The Empty Nest – A year has passed…

Dearest Nick

So we’ve made it through our first year without you. How can that be? How can I not have spoken to you for 365 days? Not heard your voice, kissed your cheek or seen you smile? How did we even manage to get to this point? Too many questions…and never the answers.

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Nick on holiday in Italy

This last year has passed in a blur. We are all still numb and I still cannot believe how dramatically my life has changed. Only those who have been through this kind of trauma will understand what it feels like. Even with my previous bereavements, I had no idea when I offered platitudes to grieving friends just what they were possibly coping with. You can’t until it happens to you.

I’ve always tried to find the positive in life. Always tried to find humour. Even when things have been dark… and there have been many dark days in my life…but losing you has completely floored me. I have had to dig so deep. I have become a person I don’t recognise. I still have all the initial feelings of numbness and disbelief. I still live on two different levels – the daily superficial one and the real one tucked below. Time is supposed to heal. But I’ve learnt there is no limit to how long it can take to find your equilibrium again. There is no magic switch or formula that will get you to where you want to be. It is literally a day-by-day process. Some days are easier than others, but all have a cloak of sadness over them. The cloak does lift occasionally for you to take a break but soon envelopes you again in its familiar fold.

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I’ve learnt this year our home is not our sanctuary. Yes, it’s comforting and familiar, but you are around every corner. Still in the kitchen when I make my morning tea or standing beside me when I brush my teeth and stare in the mirror moaning that I am looking (and feeling) old that day. You would pause in your brushing, grin at me and say, ‘ me too, but at least we’re doing it together.’ Now you won’t get any older. I will be doing it on my own.

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Nick wanted to do more sailing. This was on holiday in Turkey.

I’ve found I have to go away regularly for my own sanity to take off the cloak of grief that pervades in the very walls of the house. If not, I sink deeper and deeper until I can’t see the sun through the cloud. When I’m in a different environment I feel a bit lighter. We’ve all found this so are making sure we don’t get sucked in too deeply. Luckily we recognise it now so can take steps to get away for a while so we have the strength to come back to the house and live a little before the sadness covers us again.

Reflecting on the last year I was feeling that baby steps were being made. I had made some decisions. I’ve collected your ashes from the funeral directors. Harry came with me and carried you home. You sat on the dresser for a while. I have part of you in a scatter tube so that we can take you to the mountains when we feel able. I also have a small muslin bag with a tiny part of you ( I like to think it’s mostly your heart and I keep it under my pillow) which we want to put into pieces of jewelry, and I know some may not understand this but, I want another tattoo. They can mix a little of the ashes into the ink. I thought a sweetpea would be suitable. That way you will always be with me. But now the main part of you lies in Laughton churchyard in the Garden of Remembrance. I’ve booked a double spot so that you can wait there until it’s my turn to join you. Thinking about my own death doesn’t bother me at all anymore. Not that it did before but now it has become more of a reality. Conversations about your last wishes are so hard to have with your loved ones at any time but so much easier when you are fit and well.  I couldn’t equate pouring your ashes into the earth with it being you anyway.

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All Saints Church, Laughton

We have achieved a lot this past year. You would be so proud of the kids. Jo is changing career direction and doing something that makes her happy. Ellie managed to complete her chalet season in France and now has a new career to start in London and Harry got through his second year at Uni, passing his exams well. All these steps have taken courage. They have dug deep and made themselves keep going even though many days they didn’t want to.

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Jo, Harry and Ellie all dressed up for their cousin’s wedding.

And me? I’m still lost. We were a partnership. You were the anchor that kept me grounded.  Now I am adrift. You were the reassuring presence for us all. We both took on different roles within the family and now I have to cover them all.  I don’t know what to do with my life. I am still sorting the company out.  Still grateful to family and friends for propping me up. I take each day as it comes. Some are ok, some are shit but I am determined to struggle out of my pit each morning and draw back the curtains to see what the day brings. I began to detach my ears from my shoulders, not waiting so much for something to hit me all the time, when only a week ago we had a huge knock back when we had to say goodbye to Bisou. Your dog. 

Just a dog some might think. But this was a special dog. One we hand reared and bottle fed from 10 days old. One who thought we were her pack. One who was so pleased to see us when we came home we’d have to say hello outside in case she peed herself in her excitement. One who never tired of chasing balls. It was sudden and unexpected, and it brought back our deep feelings of the life we have lost.

I found this recently

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It really resonated with me. Friends tell me it’s still early days, that I must be kind to myself. I just know that I must take a day at a time because each day I feel different. I still feel as though I’m standing in front of a huge black void, toes curled over the edge wanting to find my way across but not knowing how. Perhaps as time goes on a path will become clearer and I will find my way to the other side without realising. I do hope so.

Meanwhile we have to start a new year. A year where I can’t think back and say ‘this time last year you were still with us.’

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One of my favourite photos of us all, we were laughing at Bisou

Now I have to ‘make a life’. I will always miss you and you will always be part of me.

Perhaps this new life will be terrific, who knows…

…but I do know it will most certainly never be the same.

all my love

Teresa x

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The Empty Nest -A letter to my love on our anniversary.

My darling Nick

Happy anniversary!

Remember when you proposed? I had just come round from surgery to remove all my lymph nodes, including the cancerous one, from my groin. The cot sides of the bed were up and I had 2 drainage tubes attached to my leg which were creeping out from under the covers displaying their attractive contents like golden beer.  Oh and a catheter. Don’t forget that juicy little addition hanging off the other side of the  bed. I may also have been on a drip – it all blurs a bit. Just like my brain at the time trying to cope with the effects of the anesthetic. So romantic! I remember you sitting next to me holding my hand as I tried to focus on your offer. Having both messed up our first marriages we’d already agreed we didn’t need a bit of paper. We knew we had committed to each other. We had Ellie and Harry to cement it. What could a marriage certificate give us that we didn’t already have? So your proposal came as a complete surprise. But I knew it was the right thing to do. We were in love. It was March. They couldn’t tell us if I would make it to see the summer roses bloom – I think that spurred you on to propose. For me, yes, I knew I wanted to be your wife but I also needed to know that my children would be safe. That you would have no legal trouble in swooping them up and caring for them if I didn’t make it through. I suppose that’s a mother’s love. The wedding was then planned in a rush for 2 months later; 19th May 2000. We found a hotel that could do the whole thing,– my mother was recovering from her own cancer treatment and yours was elderly.

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My mum and Ellie having fun on our wedding day

 

We needed it to be easy for everyone to relax and stay put. NO fuss. Sadly, just the family were invited as it was too difficult to get everyone sorted at short notice but we had a big party later for everyone else.

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I found a dress that covered my swollen leg and the huge bandage covering the wound with the MRSA I’d subsequently caught in hospital. Job done. Not too shabby for a quickie wedding. You scrub up very well.

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Harry doing his own thing in the background…

 

This is my favourite picture of the day though. Harry wouldn’t behave and kept hiding under the trees when the photographer wanted to snap. You’d already had to hold him while taking your vows to stop him crying.

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Harry preferring to hide behind the trees

 

The girls had pretty much chosen their own dresses and the sun shone on us. It wasn’t just our mums who needed to pace themselves during the day. It was the longest I’d stayed awake in one go after my op.

 

We were blessed to have a second chance at happiness. Blessed that we found each other.

Narrowly as it turned out.

If you hadn’t come back from your round the world trip 2 days before the creative writing course began we would never have sat together in the adult education classroom. You told me later that you noticed me as soon as I walked in. I was blind to everyone else, in such a fluster having left a 10-month-old Jo at home. I was too busy congratulating myself that I had got there only five minutes late and without baby sick on my shoulder. It was another three years until you asked me to dinner. And even then I made you wait another two years until I extracted and sorted myself out from my marriage. You always were good at waiting for what you wanted.

We were blessed. Blessed that I made it through so that we could nurture the three wonderful young people we have been given. Not many are as lucky as us. And what fun we had together! 

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I’m trying to find the blessings in life now and not allow myself to be consumed by my grief. Sometimes it’s harder than I know how, but I always think of what you’d say if you were standing next to me. In your patient way you were always my back-up, giving me the strength to go for my dreams, keeping us charting a safe and steady path through life even when I wanted to rock the boat and stir us all up now and again. It’s only now you’ve gone that I realise just how much you had my back.

We fought our battles together.

Together.

Now this is my personal battle I have to fight on my own. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Far harder than all my previous bereavements. But I will find a way through.

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All dressed up and ready to go to a wedding – April 18

I feel it is all unfair. Why me? Why us? But that can never be answered and it’s a stupid question really. I’ve decided it’s random and our number came up. There are just soooooo many of us out there struggling to get by and deal with life without loved ones. So many not knowing how to make it through the day;trying to find distraction until the fog clears a little. I know I’ll never be the same again and you will always be part of me. I exist in two lives now. The surface one when I don’t think about you. This is the one that gets me through the day. Then there is the real one underneath. It isn’t tucked too far below and I can usually choose not to touch it by refusing to let you in. But sometimes you overwhelm me and bleed into my day causing me to stop, instantly remembering what I have lost. Then the tears flow and the stab to the heart causes me to involuntary gasp. It’s not always convenient to cry. The woman at the supermarket checkout won’t understand that the almond magnums on the shopping belt were our favourite and I’m eating them alone now, not sharing them with you. And walking down the street its difficult not to let my eyes well up when I smell your aftershave on someone else. Anything I know I have to get through I can prepare myself for. It’s the triggers that sneak up that make it hard to hold everything together.

When we had the ‘conversation’ with the hospice about your last wishes, remember when we were alone afterwards I said ‘tell me what you want now and then we won’t speak of it again but concentrate on living.’ I asked you where you wanted to be buried. You looked me straight in the eye and said ‘as long as it’s with you I don’t care.’ You showed me not only how to live but also how to cope with dying. You never once said ‘why me?’ Instead you said ‘Look what we’ve had together. We’ve been so fortunate.’

So ‘happy anniversary’ darling man.

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Nick in Lyme Regis, a month before his operation.

 

I miss you every day. From the moment I open my eyes and look across at your empty pillow, to the moment they close and I’m grateful to have made it through. Thank you with all my heart for the magic of the years we had.

I was one lucky woman. 

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In Lyme Regis – May 2017.

You are with me now and always will be.

All my love

Teresa x

 

 

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The Empty Nest – Birthdays are a Bonus

My darling Nick

So it’s my birthday today. The first one without you for 25 years. We’ve had a few momentous ones… remember my 41st? That was the day we learnt about my cancer results. And this day last year we had an appointment with the oncologist to learn about your treatment. I remember seeing your right kidney on the scan and the consultant calmly saying you were a young, fit man so after recovery from the operation to remove it you would embark on the inhibitor drugs, as though he were discussing a cold.

‘Should we stop work?’ we asked ‘and dissolve the company?’  No, life would continue in some form. You would be able to work – possibly for years as long as the pills held the cancer at bay. I even had a holiday to Cornwall booked six weeks after the surgery. The specialist nurse said I wasn’t being silly, she thought it would be ok to go by then. I bought a special sun lounger so you could stretch out and recuperate. There was decking at the holiday cottage that looked over the beach where I thought you could while away the time watching the surfers battling the waves.

How did we get it so wrong?

It’s hard not to look at my diary and relive how the events of last year played out.

On my recent road trip, after Canada, we went to Barbados. Yeah, I know, awesome. And it was. I was amazed how healing the feel of sun on your skin could be. Swapping my winter boots for flip flops as we came into land was so removed from my life in England I felt as though I was in a dream world.

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Barbados is a beautiful place. My trip helped enormously. I came back a little stronger. I’ve been in hibernation. I feel as though I’m emerging from a deep sleep. But I am getting up each day.

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I’m still in a dream world. This life is not my life. I don’t know what my life will be like yet. There are too many decisions I have to make and I find making decisions difficult at the moment. I am lost. I have to find a new career and I don’t know which direction to go in. But I’m beginning to change things because I can’t live the life I had.

You. Are. Not. In. It.

So I’ve sold your car, and mine, and bought another that makes me happy. It is big and bold and called Idris. I can see you raise your eyebrows, but you would  approve even though it is a little outrageous, because I know you’d want me to be happy.

I’m going blonde. Only gradually, but I can’t be the old me and it is supposed to be fun. Fun is what I’d like.

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I’ve moved the office. I can no longer sit in a room which is so full of your presence. I now look out over the garden; the sunlight can stream in and the view is invigorating.

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I have started playing tennis again. Only in small doses but it’s a start. I just have to learn to cope with the pity in people’s eyes when they see me for the first time. I’m not responsible for their emotions but sometimes it feels as though I have to take charge of the situation as they are waiting for my reaction.

These are all superficial things. They don’t detract from the fact that my life has changed beyond comprehension but in a small way they help.

But I can’t change some things. I can’t tackle your clothes yet. I still need to bury my head amongst your shirts and take a deep breath. You still linger there.

I still don’t sleep well but I have discovered Audible. It is comforting to listen to a story in the quiet of the night especially if it is the gravelly, grandpa voice of Laurie Lee reading Cider with Rosie.

I still haven’t collected you from the funeral directors. I feel bad about that but I think it’s because if I do it will make it real. How can you be in a small box? You’re here with me in the kitchen standing at the island chopping veg, or in the garden shed potting up sweetpeas as I bring you a beer, or pondering the cryptic crossword, pen in your mouth, glasses resting on your head.img_6773.jpg

My birthday is just one of many ‘firsts’ we have to get through. Our wedding anniversary is coming up next month. I wanted more.

And more.

And more.

But I can’t have any more.

I have to be content with the magic I had. This is a journey I was unprepared for and never wanted to take but as today is my birthday and every one of those is a bonus, I must make the most of it…

All my love

Teresa x

 

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The Empty Nest – Reflections

Dear Nick

Write what you’re feeling people say. But I’m feeling so many different emotions. It’s been 5 months and I don’t know how I managed to get here. I have been in a surreal dream world. The ‘Teresa ‘ I knew doesn’t exist anymore. The life I knew doesn’t exist anymore because you… don’t… exist …anymore. I don’t know who I am. I don’t recognise this world I’m living in. I have been tossed up in the air and haven’t landed yet and which way up I will be I don’t know. After the initial feeling of being in a pin ball machine, just being knocked from bumper to bumper out of control, I am not waiting so much to be hit by something else but perhaps taking the curved sweep across the top before I bump my way down again.

How can losing one person have such an effect on everything else?

I am exhausted. Exhausted with the events of the last year. Exhausted with getting up and coping. Exhausted with dealing with the company. Exhausted with dealing with your estate. I don’t sleep. I don’t want to eat. I cannot meet people. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I have to force myself to go out each day when all I want to do is stay under the covers.  A cloud of grief has hung over me for so long now I can’t see the sunshine or believe that it is there above the clouds.

Are you having counselling people said. So I took counselling. It was my hour. My hour to cry and reflect. What were my needs, the counsellor said. It was my time to wail if I wanted. But I wail in the dark of the night. I can’t let anyone see the true depth of my sorrow. It is so intense. It bubbles up. It bubbles up until it bursts over and overwhelms me. The sobs come in gasps and the tears flow so much my eyes get sore. I sound like an animal in so much pain you would shoot it to put it out of its misery.  My heart feels as though it is being burned with the pain. I can see the counsellor’s eyes welling up as she listens to me and watches me dissolve in front of her.

How can it be that you have gone? You no longer walk on this earth. You’ve gone for ever. I will never see you again.

And then I came to Canada to visit a girlfriend.

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I nearly didn’t. I’ve never come so close to backing out of a flight. What is all that about? Where is the woman I knew who is brave and capable? Sitting at the departure gate I felt I couldn’t do it. I would be away for too long. I wouldn’t cope. It was a mistake. Maybe I should just sit out February at home and hope time will pass. Maybe I would get there and instantly regret it? But I rang a friend and was reminded that I could do it. I could take this step to get away.

And it has been a liberation.

I am in another surreal world. My life in the UK seems a stage removed. I can still picture the events of the last months, but it is more like a story. Someone else’s story. It is very cold and snowy here. My favourite environment. I sit and watch the snow falling for ages. The sun on the snow falling outside looks like glittery, fairy dust swirling around in large sweeps of magic. There is a fir tree outside my window which reminds me of my own personal ‘monster’ from ‘A Monster Calls’. I haven’t done much. Just slept, sat, watched TV, but having permission to do nothing except please myself is such a new experience, it is calming. We took a trip to Niagara Falls. Such magnificence. I appreciated the majesty of it all. Something I haven’t been able to do for ages. I’ve had no feelings. Numbness had taken over my soul. Dimmed my eyes so that I couldn’t see.

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My grief is still with me. You still spring up on me in an instant dissolving me into tears, but I somehow feel a little lighter. The cloud has some gaps where I can see a shaft of sunlight peeking through the grey. It closes quickly again but I saw it there. It may come again. Maybe I can have a life without you. Maybe I can find joy. Maybe I am allowed to live. Maybe… There are some maybes now where before there was no hope. And If I cling on to the maybes…

love

T x

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The Empty Nest – Happy Birthday.

Dearest Nick

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Happy birthday!  You would have been 57 today.

It has been 3 months since you passed away. I still can’t say ‘died’. It sounds so unreal. You wouldn’t believe the effect you’ve had on us all. I didn’t know you could feel this sad.

I’ve learnt a lot over the last three months. I’ve learnt that some people like to take advantage of the situation and some people are extraordinarily kind. 

Family and friends have been constant. They have looked out for me, sat through my tears and listened without hesitation. They’ve badgered me to make contact even when I’ve been reluctant and antisocial. I feel very antisocial. I can’t cope with large groups – you know I wasn’t good with that anyway. I always made my way round the room to find you at parties when it got too much.

Work wise it has been difficult but I think we’re getting there. Somehow with help, I’ve managed to keep things going. For now.

How I’ve got to this point is a miracle. I’ve cried so many tears I should have been washed away in a torrent of waves by now. Grief comes in waves. Huge uncontrollable ones that crash over you unexpectedly and soft sobs, that pour down your cheeks at a kind word from a friend. I never know when they will sneak up on me to blur my vision, so it makes  life difficult. Difficult to go out, even on the necessary daily dog walk in case you bump into someone who says innocently ‘How are you?’ Instead of replying ‘How the fuck do you think I am?’ which is what I want to say, I politely apply the English reserve, stamped on my placenta, and reply ‘I’m fine.’ They need to say ‘How are you today?’ Because each day is different. Each hour is different.  Each minute is different. Some people don’t want to know that you’re not coping. They want to hear that you are ok, back to normal, everything’s fine. I suppose it shields them from their feelings.

But I’m not fine.

I’m not fine because I have lost half of me. There is a huge gaping hole where you should be. I’m not whole. I am existing. Not living.

The bed is too big without you. Sting nailed that one. I wake and there is a split second of calm before I look across at your empty pillow and remember. Then I must get up. Straightaway. What is the point of lying in bed when I’ve spent half the night awake trying not to recount the past months? I’ve taken to putting the TV on. The chatter fills the silence left after the kettle has clicked. One cup to make. The dishwasher to empty, dogs to let out into the garden and cats to feed. Our morning dance we used to perform together. Performed and perfected over many years. Each of us knowing the steps.

I do a mean solo performance now.

I’ve realised that I can’t revisit places we enjoyed together as it’s too painful for now so I must make new memories. This house, our home, is a mixed blessing. While it is our safety blanket which envelopes us in its familiar fold, it has turned into a house of sadness because we all expect to see you here. You are in the kitchen cooking; I swivel my chair in the office and expect to see you beavering away at your desk; or stretched out on the sofa watching TV; you don’t call out anymore in reply to my ‘hello’ when I come through the door.

You would be so proud of the kids. They are struggling but they are made of your stoicism and are battling through to find their equilibrium again.

You would be aghast at how difficult it has been to deal with the admin surrounding your death. It shouldn’t be. I think you must be the first person ever to die. Santander thinks so. After two previous appointments I am sitting in an office with a member of staff who looks as though he’s just left sixth form college.

‘I’d like to open an executor account please.’

‘What documents do you have with you?’

‘What documents do you need?’ Your colleague has already taken copies of every possible document I have. I’ve been carrying a folder around with everything but my bra size in it.

We started to fill in yet another form on line.

 ‘Have you grant of probate?’

‘No, I don’t need probate to open an executor account. I just can’t access the money in it until I have it.’

‘You need probate to open the account.’

‘Please can you check, as I’m sure I don’t.’

That was just the beginning. After phone calls and more paper waving (by him not me) it ended up with me walking out in tears of frustration. The sixth former rang later that day and sent flowers as an apology. They don’t seem to realise every time you have to ring or visit to explain what you need is like Brutus’ knife plunging into your heart.

But you’d be proud of me too. I’ve had to man-up. With the help of kind friends, I’ve sorted the boiler when it broke and the car when it wouldn’t start. I’ve had a few melt downs though. The best one was when the wine stocks began to run dry. I can see you raising your eyebrows at me. But you always knew the kind of wine I love, I didn’t need to know, I’d just ask you – now through trial and error I can answer a Malbec or Shiraz.

 I have lost half of me. I am not whole. I have people to do things with but have lost the person I did nothing with.

Not many are lucky enough to have the kind of relationship we had.

So we will keep going, my darling, because that’s what we must do.

All my love birthday boy.

Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – Goodbye is impossible to say – Nick Williams – 18/12/1960 – 05/09/2017

I am a writer but these are the hardest words I’ve ever had to find. How do you say goodbye to your best friend and husband, the father of your children, a beloved brother and brother-in-law, much loved uncle and friend to so many? So many lives touched by one.

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During his recent treatment for renal cancer Nick was asked to fill in a  form and write some interesting things about himself.  He looked at Ellie and me and said ‘’What should I write?’ We looked at him in amazement. ‘But there are so many interesting things about you,’ we replied. ‘What about that you backpacked around the world for a year for starters? Or that you have a terrific serve at tennis that is infuriatingly hard to return? That you are a whiz at solving things?’ Ellie did also suggest that his dad-dancing with random-leg-movement was interesting –  but he dismissed that.

We know that he was gentle, kind, thoughtful and compassionate because these are the words that you have used to describe him in your messages to us. But he was also clever, loyal, a true gentleman and in our family speak – an all-round good egg.

I want to tell you some things you may not know about Nick.

Nick’s family meant everything to him. He was our rock. He worked hard to provide for us and keep us safe. He was so proud of you Jo, Ellie and Harry. His loving kindness nurtured and guided you to become the wonderful young people you have grown into. You must take comfort that he will always be with you because he put the building blocks into your souls, showing you in his patient manner just how important it is to love and care for one another.

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Nick was an engineer. He loved to solve puzzles whether it was a cryptic crossword or resolving a problem at work. He could always see the bigger picture and used this skill to guide us through our traumatic times. One winter when we ran out of oil for the boiler –  in desperation I was at the point of volunteering to suck the end of the oil tube to draw the liquid through so that we could have heat again – but when I went into the utility I found that he had fashioned a marvelous device from an old vacuum cleaner, hose pipe, empty milk cartons and duck tape – lots of duck tape – that did the job perfectly. This was how he approached his illness. ‘Here is the problem – let’s find a solution and work towards it.’ Again he was protecting us and managing our pain.

Nick loved his garden. He took much pleasure in designing and shaping a beautiful garden for us to enjoy. Tending his veggie patch was his way of relaxing. Every year he would grow me sweet-peas because he knew they were my favourite.

We have had the happiest of family holidays, whether on the slopes skiing with dear friends or on the beach in Cornwall. He was our guide around the mountains and we would follow him without question –  knowing he had considered the needs of everyone in the group and would get us back safely at the end of the day.

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Nick was a brilliant cook. There was always a collective cheer when he went into the kitchen as we knew we would be getting a delicious sauce or interesting new recipe that he had discovered. It was tradition in our family that Nick always cooked Christmas dinner. He would spend the morning preparing and we would get a feast that always included, not one, but 2 types of stuffing as well as all sorts of delicious additions. It was our job to clear up the carnage left in the kitchen while he snoozed on the sofa afterwards.

Nick was a Parish councilor for 8 years, some of those as chairman. He felt strongly about this village that had welcomed us into its fold and wanted to give something back to the community.

I know we will all miss Nick for different reasons, whether it is on the tennis court or golf course, enjoying a beer together, discussing the problems about a job on site, providing the answer to a quiz question or simply just talking to him. Thank you for all you have given us, Nick. We are privileged to have had you in our lives. They have been immensely richer for it.

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Nick’s last word to us was ‘goodnight.’ I know I was so blessed to have you as my husband.  I can’t say goodbye to you, my darling, but I can say a last…  I love you… goodnight.’

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Nicholas Mark Williams ( Other Half) was diagnosed with renal cancer in April 2017. After surgery to remove a kidney he commenced a treatment programme but so sadly passed away at home, surrounded with love, during the early hours of 5th September 2017.

Our hearts are broken.

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The Empty Nest – A life in the morning of…

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Family Check:-

Eldest:- Crisis – Job contract is coming to an end. What is the next step in life?

Middle:- Crisis –Job is taking its toll. What is the next step in life?

Youngest:–  Crisis – ill and needing to get home somehow.

Me :- Mini crisis – keeping on top of everyone else’s crisis.

Other Half:- Crisis – still coughing but also anaemic. Having scans and tests to find out the problem.

It’s that time of the month I have to get the accounts for the company done. O.H is out visiting building sites. House is quiet. Ideal time to get my head down sort out these invoices, or so I thought.

Youngest is in Newcastle with Hand, Foot and Mouth. Feeling very sorry for himself. Understandably. With only a couple of days left before the Easter break he’s changed his train to struggle home.

The problem is he cannot be separated from his precious DJ mixing decks.

record decks

Beloved mixing decks

Cocooned in three flight cases these, a speaker, plus a bag of washing have to be transported somehow from his halls at University to the south of England. It’s too far for me to go and get him. I can only drive to 3-4 hours at a time before I’m exhausted, so a seven hour + journey is impossible. His father is still coughing, exhausted himself, going for blood tests, chest x-rays and scans so there’s no way he will be able to help me drive to go and get him, if this was what was needed.

speaker

1 of 2 speakers to be transported

So, to enable Youngest to bring the beloved decks down I ordered him a trolley to be picked up from a store in Newcastle. A kind friend has gone to pick it up for him because he’s feeling too weak and poorly but now we have the dilemma of how to attach the decks do the trolley as they’ve only supplied one bungee clip. My phone pings as I’m entering the data on the expenses sheet.

Youngest: – ‘Don’t know how to use it.’

Me:- ‘Open it up. I’ll send you a link to the page.’

Youngest. ‘I have opened it up.’

I managed to share the link to the trolley information page onto his messenger.

Trolley

Me:- ‘ I’m so impressed I managed to do that link.’

Youngest :- ‘Yeah I’m impressed too. But where does the rope go? ’He’s obvs not as impressed as I am. 

Me:- ‘Have a look at the picture on the link. You should have a bungee, springy, ropey thing to attach stuff with’.

Youngest :- ‘Yeah I do. How do I use it?’

Meanwhile the phone is going in the office from the supplier that I’ve been trying to contact about an order but the phone battery is dead so I cannot pick up the phone and take the call. I curse at the phone as it continues to ring and send O.H. a quick text with yet more cursing that we MUST get round to getting new phones for the office as these are shite and can’t hold a charge.  Supplier will just have to ring back.

I returned to my work but can’t match up any orders with invoices. We had a slight blip a while back where we had to do a lot of purchases while we were out of the office. One was on the way to the funeral. ( See last post -Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall.) All part of the joys of working for yourself.  Things didn’t get recorded properly hence I’m now at sea with what’s going on. O.H. has it all in his head. The pile of my inquiries on his desk is getting bigger by the minute.

Youngest. ‘I’m stuffed. It’s all rubbish.The train goes in an hour and I can’t get anything to stay on.’

flight case

3 of these

Me:-  ‘What about more bungees? Anyone going to town who could pick some up for you?’

Youngest:- ‘No one is going to town.’

The office phone goes again. I still can’t pick up the call as the phone battery doesn’t have enough in it for even a ‘hello’. I returned to my invoices which I still cannot match up. It’s amazing what you learn when you start a new job. Who would have thought there were so many different types of sand ?

sand

We go to the most interesting places.

Before I started in the building trade I knew of only 2 – wet or dry, and that the right combo is vital for building successful sand castles.

Youngest:- ‘I don’t know what to do.’

Me:- ‘ Okay if the trolley idea’s no good you have to bring what you can carry.

Youngest:- ‘Which is basically nothing. Because I’m feeling so weak.’

Talk about milking it. What is it about men and illness!

Me:- ‘ You don’t need clothes you’ve got some here. Prioritise. Do you need all three decks? Your priority is to get home safely to recover. Anything else is a bonus.’

I need a coffee.

Youngest:- ‘There’s no point bringing any if I can’t bring all three because they only work together.’ He’s definitely not going to let this one go. ‘I just won’t bring any pants and socks.’ GreatThe thought of him going commando for a month doesn’t thrill me.

Me:-‘ Find a way of attaching things to the trolley then. I can’t suggest anything else.’

I take a slurp of coffee. ‘You need to find a way to transport them. If the trolley idea doesn’t work I don’t know what else will. Can you wrap the bungee tightly around the sides to hold them on?’

Youngest :- It doesn’t stretch far enough.’ God give me strength.

Me:- ‘ Have you got a clever mate who could help you think it through. Two heads are better than one and clearly yours is not working properly.’ That was as kind as I could put it.

I return to my invoices. The phone goes. It’s Eldest also feeling ill and having a day off work to recover.

Youngest is still messaging. ‘How would I get it up and down the escalator anyway?’

Me:- ‘Balance it on the step like you do a buggy. Or find a lift. Or ask someone to help you.’ Or use your initiativeIs it me? Have I done too much for him over the years that he now can’t think for himself or is it normal teenage behaviour?

I return to the invoices. The phone, which now has enough charge and is working, rings. It’s O.H. asking if I’m busy as he has another order to be placed. I reply ‘Of course. What do you need me to do?’ You know that was through gritted teeth with my professional voice on, don’t you?

It’s now midday. I’ve reconciled zero invoices. Completed zero accounts. I haven’t walked the dog. The dilemma of how to get the decks down on the train isn’t resolved. I now have an appointment with the chiropractor who is trying to get rid of my reoccurring headaches (Youngest springs to mind) and go to the supermarket on the way back. I gather my things and walk towards the door.

The phone goes again. O.H. needs a phone number. Number dispatched, I turn my mobile to silent and walk out quickly.

I thought life in my Empty Nest was going to be quieter. More restful. I had visions of floating through the day at my own pace. Mostly on slow. I quite fancied being one of those women who has a day bed for the odd moments when the pace quickened so I could lie back and be calm. If someone wanted to bring me a coffee while I lay there, so much the better. chaise longue

Youngest made it home. He had to take the packed trolley apart as he couldn’t get it in the Uber. Getting on and off the trains he must have looked pathetic as people kindly helped him.

He will have to travel back after the holidays. So if you see a 6ft 3ins, strapping lad struggling with a trolley loaded with 3 flight cases while dragging a bag of dirty washing, please offer him a hand, as it could be Youngest.

Haz

Making my Mother’s Day pancakes for breakfast.

It seems there’s a lot you can do with duck tape.

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