Happy birthday, Nick!
It’s strange learning to go from two to one. If you’ve always been single it must seem like a doddle and what am I harping on about? But if you’ve always been two – and working from home our daily lives revolved around each other – being one is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I need my space and like my own company, but even as two we managed to give each other that.
I’m learning and adapting.
Doesn’t mean I like it, but I’m getting used to it. Luckily, because I am blessed with such caring people around me, there haven’t been many occasions when I have been on my own. If they haven’t been living here, the family are always popping down. But the times of ‘oneness’ are becoming more frequent. It’s certainly made me think more of others in the same situation.
When I wrote The Bereavement Club after losing some people very close to me back in 2005, it said what I was feeling at the time. I had no idea there was a deeper layer of grief I hadn’t even touched on.
With the help of our gorgeous gardener, we have planned and planted (she was the one getting her hands dirty, of course) a redesign of the Garden of Remembrance at the church where you lie. I’ve sorted your tablet and hopefully you will eventually be surrounded with snowdrops and alliums, agapanthus, verbena and hellebores, amongst others…and a large dollop of rosemary for remembrance.
I’ve been writing again. I went back to Canada with a deadline in mind to finish my middle-grade adventure manuscript. Other writers will understand the feeling when you write, The End. Yes, there’s always rewrites to do but at least, instead of procrastination, I now have words to juggle with.
We went away for your first anniversary to Majorca. It was a good break in the beautiful old town of Pollenca. All cobbled streets and sunshine. It was strange you not being with us. We’ve never been away as a family without you. You always did the driving, took charge and managed us. Of course, we coped, but your absence around the table was huge. We missed you so much.
Only 2 years ago I wrote this about our weekend in Amsterdam. How I was getting stressed about getting ready for Christmas. How petty all that stress seems now. It’s the simple things that are the hardest. Writing four names on birthday cards is difficult enough, I have to take a moment to physically stop the pen from forming your name. So, writing numerous numbers of Christmas cards, would be like banging it into my head again, and again, and again. So I’ve cancelled Christmas again this year. I’m sure in time I will come round and look for ways to enjoy it. But for now I can’t face it. It was such a big, happy part of our lives.
People say I’m doing well. I don’t know what that means. What is it judged against? Is it because I haven’t spent the last 15 months under my duvet, but made myself get up each day and engage with the world? Albeit on my own terms, but even on the mornings when I have that split second, cocooned in my dreams of our old life before I open my eyes and face reality, I endeavour to eventually haul myself out of my pit and push back the curtains.
Is it because I haven’t succumbed to depression? I know I’m not depressed – I’m deeply sad. I feel my emotions have plateaued. Everything is just ‘ok.’ Maybe that is what life is for some anyway? But it wasn’t for me in my old life. Life was good, with highs and lows. Yes, I still find things funny and laugh at things, but nothing seems to touch my soul anymore, giving those rushes of elation.
Is it because I don’t burst into tears at the drop of a hat so much anymore? Mostly I can live in my superficial world. I still well up at music or memories that spring into my mind at the weirdest of times, but usually I just glaze over and feel disconnected a lot of the time.
It seems there are two choices to me; give in and become a burden on your loved ones or keep going and get through, any way you can.
I feel as though this is all a story belonging to someone else. I look at photos of our old life and can’t believe it’s gone. It feels as though you are just out; visiting a site, down the pub with the boys or …anything… but gone for ever. But I have to look at the positives if I want to live, not merely exist – what I have got, not what I haven’t. I am blessed with three wonderful children, whose love, resolve and courage are astounding; a loving family doing whatever they can to help and, supportive friends, who have stuck by me in my darkest moments, even when I have been selfish. I have a beautiful home in a stunning place with the most amazing views to wake up to. Not so many people are this lucky. I must just keep going.
So, happy 58th birthday, my darling.
All my love, always
PS. I don’t feel I have much joy to spread but as I’m not a completely, heartless Grinch, I wish everyone reading this a Happy Christmas and healthy New Year.