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.