I had it all

Hey my love,

It has been a while. I am on holiday in Sicily with the girls. Whilst it has improved from the abysmal first day, it is far from fun. Not sure why I thought it would be better than it is. It was booked as part of my “plan” to try things and give the girls the best life I can and I am vaguely conscious that I am just existing, treading water really,  by working full time and avoiding the world as best I can so thought this would be a good thing for us all and a chance for me to focus on them properly rather than in small chunks at each end of the working day when I am distracted or tired.

I didn’t realise how confronting it would be. I knew it would be the usual of seeing families everywhere as we went around as a lopsided lone parent family, but I guess I underestimated quite how much it can take my breath away when I think of you not being here with us as you should be. Here it has been impossible not to let myself think about and actually feel how much I miss you. I block it out most of the time at home by working and pretending you are still around me at home I think.

We are making the best of it here. It isn’t great but I rallied after an absolutely dire first day where I honestly thought I was going to just break down and cry in the middle of a restaurant as we ate dinner after a long day. I realised that beating myself up for the mistakes I had made in booking this, due to the contradicting factors of my rashness at times and complete indecisiveness at others, wasn’t actually going to make the situation any better. I felt completely stupid, alone, miserable, vulnerable and out of control.

So I took control in a small way by hiring a car for the rest of the holiday. Whilst a bit daunting initially; feeling able to make decisions and choose where to go and when to go there has helped improve things for me a bit here.  Still counting down till I escape this hell of a holiday and get back to a routine that, whilst lacking any joy at all, it is at least familiar now and I have worked out how to control myself and survive it most days.

This is just too hard. It makes me confront all that I have lost, all that the kids have lost and how crap our new set up and life really is. I miss you in the beauty of the surroundings. I miss you in the loneliness of decision making. I miss you in the sea of families and couples enjoying their time together. I miss you in all the tiny moments we should be sharing here as a couple, as parents and as a family.

What this week has reminded me is that I truly truly had it all. I was as contented in my life as was possible to be. With you I was completely and utterly beloved and I was at peace with everything and everyone in the world as I was always happy with where I was at as I was with you. You were my anchor, my comfort, my partner, my mirror, my confedant, my lover, my security, my entertainment, my confidence, my future. My husband. My everything. I truly was content with my life because you were with me every single step of the way and together we could do anything and nothing mattered as long as we had each other.

Now I am a pathetic overweight, haggard looking, miserable middle aged woman who has no clue how to live life without you, who has no plan for the future or zest for life, who struggles to hold it together every day and cant help but look around at the families and couples seemingly enjoying life with a sense of disbelief that somehow in the space of 2 short years how our life and family has disintegrated into this.

I had it all. And now I have responsibilities and not much else. I have lost all ability to enjoy life. I know I need to try as it isn’t honouring you to be this miserable pathetic husk of a person, but I still have no clue how to live without you.

Help me please my love

 

xxx

Advertisements

Who am I now that you are gone?

Hey my love,

I have been thinking about this as part of a writing course I have signed up to. I don’t recognise or like the me that is left here.  I don’t know what I need to get better, I seem to becoming more and more adrift from everyone and everything as time goes on.

I am starting to get slightly afraid if I am honest my love. I can’t see how I am going to get things back on some sort of track. I don’t even know where to start, what to do.

However, your little legs is just fantastic. She brings joy and love and laughter into every single miserable day. She is so quirky, so determined, so independent, so funny, she really is wonderful. She loves to sing, she plays by herself beautifully and such imaginative little games, it is so sweet to watch. She is so single minded and determined that it is a daily reminder of her determined daddy. Your adoration would have deepened every single day.

Her loss is still a defining feature. She has only just started sleeping through the night again almost 6 months after she last did it consistently for a short while, which was 6 months after you died. If she wakes she needs reassurance that I am still close by. She has discovered Lion King, the loss of Simba’s Daddy chiming with her somewhere deep inside and helping her make sense of her life, finding words. We have started using the word died. Simba’s daddy died. My Daddy died. Simba sad. C sad.

In losing you I have lost myself. I have only just really realised this. The essence of who I am has altered, even if the surface appears the same.  I am clinging on to your little legs and the beautiful little soul is keeping me afloat. Just. For her sake, your sake,  my sake I really need to get some sort of grip on myself and life and set some sort of direction, example, for the kids. I feel like I have no clue of who I am, what I am here for, what I should do/aim for, nor the energy to do anything. What I wouldn’t give to have you here with me.

Love you

XXX

 

This time last year

You had just taken your final breath.

The day I have been dreading is here. And I have survived it as I did the other 363.

I love you still. My best hasn’t been good enough: I promise to try and do better, be better, once I have survived tomorrow. I want so much to make you proud and to “live” again for you, in honour of you, and for your little angel. I haven’t worked out how yet. I hope I do soon. Help me if you can.

I carry your heart my love

XXX

Don’t tell me….

Don’t tell me how well I am doing. I’m not. As the anniversary approaches I can hardly breathe. I am back to the beginning again. A whole year has passed and what? What have I achieved? What was the point of keeping going?
Don’t tell me it will get easier. It doesn’t. It becomes easier for other people around me. My ability to just answer “I’m ok” to any questions and smile has been well-honed. The bursts of manic energy that got me through the early days: the funeral: the fundraising: back to work: on holiday with the kids have all gone. The adrenaline has been exhausted and I have nothing left. I feel empty physically and emotionally. Bereft is such a good word. I wish I could use words more eloquently.
Don’t tell me I will find meaning again. I know I should be finding it in the kids but I’m not. I have achieved nothing other than survival for all of us. I look at other widowed folk and can’t understand those ready to date (not with judgement, but a sense of how do you get your head and heart ready to face that as I really wouldn’t know where to start to manage the feelings), but equally I know I don’t want to feel so lonely and isolated for ever. How does that ever get reconciled? I don’t want anyone else. I just want my husband. I can’t imagine ever not wanting my husband.
Don’t tell me to call. I won’t. What would I say? What could anyone do? Nothing.Don’t I know I am struggling. Wallowing. Pitying. I hate it. I can’t help it. I have no one to turn to, no one to talk to and even if I did: what difference would it make? It won’t change anything. This tension builds every day I get closer to the anniversary. How will those memories not overwhelm me? What happens next? I have made it through a year- so I just repeat this existence again and again?

The anniversary falls on a Saturday so I can hide away and wait for it to be over. I am more worried about surviving the day before the anniversary without a melt down in public. It will be a Friday. You died on a Friday. For the first few months I re-lived it every Friday. Now I am re-living those last 2 weeks. I have to go to work this Friday. Usually the easiest part of every day as no time for thinking, but I have felt myself zone out this week: stop listening in meetings, gazing out of the window watching the sky and thinking about this day a year ago. How on earth will I sit in an office this Friday while living hour by hour of our last day? My instinct is to go to the hospital and spend the evening there alone. Sounds pathetic doesn’t it? I just don’t know what else to do. I know I can’t just sit in this house like it is just another evening. I often have had the urge to go to the hospital and find you. I know you aren’t there. But I feel drawn to go and sit in the main foyer and wait and see. Watch the world go by and maybe you will pass by too?
The widowed folk say be kind to yourself. Problem is I don’t know how to do that. I never have. I can’t relax. I can’t switch off. I can’t forgive myself for anything. If there is a way to beat myself up for not doing better I will find it. I sit here feeling bad for doing nothing and going nowhere but I can’t make myself get up and go somewhere or do something. Snapping at the kids, trying not to cry, wishing I was a better parent, a better person. Perhaps anger would be healthier?
As I write this, I slip into writing to you and have to make myself not. I only have a voice if it is talking to you. I feel like no one else cares how I feel or what I have to say, and the only person I want to talk to is you. That is why life is so empty and so quiet. I have no interest in anything without you. And as a fully paid up feminist, I know that sounds pathetic, but it comes from our togetherness, of feeling such comfort and love and acceptance and completeness, not dependence. I can survive without you, I can’t live without you.
A year later and if I stop to think, I just want to go back. I don’t want to go forward. I should. But I don’t. How the fuck does this ever get better?

A year on what have I learned? I can survive without you, I can’t live without you.

Forever your cherub

XXX

At A&E again

My love,

I hardly know where to begin. I so wish you were here. I hate doing this without you. E has been holding so much inside. I feel like an awful parent for not realising, not pushing her more to open up to me, for somehow believing that she was as ok and amazing as she seemed to be. Tonight was like looking in a mirror when I am at my lowest. She was keening and wailing for you my love. Something happened tonight that has broken her shell a bit. She is so like me at times. And that isn’t always good. Functional but not good.

So much to be said. So much more she needs from me. How crap am I. How much she adored you and how stupid am I for not realising quite how hard this has been for her. I really am a crap parent without you. And even now as she needs me, my brain is swamped with all the memories of this A&E with you. Somehow I have some feeling that if I just go to a certain cubicle you will be laying there on a trolley and when I open the curtain you will look up and I will see your beautiful smile and, for tonight at least, everything would be ok.

As always I am alone without you. Lone parent lone every fucking thing. I am shit. And I miss you so much it physically hurts tonight and I am barely holding myself together as she finally sleeps and we wait for the doctor.

xxx

I miss you

Hey you,

I miss you. Every day. Still flat. Still struggle to be coherent when I think about how I feel and the future. Still doubt myself a lot. I have fleeting moments of thinking perhaps I will be ok, perhaps I can actually do this and survive it and be ok some day. And then those moments disappear, hidden away again behind the day to day existing and focus on keeping going. Still adoring your little legs. Still being carried on her tiny little shoulders.

Last night as I was driving with E the song “Jar of Hearts” came on the radio. I suddenly clearly remembered a time when we had disagreed about something and that song had been playing and I made a nasty comment to you in line with the sentiments of that song about broken promises. I just started sobbing as I can’t believe I was so stupid as to say something so nasty to you about something so inconsequential that I can’t even remember what it was. I am sobbing now telling you. I can’t believe how stupid I was to waste a single hour of our  time together being a nasty cow.

I truly thought I was going to be with you for the rest of my life and I could not have been happier about that fact. I was so lucky. And although, I know, I knew that 99% of the time: it makes me incredibly sad for some reason to think about being nasty to you and remembering your face as I made that shitty snide comment. I know you know I adored you. I know that you adored me. I know that we could not have been any closer or happier than we were together. When I think about our last year together the joy of what an amazing team we were and what a wonderful marriage we had still helps to counterbalance the sadness at what you went through and how we lived our life because of it. It was a wonderful time whilst also being awful and I don’t think anyone would every truly  understand that. Compared to this almost-year of living without you it was wonderful for me. Every minute of every day and night was spent with you (apart from when you were an inpatient). We never tired of each other: we were all the other needed to feel strength or comfort. The slang “other half” always used to annoy me, I think, because it felt slightly disparaging in the way most people used it and I would never have used it myself. But I realise how much it actually did feel like we were two very different halves that made a whole. That I was only complete when I was with you.
When I am trying hard to be positive I try to focus on how 100% sure I am that you knew I adored you and that you felt the closeness and comfort that I did in us. That we knew true contentment in the face of awfulness. We were the calm safe place in the midst of the tornado. It is so hard to try and process all that I have lost in losing you. I can’t believe it is fast approaching a year. I was 38 when you died and in a few months I will be 40. How is this happening?

Love you forever and beyond

XXX

 

Endings, Beginnings and signs

Hey you,

I wanted to write to you last night. I was feeling like I had a few of the strands of my thoughts held together in a way that made sense and they were vaguely coherent and sort of positive and I was excited to share what I thought were my insights and some sort of plan with you. But then, as is so often the case, something minor happened that upset me and I lost my fleeting togetherness and went to bed trying not to cry. And this morning I can’t remember all that seemed to make sense to me last night, nor exactly what it was that bothered me and sent me to bed upset which pretty much sums up the way my brain seems to work now. Perhaps you should call me Dory.

However, even if I can’t remember all of what it was that seemed to be making sense to me last night, part of what I wanted to share with you last he bit of it that I wanted to rush home and tell you last night was that I saw your lovely hospice nurse last night. I was sat in the main entrance waiting for my last counselling session and she came past, obviously heading home for the day. It was such a wonderful thing to see her. She gave me a huge hug and asked after us all and she told me that she had been thinking of me last week as there have been some developments in nursing that were relevant to a conversation she and I had had when I saw her in the weeks after you died.

Seeing her was lovely, it was something that made me genuinely smile and feel ok briefly. She was one of the very very few people that you talked to other than me in that last year, and she helped you a lot, I think, in the brief time she was in our lives. She was a positive presence in a very isolated and scary time for us, she was reassuring, supportive and lively and she always left us in a better frame of mind each time she visited.

It felt like it was some sort of sign; some sort of closure seeing her last night. It was my last time in the hospice, my last counselling session, and I had been thinking about (and went on discuss with the counsellor) about how I felt I was doing now relative to when I started the counselling and what I might do next or in the future, and to see K last night for the first and last time felt significant some how.

The gist of what I was feeling  that I wanted to try and capture and share with you last night was, I think, that I wanted to try and record how I had described myself as feeling and how I was viewing things at that last counselling session. A sort of update on me instead of little legs for you for a change 😉

Because I knew it was the last session, it naturally led me to think back over the course of the sessions: how I felt at the beginning of counselling versus how I am now at the “end” of it and what, if anything, I could take from the whole experience of counselling that might help me as I carry on trudging through life without you. I have felt like I have relied on the sessions a bit in recent months: I have needed the outlet to say out loud some of how I am feeling and to just sit and cry and talk and ramble away and try and make sense of things somehow. They have made me think about things a bit: I have gone away and pondered on something I had said or something the counsellor had asked me each week and the process of doing that has been helpful at times and in some ways.

The things I want to try and remember to take from the counselling are:

  • It is ok to feel crap
  • It is ok to still just be surviving day to day 10 months later
  • It is ok to feel however I feel and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself all the time and expect myself to be doing “better” at everything
  • I am doing the best I can and that is ok. Even if it is just surviving and going through the motions and functioning and not living at all. That is ok.
  • You are with me. You are part of me. That can never be taken away from me. I can celebrate that any way I want to, whenever I want to and how I choose to have a relationship with you now and in the future is my choice

I have tried to decide to give myself permission to carry on as I am, just surviving, and not panic that I “should” be doing better/have a plan/feel differently/be a better parent/cope better by now. I have sort of decided to give myself up to 3 years to just carry on as I am and wait and see how I go, rather than pressure myself to make decisions/changes/know what I want to do now and in the future. It is ok to not have a clue and to still live day to day/week to week if that is all I can manage for now.  3 years sounds stupid I know, but I can’t cope with no sort of plan, so even if the plan is as vague as to come up with a plan in 3 years time, it makes me feel slightly more in control. 3 years is because that is how long little legs will be at nursery before starting school if we stay as we are, and as she has settled and is happy and thriving there: staying like this (work, nursery and location-wise) is an option that I would be “comfortable” with for now if need be.

There was more to it than this but my brain is foggy again. I am going to try and sleep and see if I can pull a coherent explanation together for you soon. Part of what I wanted to write to you about was some of what I have been reading, how it has made me feel, what it made me want to resolve etc. But if I try and write it now it will be incomprehensible rambling (even more so than usual) and I would be grasping for threads that are getting away from me, so I am going to admit defeat for now and try and sleep.

I love you.
Forever yours

XXX

New Years Eve

Hello my love,

I haven’t had a chance to enjoy my Christmas present to myself and New Year’s Eve is here. The realisation that I will be moving into a year that I didn’t share with you is horrible. I don’t want to say my husband died last year. That makes you sound so far away and long ago.

I was dreading Christmas so much I hadn’t really considered what New Year without you would mean. It makes me feel further away from you. It brings the first birthday you didn’t get to see very close. It means I should be looking forward with the rest of the world and I still can’t face doing that. I have no plans, no goals, no resolutions. I just want to wake up and it be tomorrow as is the case every day.

I still feel like I am existing not living and life is flat and empty and pointless. Doing things that I used to enjoy is meaningless without you. I guess I am waiting for the emptiness and pointlessness to stop and some other more positive feelings to arrive. I guess they won’t come unless I do things to invoke them but I don’t have a clue what would, and I don’t really want to anyway.

I am trying to put less pressure on myself and to accept that I am allowed to feel like this, and whilst I won’t let myself wallow: I will try not to stress about the fact I “should” be doing better, achieving more. I can’t. Surviving at the surface is all I can do.Work, kids, house is about all I can manage.  I want to do more and make life mean something and feel like I am achieving and making you proud but I just can’t at the moment.

You remain my everything and I can’t work out how to live without you. Hopefully one day I will for the sake of little legs if for no other reason.

I still love and miss you more than I could ever convey. I wish with every fibre of my being that you were here with me right now. Life is shit without you.

xxx

My Christmas Present to myself

Hello my love,

I have decided what I am going to give myself for Christmas. Which is a pretty  big deal  bearing in mind that I am trying to survive christmas preparations and, so far, I feel nothing but dread and frustration and stress about the upcoming festive period and a slowly dawning recognition that it will never again feel “joyful” or magical for me. For the first time ever I truly understand why so many more people kill themselves over christmas what with all the focus on families and togetherness: it is hard to imagine a time of year better designed to make you feel isolated, alone and your loss magnified.

So; how am I going to survive this shitty family festive time? I am going to give myself you for Christmas.

I was day dreaming the other day about how clearly I can recollect the different parts of your body: the look, the shape, the contours, the warmth, the feel ,the textures and how much joy and calmness your physical presence brought me. And once I started thinking about it there were so many tiny little details that I wanted to concentrate on remembering.

But as always I was on my way to somewhere, to work or back, to collect little legs, do dinner, clean up etc so couldn’t indulge myself completely in my memories and I realised that I really wanted to sit and remember all the special little parts of you that I loved: to bring your physical presence as back into my head as possible before any of the little details start to disappear from my memory. I want to sit and quietly consider your body inch by inch, top to bottom and remember how it looked, felt, how we joined together so beautifully.

Which gave me the idea of giving myself you as my christmas gift. When E asked me what I want for Christmas, I half-jokingly replied “just my husband” and it reminded me that I always used to say to you that you were my gift to myself: the one and only truly selfish thing that I think I have ever done in my adult life. That is honestly how I saw it. The logistical difficulties of our early relationship (because of childcare and selfish ex-partners) meant that just seeing each other and letting our relationship develop was a challenge from almost day one. But we persevered and our tentative early dates quickly snowballed into the life-changing love and closeness that we shared. Going on dates with you and then building our family and life together was the only thing I have ever done in my adult life that didn’t come from a position of trying to do the right thing by the kids or to do something for someone else. It was purely and simply because being with you was what I wanted as it made me so completely and utterly happy.

I always said to you that I was with you because I wanted to be, because I chose to be, not because I needed to or because I was actually looking for or wanting a man in my life Remaining a single parent would have been so much simpler in so many ways given all the aggravation I was dealing with, and you came with your own set of circumstances to contend with, and I have never been one of those women who needs a man to feel complete. The irony of how incomplete and broken I now feel without you isn’t lost on me.

So I decided I would “gift” myself a bit more of you my love: some time alone to sit and think about your body and capture as many of the little things I wanted to remember as possible. I am still waiting for the right time as I truly want to be able to lose myself in my memories for a while and not get interrupted with a toddler or teenager requiring something of me.

Hopefully I will get the chance soon. It is the first thing I have vaguely looked forward to in I don’t know how long. I am struggling so much at the moment that the bereavement counsellor has kindly offered to have an additional session between Christmas and New Year as , bless her, I think she is worried about how I am going to cope with it all, as she is currently the only person who I share the depths of my sorrow and loneliness with. This counselling has become an outlet that I have come to rely on I think: I am able to hold it together a lot of the time as I know I have an hour a week to let out all my sorrow and fear and misery and crying all the way there, there and all the way home, somehow seems to help me contain myself a lot of the rest of the time.

Anyway, I better try and sleep before little legs wakes up (still not back to sleeping through the night) but hopefully I will have some time to lose myself in you soon.

Love you loads

XXX

Giving Blood because of you

Hey my love,

Today I gave blood for the first time ever. The idea came to me at some point that I can’t quite remember. Perhaps it was watching the pints and pints and pints of blood that you had pumped into you over the course of the last year. Perhaps it was after you died and I was thinking about ways in which I could make sure that positive things that make a difference to someone’s life came as a result of your experiences. I can’t remember. My memory is pretty crap at the moment.

I signed up online to be a blood donor a couple of months ago and after a few weeks of dallying I booked an appointment for today. Over the last 2 months I have been having various medical investigations and on Monday I was prescribed iron tablets as my haemoglobin was low. I was so disappointed as I thought that would mean after all this build up I wouldn’t be able to give blood today, but I decided to go along anyway and hope that the levels had improved and I thought I would at least find where the sessions take place for next time.

I got quite emotional sat waiting to see the nurse as it was similar to the haematology day unit where we used to sit while you received blood: rows of chairs with people having lines put in, being attached to the familiar looking bags but with the reverse happening and then filling rather than emptying.

When the nurse called my name and we went through the checklist I was increasingly nervous (considering I have been known to pass out at a simple blood test before now!) but after running through a long list of questions, and as I held out my left hand for her to do the finger prick test for my haemoglobin levels,  she saw my engagement ring and said “oooh that is beautiful, someone must really love you”. And I looked down at my hand and smiled and said yes they do.

No-one has ever commented on my engagement ring before and that was all I needed to calm me and remind me why I was doing this (although I am still me so I still had to go for a nervous toilet break afterwards before I went and sat in the donation chair!). And surprisingly my haemoglobin levels were just high enough for me to be able to give blood 🙂 I was so surprised and pleased.

After a year of watching you have bloods taken and endless canulas put in for chemo and antibiotics and almost hourly blood tests at times, I am aware that those that do it daily (as these nurses do) are generally really good at it and that there wasn’t too much to fear as long as they seemed comfortable with the vein they found. I also have watched how many times you had to go through it and it gives me some perspective on what I was about to go through for only the second time in months and months, so I wasn’t bothered about the needle at all in the end.

Once it was set up and the nurse happy with it, I laid there looking at the ceiling while the blood slowly drained out of my arm thinking of the symbolism of it all and the similarities between my position and the position you had been in so many times as I had sat alongside you and that made me feel close to you and overwhelming sad that those times of us sitting together were gone forever all at the same time. I also sat there with a small part of me hoping you could see me and would be smiling at me and saying you were proud of me.

While I was sat there another nurse came up and admired the bracelet I was wearing on my other arm. It is one I had made for myself after you died that has a verse of “our” poem engraved on it to remind me that you are with me and I have no fate to fear. She was so taken with it she asked about the poem and what it meant and where I got it from. It felt “ok” to say I got it for myself  after my husband died as it was a special poem to us and it reminded me that he was always with me. Again: no-one has ever commented on it before but the fact the nurse did today after I had given blood comforted me somehow, both things brought you directly into the room with me and made you a part of what I was doing explicitly, and that felt special to me.

Pathetic I know, but I felt pleased with myself for a brief while afterwards. I have done something positive and productive in honour of you. Someone who needs it will get blood to help them continue living and it is 100% thanks to my wonderful, wonderful husband.

I am so proud of you my love. I hope today you are a tiny bit proud of me too. I have been struggling even more than usual these last few weeks with Christmas fast approaching. It felt good to feel good for a fleeting moment.

Love you forever and beyond

xxx