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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Three Days Old

Scarlett Grace Mayhew





I didn't cry, baba. (Not till I got home and shut the front door behind me.)


Not even when I smelled that baby smell (you know, that amazing babyness/scent on the top of her head ... does nature make babies smell gorgeous as well as look gorgeous so that adults immediately want to protect them at any cost?), or even when I first held her.


She is a relaxed, content and beautiful baby. Most of the time she slept ... yet we found that fascinating ... finding ourselves leaning towards her, just looking ... we kept doing that. And laughing at ourselves.


I know this. I would die for her. When she wrapped her fingers around one of mine ... I knew I would always love her. She is part of you. As your daughter and other two grandchildren are. You cannot help but love those who are part of the person who you love so deeply. So I do.




When she held my finger, I nearly lost it ... because I remembered you telling me that when Jayde first did that to you, you felt a bond and you loved her from that very moment.




I'm so so happy to have them in my life. Another legacy. Breathing legacies with great personalities.


She is magical, baba. I think you held her soul before she came here. It's a shame that she will have forgotten by the time she can walk and talk. But I think she remembers now.


Magical.


They aren't mine. But I don't even need to wish they were ... because they ARE. Mine. Simply because I love them. We are all family in every sense of the word, bonded because of you.



Mayhew.





Thursday, May 26, 2011

You should be here

Scarlett Grace Mayhew



My beautiful husband, you should be here for this. Your grand-daughter arrived on Monday the 23rd May, at a healthy weight of just under 8 pounds. She is gorgeous ... adorable.



I'm going to see her tomorrow ... I can't wait till Friday and I could hear the happiness in Jayde's words when I told her I was coming a day early.



But you should be here. You should be holding her gently in those huge hands. Just for a while before I get an hour long cuddle ...



This is not right. The universe has made an almighty fuck-up.



Your blood is running through your daughter's veins, and your blood also runs through this precious new life, along with her two beautiful siblings. How can you not be here?



I shall hold her, smell that baby-scent on the top of her pretty head and I shall cry. Happy tears, tinged with sorrow. Did you hold her soul before she came here? Did you whisper to her that you'd be watching over her? Did you ask her to tell her Mum and I that you love us? Did she giggle? I keep remembering your face, the emotion shining from your clear blue eyes as they "drank" your daughter and me in. It was as though you were trying to take a mental photograph. We were singing along to something that had very explicit lyrics and Jayde was 14. You managed to ignore that ... and told us, "Oh I love you both so so much."



You had a heart as big as the house you built for us. You still do ... it's just not tangible anymore. I know you're here sometimes. We're going to be okay, but we're never going to stop missing you. How could we?



You should be here ... making me cry with emotion at the sight of her, the whole of her held safely in one of your hands. I miss your hands so much.



She is so beautiful, baba. And tomorrow will be the only time that I cry with happiness and sorrow. I shan't be able to stop the tears, if I do, I'll end up even worse ... after the first few seconds of that first cuddle, there will be only happiness. It's just the first few seconds.


I'm so excited. And you know ... over the past couple of months I've really not been doing well ... getting stressed, working silly hours, diabetes tiring me even more, so I had no energy to look after myself or the house, and working silly hours gave me an escape from the reality of you not being here. A vicious circle, spiralling downwards, out of control - the pilot completely oblivious ... until her boss marched her to HR and read her the riot act.


So ... a new life in our family. Already loved. A new start for me - working towards some balance in my little world. You were my balance and my safety net.


You should be here. I love you. I want you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blog to win!



Widowed Bloggers -- win a ticket to Camp Widow! Write a post sharing WHY you want to attend Camp Widow 2011.



LINK your post below to make sure we see it (you can also send us a note when you post it, to supa.dupa.fresh AT gmail.com).



Camp Widow is a exceptional weekend for widowed people of all ages.



We will choose one (possibly two) bloggers to receive a PARTIAL scholarship that covers Camp registration and some incidental expenses.



NO ACTUAL CAMPING IS INVOLVED. Learn more about this event, which is in its third year, at campwidow.org.



How do I enter?



Please write and publish a blog post telling the world WHY you wish to attend.



You can include topics such as how you expect to benefit, or share about some of the widowed people you've already met. You do not need to demonstrate financial need though if you wish to write a separate note discussing your financial circumstances, you may do so. Those notes should go to supa.dupa.fresh AT gmail.com.



Who is eligible to compete? Widows and widowers of all ages who started blogging before 4/1/11 and who are interested in attending Camp Widow 2011.



Please note: you should be prepared to pay for and arrange your travel to and from, and your lodging in San Diego. (We can help you find a roommate to reduce costs). If our generous donors can pay more, they will, but please don't apply unless you are prepared to make the trip (including arranging child care, taking time off work, etc.). You must publish your blog post AND notify us by midnight EST, Tuesday, May 31.



We will notify the winner within 2 weeks. Camp Widow will be held August 12-14. Details are at campwidow.org.



Winner MUST schedule and pay for his or her your own travel and hotel reservations.



Scholarship covers Camp Widow registration fee plus some incidentals.



Questions? Want to help fund this scholarship?



We want to hear from you.Supa.dupa.fresh AT gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting through Easter, my Birthday and two bank holiday weekends




I decided to celebrate Easter at work by being the secret Easter Bunny. Having to meet some New York colleagues on the Sunday at work, I managed to leave this (and one just like it), unobserved, at two shared areas within our office. It felt good to join in. It felt even better when I saw my colleagues' reactions to them.



OK, it's not Christmas. But it's a start.




I celebrated my birthday along with my god-daughter's (she was born the day after mine) with a lunch at a favourite Italian restaurant. Eating al fresco with a view of the sea on a sunny day in the company of my BFF, goddaughter and BFF's youngest sister was good for my soul. The simple things. In life. I remember how we used to sing along and understand Joe Cocker's tribute to that very subject.



After lunch we went for a walk down to the harbour and people-watched, chatted and philosophised about life. Goddaughter headed off for a night out and BFF and I returned to her home for numerous cups of tea and some heart to heart conversations. She is my rock and confidante.



This card brought nothing but laughter to me. I think my team at work is trying to tell me something.



The shoe man came into work on my birthday, and he appeared bemused by my reaction upon seeing him. "Yay, it's my birthday, and you appear with your shoes .... as if by magic!" whilst clapping and bouncing up and down like 3 year old. He grinned and showed me shoes he thought I'd really like. He beamed when I openly showed delight upon seeing him ... followed by what I imagine was confusion ...I wondered afterwards if he thought I saw him as some sort of masculine version of Tinkerbell.

Talking of fairies, I was so touched by one of my gifts. A Fairy wind chime from Roy and La-la. Some friends have told me that they think of me as a Fairy (with Tourettes? LOL) and it reminds me of the magic and connection I still have with Cliff. That nothing is impossible. You just have to believe. And he is the gentle breeze that makes the chimes sound. Maybe there are fairies or angels. Who knows whether they exist or not? I know love is real. And you can't see or touch that either. But it's real. Real enough to be stronger than death even.



(not actual gift but very similar)


And for the past 6 weeks, I've been stocking up on baby stuff. Focusing on the new life about to join our family instead of what has been lost. Cliff's third grandchild will be joining us on May 23rd. The c-section is booked. I really had fun shopping for her arrival. The evidence of my enjoyment resulting in four huge canvas shopping bags full.



*one of everything I could find in the baby care range - disposable diapers, and a diaper that is designed to last until they are potty trained - you just have to buy the cheaper option of slip in pads which are sold in increasing sizes to match baby, nasal decongestant, gripe water, nappy rash cream, teething gel, q-tips, baby wipes, disposable bibs and changing mats for days out, and one of each in the Johnson's Baby Product range - baby oil, baby lotion, baby soap, baby powder etc etc.








*baby girl clothes. 0-3 months, 3 - 6 months, 6 - 9 months, 9- 12 months. My personal favourites (apart from the Winnie the Pooh range) were a 0 - 3 month white cardigan and a 9 - 12 month raincoat in pink with black polka dots, and a 3 - 6 month denim dress with matching striped tights and long sleeved t-shirt.



*baby paraphernalia. A bouncer for her to sit in (the seat resembling the shape of an egg ... a womb like shape) which vibrates at the touch of the button ... to soothe. It is of course pink and girly and comes with a mobile that has stuff to stimulate her sight, curiosity, touch. Another bouncer type seat designed for using in the bath. So her mum can enjoy bathing her, and bath time will result in hopefully playtime, as opposed to a slippery, squirming, tearful battle of wills. I think I bought the whole Tommy Tippee range, with magic mat, bowls, bottle, training beaker, weaning spoons that change colour if her food is too hot, and some Winnie the Pooh dishes and plates too. A Winnie the Pooh blanket (which I think they will ALL be sharing).


*toys. Her first doll. Her first book called, "That's not my bunny". A bunny to cuddle (whose feet are designed to chew when baby is teething!) a teether that can be frozen or microwaved to provide some pain relief, a hippo that swims, to keep her company in the bath. And a rubber duck which changes colour if the water is too hot. Baby Roo who plays a lullaby.






Amber


And a gift for both of her siblings. Theo is only three (although he wears age 6 - 7 clothes already, and I can see so much of Cliff in him, not just because Theo is clearly going to be of a similar build). His love of animals. Being such a boy. But equally sporting the softness in him. I decided upon Aquadoodle for him, because he recently had an "accident" with paint in his bedroom.



Amber is older and would not be affected by sibling rivalry, but how could I leave her out ... so she was given cash to spend on her own choice.



And Jayde - the mum to be - a scrapbook designed to capture the baby years, and a wooden photo frame - with 3 spaces to show off her 3 children.




Jayde - only 2 weeks to go



I got such pleasure watching her look through everything. She was so touched and kept saying, "you've got me everything I need. oh wow! Look at this!" At the end, she looked around the lounge and remarked on how it looked like she'd held a baby shower, but it was only me.



My beautiful husband, you would be so proud of your little girl. She is a superb mother and knows that she is rich and lucky to have her 3 children (including one not yet born). She's finished growing up now that you've gone. She's been subjected to some darkness in her life. But like you always did, she's moved on, discarding bitterness but kept the learnings. I've been sharing some of your childhood memories with her now her children are at the age(s) that you were when your most formative memories occurred. The imminent arrival of your granddaughter has got me through the past few weeks, which would have been very dark without her to look forward to ... I had my 3rd birthday without you. Two more bank holiday weekends, including Easter. I kept falling into that deep dark place, but instead of dwelling and wading through a treacle heavy grief for days on end, I kept focusing on this new life, her blood shared with, and because of, your own.



You'd have had (mock?) annoyance with me on this shopping spree. Each spree resulted in a checkout girl oooowing and aaaaaahing over the cute outfits I'd taken so long to select. Was it soft enough, was it faulty, would Jayde like it, did it look cute? I tried to remain grounded and remember the practical things like bibs, socks and babygrows, and succeeded. I bought for different seasons. I didn't frequent the out priced baby designer shops. I was good actually ... for me. But even I, in the end, thought to myself, OK you've amassed a selection for her first year - to wear. You've set her up with everything a baby needs in consumables, and chucked in some stuff purely for fun and pleasure. That's enough. Don't venture into that ground of trying to compensate for your absence. I think I was close to stepping over that line. This baby doesn't replace you, but she is a living descendant of yours. Just as Jayde, Amber and Theo are. How could I not love them and spoil them every now and again.



Were you there? Were you there when we went through all the stuff, laughing and aaaaaawing at the cuteness of some of the outfits? Did you feel pride that Jayde could "see" intuitively, no need for the instructions, to assemble the bouncer? Did you feel happiness at seeing how Jayde and I are still like sisters (I still love her for saying, "she's not old enough to be my stepmother" every time someone asked years ago). Sisterly still. But now friends as well. Comfortable in each other's company. A shared humour. She has become a beautiful woman. In and out. I love you with every breath and every cell in my body ... so she and your grandchildren are remarkably easy to love ... impossible not to love to be honest. I love seeing them and laughing with them. Another legacy. You left legacies in so many shapes and forms, some tangible, some not. But this legacy is more special than any ... and I am grateful that they are in my life. I promise you that I will do my best to be there for them when they need it. Being there for them is a given. What I mean is do my best if I can help them in any way as they face their own trials and battles in life. Not as well as you would have done. There was only one you and there will never be another like you.



Someone told my BFF that I'd be okay but I had to realize that I'd never find another you. FFS. Has he only just realized? I was aware of that fact when you were still here with me.



I felt you there when an overwhelming sadness shrouded me on that last baby shopping spree. Sorrow that you were denied the pleasure of meeting your last grandchild. Injustice that she wouldn't meet you. I was battling with emotions at the till. The middle aged lady who was manning the checkout remarked on how lovely my choices were and asked who the baby was. I told her, "my late husband's third grandchild. We know it's a girl and she's due in a couple of weeks." She looked me right in the eyes and said, "I'm widowed too. Twenty years ago next week. How long has it been for you?" I told her and asked how she was doing at 20 years. She said that mainly she was fine, but significant dates or a trigger would bring the grief tumbling down on her again. She would never stop loving or missing him, but it had become normal to sit with that, the ache was no longer noticeable - it had become part of her very being. I nodded and agreed that I saw myself following her footsteps in time. She shared that her husband had heart problems and endured painful life-saving surgery, only to be subjected to cancer as he recovered from this. And the cancer stole him from her. She said she still found it hard. That he suffered with heart surgery - post op. for nothing. Except a fate worse than what he had already borne. I started shaking my head, "not fair, that is NOT fair". She said it was their wedding anniversary the following week, and I reached out and squeezed her hand. We looked at each other. There was a couple behind me and they had (without my noticing till that point) been observing our body language I guess .... which caused them to tune in to what we were saying ... and their feelings were palpable. No words spoken, but their faces said a lot. It took two hours in the shop's car park till I was in a fit state to drive. But I felt you there. I felt your love more than I felt your death. But still I cried. Making those noises that didn't sound human. Primal. Animal like. For when we grieve we return to that state, and remember that we are animals. Upon returning home, I played these songs by Joe Cocker, who along with dance music (when we used to go out) was very much the soundtrack of our life together. I remember you playing me two songs specifically when we were first in love. You played them again and again - we played them - until you left. We shared those lyrics, we knew they were about us. We knew them to be true, just as we knew our love was. You are so beautiful. Have a little faith (this one speaks strongly to me today, viewed from a different perspective). How I wish it were not so. It's only recently that I've been able to listen to Joe Cocker again.


Well, I've realized that he still is part of our lives, even though I can't see you, you are still here somewhere, just out of my reach and sight ...








Now that you're gone (Cliff would always associate the beginning lyrics with me)


Monday, May 9, 2011

Just breathe

Yes I understand
That every life must end
As we sit alone
I know someday we must go
Oh I'm a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah others they got none
Stay with me
Let's just breathe
Practised on our sins
Never gonna let me win
Under everything
Just another human being
I don't want to hurt
There's so much in this world to make me bleed
Stay with me
All I see
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
'cause I come clean
I wonder everyday
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
I come clean
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me till I die
Meet you on the other side

(Pearl Jam)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Will you join us in helping a sister widow?



We are a close community. Some of us have never met, and may never ever meet face to face ... but I feel such strong ties to everyone in this circle. This community. You are family, actually you have become as important to me as my family over the past two years.



I would not have coped this far or this well without each and every one of you. Fact. Because of having you there beside me, cheering me on, understanding and feeling what I feel ... I have felt less alone. I have realized that I am not losing my sanity. There have been days when I would only open up to this community, shutting the rest of the world out.



We've laughed together and we've cried.



Many of us refer to each other as sister-widows. I have many times.



Well, one of our sisters needs help. Right now. Her name is Cadi and she was born to be a mother (IMHO). She has beautiful children and she is a gentle soul. Cadi has not asked for help. But she needs it now. Some of my favourite sister-widows got together and asked for help on her behalf, which makes me proud to know such huge hearts. Hearts that despite their unspeakable pain are full of love and caring.



Please visit her blog and donate a few dollars/pounds. Any amount ... $5 ... £5 ... or whatever you can give ... will be gratefully received.



The lovely Debbie Thomas (Sudden Widow) is also asking for a contact for a Lawyer in NZ, please let her know if you know of someone who would work pro bono. Please.



here's the link to Deb's blog: http://suddenwidow.blogspot.com/



and here's the link to Cadi's blog where you can read Jackie Chandler's guest post ... and donate via PayPal.






Please send her light and love. We are all devastated by our grief, overwhelmed and struggling ... fighting our own private battles. But I for one know that I can afford to stay in my home, heat it and eat 3 meals a day. Not all of us are so fortunate.



If we can't help each other, well ... who can we help?

Monday, May 2, 2011

He's dead

Osama bin Laden is dead.

I'm feeling quiet and reflective today.

Thinking about Kim and Abby.

Thinking about 9/11 and all those people who died and their grieving families.

Thinking about friends in and from the Middle East.

Thinking and wondering about what is going to happen now.

I wish everyone in the world could watch this video ... would it even make a difference? Hatred is such a waste of emotion and energy, but it is so so powerful and frightening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUEGHdQO7WA

I wish you peace, all of you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Inspiring

I read this yesterday, and although it made me cry, I also found it so inspiring and wanted to share it.

http://drowningsupportnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/meeting-james-ventrillo-the-boy-earl-rescued-in-the-los-angeles-river/

The radio clip here is especially worth listening to:

http://www.scpr.org/programs/madeleine-brand/2010/09/20/




(other links for support for the bereaved - if they have lost someone through drowning - can be found here: http://nasbla.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3409)

It made me look at an old schoolfriend - Mark - in a whole different light because he is a search and rescue helicopter pilot. A quiet hero indeed.