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

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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