Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Walk ... the first anniversary ... January 6th 2010

I shovelled the snoo-snoo off my drive and set off for the coast ... and our walk. My friend Vicki had rearranged her work schedule so that she could walk with me, and I am so glad she did. We wrapped up warm and step by step, we made it. WE DID IT! It was good to be back on his turf, the place that is so evocative, so full of memories that I can practically see him. Walking along the coast is so cleansing - it's good for the soul, it's humbling and even though the waves were crashing onto the promenade, causing us to shriek and flee at one point, the sea always provides one with a sense of peace. It allows you to think and reflect on what is truly important in life ... without the modern noises - the blipping of Blackberries, microwaves and other interruptions - invading your surroundings.

The sea or ocean always brings Cliff back to me, due to all the shared memories we have, not to mention the footprints, invisible now, that he once left on local beaches and told me about.

Today, the sea also reminds me that Viking burials once took place there ... and in my mind, that is how I said goodbye to Cliff on January 26th last year, at his funeral.

And by coincidence, on the way back, I noticed the ramblers' sign-post which indicated that we had, in fact, walked the "Viking Trail" and was comforted by the fact that by intuition, we had chosen the most appropriate walk that we could have to commemorate Cliff's first death-iversary.
Curiously, I have been fairly numb over the past few days. I am shocked, considering the significance of the date, the date that the love of my life lost his life ... somehow finding strength and comfort from encouraging messages left for me on Facebook, by text, through other widow/er's, from friends and family ... by lighting the candles, by reflecting, by talking to him (and yes, with him), and by focusing on the simple fact that by walking those miles, Vicki and I have honoured him ... the essence of him ... ever thoughtful and considerate of those who were in (sometimes dire) need of help.

It humbled me, it put my pain, my worries and fears of the unknown and unplanned, not to mention unwanted future that I have ahead of me, firmly into perspective within this universe. I know that my pain and loss is no less than any other widow/er ... however, I cannot imagine having to worry about where my next meal is coming from - I may choose not to bother to eat, however it is a very different thing, to have a choice. I have warmth and shelter, a means of supporting myself, a wonderful, loving and supportive safety net of family and friends.

The widows I have fund-raised for are less fortunate than I, by a long shot. Sometimes outcast, forced to beg for food, sleeping rough, and unfortunately, facing horrific adversities that are the stuff of nightmares. Yes, even worse than my nightmares that are emotionally crippling enough.

So, as it turned out, I kept my feet firmly planted on the ground - the walk itself grounded me ... I let the sea wind blow away the cobwebs in my mind, I silently thanked Cliff for all that he was, all that he did, all that he taught me ... and above all, I felt this overwhelming gratitude that he chose me to spend his last 15 years with.
Unfortunately, having eaten a hot meal, having congratulated ourselves on completing the walk, we discovered that in the short space of an hour ... a snowstorm had crippled the entire region, and on attempting to leave Vicki's for home ... my car would not even climb the pathetically low gradient hill out of her street.
Perhaps it is a good thing ... for us widow/ers ... to have some things to worry about ... being stranded here, driving back through the freezing conditions (and when), my dogs (who I thankfully left with a big bowl of kibble, water and have the warmth from central heating), but who I am feeling almost panic-stricken at being separated from. As well as - how the hell am I going to get into work tomorrow, if I can't even get home today? To make communicating even harder, I have no mobile signal at all to let people know where I am, or what's going on - an added worry. All distractions even if they are worrisome, are welcomed ... what a paradox.
Ah ... out of my control, a reality check and reminder that nothing was in my control a year and one day ago either ... all I can do is keep trying, and whereas I know I will fall over, I can and will pick myself up, time and time again, ad nauseum until ... what?
In the meantime, I'll look forward to reporting back how much we've raised for those destitute widows in Africa and India, as well as less fortunate ones in the Western World.


  1. Great post, sweetie. Thinking of you and giving you a great big pat on the back for getting through the hellish first year so well. You rock, Boo!! So glad we're on this journey together. Lots of love and (((HUGS))) to you, my friend. I cannot wait to meet you in August! XOXO

  2. thank you for the photos. you did such a wonderful selfless thing. i am so proud to say i know you. and Cliff is saying, "she's mine."

    love and peace to you.

  3. What a lovely post and a wonderful way to observe the death-aversary.

  4. I would never have thought to do this walk--probably been afraid it would bring up tears and headache from the tears, but it is such a great idea and I am so glad you did. Nice to have friend Vicki along to take your hand and hold you up when you stumbled.

  5. Hi Boo. I loved seeing the pictures of your walk, and reading all about your experience. What really stands out for me after reading, is when you mention being suprised at feeling numb, rather than the difficult alternative. I find myself in that position more often now, and sometimes feel a bit guilty about not crying all the time.

    I think, for me, that I have to get comfortable with my daily responses. Sometimes I think I push myself into those dark wells of pain. The image I get is the self-flogging priests or monks.

    Perhaps by quietly walking through the memories, the anniversaries, like you have done, we are allowed to better experience our loved ones. As you said, you were able to talk with Cliff. If you were crying throughout the whole day you could drown out his voice.

    I'm so happy that this day gave you what you needed.


  6. Very dear Boo, I am thinking of you today and holding you close in my heart. Thank you for sharing your very special walk with us. I am very proud of you.

    Love and warm hugs,
    Marty T xoxo

  7. Andrea - you're coming to San Diego? YAY!!!! What wonderful news to come home to xx

    wNs - I loved what you said about Cliff saying that ... it's so important to me to make him feel proud.

    Thelmaz - thank you. The idea came from Marty's article about having a plan for the day, and something to focus on :-)

    Jude - I reckon that my tears and headache were fewer and less due to having something positive to focus on, and good company, for half the day :-)

    Dan - it was good, I mean, I welcomed back the numbness for it visits me less frequently these days ... and as for the monks self-torturing parody, I have to tell you that I EXCELLED, REALLY EXCELLED at the whole "mea culpa" thing, and think that I wore that hair-shirt too comfortably. In the end, I realized and accepted that it is what it is, and that I had to experience that to move onwards, but slowly ... (check my post on "The Worst Demon" where I talk about it) I embraced it in the end, but when I feared it would consume, even destroy me, I devised a way to overcome the guilt thing somewhat ... by imagining two wooden boxes in my mind ... one labelled "justifiable guilt" and the other called, "un-justifiable guilt". Over a period of a few months, I managed to assign all my issues to the un-justifiable box, and found that I was left with nothing other than a few regrets ... and what human being doesn't have those in life? The other thing that helped me was that I kept in mind that grief is not linear, that it is equally as important to have a break from grief work as it is to work through it, and finally, I asked myself what grudge Cliff may still bear me ... and in the end, I realized he would bear me none whatsoever, only love :-)

    Marty - it made my day to see that you had checked in on me and left such a touching comment. I have you to thank for most of my progress - you must know that xxxx <3

  8. The pictures are great. It looks cold but you and Vicki look beautiful, strong and alive! Very interesting that you wound up on the Viking walk. I always like to believe that we end up being led to where we are supposed to be.

    It is heartwarming to know that you are reaching out to others less fortunate and making a difference. All of us should try to reach out more in whatever ways we can.

    I really liked the end of the post. It sums up everything you've been thinking and working through. You're snowed in but it will be okay. The fact that we have to sometimes surrender to what is not in our control may be the #1 thing all of us have to grapple with and ultimately accept.

  9. WITM - yes, it is one of the hardest things to admit and accept - that nothing, absolutely nothing is certain in this world ... that much has been proved to us already, and the stability that we strive for can still have roadblocks put in our way to overcome. All these worries prove to us, that we can actually do it, even if at the time, they cause us worry and stress. However, when the roadblocks are relentless, and too much for one person to fight ... well, that's why I fund-raised ...

    hugs to you

  10. Hi Boo,

    I LOVE that you ended up on the Viking Trail! And I so understand the feeling of being humbled by the thought that some widowed people have to worry about their next meal in addition to the enormous emotional load we all carry. I believe our load is lighter when we are willing to share it with others, and I am glad to know that you felt the support of your widowed community as you honored Cliff one step at a time. Just remember that is all any of us must do...take life one step at a time. Of course great companions make all the difference ;)

    I am so proud of all you have done!


  11. thanks Michele, yes it was GREAT that it was the Viking Trail! The sign-post literally seemed like a sign to me :-)

    I am so glad that I did it and know he would approve ... and something positive will come from it. Work will donate £150 to WRI and next week I will have a good idea of how much I've raised - am quite excited! Will be in touch, and discuss best way to transfer into US$ and get to you xxxx

  12. Oh you are so brave in your endeavours in the face of such loss and grief, even a year on. I can't imagine... and if I'm honest, I don't want to imagine.. Selfish of me, I know. But I'm not stupid either. I know how fragile life is and I know how incredibly blessed I am to have found such a great love with my husband at this point in my life.... and because of you and your courage to share your story, I'm more aware of every second of the day with Steve. Making the most of the moments. It's the truth and something he would tell you too. That together we know to make the most of our time together because tomorrow isn't guaranteed!

    Thinking of you and hope you're ok, snowbound! Much love x

  13. Di, my old school friend, let me share with you that we widow/ers refer to some people as DGI's ("don't get it") and if there is one thing that I always say, it's this. Please don't try to identify with what I'm going through. You can't. Just be grateful that you can't. And go give your spouse a hug and tell him/her you love them.

    You know what, you get it! And you are doing exactly what I wish everyone untouched by loss would do ... you are special <3