I decided to try and
escape celebrate it by spending it with friends ... so drove down to the coast and breathed that sea air in. I talked about Cliff and our wedding day and honeymoon in Jamaica. A. LOT.
http://www.couplesresorts.co.uk/our-resorts/couples-tower-isle/ (where we got married)
http://www.couplesresorts.co.uk/our-resorts/couples-negril/ (where we honeymooned)
And, I did smile and laugh. A. LOT.
But ... there were a few times when my bottom lip quivered, and an Amazonian Tree Frog appeared in my throat.
Well, that was no surprise.
And, I got the best anniversary gift. The gift of touch. We widowed live without touch more often that not. When visiting peeps, I make the most of hugs and cuddles. But I can go for a whole week at a stretch without one of my best friend's hugs. A tiny teeny boost in comparison to the consistently tactile relationship that I enjoyed with my husband.
My close girlfriend Shirley and I had been doing some house purging and both felt a little grubby ... anyway, she called me upstairs and treated me to a hair wash, just like they do at the hairdresser's. Not only was it refreshing, it was reassuring. She talked to me like a child and I was whooshed back to my childhood - even being given a damp flannel to place over my eyes so that the shampoo didn't sting them.
Afterwards we went for a British Fry-up and said our good-bye's. But, I wasn't ready to head home, so bought a bottle of Smirnoff Black and headed to another girlfriend's (Manda) where we shared Singapore Noodles and I had two baby measures of vodka. Before I knew it ... it was 01h50 and I had survived the day. I knew I would. I mean, initially, in those early days I
assumed hoped that I wouldn't survive this unspeakable pain ... but the universe had other ideas.
Five minutes from home, my stomach started churning badly, so I just stayed on the motorway, driving into the dark starry night, smiling for and talking to Cliff. Only to find myself at Clackett Lane Services, eating a McDonald's Porridge (It was gross. I. Mean. Seriously. HTF can you FU porridge?), reading The Times on Sunday, then treating myself to a Starbucks' Iced Coffee, which I slurped on whilst feeling overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the messages on Facebook.
And headed home. AGAIN. And 5 minutes from home, yet again, I swerved past. This time stopping to text another close girlfriend (Lynn) to see if she was awake. She responded, "I am NOW babe. LOL. Come down, I'm here for you." And one hour later I rocked up at her place, fussed her gorgeous
dog princess, chatted ... then asked her if she'd come to Bluewater with me to help me shop for a wedding outfit and gift (on Saturday one of our oldest friend's son is getting married in Canterbury), which she immediately agreed to.
Off we set ... another hour drive ... one gift, one card, dress and little cardigan (to cover my ugly skinny arms), shoes, bag, bra (I cried when the assistant measured me because I had to let her see me in all my vulnerability and she told me, "Don't you DARE be ashamed of yourself, you're a lovely looking lady"), mascara, nail varnish. Oh ... and a home baked cookie for Lynn's dog. All co-ordinated in royal blue and pewter/silver. I thanked Cliff silently for my anniversary gift(s) ... after all, he always spoiled me ... so what better way to celebrate.
The highlight of the day was when Lynn swung round in Kurt Geiger, her bag knocking approximately £5k worth of shoes FLYING with a deafening clatter. Another shopper covered her mouth in abject horror. OMG. Lynn's reaction? "I didn't do it." A la Bart Simpson.
It was a fun girly day. We stopped at Wahaca for food and Lynn sampled one of their Margaritas. They DO kick like a mule. I had ONE SIP.
Then back to Lynn's. My voice wavered when I announced that I was too tired to drive, only to be told that she'd assumed I'd be staying, not only that, I was being given her dog to cuddle for the night.
And this time, I really did head home, only detouring to drive through Stockbury - 10 minutes from home (the only place Cliff's big brother remembers him being happy as a child). I find peace there and love the awesome landscape. Real English countryside at its very best. Forests, ferns, bluebells, apple orchards, fields as far as the eye can see, old Kentish farms and proper village greens with the compulsory pub and village halls. Fresh eggs, cherries and strawberries for sale. Flint walls. Old village schools and real bakeries.
I wanted to stop and just be still for 5 minutes. To breathe the air he breathed as a little boy. Just 5 minutes.
To no avail. I kept being bullied to drive faster by men in Land Rovers, so I'd turn down smaller and narrower country lanes, only to find another boy racer up my fucking arse. Instead of slowing down and letting them wait, because of my fragile state of mind and soul, I found myself in a corner of a private estate, where I had to do a 20 point turn to get out, whilst getting more and more and more upset, to the point of screaming.
Never mind, I consoled myself whilst getting back on track. Home.
And 8 minutes from home. I changed gear to get away from yet another idiot up my arse. In my panic, I crunched the gears, and hardly realised it ... until the horrid smell pervaded my nostrils and the reading went into the red. Pulled over. Hazards on. Hysteria surpassed the "red" reading on the dashboard. And. I. Could. NOT. Stop. People staring at me. All the time, I repeated, like a small child, "I want my Cliffy back."
It took an hour for me to get a grip. Well, that's relative. Level enough to call my neighbour. It was the hottest day of the year to date. No aircon. 32 degrees. No diabetic scoobysnax or cold drinks left. Only a full bladder to show for it. All I could feel was fear.
So I called my neighbour (Paul) and
struggled failed to hide my tears, just as he failed to hide his panic. WHERE ARE YOU? He'd had a couple of drinks so couldn't come rescue me.
Then he asked me, "have you tried turning the engine back on, Boo?"
And I replied in a very small voice, "no, I'm too frightened to," and heard him composing his reply ... removing any impression that he might be laughing AT me. "Do it now, while I'm on the phone." And I did. The car purred into action. "Lower your windows halfway. Keep to 60mph. Fuck anyone behind you. They can overtake. Stay in the slow lane. I'll expect you in 20 minutes."
And 20 minutes later I parked on my driveway. Went straight next door which was already open. Before I got halfway up his drive. Before I got hugged. I was sobbing uncontrollably. You know that primal noise you never knew your voice could make. Until you were widowed.
The kids all ran out to the garden. The dogs came to lick me. The adults all turned to salt or stone ... and went silent.
I was fed and watered. I sat. For hours. Slept on their sofa.
And two days after the 21st, I FINALLY walked through my front door. Home.
It's over for another year.
I hope Dan and his Bride grow old on one pillow. In the vein of never give a gift you would not be delighted to receive yourself ... I bought them a fruit bowl in Dwell. It's a shopping trolley, scaled down. The child seat. The wheels. Everything works. I don't really want to give it to them. I want to keep it. But I really do hope that they get to grow old on one pillow.
Because I am ageing at an astonishing rate on one.