I decided to get dressed properly and slap some war paint on ... to see the New Year in ... why? It just seemed right. It felt like Cliff would be pleased, relieved even, that I made the effort.
Mammoth effort, in fact.
I am so tired.
Breathing wears me out.
Tying a shoelace wears me out ... so I more often that not, leave one undone.
22h00 my neighbour tries (unsuccessfully) to reset the boiler. He asks me to join them for NYE and I say, "afterwards ... I need to do this alone, but after ...." and he reluctantly concedes.
At 23h00 I watched the fireworks in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong ... but didn't really see them. I couldn't see the beauty in them without him marvelling at them, standing next to me.
Flipped TV channel - cue woman twittering on about NYE in London. Her smile was too big, her twittering very annoying.
Turned volume down, so that I can tolerate twittering woman ... because this channel will show Big Ben and the countdown.
11h45 - miracle of miracles. I read the texts I've received over the past week, and send "Happy New Year" to Jenny, Jean, Mark & Helen, Frances & Adam, Honey & Geoff, as well as Vicki, Lloyd, Marcus and Gary & Gaynor, and a few others. I feel as though I've just climbed from Base Camp to the Summit.
I am a cat on a hot tin roof. I can't sit. I can't focus on anything for longer than 15 seconds. I am a human butterfly, flittering about, flit, flit, flit ... my mind going off at tangents, into memories and happiness in my mind.
The moving, translucent and faded water-colours of Cliff are still present and staying with me. Growing stronger even.
At exactly 23h59 I light a candle for Cliff - "Happy New Year Baba ... I love you so much. I wish you were here." ... then light a second candle, wishing the Dragon, Warren, Dan, David, Stephen, David, Austin, Michael, and others a Happy New Year, asking them to give their soulmates strength for the year ahead.
Big Ben starts to chime ... the crowd of 200,000 lining the Thames is counting down, TEN, NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN ... and I feel the tsunami building its immeasurable and colossal force ... SIX, FIVE, FOUR ... oh fuck, here it comes ... THREE ... take huge breath, close eyes ... TWO ... panic, fear, pain, the whole kit and caboodle is hitting me, like a reverse exorcism ... and I am gulping for breath, breathing fast to help me accept the pain ... ONE.
I am crying, the pain has knocked me sideways, but I raise my glass to Cliff, "Happy New Year, Darling." Glug. And again to other absent friends. Glug.
Then, without even thinking ... I race to the backdoor to see if by some magic, he is there, as he was at that moment in time, but a year ago, having let off the last firework. He is not. I am fighting for air, holding myself in my own arms, unbelieving, yet believing ... and watch the translucent, faded water-colours of that last firework. And him. I can almost feel those arms and ... I swear I can smell him once again. I breathe him in deeply and it quietens me some.
Slowly, I return to the lounge, crying quietly now, the loss felt deep within my soul and heart - there is only sadness because the anticipation, the fear, the demons have been expelled, perhaps by him ... the tsunami has gone out for now, and the waves may still be a force to be reckoned with, but they have become a little more manageable. I can't sit or be still.
Barney tells me, in his inimitable way, that someone is approaching the house. BOING. BOING. BOING.
It is 00h05 when the doorbell confirms he is right.
I open the door and can't keep a hold of myself, which is fairly rare these days. My neighbour is there and I start screaming and howling. I don't recognise my own voice. I am detached yet feeling it all. He steps in and tells me it's OK, he's sorry, he got here as soon as he could. I can see someone else walking up the drive - a woman - and she starts to speak. And my neighbour shuts the door in her face. Literally. "In a minute," he says dismissively. She's speaking through the door, saying she's worried, she just wants to hug and see me." I still don't know WTF she is - I cannot fathom it.
The waves diminish in size and strength ... and I remember the woman standing on the doorstep in the bitter cold. "Who IS that?" I ask Paul. It's Lisa. I laugh and invite her in, offering her a drink. She hugs me and won't let go. She holds me too long and I wriggle away, just as Barney does if I smother him too much when he's not in the mood.
They have both decided, straight after kissing their families to come round to see me.
We drink, we smile, we talk. Laugh even.
The texts start arriving at around 00h45 - and don't stop till around 02h20. The last one I read is from Cliff's youngest brother John asking me to call him. He sent the text at 11h50. WTF - 2.5 hours for a text to arrive. I want to hear his voice, but decide that if he is drunk, his lovely wife Sharon will be peeved if I wake him up at this hour, so text him back to say we will talk the next day.
My neighbour tells me that his NY resolution is to "not let people down" in 2010 and he looks right at me. I ask him if that's an apology and he cannot speak, but his face confirms it is.
They stay for 2 hours and I am glad they came. I think it goes someway to demonstrate that my neighbour is genuine in his friendship and remorse. He even climbed into the attic again at 02h00 to try and reset the boiler, to no avail. I have forgiven but cannot forget - I must not. I have to learn and remember the lesson. It feels good to let go of the spite and resentment. I don't like feeling ugly - it doesn't suit me. I just can't deal with it. It totally fucks me up.
Yes, I'm glad they came round ... I might have lost my mind if they hadn't.
The vigil, the sacred and magical time has ended.
The time is now. I have to deliver on that promise I made Cliff in the dark hours of January 6th 2009, "You don't need to worry about me - I'm alright - I will be okay." I'll make a start ... I know that I'll fall over a few times during January 5th - 7th, but I have booked the time off work ... I'm walking those 8 miles with Vicki for ... Cliff and the destitute widows.
Our new year commences January 8th.
Today, many moons ago, Cliff proposed to me. He personified happiness that day, and more than anything, I enjoyed watching that. He swelled with pride, happiness and excitement. More translucent, faded water-colours that feed my will to carry on ... each breath taken for him and him alone.
Happy New Year, Baba <3