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Monday, June 29, 2009

Big fat tears

I'm working from home AGAIN and beginning to worry that work is going to run out of patience with me. Worrying on top of everything else seems to go with this territory. But it makes it so much harder. I never had to worry about anything when Cliff was here. Then again, I now feel guilty about that ... but that's another subject.

The reason I'm working from home today is bizarre. I am NOT crying yet for the past 6 hours, my eyes have been producing big fat tears that have been relentless ... it's almost as though I have two waterfalls on my face. Even though the tears are coming, I feel alright, fairly strong today in fact ... but it's as though my body has other ideas and has decided that it needs to release them.

One of my team rang me earlier and I know that he was oblivious to the fact that I wasn't physically in the office, nor that I had an extremely wet face. It's hard to look professional and as though you've got your shit together in person though when this is happening. Yet I managed to navigate him through a complicated process on our internal intranet. On the plus side, at least I'm capable of sounding professional.

I'm having to sit back whilst typing otherwise the tears form a puddle on my laptop causing me to panic, in case I literally blow a fuse (and my laptop up) in the process.

I've never known anything like this before. It's strange to feel like you have no control over your body. Think I'll have a shower in a while to see if that helps, because my eyes, and the skin around my eyes, are sore.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

His scent, his van and a new website

Last night I pulled one of Cliff's t-shirts out of a pile of washed laundry, so that I could wear it to bed. Somehow, it had got into the clean stuff ... he had worn it, probably for a couple of hours and slung it on top of the pile, as was his habit, usually because he was doing a million things at once.

Scent is so evocative, isn't it? He didn't wear after-shave, so it smelt of HIM. I luxuriated in it, breathing him in deeply and actually smiled. That surprised me ... I thought, "uh-oh, here we go, I'm falling into a big session of wailing and sobbing and snot" ... but instead, it gave me a feeling of being completely safe and near to him again. Comfort rather than pain.

Yes, I wore it and had a fantastic night's sleep ... I didn't wake up once, no nightmares or sweats got through the invisible protective barrier of his scent and I THINK I don't regret wearing it now ... because it's losing him and smelling more like my shampoo.

Besides I have some other items of unwashed laundry (and his pillows), safely wrapped in plastic. JUST IN CASE.

Both my dogs gently stretched up and sniffed at the t-shirt, then walked off. Oh, to be a bloody dog, oblivious to this agony! They adjust so quickly, it's unreal.

The Van? (I hear you ask) ... hmmm, well I got together a bucket, damp rags, and empty carrier bags as well as a strong box to put stuff in, put it by the front door ready ... then promptly threw up IN the bucket. Perhaps I'm not quite ready to tackle that task. NOT YET.

This website was recommended on one of the blogs that I follow. I've had a brief look and some of it is quite useful, with some helpful links. It's a British website, run by a widow, so might complement the American site (on my links) that has become my "bible".

http://www.merrywidow.me.uk/index.asp

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Loss and Ageing

Hmmm, my third post today ... well it's preferable to clearing out the van (and I promise I WILL tackle that tomorrow or even later on this evening).

It just occurred to me. I have changed physically. I've lost weight (OK, I admit I needed to), I have more grey hair, my immune system is shot to hell, tension now takes permanent residence within my body, the tears I cry are fatter than they were before (their mass or volume is literally bigger than before Cliff died) and I have aged ... noticeably to me for sure, perhaps to others as well.

I don't mind. I mean, he died. It's worse for him. In truth, I'm amazed that my hair didn't turn completely grey overnight. Around a month after Cliff died, I was faintly puzzled when I noticed LOADS of my hair floating in my bath water ... it came out voraciously ... it has thinned ... and hasn't recovered.

But what I do mind is that we didn't want and I didn't expect this to happen (obviously) ... he didn't want to leave and I certainly didn't want him to go. EVER. In fact we had a deal ... either I went first, or we went together (ideally at the END of a holiday abroad if it happened to be on a plane crash). We used to joke about it.

But it's not funny now.

I love this photo. It's fairly recent and when I look at it, it's almost like looking at me in a previous lifetime ... I look loved, safe, carefree and most of all, happy and content. I was. He really was the most amazing husband.


Mutilation and Mourning

More research ...

Perturbing reading. Particularly startling because I find myself empathizing with these cultural traditions. Before Cliff died I would have found the contents of this article alien, repugnant even. But today? I can understand why widows would engage in these practices.

We are left marked by this experience, even if there is no visible sign to show the world. It's almost as though they are "wearing their grief" or perhaps there is respite from the pain they feel through the act of physically hurting themselves, whether by being tattooed or worse.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=W92qmGrQLTEC&pg=PA32&lpg=PA32&dq=mutilation+and+mourning&source=bl&ots=9nlHvWQ-GB&sig=3pp1Dna4tITJ56rKr0eOoPy111o&hl=en&ei=cTtGStqqFuWfjAfVrtCsCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

Hierarchy of Grief

I know that every loss is a loss within its own right, and that to the person who has suffered that loss, it is unspeakably painful. I also understand that grief is cumulative, so that each time you lose someone (including companion animals), previous loss(es) are added onto your "running total" and it is for this reason that old wounds can be opened again, the salt freshly rubbed in ... sometimes causing a bereaved person to exclaim, "I seemed to be more affected by my dog dying than when my colleague/friend/neighbour/grandmother ... died."

That said, I was interested to discover that there is indeed a "hierarchy of grief" which my counsellor told me about. I can't remember all the details but it is laid out something like this.

Loss of a child - through murder
Loss of a child - through suicide
Loss of a child - through illness/accident

Loss of a spouse/life partner

Loss of a parent

Loss of a sibling

Loss of a grandparent

Loss of a friend

Loss of a pet

It really made me think ... over the past fifteen years we have lost both my parents, Cliff's Mum, our dog, six aunts and uncles, five friends, and now I have lost Cliff.

I know that it's a difficult and sometimes dangerous thing to do - to categorize feelings into neat little boxes ... but this is undoubtedly the single hardest thing I have ever had to go through in my 45 year old life. And then I think about people who have suffered losing a child and wonder how on earth they endure it. I mean, this is HELL. And there's something worse? It simply doesn't bear contemplating. It's humbling.

Today I spent some time researching grief and mourning across different cultures (no idea why) and came across this article. OMG, I thought I had it bad ... again, it's humbling:

http://www.deathreference.com/Vi-Z/Widows-in-Third-World-Nations.html

Perhaps reading about this is a form of self-medication ... a way to keep myself grounded.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Saints

I am not Catholic.
I am not a man.
Therefore I cannot be the Pope.
Which means that I do not have the authority to make someone a Saint.

Yet I do.

I have turned Cliff into a Saint.

And any of his friends reading this will laugh out loud at that one.

Yet I still do.

I cannot remember anything bad about him. Even those things that I am sure irritated me a lifetime ago ... his untidiness, his never putting a cigarette out properly, his snoring ... are all cute Disney-esque qualities that I also seem to love now.

Saint Clifford.

yep.

Food and stuff

I love Italian food (and Mexican) and because I have my main meal at work these days, surviving on cereal in the evenings (and at weekends), it was nice to find them serving penne and bolognese sauce in the restaurant today. The last time I cooked Italian food was the day before Cliff's funeral - for his family. And I very much associate angel hair pasta with Cliff ... why is it so difficult to get hold of these days? When Cliff found some, he bought 4 bags of it and I am now half way through the last bag. I just can't face using it up ... I know it will make me howl. I guess I should be more pragmatic ... i.e. you're going to howl anyway, so why not eat the pasta, but it's so damn hard ...

... but not as hard as clearing his van out will be this weekend. My stomach is doing back-flips just thinking about it. Maybe I'm not ready. But I know he'd be cross with me if I don't. I've got to sell it. Perhaps I'll clear out the front and see how I cope with that, and if I'm not too bad, then when Vern stays on Saturday, he can help me clear out the rest of it. Besides, I don't know how to charge the battery.

The next hurdle after that is to ask Gary to come and finish the new roof. There's only a few tiles left to go on, and it will be hard to watch someone else standing up there, but I don't have any option. Besides, Cliff would want Gary to do it ... and I've got to keep my shit together for this one because I know that it will be upsetting for Gary to get up there ... and I'd rather he simply focussed on staying on the roof. He's probably wondering why I haven't already been back in touch to agree a date.

I'll get there baba, I promise.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A stronger day

I couldn't remember where Faye lives (even though it is one mile from my house), so left her a voicemail asking for their postcode so I could plumb it into my tom-tom. Unfortunately she has dislocated her knee so I'll visit later, when she's more mobile.

Instead, I put out my trash, washed up, tidied up and put a load of washing on.

Not very exciting, but I'm pleased that I had the energy to do it, and more to the point, that I bothered ... recently I just haven't had the interest there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ululating

I understand why women in the Middle East ululate now. Last night I felt like doing it myself. Instead I sat on his couch for the longest time rocking myself, like the insane do, literally SCREAMING for him and crying so hard that I almost threw up.

Fred kept licking the tears off my face and at one point I had to pick up Barney because he'd started shaking with fear.

Today I am EXHAUSTED but I'm here. So far, so good ... feeling stronger and looking forward to seeing Faye, David and their new baby Benjamin this evening.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Doing it for him

The other day I asked myself, "What do I have to live for now?"

I think I have the answer.

I still have to live for him.

Last night I got to my car (to go home) and spontaneously decided to drive down to the coast to see Cliff's Dad. I didn't really have the energy on Sunday. It is maddening ... just how tiring grieving is. Having already been to the wedding "do", I just didn't have the necessary oompf in me to do it. Besides I wondered if my visit on Fathers' Day would bring his Dad more pain than pleasure this year. But yesterday was his birthday, so I rocked up on his doorstep unannounced and was greeted with hugs and love. It was lovely to sit and chat with Dad and Jenny, and I find that the dynamics of the relationship that I have with his Dad have now changed. He's still my father in law, but I see him more of an equal (as opposed to me being simply a daughter-in-law) ... he has now become my friend, he understands how I feel. I can say what I like to him and he gives gentle advice. Jenny is no longer my siamese twin as she was in those first two months, but she is my sounding board and cherished confidante. It is amazing to me, constantly, how they also grieve but still put me first.

Afterwards, I popped round to see Vicki - one of my oldest most trusted friends. She has been a pillar of strength to me. She is close enough to me to say, "Woah. Slow down. Let's talk that through." or diplomatically, "have you thought about it this way ..." whilst never imposing her thoughts. Last night was the first time since Cliff left, that the conversation seemed more normal. By that I mean it was balanced. We talked about her stuff too. Of course we talked about Cliff and stuff that I am going through, but it felt so good to start to get a balance there.

I have no idea what I would have done without those three people during that first month. Yes I do. I'd have "coped" but eventually I'd have got very ill.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I did it! (Part Two)

I'm back at work again (in the office as opposed to working from home). I feel as though I've just won an Oscar or the Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously.

Had the weirdest dream this morning. Cliff was laying next to me, saying, "Will you turn that damn alarm off and get your arse out of bed." Now I admit that he used to say that to me quite often, hence I thought that it WAS real, and actually turned round to look for him, then looked at the alarm clock and it had been beeping for 19 minutes. I don't need to explain how I reacted to that ... suffice to say, I drove into work so that I could leave half an hour later. But I did it.

It's good to be surrounded by people again. I like the cuddles and hugs :-)

We've had a restructure at work, so I have a new desk and new neighbours ... bit of a fresh start.

Still can't focus on anything for very long, still forgetting what I'm doing and having to back-track, but I'm here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Transcending Grief

This is a great article:

http://www.griefhealing.com/column-transcending-grief.htm

It is written by Marty Tousley (who is the counsellor on the Discussion Forum that I joined). I feel good right now because I recognize that I can do some of this stuff (not much of it, but you've got to start somewhere).

This is what I CAN do:

  • Drive somewhere by yourself without crying the entire time
  • Concentrate on a book, movie or television program (well it's how I measure the quality of a TV program, book or movie. Recent good examples of are: P.S. I love you, St Trinians, CSI, The Take, The Bookseller of Kabul, Three Cups of Tea)
  • Not think of your loved one for a period of time, however brief (did this ONCE for a half hour fast-moving telecon at work)
  • Return to a daily routine (yes, but it's not exactly a jam-packed full one)
  • Accept invitations from friends and family
  • Reach out to another in a similar situation
  • Realize that the sometimes thoughtless comments of others stem from ignorance, not malice
  • Find something to be thankful for
  • Be patient with yourself through grief attacks (sometimes)
  • Catch yourself smiling and laughing again (fairly rare, but yes)
  • Stop and notice life’s little pleasures, the splendor of creation and the beauty in nature (yes, but I get sad because he is not here to share it with me)
  • Feel freer to choose when and how to grieve
  • Talk about your loss more easily
  • Look back and see your own progress
  • Discover abilities in yourself you haven’t developed before or didn’t even know you had
  • Share the lessons you have learned through loss with others

Old songs take on a different meaning ... and Father's Day

Today it hit me. That some of the songs that Cliff used to play to me, FOR me are appropriate still, but in a different way. The words have taken on a different meaning for me now, rather than simply being memories.

Some songs really speak to me right now. Joe Cocker was a great favourite of Cliff's and I'm smiling now as I remember going to see him live in Rotterdam with Cliff, Vern, Es and Len.

Standing Knee Deep in a River
Have a Little Faith
I Will Live for You
The Great Divide (I played this at Cliff's funeral)

I wish I could listen to them but I just can't. NOT YET.

Now it's making me cry that I can't listen to them, and now my deaf dog is making me laugh because he is sitting very still, looking at his reflection in a mirror.

How on earth can you smile, then cry and laugh at the same time? Yet I do.

At least I'm not just crying.

And I am wondering how Cliff's daughter is feeling today. Even though we have both hurt each other with horrible words. I think perhaps we are both hurting too much to be able to cope with each other. I can only deal with my own pain right now and I simply cannot tolerate being attacked by anyone no matter how they are feeling. I know that "two wrongs don't make a right" and that I emulated the same behaviour by biting back, and it's too late now. But it's a simple case of self-preservation ... I feel like a wounded animal who has hidden to suffer quietly and attempt to recuperate. But today is her first Father's Day without Cliff. I remembered last night that I have a camcording somewhere of her with Cliff when she was around 12 or 13. When I come across it, I'll have it copied onto DVD - if that's possible - and send it to her, whether she hates me or not. I think he'd like her to have it. Maybe she'll be able to see the love in his eyes when he looks at her on the recording.

And another thing, I wish I had been strong enough to go down to the coast today to see Cliff's Dad. There again, perhaps seeing me would have been too painful for him on this first Father's Day without Cliff.
I am doing better than I was last Sunday. I may be stuck here living life through the internet today, but I AM going to mop the kitchen floor shortly, do some washing and pop out to the corner shop for some more essentials. I AM going back to work properly tomorrow too.
It's just so hard to live. It really is. I lived for him. Now what do I live for?
This is the crux of it - the question that I need to find the answer to. Who knows? But I WILL get there. I have to.

I did it!

If I say so myself, I feel quite proud of myself, for driving up and down the M25 this evening, in order to congratulate my friends Mel and Elio on their wedding. They got married in Greece four weeks ago, but had their evening "do" tonight. I DID IT!!

I went alone and left alone. Poignantly the chair next to me was empty and I realized that it had been intended for Cliff (in their original seating plan). And I could have sworn at one point that I could sense him there next to me, but who knows? Maybe longing for him made it seem so?

They were so happy that I managed to go. When I saw Mel's face light up, it made all the butterflies in my stomach and trepidation seem worth it. She looked stunning, radiant, beautiful.

The only times I felt really wobbly was when Mel asked me if I was ok and said thank you so much for coming, and I told her I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and again, when having the same conversation with her lovely Mum. Also when she danced with her Dad because I felt so happy for her that he survived his heart surgery in December last year.

It stuns me that I can feel alone even when I am in a room full of people sometimes. But it is testament to these friends, my lovely boss included, that tonight, I didn't experience that.

There's nothing like being with two big Italian families to make you feel at home and safe.

And yes, I did get plenty of cuddles, and those are good for the soul (and your confidence). I even danced (once) although I was only brave enough because the Bride and Groom's Mums both held my hands.

Even so, I felt an enormous sense of relief when I walked through my front door and not just because I was dying for the loo. I had to let the tears come, and the strangest thing occurred to me. Tears are my friend now. I used to hate crying like this, but now I realize finally, that they help me. They stop me bottling my loss up and becoming ill. They cleanse me, and little by little, they are accumulating into the ocean that I will have cried by the time I have learned to live with this. For now, they are another friend.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Italian Wedding

I wasn't going to go. Because I've felt so low for the past couple of weeks. But I'm just about to get in the shower and get ready to go to Mel and Elio's wedding reception. I know that I will cry when I put on the black evening dress that I've selected to wear. Because Cliff isn't here to zip me up. Because the last time I wore it was to Faye and David's wedding reception, which Cliff accompanied me to.

But I've decided to be a big girl and do it. He'd want me to. They'd understand if I didn't go, but they're important to me so I must.

Besides if I don't go, two of Cliff's friends have got me a ticket to a rave tonight. And they won't take no for an answer. And that, my friends, I am definitely not ready for. I feel too old for it without him for some reason.

Besides, my legs could do with their third shave in 5 months ;-)

Besides, Italian weddings are great. I will be cuddled and hugged all evening. Now that IS worth getting in my car for.

Fred and Barney




Fred is my deaf rescue dog. He looks a lot like TinTin's Snowy and can be a pain in the butt because he pees indoors sometimes, and I can't smack his arse because I know that he was beaten badly as a puppy. Cliff found another solution/punishment, and still by the back door, is the Arnold Schwarzenneger style super-soaker water gun that he used to squirt him with every time he was naughty.




But Fred snuggles into the small of my back every night and I swear that he is the reason that I sleep through most nights, thankfully free of the nightmarish sweats that sometimes wake me ... pure unadulterated fear and unimaginable loss ... because Cliff is gone.

Barney is Fred's sidekick. He understands that Fred cannot hear and therefore will go fetch him if I ask him to. He is a good boy, extremely cute and clever, and does incredible impressions of meerkats.

They are my constant faithful little companions. They helped to heal us after losing our beautiful rottweiler, Hammer. Now they help me just by being there, occasionally making me laugh. It's a sad state of affairs that they no longer react to my crying, as they have grown so accustomed to it.
I speak to them a lot and they are good listeners, even if one of them IS deaf.




Friday, June 19, 2009

More on White Vans

A man just rang our doorbell, to ask if I was interested in selling Cliff's white van. How can I be so stupid and trusting? I told him that Cliff had died and that I'd need to find out what the van's worth as well as clean it out and give it a good clean. Now he knows that I'm home alone. What an idiot.

Now I am more concerned that I am going to have to let go of the van. I know how much this will hurt ... to watch someone else drive it away. But, I do know that Cliff would be annoyed if I just let it rot away, so I'd better do it. Think I'll ask Paul or Vern to help me do it so that I don't sob all the way through it.

I know it's silly, that it's only a thing, not a person. It's not him. But even so, other widows and widowers will understand exactly what this means to me.

I just smiled at a memory of Cliff in his van. I was stuck in bad traffic and Cliff knew that I hardly had any petrol left in my car. It wasn't long after I'd passed my driving test. He was so lovely ... every night he'd be standing in the window with his mobile in one hand and his van keys in the other just in case I had an accident on the way home ... anyway, he found out about the traffic jam and knew I'd run out of petrol ... so there I was sitting in my car looking out the window, when I saw a white van looking like Cliff's coming towards me, with a man who looked remarkably like Cliff coming towards me ... it WAS Cliff! "Follow me," he said with a big grin on his face. Follow him I did, all through the country lanes back home (via a petrol station) safely.

I'll do it but I'm going to need help. At least I know I can ask for help.

Shopping

I have run out of toilet rolls, dog food and milk which means I have no option other than to go shopping today. It's so painful though because we used to go together. Cliff was a very good shopper and would always look at the reduced aisle and procure some yummies at cut prices.

At least I manage to walk down this aisle and see if anything appeals to me now. A month ago I used to give that whole area of the supermarket a wide berth.

So I am making progress, aren't I?

All his friends and family keep telling me how proud of me he would be and that gives me the strength to keep trying.

One day at a time, one step at a time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Making a cup of tea


As I'm working from home this week, I just went into my kitchen to make a cup of tea, and found this in the cupboard. The memory of sitting on a paddle-steamer on the Mississippi with Cliff was so palpable, I suddenly found I was holding my breath, lest I made the vivid memory disappear.
Cliff was the single BEST cocktail-maker in the world, and I wrote down a few of his recipes over the years. They are the product of some very happy times and I thought it might be a nice positive thing to do. To share them on here. When I come across the book, I will upload them so others can enjoy some of the extremely yummy drinks that he concocted. I know he'd approve.
Damn, we were good hosts. Friends loved coming to our home to socialize. I wonder if I will ever be able to act as hostess in the future with such a big gaping hole in my home. He wasn't just big in a physical sense, he had a big presence in my life, in many lives. Presently, I can't even bring myself to go into our second lounge (which is like a bar/music room) let alone turn on our CD player and listen to it. One day. NOT YET.
I still can't move his jacket off the bar-stool in the kitchen, and still his empty mug and dish sit next to his side of the bed. The Santa's are still up in the toilet, the kitchen and both lounges.
Then I look at his swimming certificate on the fridge door. It is dated 1966 and was issued by his school to state that he had passed the test for swimming 20 yards and 50 yards. He was awarded this when he was 10 years old, at a difficult time in his life when he was being badly bullied at school. And I think to myself, he did it. He overcame the odds, so you can and you must. Even if you can't actually do stuff yet, at least think positively and plan things.
So I do. I am going to learn about gardening as our garden is 160' x 40' and I think it's a good way of letting my grief out. To create stuff and tend it.
Additionally I am going to re-start my saxophone lessons. Cliff bought me a beautiful sax three years ago and I should learn to play it and enjoy it. After all that's why he bought it for me.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am hurt

Someone has decided to vent their own anger and grief on me yet again.

Why is it that the very people you think will initially be on your side end up hurting you the most?

I have been accused of being inconsiderate, selfish and what has hurt the most, is that I am now told that I should have rung this person to inform them that my husband died straight away, instead of making the effort, which at the time was gargantuan and mammoth, believe me, to go visit them to tell them face to face.

They obviously mistake me for someone that gives a fuck. Because I don't right now. I just want to be with him.

I have spoken to Cliff's friends and they are stunned and appalled. But I still hurt. They reassure me that I haven't done anything wrong. But I still hurt.

I wish these pills would kick in.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Art works



A friend told me that she found art a great way to express her grief and sent me the picture below. I think it really encapsulates the essence of grief itself. Life is strange. I already have a copy of Klimt's "The Kiss" in a frame and bought it when Cliff and I got engaged because we both loved it, but now I find myself identifying more with "Grief". Amazing that you can go from one state to another in a space of one nanosecond. You can be a smug married and be broken so easily. Just like that. Life is so cruel sometimes.





I used to play this song because I could always get what I wanted ... I had it.






Now I realize that "You can't always get what you want".
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, I took my first anti-depressant last night. The doctor warned me that I may have some side-effects but didn't expect them quite so soon. Was so sleepy and dizzy this morning that I thought I wouldn't be able to work till the afternoon. But after sitting still for a while, I felt ok, so have been tapping away on my laptop for a few hours now, with one dog asleep on my feet, and the other dog snuggled into my side.
It's strange ... it's as if I want to re-join the world, but I'm too scared to. I can hear my neighbours having fun in their garden and want to rock up there and join in. On the other hand, I'm not ready. I'm too tired for anything all the time. This is so so tiring, unlike anything else. They rang my doorbell this morning and I chose to ignore it, even though my car is on the drive, so they know I'm in. Luckily, they accept my weird behaviour and go with the flow.
I feel like a small child who wants to learn to swim, but has that trepidation on putting her toe in the water.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I laughed out loud

Just went onto Facebook and one of Cliff's oldest friends had left me a message:

Had that fight in march cliff still the best

He's referring to a heavyweight boxing match he had in March (which he won). I didn't go to support him because I knew that I'd probably end up embarrassing him by screaming at his opponent if he managed to punch him.

But it was his reference to Cliff that actually made me laugh out loud properly for the first time in I don't know how long. It washed over me, sounded alien, but felt so good.

When Cliff died, Lloyd rang me to see how I was and to help with arrangements for the funeral. He was one of my guardian angels and still is ... in fact, he was one of Cliff's pallbearers. One of the things that I really LOVE is to listen to stories about Cliff and the past. I'm usually amazed at how I am able to finish each story (if I chose to) but I normally just listen and wallow in the memories.

Here's the full story which I have pasted below, an excerpt from the Eulogy and Order of Service which I wrote for Cliff:

Lloyd Herring told me that he had the hardest fight he ever had in his life with Cliff. Lloyd, if it makes you feel any better, Cliff told me exactly the same thing when he told me. I will always smile when I remember Cliff telling me that the noise and "mayhem" caused during this fight prompted the police to knock on the front door, at which point Lloyd slammed the door on them, snarling, "It's a domestic" and they seemed more than relieved to treat is as such by leaving them to settle their differences. Settle their differences they did, and they remained good friends with mutual respect and there was always a sense of fun interjected with dry humour when we met up. This was the Cliff who recognized a man when he met one and who always had a sense of fair play and would move on, rather than becoming bitter. This was the Cliff who was a man's man and who was comfortable in his own skin.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Things can only get better?

Hmmm, not entirely convinced ... however, I have collected my meds from the pharmacy:

http://www.cymbalta.com/alreadyprescribedcymbalta/managingyourdepression.jsp

I'll report back on how these are working. I've been told to expect some results within the first four weeks of taking them.

One small step ...

After having the whole of last week feeling ill (my immune system is still so low despite taking a Berocca a day) with an eye and ear infection that made me so dizzy that I was vomiting, which taunted me ... he's gone, he's gone, he's not here to help you or look after you anymore, I have managed to make one small step today.

I've managed to make myself go back to work. Not in the physical sense ... but I am working from home. I've managed to work, whilst crying almost solidly all morning. There were some short breaks from the crying ... and for that I am grateful ... work is a good distraction.

I am about to phone my Doctor's surgery to see if my prescription for anti-depressants is ready, so that I can re-join the world and try to start living AGAIN. I wonder how many times along this journey I am going to progress, then go backwards, then progress again. One step at a time, one day at a time. That's enough to cope with for now.

At least I'm doing my best to get back on the horse. Last week that was not an option.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bring on the drugs

I want to be doing what I used to do on a Sunday ... cook a roast dinner and look out the kitchen window and watch him. Doing stuff, laying the lawn, creating something. See him smile at me.

Instead of eating cold baked beans out of a tin, feeling cold and empty and lost.

I want his arms around me. I want to hear his voice. I need his counsel.

Instead of feeling like I'm letting him down because I can't motivate myself to do anything except cry. There's so much to do that I don't know where to start and I don't know how to do it.

I can't even handle phone calls at the moment, it requires too much effort to tell people how I am, and besides, I can't really tell them the truth, because what can they say? What can they do? Phone calls actually stress me out right now.

I've been strong up till now, and I just don't have it in me anymore. I am broken and defeated and just want to be with him.

Bring on the meds. I definitely need them because I'm on a self-destruct path now ... shutting out the world, not looking after myself properly and I'm standing on that precipice unafraid of taking the leap.

That's what really frightens me. The lack of fear. The fact that I don't give a fuck.

But I can still feel his love and it's all through this house that he'd almost finished building. I know that I have to pick myself up and do this for him, because he wants me to and he loves me. Maybe tomorrow. NOT YET.

The other thing that has kept me going is a voicemail I got from a widower friend in the States. He was worried about me because I hadn't been on the Forum, or blogging or replying to his emails this last week. And I think to myself, if he can worry about me, if he can make that call, then perhaps I can do this.

Haunted

"Haunted"

I really miss you when the nights are long
And only silence is heard in this world of song
But life goes on
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

I see you walking through the gates of home
And then I wake up to find I'm still all alone
I should have known
But forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

Lonely is the river as it tumbles to the ocean
Searching for our future
We can't find our way back home
My only comfort is the love we shared
And as I walk through this world
With sadness everywhere
I've had my share
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

Standing in the doorway
As the sunrise greets the morning
Searching for our future
We can't find our way back home
I really miss you when the nights are long
And only silence is heard in this world of song
But life goes on
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love
Haunted by your love

The soundtrack of a happier life

Crying big fat tears, don't feel like writing anything, so instead here's some tunes from the soundtrack of our life together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmjFk7i4hyg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n1mfhFBYdg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSpLqmY6K0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MicSwhJcNxY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmAIFscDgPo&feature=PlayList&p=53E25A95DC8EE4C8&index=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF-GvT8Clnk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MGXNb27QeA&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KMUP8oTJ54&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhA8Sttcx0w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUt-Gn80hD0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJNfAJlFcz8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df5oxx-q6pw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTnWwN1Vhwk

and we got married to this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL23cb5SaBg

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jagged Little Pill

On Friday I spent an hour and a half with a Psychiatrist. He reassured me that everything I am feeling is perfectly normal, but stressed that I still need counselling and may need this support for at least another year, perhaps even three years. Additionally he wants to review me every three months and is recommending anti-depressants for the next 6 months, perhaps longer. My concern was that taking meds may delay my grieving and I was terrified that I would have to address this when I stopped the meds. Perversely I don’t want to escape the indescribable pain that I am in because it is my badge of honour. He has promised me that this will not be the case, but explained that my “score” was very low, that I NEED the pills and that I am coping admirably, but in his view … AT WHAT COST to my physical and mental health. The meds will simply help me on my journey through widowhood, by compensating somehow for the emotional trauma that I am going through. I will still feel the pain, however they will give me a helping hand. I have to admit that I don’t really understand … but I do know that this new phase I am going in is much harder, much tougher than the first five months. This is reality. It’s too painful. I can’t do this without help and am not too big to deny myself the help either. I’ll neck a pill a day and see if it helps. I’ll do anything, because I can’t do this – it’s not tenable.

I’m looking forward to seeing my counsellor (Frances) again because I have really missed our sessions. The good news is that my healthcare insurance is more than happy to add her to their “books”, which is an enormous relief because I have a connection with her.

I feel very very low, and am walking into this with an open mind.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Family

Spent the weekend with my big sister Honey and her other half Geoff (who is an excellent cook), my nephew Mark and his other half Helen, his girls, Nyah and Maisie, and my niece Frances and her other half Adam (who I am starting to get to know properly … and I know that I will never worry about my niece as long as he is there – what a lovely man … thank god she has found a MAN … not a poor imitation of one. She’s much smarter than me – it took me 30 years to find one.)

I love them and love their company, but at times find the noise and all the conversations hard to keep up with. I didn’t used to … is this because my mind cannot cope with too much at one time because it is working so hard just to stay sane? I didn’t want to leave them, yet at the same time, I crave solitude so that I can let go. I am so tired and it’s hard to motivate myself at all. But I can’t go back to that deep dark place. I can’t give up, but I am going to need help.

When I get home I start updating my will because it seems to be important to me to work on it, not because I am having bad thoughts at all … it’s just that I don’t want them … those people who I love having to deal with a mess when it is my time to go. I know, truly know, how painful this is and want to protect them from as much shit as I can.

I just want to be with you.

--------------------------------------------------

As promised earlier in my blog, here are the questions in Jerry Sittser's book that I have given some thought to:

JERRY SITTSER – A GRACE DISGUISED – DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What happens when we try to fend off the darkness resulting from sudden and tragic loss? In contrast, what are the positive and negative consequences of plunging into the darkness?

We exhaust ourselves. We fight and fight and fight – resistance is futile. It is however our instinct to try to fight the emotions because they are unspeakably painful. When we learn to embrace the tsunami of feelings … we gain more inner peace, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration … what we gain is … less inner turmoil, however, this means embracing your worst fear, it is horrific … you literally go into a deep dark place, and there is no option other than to mourn as deeply as you must. This is reality. This is the name of the place on your journey when you realize that he is never coming home, never going to hold you again. This is where you learn to let the tsunami engulf you, sometimes riding on its crest, sometimes gulping for air … always wanting to be with him … acknowledging the huge hole in your heart and soul … and letting him take residence there, so that you can keep him safe.

Sittser writes, “I did not want to respond to the tragedy in a way that would exacerbate the evil I had already experienced.” What have been your fears regarding the impact of your response to the tragedy?

The danger is forgetting that you have a choice, you always have a choice – and taking the path that does not lead to bitterness, to becoming a victim, instead opting to honour his memory by being the best person that I can be, and learning the lesson well, to keep listening to “his voice”. This is my promise to Cliff.

Describe the confusion of identity that can result from catastrophic loss. How has it impacted your life?

Self preservation has kicked in … leading to my behaviour becoming the most sensible (boring) it has EVER been. I think that I am losing me, but then I surprise myself and prove that I can act the way that I did when he was here … he left me such a strong foundation and that is perhaps the greatest gift he ever gave me. Sometimes I feel as though I have lost half of me … and I guess I have, because we truly were and still are two halves of a whole … I feel as though I am losing “Boo” and that too many people are calling me ”Margo” these days … leading me to consider changing my name by deed poll to “Boo”. I realize that this would not really change anything in reality and therefore will not … at least PJ and I will call each other “PJ” and “Boo” even if the soul mates who called us those names are no longer around to say those words now.

What happens when, in response to suffering loss, we lower our expectations of what we will get out of life? What makes it possible to keep looking forward to a life that falls so far short of what we had planned, wanted and expected?

We had planned to grow old together, living half the year in Spain, when I retired at 50. As long as I was with Cliff I was happy. It’s all I wanted. Right now, when I get to the end of most days, I think, “oh well, another day done … good, that means I’m another day closer to the day when I’ll be with him again.” My goalposts have changed … I’ll retire at 65. My focus will remain on him, by which I mean I will try each day to live for him, to make him proud of me, to be a better person and to remember what he taught me, to get through this and not be a bitter “victim” but to still be essentially the person that he fell in love with. I think that I have lost some of the freedom that I had when he was alive, but time will tell if that’s the case.

What gives you hope when the pain of this present life overwhelms you?

The strong foundation that I am privileged with, thanks to Cliff and my parents before him, is the starting block that I will always have, even when I am knocked to “rock bottom”. I know beyond doubt that I will be with him again, I just don’t know what life after death looks like. I also know that I can’t just lie in a deep dark place forever, waiting for the day to come … he didn’t choose to die, therefore I have to live the way that he would want me to, until it is time for me to go.

Think about the far-reaching impact and heritage of your loss. What do you want that heritage to be?

To learn from this, to find the positive aspect of this, to still see the best in people. Not to become too cynical or paranoid about other people’s behaviour because he is not here to balance out my childlike opinion of the world. To help others in this situation. The shock of just how bad this really is … it stuns me that there is not more help out there … that people are not consumed with fear over this happening to them.

What have you discovered about yourself as a result of the loss you have suffered?

How strong I can be. How much I have learned from him. How much I am still learning along this journey. The depth of my feelings and emotions. The shock of feeling this unspeakable pain but somehow managing to endure it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lights on in the Darkness

Cliff's brother Graeme and his nephew Louis came to the rescue yesterday. I now have downstairs lights on again. So why do I feel worse? Because someone other than Cliff had to resolve the problem? Because they had to touch some of his stuff? Because they asked me some questions about the house that I couldn't answer and that made me feel guilty, even though Cliff wouldn't have expected me to know? I don't know.

It was good to see them and Louis is coming back to install the burglar alarm which is incredibly sweet of him. Most kids his age wouldn't bother ... he is a sensitive soul.

I'd like to lie down and die, but I know that's not an option. Instead I will get through today, see my shrink tomorrow (so that he can refer me back to my counsellor and my healthcare insurance will pay for the sessions), then drive to my sister's for the night. We are off to see my nephew, niece, their partners and children on Saturday/Sunday. This should perk me up a bit ... Helen has already texted me to ask if I drink diet or fat coke with my vodka ... it's fat coke, I need all the energy I can get, even if my stomach doesn't.

Another light in the darkness is that Faye and David have had their little boy. He arrived safely yesterday. This whole experience has changed me so much ... I cried with relief that she was okay. Before, I would have simply been overjoyed that the baby had been born. That said, I can't wait to see them and their baby. I KNEW it would be a boy and bought him a gift when I went over to Denmark.

An old and much trusted friend said this to me shortly after Cliff died:

even though it is such early days -I promise you that his light is still there, it is only that you are in such darkness now that you may not be able to see it for a while ... but you will, someday, and it will be a comfort. For now, though, darkness will prevail.

Right now I am holding onto those words ... and I wonder if she knows how much she has helped me, despite her own unimaginable heartache and loss. I must make sure I tell her. I can't trust myself to remember anything unless I write it down.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tsunamis and Waves

One of my "sisters-in-arms" said this to me recently:

People would often say "time heals", however really it doesn't ... it's just the waves of sadness and grief become farther apart, and not as large, but they still come ... you just learn to ride those waves I guess.

I like this because it gives me hope. Hope that the tsunamis will turn into smaller waves. Hope that one day I will be able to listen to the sea again.

I LOVE this song

Thanks again to Kendra for sending me this song - I love it as the words are so poignant right now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVLsETDwfWQ&feature=PlayList&p=3AFDE0E2E2DC867F&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=37

For a Dancer - Jackson Brown

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don't remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you're nowhere to be found
I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening
And I can't help feeling stupid standing round
Crying as they ease you down
cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away (right on dancing)
No matter what fate chooses to play (there's nothing you can do about it anyway)
Just do the steps that you've been shown
By everyone you've ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another's steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you'll do alone
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around (the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you'll never know

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I remember him

I Remember Him (author unknown)

In the rising of the sun and its going down, I remember him
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, I remember him
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, I remember him
In the warmth of the sun and the peace of the summer, I remember him
In the rustling of the beauty of autumn, I remember him
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, I remember him
When I am weary and in need of strength, I remember him
When I am lost and sick at heart, I remember him
When I have joys and yearn to share, I remember him
So long as I live, he shall live,
For he is now a part of me, As I remember him
Because he has been here, I will be different than I would have been
I will have to become his legacy
He travels with me into tomorrow
He may have died, but love never ends

thanks to CarrieBoo for this one



My Aunt has died

My Auntie Hazel died yesterday and I cannot really mourn her because she wanted to go. She'd been SO unhappy and lonely since my Uncle Bob died. I'm feeling a bit envious of her actually, truth be told.

I am very relieved that my sister Honey and I went to see her on Saturday ... and that my cousin Daryl and Auntie Paula were with her when she died. Most of all I am happy that she is with Uncle Bob again. They weren't meant to be apart.

It was weird to see her that quiet. That was how I knew it wouldn't be long. My Dad always said that she had perfected the art of circular breathing so that she didn't have to take a breath between sentences.

I remember her baking, and knitting me cardigans when I was three years old ... not as the old frail lady in hospital.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Deep, dark and sad

I am not sure, however I may have moved into another phase. I know that grieving is not a linear process, but this feels completely new to me.

Am no longer trampolining around, landing on GUILT, ANGER, DENIAL, NUMBNESS, BARGAINING ETC as I have been constantly for the past 5 months.

Instead, I feel defeated, deflated ... it feels like reality? I guess that was inevitable, and I find it amazing that it has taken me this long to arrive here ... just shows what a trauma losing your spouse is. Puts it into perspective.

I am crying MORE THAN USUAL (didn't think that was possible) and especially at home, even at my desk. This hurts even more than before.

I am also feeling very philosophical as I find myself at this new destination.

Thanks to Kendra for recommending that I read:

C S Lewis - A Grief Observed http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Observed-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652381/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243856371&sr=1-1

and

J Sittser - A Grace Disguised http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Disguised-Soul-Grows-through/dp/0310258952/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243856256&sr=8-1#

as both books (which I read this weekend) have satiated the need I currently have to approach this on an intellectual level, rather than emotionally.

I'd recommend reading C S Lewis' book, especially as he essentially invites you to go on his journey with him and his thought process is laid bare, as is his soul.

As part of the process I have been giving quite a lot of thought to my spirituality, my faith and what my beliefs are.

Watch this space. I'm planning to answer some of the discussion questions at the back of Sittser's book, as it may help me. Apart from the fact that there was a great deal of godbotheringTM throughout the book, I found it excellent. Truly helpful and thought-provoking.

Two things that Sittser says really stand out (for me):

- Why NOT me? (because there is so much suffering in the world, and death is so commonplace in many third world countries, conversely, in the West we tend to have more control over our lives and expect to be rewarded - e.g. good health for good behaviour. We expect justice. Consequently we are so shocked when we lose a loved one, and I know I wailed, "Why YOU?" over and over again. "Why couldn't an evil person have died instead of you?")

I found this humbling and it placed Cliff and I into the big picture, ie. globally.

- We can choose how to react to the tragedy. Strangely enough I had already touched on this issue here (http://boomayhew.blogspot.com/2009/06/selfish-grief.html), however Sittser takes this a step further by explaining that if we become bitter and turn ourselves into victims, it is literally soul-destroying.

As far as religion and the Church goes, let me lay my cards on the table first. The reason I am sharing this here is so that when I tackle the discussion points, there will be a point of reference.

I have a strong belief, but I am not sure exactly what it looks like. I was baptized and confirmed, having followed my Mom into the Church of England. My Dad had his beliefs but never went to Church. He used to say, "Say a prayer for me," as he dropped us off at church, when I was a child. Cliff's Mum's background was Jewish and I have no idea what his Dad's belief is, but I do know that none of their children were christened or confirmed.

I do know what my belief does not look like however. I certainly don't believe in a God that resembles Santa Claus, who lives with chubby angels that sit around on fluffy white clouds. Perhaps I don't even believe in God, but simply believe in goodness. I know beyond doubt, my faith is that strong, that there is life after death ... I just don't know what it looks like.

I no longer believe in a particular Church, rather opting for community. Living in and visiting too many poor countries where the people are too skinny and the priests are too fat does that to you. Additionally, I can pray anywhere ... a Church is only a building, as is a mosque or a temple. Cynicism? Yes, because my upbringing has been truly open, and I was encouraged to question rather than follow without question. My parents felt (as did Cliff's) that one should have the right to choose their own belief/faith when they grew up. I respect people and friends who go to church as I do friends who attend their synagogue or mosque. Everyone must have (or should have) the right to follow their chosen faith and belief. It's right up there with freedom of speech and FREEDOM as far as I am concerned. For me, the bible is a collection of stories to convey some very important morals, thus I believe it was written as a reference point/transferable examples for people to follow. Likewise the Ten Commandments are a code of ethics/morals that are an absolute must if we are not to live in a state of anarchy that resembles, "Mad Max".

I also have a huge issue with the whole "My God is better than your God" attitude, and would go as far as saying that money and (poorly interpreted) religious teachings are the root of all evil-doings in the world.

I guess it would be fair to say that I follow the teachings of many religions, but I don't belong to a particular faith anymore. Islam being one of them, I can't argue with their sentiment (and will probably be wearing a yashmak in Libya this coming Christmas, for security and out of respect for my hosts). I also believe there is something in the Buddhist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum - it certainly seems that I have found some hidden and forgotten strength(s) this year.


Why don’t I shave my legs anymore?

In the past five months, since Cliff died, I have only shaved my legs twice; for the funeral and for Es and Len’s wedding in Denmark.

I shaved them before I was with him fifteen years ago.

I shaved them before I met him twenty seven years ago.

Probably because no one else will be getting up close and personal.

That said, it’s just as well the hair on my legs grows through fine and blonde … otherwise I would actually look like Genghis Khan’s wife, literally.

I so miss him looking at me across a crowded room and winking at me, his eyes smiling.

ONLY YOU.

Smoking is cool

I have NO intention of ever giving up my Marlboro Lites. EVEN my counsellor said I shouldn’t yet.

WTF should I?

A couple of friends at work laugh with me often about this at work. They say it's because I don't care if I die at the moment. What frightens me is that it's true. I am scared that I have no fear.

On the other hand, I feel bad that I may die before my terriers (better known as my terrorists).

BUT I have made proviso in my will for Manda and Mick to be their legal guardians should I die before them.

If you had to put everyone you know into categories of Winnie-the-Pooh characters (which I do regularly … and it serves me well as a measure of peoples’ personalities), I would doubtless be Eeyore at this period of my life.

A surprise bouquet of flowers from him

I go into the garden and a flash of beautiful colour catches my eye. Cliff had put some plant pots on the patio wall and one of them must have had a plant in it. It has bloomed.

I have NO idea what the plant is, but it is gorgeous – a lovely shade of purple with delicate flowers.

It’s ALMOST like he’s surprised me with flowers. Like he used to.

He would never buy me flowers for my birthday or Valentine’s Day, but preferred to buy them for NO reason at all.

Out of the blue.

They make me smile …

They make me sob …

Protect Your Mind

My Auntie Hazel (who is also my Godmother) is dying. Therefore I take the trip to see her with my big sister Honey.

We agree that this is enough for me to cope with currently. I have to protect my sanity … going to the funeral would be too much.

Besides, I’d rather visit the living than the dead.

Bless her. Her clear blue eyes gaze at you with the trust and innocence of a baby. Big, round and beautifully blue.

She is 85 and lost her sweetheart just over a year ago. I’m amazed she’s lasted this long, in fact I think it’s cruel that she has had to endure it. Her late husband, my Uncle Bob was loved by all his nieces, nephews and god-children so much. An unassuming gentle man who refused to have children just in case they too might be gun fodder.

He fought at Monte Cassino with the Ghurkhas, and was a sniper in the Paratroopers, operating behind enemy lines during the second world war. A real hero who never spoke of his bravery.

Gold Card

I’ve severed another tie to my previous life. Before Cliff died.

I’ve paid off and cancelled my Gold Card. If he was still alive the shock would probably kill him ;-) Seriously, he’d be impressed and doubtlessly relieved … but I have to admit that it hurt … not because I cancelled it … but because he will never again confiscate it (when I started to destroy the statements before he caught sight of them.) He said to me one day, “Do you seriously think I’m not aware of the amount you have run up on that card?”

Once, he even took the card off me, putting it out of my reach in the soon to be renovated kitchen brickwork, which came with complimentary cobwebs, thus being assured that there was NO way I would attempt to retrieve it.

Did he seriously think that I hadn’t memorized my card number, expiry date and security number? He probably did. He knew me better than I know myself. Which meant that he knew that I wouldn’t go that far.

I did however, out of sheer rebellion, purloin his barbecue tongs and attempt to retrieve it, but soon aborted the mission, JUST IN CASE A MO-FO SPIDER RAN ALONG THEM AND ONTO MY ARM.

My new life CAN be a rich full one. That said, I know beyond doubt, that I will NEVER love another man … I don’t want to. No one could possibly measure up to him.

I have good friends who lead happy lives - and I know that he would want me to too – and they are UNATTACHED. I also know that I will NEVER stop loving him and NEVER stop wanting him.

It’s just that this horrendous painful feeling of being broken into a million fragments, and the equally painful process of trying to put myself back together, on so many levels, physically, emotionally, spiritually, rationally … is so so tough.

All I currently hope for is that these pangs will eventually visit me less often. Presently they occur approximately every twenty minutes or more. Perhaps, after a couple of years, they will only occur once a day? I have NO idea what to expect really. There is no yardstick for this.

Another nightmare

I wake up hysterical.

I dream that I have turned his hair completely white, and he is dying.

It’s all my fault … because in my dream, I have been unfaithful to him. His heartbreak causes him to refuse to see me face to face, rather opting to wave at me, from a distance, through a window.

WTF?

I have to drive to work an hour later than usual ... but at least I got back on the horse.

Dictaphones and thunder

I find Cliff’s Dictaphone, that he used to take notes with when estimating a new construction project.

My hands shake but I cannot resist the temptation to turn it on. There is some general background conversation – clearly it was in his Levi’s pocket and the record button was pressed inadvertently – I can make out his voice and strain my ears to catch something meaningful, to no avail.

It’s lovely to hear his voice.

Then a strange noise comes out of the tiny speaker.

WTF?

Then I laugh.

It’s me snoring. He TOLD me that he had recorded me snoring, to prove that I did. I always maintained that I ONLY ever snored if I had a cold. Mind you … my snoring sounded soft compared to his, believe me.

I’d love to hear that noise again, next to me … even though it drove me to distraction before. It rarely affected me as I generally fell as asleep before he did.

The noise then makes me cry quiet tears. Because it is the sound of my oblivious, unknowing, safe sleep. Before he died. Before I became scared of thunder and lightening. Before I became scared of the wind at night. It is the sound of my loss.

White Vans




I KNOW he is dead. Honestly. So WTF do I HAVE to check out every man driving a white Peugeot Partner Van?

Why?

I miss you so so much.

And another thing … sirens no longer scare me. When I used to hear them, I had to stop myself calling you to check that you were okay … grief makes you incredibly selfish.

Sounds selfish but ...


Sounds
Selfish
But
I’m
Glad
He
Went
First
I
Wouldn’t
Want
Him
To
Go
Through
This

... It hurts too much ...
... And I love him too much for that

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I catch myself uttering the words, “I want to go home” with alarming regularity. Even when I AM home. And it dawns on me that “home” is home, but less so. Home is really HIM. And always was and will be. It is no longer a tangible place, it never really was. It’s just that it took Cliff’s death for me to realize this.

I also keep saying, “I can’t wait to see you,” whilst feeling a twinge of excitement, just like I used to at the end of each working day. Please don’t let me be misunderstood. I AM adjusting to living whilst not wishing to be here anymore. IRRATIONAL? Not so.

Irrational is trying to phone your dead husband 48 hours after you witness him taking his last breath. Irrational is taking a photo of your empty living room to see if the camera’s eye can see him even though you cannot. I should know.

One of my regrets is that I never had the chance to learn more practical stuff from him. When we decorated our bar-room, I had such fun with him, learning how to paint. We accomplished it together and enjoyed the room together too. Only one room. Only two weeks before he died, we chose wallpaper for our bedroom and the hallway.

How much longer do I have to suffer before you’ll come and get me? I just want to finish off our affairs, get everything in order, so that all your hard work isn’t wasted. Then PLEASE come for me. I can’t do longer than a couple of years, perhaps three … this is not tenable, it isn’t living by any stretch of the imagination.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone ...

... actually I did. But I didn’t know how hard this would be. I COULD not, WOULD not, REFUSED to imagine it.

WHERE ARE YOU?

I need to know you are okay.

Thanks to Kendra for sending me this link. It has given me enormous comfort at a time that I really need it.

http://www.near-death.com/dennis.html

Lost future and broken dreams




At the resort we got married in Jamaica, they left you a “Thought for the day” on your pillow each evening.

One of these was an old Armenian saying, “May you grow old on one pillow.”

On our first wedding anniversary, we went to Paris for a long weekend, and booked dinner and the show at the Moulin Rouge (http://www.moulinrouge.fr/home-flash-gb.html) where they complimented me on my choice of handbag - in fact I was the only person not searched before going into the show. "Enchanté , madame." We also took a river cruise on the River Seine and I faithfully shut my eyes under the Wishing Bridge, praying for a long, happy marriage together, and good health so that we could grow old together.

We were both givers in life. Always helping others.

Why YOU?

A selfish grief

Sometimes I don’t want to admit that ANYONE else in the world feels like I do. I want to own the feeling, be possessive over it. I don’t want to admit that others are suffering equally. (When I was in Denmark I felt faintly irritated that there was a display about dying and death in the Viking museum. “Jeez,” I said, “why are the Danes SO obsessed with death?”)

I can condone this by referencing statements made by others:

“but you two were SO close”

“you loved each other SO much”

then my sisters-in-arms ground me again, thankfully. Some of the widows and widowers on the Forum have had it worse than me, without a doubt.

I DO know one thing though … NO ONE ever loved him like I did, and I NEVER hurt him like so many others did – it took him a LONG time to realize that I never would.

I actually feel as though we’ve been together throughout time … as if he was Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun … and I always joined him too late in life, always having our time together cut cruelly short.

Perhaps if I learn from this loss this time and become a better person … like he was … we will be granted longer together next time. Like a reward.

Or if that theory is wrong, at least I will see him again and be with him forever when it’s my time to go eventually.

I still absolutely don’t want to be here, but it’s a passive wish.

If there was one thing that he was always proud of – it was the fact the despite some of the shit that we went through / happened to us, I never lost my trust and naivety. I know very well that this was due to him in reality … however he WAS proud that I chose not to let experiences beat me or make me bitter.

What a team we were!

Some times it feels as though I’m carrying him in my heart and have grown to know him so well, learned so much from him … surprising myself at constant newly remembered teachings when I need them most.

Now that my worst fear has been realized, I’m now SO scared that I will stop listening to his voice. I mustn’t … or my own may lead me astray. This heartbreaking experience MUST only change me for the better, perhaps gracing me with empathy, or I will have let him down.

God knows I wasn’t the domestic goddess but as he often said, “I didn’t marry you for your culinary or ironing skills, Boo.” Which reminds me of the time on holiday that he laughed at me so hard, that he had tears running down his face, when I proudly announced that I had remembered to pack the travel iron, and when we unpacked … I hadn’t included the handle, and even he wasn’t tough enough to iron without one :-)

Driving home to Santa

Driving home I suddenly have the urge to drive to our old hometown (where so far I have not had the courage to visit) … knowing that my dogs will freak out if I am home late is the only thing that stops me from doing so.

I nearly break, at 85 mph, and then the Black Eyed Peas come on the radio.

The next moment I’m almost bopping and I AM singing at the top of my voice …

WTF?

HOW CAN I DIP SO LOW AND SO HIGH IN THE SPACE OF ONE NANOSECOND AND NOT LOSE MY MIND?

At home, the Santa’s still reign supreme. One of them is a ZZ Top style Santa, standing at approximately at 4 feet. It’s unplugged, thankfully.

NO ONE ever mentions this when they visit. Either they can’t see it (doubtful), they are too embarrassed to mention it (most likely), or they think I am losing my mind.

This photo was taken just after we moved into our house - it all looks completely different now, thankfully ;-)