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.

Kitley Lodge Pencil From London to Lewes 1

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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About Teresahamiltonwriter

Recipe for a Writer Ingredients: • 1 woman • 1 writing habit • 2 husbands • 3 children Method 1. Whisk suburban childhood; followed by a tablespoon of teaching. 2. Mix with travel to produce a stewardess. 3. Stir in love potion, marriage; resulting in daughter. 4. When mixture reaches boiling point, beat in divorce. 5. Slowly marinade extra love potion and 2nd husband. 6. Blend in two more children. 7. Steep in inspiration by relocating. 8. Toss in imagination and perspiration producing: articles, novels, children’s stories and a memoir. 9. Bake in Sussex countryside. 10. Serve with competition successes, red wine and enjoy.
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4 Responses to The Empty Nest – A year has passed…

  1. Lynda says:

    Amazing, beautiful, heart wrenching and painful. A credit to your life together and your future as a family.
    Be strong lovely lady Xx

  2. Phil says:

    So beautiful,so sad and your words are so poignant to me. I cried the whole way through reading it. I have had made three small yellow and one large white diamonds made with a small amount of Edith’s ashes (my wife) for the family so we could incorporate it into our jewellery so she is with us all the time. Life is such a struggle as it is so so hard to carry on life without them.

  3. Jean says:

    Teresa, what a very long year for you all. Much love and hugs go out to you for an easier year ahead. Enjoy your family time together in the sunshine and hope to see you soon. Jxx

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