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.

T at shop

 

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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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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