THE EMPTY NEST – NEW BEGINNINGS

I’ve only gone and done it! In the bastardized words of Bronte, ‘Reader, I moved.’

Who would have thought watching the cows could cause sooo much interest?

Safe to say, if I ever mention I’m thinking of moving again in the near future, remind me not to! It’s taken 3 skips, numerous carloads to a wonderful lady who runs jumble sales for the village, many trips to the dump and countless bags for charity shops (ready for when they open again) to squash a five bedroomed, family house full of twenty five years’ worth of ‘stuff’ into a couple of removal vans and our cars. Needless to say, it wasn’t all plain sailing. Opening the door to the removal guys on the morning they came to load the contents of the house, they could see I was stressed. ‘Don’t worry, we can deal with that.’ Huge shout out to GA Lomer & Sons for their calm professional manner. I can’t recommend them enough. Nothing was too much trouble, and when my stress level reached it’s peak and I called Harry a plonker for a minor misdemeanour, I was gently reminded that ‘no shouting was allowed on removal day,’ which made me smile instead at my rashness and grounded me again.

Thrusting the vacuum cleaner, mop and bucket into the last remaining space in the footwell of the passenger side of my car, I then found a tin of paint left in the porch. Unable to squeeze it in to the boot because of the dogs, I found a tiny bit of room left in the aforesaid passenger footwell, so I carefully wrapped it in a black plastic bag and jammed the door shut tight.

I’d decided I wasn’t going to overthink leaving  Kitley Lodge for the last time, but pretend that I was just going out to the shops as usual. It wasn’t the time to be wracked with emotion. Stopping at the supermarket in Lewes to fill up with petrol, I’m glad I did because as I opened the passenger door to get my purse, I discovered the tin of paint had upended and spilt over the interior of the car, my favourite jumper and two jackets. (Remember there was a last-minute scramble to fit loose items in to the car, anything got thrust anywhere!) Unusually calm for me, I realised, if that was the worst to happen with moving, I had got away lightly. By the time we got to the new house, the removal men had delivered the beds and unloaded one truck, returning the next day with the rest of our furniture.

My new home, Bell Lodge, is wonderful!

The views are stunning,

the feeling of space is liberating

the walks by the canals are calming,

and the expanse of night sky is vast.

Already we’ve had a few unexpected visitors,

I’ve been told off ( nicely) by the local farmer (made me feel like a naughty schoolgirl), met the postman, figured out the heating system and discovered they do take away deliveries ( ok for you townies, but wonderful for us country folk and not available at K. L.) The curtains are up and it feels like home.

The ISS is on its way.

There’s loads for me to do with Bell Lodge. It is looking a little tired but that is the exciting bit. I can take my time and work on a few ideas I have and liven it up. A oak framed, garden room on the east side for example.

The morning sun shining through large windows will be a perfect place to read the paper at weekends while checking on what the cows in the field opposite are up to. A pizza oven next to the BBQ, could be something to enjoy on summer evenings and a sundowner in a new gazebo watching the colours of the sky fade as the twinkling lights of the night sky take over.

We have endured a lot recently, but I’m thrilled to say that at long last, life is picking up. I feel a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I am in a completely different place. Harry, Ellie and Jo have new jobs and will eventually have new places of their own to discover and to get excited about. Ellie to Cornwall ( I intend to visit often and practice my surfing), Harry to Manchester and Jo to Brighton. Making this move has been momentous, not only in the physical sense but for my own mental health. What a difference a year makes. From being in the depths of despair, I have clawed myself out of my dark hole, with the support of loved ones, to stand on the rim of expectation and hope.  It seemed an enormous mountain to climb but, by taking one step at a time, I have got there. I have achieved more than I thought I was capable of. I am excited for what my life is going to bring and I am lucky enough to have the means and ability to do so much more with it…watch this space!

Love

Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – Don’t forget to write…

I was reminded recently that I must write. An old friend reached out and told me how my blogs were helping her to not feel alone after losing her husband. Writing is my happy place. Most people are still searching for their happy place – why neglect mine?

When I started the Empty Nest blog it was as an antidote to the gloom and doom surrounding me.  I hoped humorous tales about our family life would make readers smile and bring a different slant on life. Unfortunately, as you know, our lives took such a dark turn I lost my way. For a while I couldn’t write. I couldn’t find joy in anything, but now I can see glimpses of light and laughter. I’ve read a lot about bereavement and grief. Just because I’m laughing doesn’t mean I’m ‘over it.’ That took a while to sink in, but it resonated. I’m allowed to be happy again. I’m allowed to find joy in simple things. So I must accept that and live it. So in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I decided to put more effort into life and be more proactive, with my writing in particular. There’s still a lot of gloom and doom in the world but nature remind us everything is cyclical. Those damn daffodils will still poke their joyous heads up above the earth for us to wonder at their beauty. The tulips will open again and bend towards the light and I will be able to plant sweetpeas wherever I am living and enjoy their transient colour and fragrance.

It won’t always be winter, rainy and cold but the buds will appear, the evenings will lighten and in the words of one of my favourite poets, William Blake, we can approach the world with cheerful optimism…

 When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And every thing else is still



So, after reading about the ‘golden hour,’ one hour after sunrise and before sunset (I’ve interpreted it for myself here to only include sunrise) I now wake up and open my laptop to work on my novel before I do anything else. This includes getting my cup of tea and for those who know me, this is sacrosanct to my morning ritual. This way I’ve nailed an hour at least a day of writing, even if I don’t return to it later. It’s amazing how sanctimonious I feel when I can mentally tick that box. I seem to far more productive throughout the day as well with this good start. I only hope my ‘ own brand of complacency’ which a tutor at University said I ‘coasted along on’ doesn’t kick into place any time soon. By the time I’ve done a cycle or dog walk afterwards, the day is off to a fine start. Another tick.

My move is progressing as it should. The admin side is kicking in and solicitors are doing their thing (I hope). I’ve found strength I didn’t know I had. I feel the real Teresa is emerging. I haven’t been single for over thirty-five years.  I’ve been a wife for so long I’ve forgotten what it is to be me. Naturally I took a certain role within the relationship. I didn’t mind as I was very happy. It just evolved over the years. Before, Nick would have taken charge and dealt with any snags to do with the move and I would have been happy to let him, believing he was more able than me, but I realise I am more than capable. Issue with the retaining walls in the new property? No problem. Chat to a few friends asking their advice, then seek a builder in the area to give me a quote to find the depth of the problem and how much the repairs would cost. Find a reliable removal firm? Again, talking to people and a recommendation from a friend did the trick. Tick.

I’m now at the practical stage of packing up. I’ve been ruthless with culling my stash of books.

 I’m listening to a lot on audible these days and really, if I need one… what are libraries for? I have a skip on the drive and the more I put in, the happier I am. I’ve sold sofas and lawn mowers, clothes and filing cabinets. I’m determined not to take ‘stuff’ I don’t need with me. This is my new start. My new life and I want to fill it with the things that make me happy, not clutter that drains me. And anyway, how will I fit my surfboard in if my house is full of stuff I don’t use?

It is liberating to clear out and exciting to feel a new start is approaching.

Wishing you and yours health and happiness

Love

Teresa x

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THE EMPTY NEST – Happy 60th!

Dearest Nick

Today you would have been sixty!

I try not to think about how we would have celebrated it had you lived. I would have booked a surprise something – a trip to Paris, like your 50th – or 60 presents! I would have thought of something to give you a day to remember, but thinking like this is like torturing myself or picking at a scab that doesn’t heal.

Instead I’m going to celebrate the wonderful 56 years you WERE here. From the young page boy at your sister’s wedding:-

To a favourite memory of you snoozing in the sunshine on a skiing holiday.

You were always hands on, be it building a snowman…

 or a climbing frame when the kids were little…

having fun putting up a wind break while camping in Cornwall…

or at the family BBQ.

A family walk was a favourite pastime, where you would lead us off the path and we would blindly follow, once ending up climbing a sheer cliff face through trees hoisting the children and dog along with us!

You were always so proud of our three…

You and I had fun too – dressing up for functions…

snatched adventures abroad…

or fun with friends…

You were so big hearted. You kept us safe and guided us all through whatever life threw at us. It is only now you have gone that I realise just how much you held us together. How you cradled my heart in your hands and always put your family first, with me top of the list. I was special to you and you to me, I miss that very much. Even within our relationship we both allowed each other the freedom to grow and pursue our own interests but always made sure we were connected to each other.

You were my person I could just ‘do nothing’ with, the one I was always glad to be going home to at the end of the day. Not many couples know how wonderful this feels. I was blessed to be part of it.

You were such a fantastic dad, always having an abundance of the two things I think are fundamental to parenting – unconditional love and time to listen. It is a testimony to you that our three have become such well rounded, caring young people.

I miss our life together…

but I have to keep pushing forward. I have to make a new start, meet new people, explore new areas, make new memories if I am to live properly again. With that in mind I’ve sold our home and am moving to a completely new part of England. My new home has the most fantastic views. I’ve always loved a view! The feeling of space and freedom it gives me is liberating. The garden wraps around the house so I will be able to watch the sun come up and then enjoy the last of its rays from my bed as it says goodnight.

The house is near the canal system so I’m hoping in time, to buy a narrow boat and potter along, when and where the fancy takes me. There’s a whole new world out there to learn about – I’m sure I’ll find someone willing to give me the benefit of their boating knowledge!

I still intend to perfect my surfing technique…

keep cycling and have more adventures, travelling as soon as the world opens up, but as a good friend keeps reminding me, NOW is the time to enjoy life and have fun…

You will always be tucked in my heart, Nick, but I’m going to get out there and live this life for the both of us. It is exciting to be starting something new… who knows where it will take me…

Wish me luck.

Happy birthday my darling…

my love always,

Teresa x

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THE EMPTY NEST – 3 YEARS????!

Dearest Nick

So, your 3-year anniversary is looming on the 5th September. If anyone had told me the morning you died that I would still be standing three years later, I would have screamed it would not be possible. I would have questioned how I could even make it to the next day let alone 3 years. But here we are. It’s been a very difficult road but hopefully things are changing.

I’ve made some decisions. Don’t laugh, the art of making decisions for me passed away with you. Me, who has coped with so many traumas already in my life and come out the other side. Me, who made you wait while I extracted myself from my first marriage, and me, who instigated our relocation from London to the country to change our lives once before.

I wonder sometimes if you would recognise me now. Like a flower in bud I have been forced by nature into life again. I have fallen to such lows. Sometimes it was hard to admit to myself just how low. Being in control is what holds me together and I was not in control of anything it seemed. Events forced me to wake up and take action, but I feel I’m coming out the other side and am at last getting excited for life again.

A few things have contributed to this. One is, I’ve decided to move. A big decision which forces lots of little ones. I need a new life. A new area to explore. New people to meet. A new start. So the house is on the market. We did it together before. This time I must forge my own way forward, but I can do it. Thinking about where to go and how I want to live has been interesting. Thank goodness for google earth and the internet making different areas easy to research. I’ve narrowed it down to the things I do want.

One of my favourite statues in London

I want to be able to get to London and back by train in a day. Probably not high on everyone’s list but I like to have a fix of the fumes every now and again along with the galleries, exhibitions and a fine lunch somewhere. So that gives me a large circle around the capital and a good place to start. I also want to continue with tennis and cycling. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. Lockdown was good for that at least and of course, there’s always the dogs to be walked. So the countryside along with pubs for those cosy lunches would be good. But I also need a little hustle and bustle around me so I feel connected with the world and not too isolated.

Surf’s up…

My latest adventure is surfing, so getting to Cornwall more easily would be ideal. I recently took a week’s course to learn and I laughed such a lot at my attempts to succeed, I immediately knew it was something I must continue. I need fun in my life. I’m determined to perfect my style. At the moment it is more gung-ho and cling on than spring up and glide, but who knows, I may take up sailing next?

I’m gonna work on my style…

Being thrust into retirement is difficult. Having a structure to my day is important but I’m getting used to allowing myself to take time out and sit and read during the day. And of course, there’s my novel to continue with.

Roo helping with any writer’s block…

A new home would need a few alterations to put my stamp on it so that could be another project. And that’s before I find something I can volunteer for. So, you see, at long last life is opening up and becoming exciting. There is lots going on. I am a restless soul. I like coming and going. If I can’t go out and about, I feel trapped.

So, this year I’ll be surfing on the 5th, Nick. The salty sea will mix with my tears as I think of you, but I know I will laugh as I plonk my body on that surfboard and paddle like mad to catch a wave.

I’m doing my best to find a new life without you. I have a way to go but as I recently discovered ‘nothing is too scary, the scary thing is doing nothing.’ There’s lots more adventures to be had and I’m going to grab every opportunity that comes my way. I know you would be right behind me, urging me on.

Love always

Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – One heart open for business.

So today would have been my 20th wedding anniversary. My previous posts have told the trauma of that time. In 2000, I had just had surgery for cancer, and we didn’t know if it had spread and how long I would have left. Now 20 years later, miraculously, I’m still here but those of you who have been reading my previous blog posts know that life has been nothing if not challenging.

When Nick was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March 2017, we were led to believe we would have some time left together. Maybe we didn’t hear what the doctors were saying or they gave us conflicting views, but we believed there was some time. How much we didn’t know, but certainly not just the 3 months post-surgery following the removal of his cancerous kidney. To say my world was completely tipped over is an understatement.  You have read the journey I have taken since I lost Nick. I’ve written it because it is cathartic, and I hope it may help others who are going through something similar. I want to tell you where I am now.

Throughout this time, I have been supported by my beloved family and friends.

Nick and I ran a construction company (he ran it, I did as I was told) and it has taken the last few years to wind this business up. All this time I have also been supported by a close friend of Nick’s also in the construction business who stepped in when Nick (and I) were floundering. I can still remember ringing him, seated in the hospice garden when I didn’t know where else to turn. He didn’t hesitate and has been invaluable in helping me complete the outstanding jobs and close the business. I could not have got to this point without him and I will always be so grateful to him for his unwavering support when I needed it most.

 As time went on our friendship grew and my heart began to thaw. From living without any sunlight or hope through the darkness, he showed me I could find love again and that there was a life out there for me. Albeit a different one in every way from my expectations, it came as a surprise and for a while I was in denial, but nonetheless a happy and loving life. My head started to accept the change and hope entered my heart. I found happiness again from a completely unexpected place.

Unfortunately, things recently have taken a different path to the one I was hoping for. Just as I began to believe and have faith that, although things may be difficult, there was now something to look forward to, I had found someone to love and cherish again, everything changed. This was the person who had calmed me at my worst, wiping snot from my tearstained face when I was overwhelmingly consumed by grief and wanting to end it all. He stood by me for the worst two years of my life with patience, kindness and care. He gave me hope that there was a life out there again for me. Now my loving friend has decided he can no longer wait for me and he has to put his own needs first. Understandable, but a crushing blow as I come to terms with the heartache and disappointment of what was the possibility of a future together. Two years is nothing in the grieving process to come to a place of acceptance after the kind of relationship I had with Nick. I could see I was thawing from my shocked position and moving forward, learning and accepting that I was not dishonouring Nick by having feelings for someone else.

But it is not to be.

So, what now?

 As hard as it has been and still is, I must somehow find a way to  pick myself up, dust myself off and go forward again. My recent experience has shown me many things – that cloaking myself in my grief and building a wall around myself does not prove  how much Nick meant to me. That having feelings for someone else is not being unfaithful or disloyal to Nick. That my heart isn’t finished with relationships yet. I like feeling special to someone and making them feel special too.

 I’m not looking for another Nick. He was a one off. It’s a funny thing, losing a spouse. It’s not like divorce where you make choices. Even if you are the one left behind you know that person still exists, they still walk the earth. Losing Nick meant that no matter how hard I look through a crowd, I will never see his beloved, familiar face again. That part of my life was precious, but it’s gone. He will never be forgotten and to move forward I have to accept that. I believe he would want me to find someone else to make new memories with. But first I have to get my mojo back again and get myself to a place where I can function properly.

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This recent world situation has made me think. What to do with my life and what is on my wish list? At the moment, probably like most of you, I’m taking it day by day, not looking too far ahead but maybe in time,  walking the South West Coastal path? Going to live in southern France for a while? The Inca trail? Drive around New Zealand for a few months? Who knows what. There’s a lot out there to see and experience.

So, once the world is open, I will be making plans. I would like to find someone to share life’s adventures with again and while I’m doing that, I will have a few adventures of my own. This heart is open for business.

I hope you and your loved ones are well and happy.

Love

Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – Hockney

If you are stuck for something to watch during these unprecedented times, I recommend taking  a virtual walk around the Royal Academy wondering at the brilliance that is David Hockney. I went to see his exhibition The Bigger Picture in 2012, five times and even that wasn’t enough. Make yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.

The Bigger Pictureiiemwmywujpfu6ogd9oe

 

 

 

 

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The Empty Nest – Happy Birthday to me…

Another year, another birthday. Time passes whether you want it to or not. The daffodils still deliver their yellow trumpets of hope after the wet, dark winter. The bluebells fill the woods with their glorious scented carpet and the sweet peas start their climb towards the clouds.

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Our local woods

Looking back over the year it’s a been a mixture again. I can see I’m a different person to the shell shocked one three years ago. My 2017 birthday was spent at an oncologist’s appointment where they told us what treatment they planned for Nick.

Yet again, I have been travelling when I could. I often need to shred the cloak of grief that is all consuming when I stay too long in the home Nick and I made together.

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Because it was my big birthday year, I chose to do something special with each of my three chicks as a memory for us to share.

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My three chicks…

 

Early in the year, Jo was already traveling in Bali so I joined her there and we had an amazing time. It’s refreshing to be shown a country by your child for a change.

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Later, Ellie and I went to Stratford-upon-Avon for the weekend. Seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s As You Like It, was a brilliant way to spend a weekend doing something we both love.

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Beside river Avon

Then in July as my sister, Ellie and my niece were cycling from London to Amsterdam to raise money for St Christopher’s hospice, Harry and I went to Amsterdam to meet them at the finish line. It’s certainly interesting going there with your 21yr old son.

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I also had a brilliant long weekend in Rome with a girlfriend. We were lucky enough to be shown hidden places by a friend of hers who lived there.

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There was also a wonderful week in Cornwall. I donned a wet suit again. Surfing – something I must get to grips with at some time.

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I may have the gear but I’ve really no idea…

Another highlight was the best theatre production I’ve ever seen. It was A Midsummer Night’s Dream and yes, you may think same old, same old, but NO. The Bridge Theatre’s production was a magical transportation to the fairy world. Its trapeze artists swirling, the forest rising from the floor and laugh out loud moments at Bottom’s antics put a fresh prospective on an old favourite.

I was also treated to wonderful presents, meals and more theatre trips by family and good friends. It wasn’t only my big year but also Jo’s 30th and Harry’s 21st. We tried to celebrate in style.

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Harry’s 21st birthday

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Happy birthday Jo

I’ve given up my job in the shop. Eventually it became too much to keep pretending I was ok when really, I wasn’t. Each time I had to put on a mental armour. I would hold myself tense, waiting for a trigger that would bring tears springing to my eyes. I couldn’t keep in ‘shop girl’ mode. Seeing everyone else’s life carrying on as normal became too much.  I didn’t realise just how much I had been walking on a knife edge. I was beginning to get my life on track a little and find some joy but a combination of events eventually  tipped me over the edge and I had a meltdown. I’m mentally more fragile than I allowed myself to acknowledge. I know now I must nurture myself and pay more attention to my body and mental  health. Holding  things close is my way of keeping control. Losing Nick threw me so array I couldn’t find an anchor. Not something I’m proud of, but with the help of antidepressants, I am coming to a place where I can cope with the day again. I’m also trying to encourage my natural endorphins by cycling and walking more.

With all that is happening in the world today, it has made me realise I’m lucky to have this precious thing called life. Nick would want me to live it. He wouldn’t want me to be so consumed by my grief that I couldn’t use whatever time I have left to live a fulfilling life. Yes, I will always miss him. And yes, he will always be a huge part of my life, but in the words of Joan Rivers:

He’s not going to come back, so you have to get your life going again. You must get to it, and don’t wallow. A life can be made. It can even be terrific. But it’s never going to be the same.’

I’ve reread that often, but I don’t think I was ready to believe it. But I am coming to a place where I am. I think a move would be good for me.  This house represents my life with Nick. Strangely I am getting used to being on my own without him but I still feel his presence around every corner.  What was once so all-consuming I couldn’t see how I was going to take my next step, let alone live without him, has mellowed into a soft glow that ebbs inside me. He will always be a part of me. I believe I will take him with me wherever I go but, I have to live a new life now and a new area where I can make new memories may help.

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We’ve also added another bundle of joy (when she’s not pooing on the carpet) to the family.

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Introducing Roo – our new member of the family.

I’m still writing.  I did a writing course during the heatwave last summer. Not a good time to be in London! I’m three quarters of my way through my next book. And  I won a competition with the beginning of it.

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And Harry graduated. Yay! Last chick through the system.

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We’re finding ways to get through the important anniversaries. We stayed at home this Christmas but changed it a little.

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In our new christmas PJ’s.

It’s often the build up to them which is worse than the actual day. Christmas day dinner took on a Mexican theme.

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Working up to our Mexican Christmas lunch

Again, who knows what the following year will bring, but I wish that you and your loved ones are well and happy and stay that way.

Love Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – Happy (although it’s sad) 59th Birthday, Nick

 

You’ll never know just how much you are missed…

All my love, Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – Two years and counting…

Dearest Nick

I’ve tried writing this many times. My attempts have ranged from the rational to the ravings of a mad woman, depending on my mood. The overriding sentence is; –

‘How can it be two years since you died?!!!’

When that happened on 5th September 2017 at 4.44 am, it broke me. The first year I was in shock, now the harsh reality of my situation is beginning to hit. Learning to go from two to one is difficult. I have done many things to pass the time and distract myself these last 2 years. I have travelled… boy, have I travelled. It gave me respite from my grief. Yes, I took it with me, but it felt lighter somehow. It isn’t a permanent solution though.

 

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I know I can’t leave this house yet because it would feel like I was leaving you behind. Being at home you’re still in every room but maybe I can’t move forward until I do leave it? I don’t know what I want to happen. But this new life I’m trying to carve out for myself feels false and wrong. I look at pictures of you and I still can’t believe I’ll never see you again. I know this may seem like the ravings of a lunatic to some but believe me, you have no idea what this is like until you are in it yourself. I do feel like a lunatic sometimes. I don’t have a grip on reality. I go through the day in a dream world. Nothing is like it used to be. Everything is tinged with sadness. It isn’t the life I knew. Half of me has been ripped away, I’m still sliced apart, my heart still shattered into millions of pieces.

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What is the point of going on about it? It can’t be changed. The result I want will never be. I must come to terms somehow with the fact that this is now my new life and I must live the rest of my days without you. I, and my children have lost the steadfast, beloved man we all relied on. You were always there with calm practical words to ease us through life’s traumas, share our successes and support us. Now you have gone.

 

Nick on the ferry

When I had my cancer, back in 2000, lying in my hospital bed, I planned my funeral. Songs I wanted to be played took on a new significance as I listened to the words carefully. Harry was only eighteen months old, Ellie, four and Jo, ten. Obviously, I didn’t want to die, but I felt it was out of my hands if the cancer had already spread. My deepest sadness was that they were too young to remember the kind of person I was. It’s all very well being talked about when you’ve gone, but they wouldn’t remember my perfume or how I held them and sung them to sleep. Being a teacher, I knew those early years are fundamental in shaping a person’s character. I wouldn’t be there with my unconditional love to cocoon them through life’s trials. I took to covering their faces with kisses, telling them that even though they couldn’t see them, a mother’s kisses can never be washed off.

Now I’m so glad the kids were older and knew the kind of man you were before they lost you. You were a shining example of what a father should be, and I know they will take that with them into their future. I see your kind nature in the way they treat other people. I can spot Harry in the distance on the cricket field because he stands just like you did. Ellie has your love of cooking and helps me in the garden. You have left part of yourself in them and I’m so grateful for that. But I am sad because Ellie won’t have her father to give her away if she gets married. I’m sad because you won’t be at Harry’s graduation. I’m sad because you’re not here to see the wonderful people the three of them have become. I’m sad for all our lost dreams and plans. I’m sad for all the big times in our lives you won’t be there to share in. When we have family events they are always tinged with sorrow because you are missing and that will always be. But we will still have these family events and we will just have to find a way to get through them.

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Harry was 21 this year.

I looked over my blog post from a year ago and much of it still resonates today. I am still lost.  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, but I’ve learnt I mustn’t try and force order. My life will evolve. I am not in control but there again, I probably never was. But I didn’t notice. I still struggle with social occasions. One of the hardest is when I am with, or see, pictures of people we would have been with as a couple. I replay in my mind how different things would have been if you were still here. But that is like torturing myself or picking at a scab, so it doesn’t heal. It’s finding that balance between remembering you and not allowing those memories to stab me in the heart each time I must find.

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On holiday in Italy. Breakfast is my favourite meal and what a place to have breakfast!

 

So, two years on…Harry has finished at Uni – it has taken a lot of courage to continue with his studies and be away from home, but he has dug deep. Ellie is carving out a career in marketing and Jo has changed direction, retrained as a yoga teacher and masseur and is finding a new life/ work balance. You would be so proud of them and what they have achieved since you left. It hasn’t been easy, but we are a strong team and somehow when one of us is struggling ,there has always been another feeling strong, to offer words of comfort.IMG_3289

 

I’ve started writing a new novel. It’s about two women – one older, one a teenager both searching for the same thing: friendship, self-direction and unconditional love.

Everyone loses direction – sometimes someone unexpected can show you the way.

I know I can’t write myself better, but it does help while I’m doing it.

I’ve taken a part time job, working in our local village shop. It has made me get out in the world and engage with people again. I go in as ‘shop girl’ and can cope. Only a couple of times my worlds have collided causing you to rise to the surface and me to crumble in tears.

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And I’ve bought a little joy into the family.

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The house is empty without a dog so let me introduce you to Dill. I think I’ve already lost the rule about being on the sofas!

So another year has gone by without you. My days are still a mixture, but I continue to get up each morning and face what comes, and that is the best I can do for now.

 

All my love, always

Teresa x

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The Empty Nest – Now We Are Sixty

This blog post is all about me. Well, as it’s my ‘big’ birthday today, I feel I can be indulgent. It’s bloody amazing I’ve made it! So I thought I’d give you a potted account of my life so far. Warts and all. (And there’s plenty of warts, believe me.) I make no apology for the dodgy hairdos.

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Remember those ruched costumes? Height of fashion!

I was born 11/4/1959, number 5 of 6 children, and no, we weren’t Catholic. I never knew why people would ask me that as I was growing up, and would innocently answer, ‘No, Church of England’ hoping this explained everything.

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Here I am at nursery. I’ve always loved colouring in. In fact, I loved school. My best friend at primary school was Sally Baker, who lived down the road and until she became best friends with Janice Brewer, my life was pretty wonderful. Well, maybe there was a slight blip in year 5 when I was involved in a car crash, but seeing as the rumour spread at school that I sustained my injuries saving a runaway pram from being crushed (falsely, I must now confess), life continued in a blissful round of Brownies, netball and making obstacle courses around the garden with my sister Deborah. (We always ended it, after shimmying through the legs of the green, garden seat, with a somersault into the paddling pool.) I’ve always loved books and stories. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer ‘a fairy, with wings.’  My mum indulged me by stroking my back and telling me that my shoulders blades were the beginnings of my wings growing. For many years I believed her.

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I was very proud of that jacket as I knitted it myself.

My early teenage years were tortuous. Just as they should be.  Again, I loved school but as I soon became distracted with the opposite sex, perhaps I didn’t pay as much attention to my studies as I should have done. At 17, I fell in love with a sound engineer. Luckily, my mum was very relaxed by the time it came to parenting me and allowed me to go to California with him in my gap year, returning in time to retake an ‘A’ level which subsequently got me to University. In the meantime, I experienced my first flight in first class to Paris, paid for by Roxy Music, attended their parties at The Sanctuary, Covent Garden and travelled around Europe at a moment’s notice wherever they were on tour, (but that’s a completely different story). Heady stuff for an 17 yr old.

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A perm was so in vogue

By 21, I’d had my heart well and truly broken. I graduated and took my first teaching job and by the time I was 30 had bought my own home, given up teaching to fly as cabin crew, long haul for BA, got married and subsequently gone back to teaching.

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At University

My 30’s were a mixture of extreme highs and lows. I had my daughter Joanna, separated from her father, met and fell in love with Nick, divorced, had my second daughter Ellie and then at 39, my son, Harry. I started my Sugaring business (torture, masquerading as hair removal) working from home. Crazy times often hanging on by my boot straps, but those three children are the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

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The bigger the sunglasses the better.

My 40’s (and the millennium – so full of promise!) was dominated by illness and bereavement. I had cancer, my mum died of cancer, I lost my sister and sister-in-law to cancer, and one of my best friends from secondary school was wiped out with her husband and son in the Asian Tsunami. I underwent a five-year, drug trial which involved being injected in the groin and under the arms fortnightly, but there were some highs. Nick and I got married and with the kids, relocated to the country and embarked on our rural idyll.

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My 50’s seemed to start well. I had amazing birthday celebrations. Sadly, I lost my father early on but otherwise, life pottered along nicely. I started my online home accessories business and then,

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I loved my 50th birthday party.

after much deliberation, Nick and I started our own company, working together (a testament to any marriage) and we were chugging along towards plans of long weekends, ‘us’ time now the kids were moving on and finally retirement. Mmmmmm… silly me. Not to be. My brother became ill and subsequently passed away, my brother -in-law became ill and passed away, both with cancer. Then only 2 months after that, and those of you who have been following my posts will know, Nick was diagnosed with renal cancer, and passed away within 6 months.

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Mother’s Day 2017

So, you can see, I nearly made it to 60 with my heart intact. I nearly made it to 60 with (perhaps) life’s usual trials and tribulations, but not quite. But the fact I have made it to 60 is a thing to rejoice and to be celebrated. So many people I loved dearly, didn’t make it. So, doesn’t that mean I must rejoice in my good fortune?

I don’t know what my 60’s are going to bring. I don’t want to know. All I hope is that it is better than what I’ve been through recently. That somehow I will come out of this void, find a little bit of fun and perhaps a sprinkling of fairy dust for good measure.

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At Dream Beach on my recent trip to Bali.

I can always hope.

Teresa x

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