It is here.

It's OK.

It was the right decision, thankfully, to be here alone.

I needed to do this, and I've done it. I can breath easy again, literally.

I didn't do it alone though, womanNshadows and I have held hands thoughout the evening. I wish there wasn't a time zone difference, because there is no way I can stay up till 05h00, then drive down to the coast on icy roads. And when I am driving there, she will be dreaming of her Dragon <3

I am going to sit here and let the candle-light wash over me, soothe me and bask in the peacefulness of the moment.

And think about the two candles burning in North Carolina for Cliff and the Dragon too.

Tomorrow, I am spending the day with Manda and Mick and sharing Christmas Dinner with them. I'm sure that is also the right decision. I shouldn't stay alone on Xmas Day, but Xmas Eve is different. It was ours.

*I'm glad they are still here for today, and that I haven't yet taken him down to Malcolm ... but will do before the New Year ... hmmm, perhaps straight after the New Year, so that the fireworks are still ready for a weekend in January 2010, provided Marcus is going to be in the UK.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Vacation

This has stopped my tears.

I have mustered a smile, half a laugh even, and there is a giggle forming somewhere inside me ...

and all because of this clip ...

I mentioned in an earlier post that Cliff and I used to watch this movie every Christmas.

I thought it would be too painful to watch, but actually it has had the opposite effect.

I lit the candle early

I lit the candle early because I'm not convinced I will be awake at midnight.

Happy Christmas Cliffy. I am trying to wrap myself in those beautiful memories of our Christmases together, but the pain keeps overshadowing them. I love you x

Christmas Eve 2009

Last night my hot water and heating decided to stop working.

As if today and tomorrow is not hard enough to endure already ...

and being afflicted with that inexplicable widow's aversion to asking someone to help (why, oh god why, do we insist on making life harder for ourselves. WHAT. IS. SO. HARD. ABOUT. ASKING. THE. GUY. NEXT. DOOR. TO. RE-SET. THE. BOILER? - assuming that's all that's wrong - eeek ... now I AM worrying.)

Last night I kept waking up because I was so damn cold, and it just accentuates, literally UNDERLINES and EMBOLDENS, the fact that Cliff is gone.

I went to work today for the last time till January 4th. When it came to 11h30 (when we were told to pack up) I was gulping for air ... I wanted to scream and sob and be held by someone who cared whilst confessing to the world that I didn't want time off work, I didn't want to go home because home isn't really home anymore without Cliff in residence ... and I didn't want to face the fact that it IS Christmas Eve. To me, it is not. How can it be?

At a minute past midnight I shall light a candle for the light that Cliff is in my life. As far as I'm concerned, this is all a ghastly mistake ... Cliff should be here with me, the house should be warm, and at a minute past midnight, we should be kissing each other and exchanging gifts.

WTF happened? How can this be?

He IS Christmas. He IS home.

I don't want to face this and can only identify with this song today.

Here are the lyrics:

As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts
Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms
Was it love or fear of the cold that led us through the night?
For every kiss your beauty trumped my doubt

And my head told my heart
"Let love grow"
But my heart told my head"
This time no
This time no"

We'll be washed and buried one day my girl
And the time we were given will be left for the world
The flesh that lived and loved will be eaten by plague
So let the memories be good for those who stay

And my head told my heart
"Let love grow"
But my heart told my head
"This time no"
Yes, my heart told my head"
This time no
This time no"

Oh the shame that sent me off from the God that I once loved
Was the same that sent me into your arms
Oh and pestilence is won when you are lost and I am gone
And no hope, no hope will overcome

And if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You'll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends

And my head told my heart
"Let love grow"
But my heart told my head
"This time no"
And my head told my heart

"Let love grow"
But my heart told my head
"This time no
This time no"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My dream last night

It was sunny.

Cliff was walking towards me up the garden path.

I was holding my breath.

and thinking, please don't disappear.

I was trying not to blink,

drinking in the sight of him.

Smiling at him, as he was me.

He was wearing the dark green polo shirt that we bought in the Dominican Republic,

and looking gorgeous.

Those clear blue eyes,

and just as I opened my arms to hug him

he turned into a cardboard cutout - blank.

But I hugged him anyway.

And it broke my heart all over again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My lover's prayer

I just made some ravioli for lunch and almost dropped the plate, splashing very hot red sauce all up my arm. Intuitively, I started yelping for Cliff ... ow, ow, OW ... and started bawling because he wasn't there to soothe me.

God, I sound like such a high-maintenance bitch. I guess I was. But it was the way we were. We were happy anyhow.

My point is, this song immediately popped into my head and I had to share it with you all. Apologies if it has the same effect on you as it did me, however it IS a beautiful song, and happens to be one that Cliff loved.

The longest journey

It took me 4 hours and 15 minutes to get home last night.

I got stuck in the snow twice but an angel pushed my car onwards. The angel was a builder. The type of builder that my husband was (is) ... always helping people.

I skidded a few times too. At the time I thought, "ok, what did Owen and Gerard tell me to do ... ah yes, steer the direction you are going," which I did. The sidewalk stopped me. I still haven't checked my car for damage. NOT YET.

I cried a few times too. It was so frightening ... Cliff always drove me when it snowed. And I'm not saying I was tired, but the windscreen wipers seemed to be moving in some kind of Hawaiian dancing girl / trance motion. On the motorway, the car slipped a couple of times, so I stayed in the middle lane and drove at 40 mph (YES I DID, JENNIFER!) which proved to me that my self-preservation has kicked in. Only two months ago, I would have driven in the fast lane and couldn't have cared less if I'd died.

One of the medics at work asked me what car I had yesterday. I told him and he replied, "hmmm, BMWs have a rear wheel drive so you shouldn't really drive them in the snow," and I said, "really?" I mean, I am clueless, CLUELESS! I didn't even know that my car had a rear wheel drive. Jesus wept. I feel like a child. I used to love being childlike, being with Cliff. But these days, I feel childish which is an entirely different state of being.

Clearly, I got home safely. And even though I cried when I walked through the front door, I also felt pride when I said, "I did it Baba, I made it through the snoo-snoo."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stuck in snoo-snoo

I got stuck in the snoo-snoo for an HOUR this morning, really near home.

I felt like abandoning my car, but didn't.

I threw a tantrum, that helped lots.

I cried, that helped lots too - NOT.

Some pedestrians actually crossed the road rather than help me ... that just made me despair of human beings as a species.

After an hour, a man in a bobble-hat and a kind smile pulled over in his Mini, and then a builder's van pulled over too. They shovelled around my wheels. They actually drove the car onto "good road", and then gave me a hug.

I got to work late, but I'm here.

I fucking hate snoo-snoo.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More snoo-snoo

There are cars driving down my road this morning, which means that I will be able to go to work tomorrow. Hoorah!

It also means that I have to find the shovel and clear the snow off my drive.

I've never had to do that before.

I can do it, but it feels wrong.

It is something that Cliff would have done. I actually half expected him to rescue me, hence my choice of picture for this post ... although if the photo were actually of him, he'd have been muscular with a much cuter backside, and adorned with the broadest, shapeliest back and shoulders that you ever saw.

I never had a problem with the fact that our relationship was equal, YET ...

when push came to shove, HIS was the final decision we agreed upon.

I've always been happy being a woman, and never desired to be a man. I always knew that I was lucky ... that sometimes the hardest decisions were not mine to make, nor was I accountable for them. And I always respected him for that.

When you are married to an alpha male, to be privileged to have that light shine upon you, bathe you gently ... only to have it abruptly taken away ...

is cruel. It makes it so hard.

I miss you, Baba, each and every day ... and not just because I've got to shovel snow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


It snoo-snoowed (my baby-speak for snow).

So much so that I could not get off my driveway yesterday or today. No cars have driven down my road in 48 hours. The motorway I use to get to work was experiencing atrocious conditions.

So I have stayed in my PJ's and left the heating on for the duration.

The last time it snoo-snoowed was after his funeral, and before that, on the day that he had his stroke.

When I looked at the snow, I cried, really sobbed.

I said, "it's snoo-snoo-ing babe" and for the first time in my life I hated the snow.

Because he's not here.

Because it's not fun anymore.

Because I'm scared to drive in it, even when my road has been cleared.

Because I'd rather have been at work than taking a snow day.

I feel marooned psychologically.

I don't need to be marooned literally.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My boss ... and the doggy-hotel

I got to Birmingham in good time and it was an excellent meeting. In the evening my lovely boss stood up to give my assistant (who is also leaving the company - sob, boo, hiss) her leaving present and say a few words ... actually some really nice words - I felt so proud of her. Then another colleague stood up to make a speech about my boss leaving and gave her our leaving gift. As is customary, my Line Manager replied to say thank you ... said a few words, and was doing quite well until she said, "and I am so proud of all of you" and her voice broke. My eyes were swimming in tears and I was blinking lots to try and stop the tears escaping onto my face, and kind of managed.

Then it was time. Time to smash the pot. Sue knew that I had asked people attending the funeral to donate money to Bullying UK if they preferred not to buy flowers ... and introduced a new tradition at our bi-monthly meetings ... we'd play some games in the evenings at these meetings (mini-golf, wii-fit, shove ha'penny etc) which essentially meant that the whole team ended up putting most of their spare change in the pot. She told me it was a way to commemorate Cliff throughout the first year and raise some money for a charity that represented something very dear to him. Cliff hated bullies. He despised them. If you've read my earlier posts, you'll understand why.

My boss Sue happens to be THE best line manager I have EVER worked with. That's quite a statement when you consider that I am 45 years old. She might be my boss and I respect her, however, she also happens to have become my friend. We share the same sense of humour and she's proved to be such a good coach and mentor ... I can't really write a precis of what I have learned from working with her and shan't attempt to ... suffice to say that I shall miss her IMMENSELY. Conversely, I'm happy for her because she will get to spend more time at home in her new role. Sue came to Cliff's funeral, she protected me when I returned to work, as fiercely as a lioness protects her cubs. She intuitively knew what I was capable of, gently pulling in the reins when I was eager to run before I could crawl (because running equated escapism, especially in the early days). The foundation that she laid for me at work seeped into my home world too and I can honestly say that without her, I would not be in the "place" I am in today. I trust her implicitly. Exactly one week and one year after Cliff died, she is leaving ... I'm sad, but happy for her. And I shall keep in touch. How can I not? There is no way to thank somebody for helping you to retain your sanity when I teetered on the borderline for those few months. From a purely selfish viewpoint, I am sad to let her go, but perhaps strong enough ... thanks to her. Some people might say that what she did went with the territory, i.e. it was her job. Believe me, they are wrong. She did far more for me.

And so ... it was time to smash the pot. Sue brought along her husband's hammer for the occasion ... I had contemplated bringing along one of Cliff's hammers to smash it open, but knew that it would probably make me even more emotional, however appropriate it might have been.

Sue said a few words whilst cuddling me ... about how I was in a very different place a (almost) year ago - and I think that she remembered that time vividly, as I did ... and started crying. I joined her. We were both trying to speak but were too choked, so I broke the spell, saying, "oh come on, let's just smash the fucking pot," which was received by a lot of relieved laughter.

I took the hammer. I could see him in my mind's eye. I thought about how he would have smashed it. He was so clever with his hands. Oh god, I could SEE his hands. And I turned that pot at a tangent and tapped it with the hammer. It broke clean open. No bits went flying, despite the fact I could see (especially the men) everyone tensing up for flying pieces of shrapnel. I was determined not to bawl and focused on gathering up the money, whilst sitting on the floor like a 3 year old. Kate came over and sat on the floor with me and helped me put it all in a bag. Then Sue raised her glass, "Here's to Cliff," and we all toasted him together. It was very emotional ... but it was a very comforting thing for me to do. It made me proud of him. It made me proud of the team.

I love my team.

And, it transpires that we raised £120 (thanks to Sue's daughter Kizzie who kindly counted up the money) which will rise to £240 when my Company matches the fund-raising effort. In Cliff's name. To help kids who are bullied ... something he knew all about ... and when he grew into a big mo-fo he never forgot how it felt.
And I get to keep the "coin" that is found in each pot when you buy it.

He'd protect animals, kids, women, old people ... anyone who was bullied by anyone. Just one example of this was when we'd popped into our local shop and we overheard a man telling the female assistant, "if you take this further (shoplifting) I'll smash your face in." Clearly he hadn't noticed us in the back of the store, but he certainly heard Cliff growling, "not while I'm in here you won't." I walked up to the assistant and asked if she was ok and told her we weren't leaving until they (the low-life and his side-kicks) did. I can remember her shaking like a leaf and I reassured her that no one would touch her. They didn't. They left. In fact, the bully was shaking when he left - LOL.


After the meeting, I got home safely, despite the snow blizzard. The house didn't feel like home without the dogs. I kept thinking about Lynette ... and kept crying.

Today, I was so excited because I was going to the doggy-hotel to pick them up, and left work early to enable me to do so. En route, I stopped at Pets R Us to buy a dog-cage and two new leads and got to the kennels at 17h15. It was locked. Lights out. I called their number. No answer. Decided to erect dog cage in back of car. Couldn't get it out of the box. Threw a tantrum. Big style. There was bits of cardboard flying everywhere. Finally got it out of the box. Erected the cage fairly easily. Cage wouldn't fit in the fucking car. Threw another tantrum. Flat-packed cage. Put it in the back of the car. Erected it again. Sorted. Sweet Jesus. Checked phone. No reply from kennel owner. Lit a Marlboro Lite and started crying.

Then someone tapped on the passenger window to find me sobbing. It was the owner. She said she was terrified because she thought, "perhaps some gypsies were rooting about" (it is PITCH black there - but since when do gypsies case a property in a BMW with the main beam headlights shining). I told her that I was widowed this year and had got there 10 minutes late (got closing time wrong) and was upset because I couldn't pick them up. She asked me if mine was the long-haired Jack Russell and the deaf dog? Yes they are. OK, let's get them.

We go in and Barney can hear my voice and starts barking for me. All the other dogs, including Fred, in his inimitable tone-deaf bark, join in the unearthly chorus. We are shouting at each other above the din. I've realized that I don't have any cash and she doesn't take any form of plastic. She agrees I can pop in with the cash after work tomorrow, and reassures me that Fred and Barney have been happy there, although Fred has peed all over the two new toys that I bought for their holiday. She shuts the middle cage door and lets our two dogs out. They run over and start licking my fingers through the cage door and I start crying again. She tells me that she isn't worrying about me owing her any money. Then she tells another dog, sporting an extremely doleful expression, that she will be back in a minute to put his coat back on because his Mum said he had to wear it in case it got cold. And she does.

And I know that next time I go away, whether for business or pleasure, I won't cry, nor will I worry. And they won't fret either. Because now they understand that I come back for them.

But it's good to have them home.

And that makes me think about Lynette again.

Which makes me cry again.

I just want this fucking year to be gone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Away on business for the last time this year

Leaving at 06h30 tomorrow.

Will try very hard not to attract police escort this time.

Barney and Fred are in the dog-hotel for the duration ... I managed not to cry when I dropped them off, but really really wanted to. I hope Fred doesn't think that he's been dumped again. Thankfully, John took us and came in for a drink afterwards.

The house feels too empty and haven't stopped crying, so have only just finished packing.

This is going to be a good meeting, albeit an emotional one ... my Line Manager is leaving the company in January, so it's our last meeting with her. I think it's a dead cert that I'm going to blub at some point over the next 2 days ... but I don't think I'll be the only one.

Internet, I'll be back on Thursday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Worldwide Candle Lighting

Today at 19h00 I shall be lighting a candle in memory of Sascha, and out of love for my friend Kendra.

There are no more words.

The Naughty Elves

Shaun and Gary somehow managed to put some tiles on the roof RIGHT ABOVE MY BEDROOM WINDOW this morning without waking me up. But I'm not insinuating that they are naughty elves ... far from it ... they are guardian angels if anything.

It was lovely to wake up in a house with:

the sound of activity
the sound of laughter
just the knowledge that another human being was there

and have a "good morning"
and a smile

and a cup of tea made for me

It was lovely
... yet it was bittersweet for obvious reasons

And after I watched the little red van drive away, I just could not motivate myself to do anything other than cuddle my dogs, play on the internet, watch TV and snooze.

So much for my plans of annihilating all the outstanding paperwork, mopping the floors, vacuuming, dusting and laundry ... oh yes, and catching up with social phone calls. Hmmmmm.

Never mind, I can do the chores first thing tomorrow, then drive down the coast to have a drink with Gary and Shaun, visit Vicki and hopefully Dad and Jenny too. In truth, I know there won't be time to fit in everyone, but I'll try.

Today's mail, which I ignored until I returned from the 24/7 shop at 22h00 (needed more coke and Absolut, as well as Pringles and Houmous for supper) included a kitsch postcard from Suffolk, courtesy of my beautiful niece Frances and her beau Adam ... explaining that they read my post Christmas is coming AFTER THE EVIL ELVES mailed my Christmas Card to me. LOL ... it did make me laugh, and I keep smiling each time I glance at the postcard ... and think of this bit of British Kitsch as my antidote to the cards that are arriving through my letterbox.

Thank you both - I love you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This week, day by day

Monday - I meet some of the girls from work, as well as David, Faye and their beautiful baby (Benjamin) for lunch. It is the first time I've seen the baby and I am too scared to cuddle him lest I cry in front of everyone. Babies equate life and hope and possibilities and dreams. He is such a happy, content and cute baby, and I am so proud to watch their parenting skills. I have missed Faye more than I realized and gulp when I hug her.

After lunch I sadly realize that it is not often that I eat with anyone. I mean, I eat breakfast and lunch every weekday, at my desk. I don't really eat supper, unless you count sharing a bowl of Special K with Red Berries with my dogs. I miss cooking. I miss eating with Cliff.

Three people tell me that I am losing too much weight. WTF do they expect me to do about it?

Tuesday - Gary and Shaun begin work on the front of our home. They refuse to accept any money for their labour, insisting that I am only allowed to pay for materials and fuel. As the day progresses, I grow more nauseous, dreading my return home ... in case they are still on the roof. I know that I shall look for him. I know it will break me. I know I shall sob. Thankfully, they have left when I pull up on the drive.

Wednesday - I keep thinking. About the fall. Cliff fell 30 feet off a roof 3 years ago. He landed on his back - onto concrete steps. At ER they said that if he hadn't been so fit, and so well-built that he would not have survived the fall. All he suffered was 3 broken ribs, albeit excruciatingly painful at the time. It feels now, that we were given a second chance, perhaps. But, more darkly, I keep thinking about the fact that in retrospect ... Cliff aged fairly rapidly (not discernible at the time, yet it seems so now) after that fall ... until he died. And the reason he fell was because the person holding the ladder wasn't doing it properly.

I am scared that I am going to be consumed by hatred. I talk to a colleague about it. I make myself shut up and park it in that deep dark place.

Thursday - Gary calls me in the evening to talk about the work on the house. Then he blurts out, "I got a bit freaked today ... I went down to Cliff's big shed at the bottom of the garden to fetch some timber ... and I heard someone mumbling behind me ... but when I turned round no one was there. I found Shaun on the driveway cutting tiles at the front of the house, and both the dogs were indoors. I've never experienced anything like that in my entire life. It's done my head in a bit."

I tell him that he shouldn't be scared and he says he isn't. I tell him that it makes sense. He was on Cliff's territory and he's helping me. Cliff always mumbled.

When I say goodbye to Gary, I smile. I ask Cliff if he's supervising them both. He feels close.

Friday - a colleague is very chirpy and I make some inane comment, "you sound happy". "Yes," she replies, "my husband's coming home tonight." Hmmm ... thanks for sharing that with me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How you live the rest of your life is your choice

One of my old (boarding school) friends (Geoff) and I chat to each other every day on email. At school, he and I would tell each other anything, and even though miles and years separate us now, our friendship is still there and I am so looking forward to seeing him and meeting his wife Linda, as well as his children, next year on my trip to the Southern Hemisphere.

I like to hear the pride in his words when he talks about his family. He's a good father and husband, and he still has that inimitable sense of humour that I remember so well. Over the years he has been graced with the gift of empathy and he has become an invaluable sounding board along this journey that I find myself on. In fact, it is through our "chats" that I have made a couple of decisions recently, such as; where to spend Christmas Day, amongst other things.

Yesterday's email included the following sentence:

You know, you have been dealt a harsh blow to say the least and none of us can pretend to know what it’s like and what we would do but I know one thing. How you live the rest of your life is your choice and if you live it happily ever after then I’m sure Cliff would be happy with that.

Here is my response to that statement:

I keep thinking, if I can just get to January 7th 2010 (Cliff died on January 6th) then I know I can do anything, because I’ll have lived a day and a year without him, and gone through all the anniversaries, the shock, the denial, the anger, the numbness, the bargaining, the guilt, the guilt and more guilt, the despair, the hysteria, the fear, the pain, the final realization after 11 months that he isn’t coming back … next year I think I need to focus on rebuilding my life, basically what you said … it’s my choice. He’d hate me to be unhappy. He couldn’t stand it if I cried, it would really upset him. So I need to get the house finished, get back to over-achieving at work, reward myself with my trips to Oz and the States and Italy next year, accept that I will cry each day, but that the rest of the time I need to just live.

OMG, I have just made the decision to live again. Geoff, don’t think you can understand the impact your statement has had on me, but for the past 11 months I have been saying “I don’t want to be here. I want to be with him.” And I have just made the decision to live.

So, on December 4th 2009, 11 months after my beautiful husband died, I made the decision to live.

I found it shocking.

I mean, I'm amazed I'm still breathing. In fact, half the time I can't understand why I have air to breathe. I think that I just assumed that I wouldn't survive this, took it for granted almost. I never seriously contemplated ending it all, rather wished it upon myself. I wanted some god-like hand to swoop down on me from the sky and scoop me up, whisking me up to Cliff, preferably painlessly.

I punished my body by not looking after myself the way he did so well. I subconsciously starved my body. I laugh if I hit air pockets when flying. If I have a near miss on the motorway, I snigger contemptuously and laugh in the face of death. Death no longer frightens me, it has become my friend. Because I know that death will bring him back to me.

There was only one instance when I almost did the unthinkable. But that wasn't me, it was the pills. The antidepressants that were prescribed to me. I can remember laying in our bath and letting the plug out, thinking how nice it would be to let my blood run out with the water. How peaceful it would be. Then my deaf dog wandered into my line of sight and whined. That's all it took. One doggy whine, and I realized I was in deep trouble. I hopped out of the bath, sought the company of other human beings and then one of Cliff's friends took the meds away from the house. As I've mentioned before, I have a childlike fear that if I committed this act, that I could end up in a different place to Cliff. FOR. ETERNITY. That scenario is worse than the one I find myself in. CAN'T. RISK. THAT. NO. WAY.

This shift in mindset ... this decision to live, rather than wait to die is startling. I still can't imagine a future without him. It's fuzzy and out of focus. I can't imagine beyond next year ... my plans to go to the Conference on Widowhood in August, Italy with Kimberly in February, Australia, Thailand and Singapore in May/June ... decorating the house, throwing myself back into work. Beyond that I don't know. The thought frightens me ... living without him. But at least I've accepted it. It's scary and exhilarating at the same time.

I'll make him proud of me ... I'll give it my best shot.

I've decided to live.

Wow. That's a powerful thing.

Thanks for helping me get there, Geoff.
I just wish you and Cliff could have met ... you would have liked one another.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


It’s so important to have stuff to look forward to, otherwise I tend to slip into a “doom and gloom” pit of despair and stay there for quite some time.

Today, I’m feeling upbeat because I have booked my ticket to Camp Widow/er. Michele Neff Hernandez emailed me to say that mine was the first ticket sold … not that I am looking forward to it or anything ;-)

It is going to be such a powerful experience. To stand in the same room as other widows and widowers. To sit with people who know how I feel. To talk to people who know what I fear. To just be. To not have to explain anything. What a break and relief that will be.

It is going to be emotional too. To meet friends I have made through blogging and on the Grief Healing Discussion Boards. I’m not sure that I am going to want to let go of them at the end of the Conference.

It is also going to be a learning experience. An uplifting experience, and a time to make new friendships and cement existing ones.

Not only that it’s in San Diego … I’ve never been to California, so that in itself is something to look forward to as well. (Naturally I have old school-friends there … is there anywhere that I don’t? LOL. So am planning on meeting up with Kevin Hall and meeting his husband, as well as Melanie Silvera and meeting her family)

I can’t guarantee that I won’t cry but I can guarantee that I will laugh.

And anyone who has read Michele Neff Hernandez’s or Michelle Dippel’s blogs will understand me when I say it will be an honour to meet them. When I have my darkest hours (or days), simply reading their words has the ability to “talk me down” or should that be “talk me up”? I can’t thank them enough for that … but as a small measure of thanks I am raising funds for the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, which does wonderful work, and is in fact responsible for organizing Camp Widow. I’ll write more about this on a future post (and yes, I’ll be asking you to stick your hands in your pockets and wallets).

Hoping that you too can make this Conference and meeting you there!
Here are the briefest details about this Conference on Widowhood:
San Diego
August 6th - 8th, 2010

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Driving to work today, this sign was flashing on the M25.


"Woo-hooooooooo," I thought, as I merrily accelerated along with the entire fast lane.

What a disappointment.

They must have meant "obstruction".