Well, it would seem that the last post isn't a one-off. I felt good after writing it, cleansed even. And I wonder if I stopped blogging because I felt it was holding me back, or if it was because of what was going on in my life ... and the fact that I couldn't share it because it was too private. Yes, there was a man. No, I won't talk about it. EVER. He helped me get over those firsts and he did so as a friend. That's all I'm willing to say.
So I'm back.
Many of us have been in a funk since Camp Widow. It comes from being with all those friends who "get it" - you suddenly find yourself one of many - rather than the odd man out. It's wonderful. Then you return home. Back to life, back to reality. You feel lonely again. But just as I would not change a second of my time with Cliff, every second of this pain is worth the 15 years that I had with him ... neither would I change one second of Camp Widow ... to have the loneliness highlighted is worth every second of the weekend. I made friends for life during that weekend. I felt normal again. I have hope again. HOPE. Without hope you have nothing. Two special people; Hyla and Michele represent hope to me and they show me that there is life out there for me, and for all of us. It's up to me to grasp it.
Before I get onto the car accident, I just wanted to share some more thoughts/learnings from the Widowhood Conference.
1. One widow explained to me that just as a mother loves one child, when another comes along, she finds her heart expands enough to love that second child equally. Differently but equally. It's a different love. What a great analogy for thinking about allowing your heart to love another one day. One day. NOT YET.
2. People outside our "club" are not comfortable with widowhood or death. Because it is the unknown to them. How can we expect them to understand? We can't. But I had to stifle a smirk upon arriving at Colorado airport when US Homeland asked, "What is the purpose of your visit?" and I replied, "actually, I'm attending a Conference on Widowhood." To which he responded, tongue-tied almost, "You can go now." He could NOT wait to get rid of me.
3. During one of the workshops, we were asked to work in pairs and write down on a piece of paper what we "saw" in the other person. It was a powerful exercise.
I wrote about my widow buddy: "sense of humour, analytical, approachable"
My widow buddy wrote about me: "soft and at ease with myself, adventurous"
We both sat there saying, "WOW".
So, on to the car crash ...
Upon returning home after a good meeting in Coombe Abbey, I lost control of my car on an evil bend. The people who stopped to check I was ok told me that there was diesel or something slippy on the road. In any event, my car completely lost control - it flew over to the other side of the road, did a complete U-turn and ended up on the grass verge.
Everything went slo-mo and I swear I felt him there with me. I remained totally calm and remember thinking, "oh crap", also "I might be coming to you now baba" and feeling slightly disappointed when the car stopped and I was in tact. Not one scratch. Very surreal - I remember lifting my thumbs because I didn't want the airbag to break them (I'd watched a documentary with Cliff that shared that this happens invariably). But I can't remember if I braked or steered during those seconds. No recall whatsoever.
The kind lady who stopped asked me if she could ring someone and I replied, controlling my voice carefully, "No, I'm widowed." and she hugged me. Dammit. I wanted to tell her not to be kind else I would break. She drove the car off the grass for me and I set off, but the traction light kept flickering so I rang BMW Emergency and they said as long as the light wasn't on constantly that I could keep driving, albeit at a slow pace. After a few tears, and some builders buying me a cappuccino, I set off again, to find the car was deteriorating fast. At 35 mph and on a straight road, my car was not holding the road, so I pulled in at a safe place and 12 hours later, was home, courtesy of Emergency Services.
I miss Cliff all the time. I think of him every hour of every day. But that accident really brought it home to me. I was always okay when he was there. I would have phoned him and he would have told me what to do. It took me like an hour to figure out who to call and what to say. I felt like a child. I spoke to one of his friends and cried. His friend's voice broke too. I reached out to people on Facebook and they made me feel connected to the world. Not quite so alone.
But it's not the same.
I guess that I've learned that even though he's not here, I'm going to be okay ... I just might not FEEL okay about it. And I'll make no apologies for that.
My poor car has been taken away to be repaired and insurance will take care of that. My courtesy car will be here in half an hour.
So I'll be able to pick up my dogs (I've missed those little shitheads as Cliff called them) and get back into work tomorrow. Back to the stability of the routine I have created for myself.
Back to life.