Life goes on

Over a year now since the world changed and I am still trying to come to terms with the new reality. I still feel a disconnection with the outside world (I can’t find an answer to this). The dark times don’t seem to come as frequently now, but when they do come they can be very bleak. What helps me through them is trying to force myself to stop looking at it as grief but as continued love. To stop focusing on what I have lost but what I gained during our time together.

Points

On Sunday I was trying to unsuccessfully fix the hoover while listening to the radio.  As the hoover continued to splutter, a life counsellor on the airwaves talked about the importance of doing an annual life audit.  This seemed to involve listing 10 key lessons you have learnt over the year.  So to keep myself from smashing the hoover into little pieces with a very large hammer, I tried to think of the annual lessons for me.

1) Become self reliant.  People talk about developing a range of family and friend resources who will help support you.  From my experience that support is either not available in great levels or not at the times you need them.

2) Old Career plans are scrapped.  As a couple we were able to fit the family around our careers now it’s fitting my career (whats left of it) around my family.

3) Live in the real world.  As a couple we would have big dreams, now the focus is just on trying to pay the bills and put food on the table.

4) Don’t take things for granted.  In the past a passing conversation would seem unimportant, now it’s a vital component of my often secluded lifestyle.

5) Occasionally the planets line up and you do get some free time.  Make use of it on yourself, everybody needs a bit of ‘me time’.  

6) In some of our of daily newspapers, single parent families are often portrayed as one of societies ills, somehow second rate. We are still a proper family, just a bit smaller now.

7) Lots of people have said this, but it’s so true.  Dealing with bereavement is awful, it can completely consume you, it can take you to some really dark places.  But its often forgotten that bereavement is really a sign of continued love for someone and that’s something to be cherished.

8) Bereavement and/or parenting is stressful. I quickly realised that I needed some form of release to keep me from going under.  Something which I would book in every day and stick to. For me it was fitness.  I try to get up a few minutes early each day and do some exercises.  Often it’s just doing some sit-ups and then a few minutes on the battered old exercise bike.  Unusually for me I’ve stuck to the regime, has it made me into an athlete – NO, but equally I’ve not cracked yet, so maybe it’s working.

9) I quickly discovered the key benefit of single parenting, you get to spend more time with your kid(s).

10) Never to retrain as a Hoover repair person.

Apple Crumble

The perfect single parent is supposed to be a master of everything with the patience of a Saint.  The worlds greatest multitasker.  Oh I wish.

This perfect single parent often feels like a master of nothing.  In one particular area I take the master of nothing to new heights.  Baking!!

How difficult can it be to bake a decent apple crumble. 

Over the last two weeks I have tried and tried again and tried again.

Effort 1: Not enough sugar, inedible.

Effort 2: Too much sugar, inedible.

Effort 3: Dropped crumble onto floor before it made it to the oven.

Effort 4: Burnt, inedible.

Effort 5: Cat caught eating crumble mix, inedible on hygiene grounds.  (A positive really as the cat is not dead yet).

Effort 6:  Made crumble but realised we have run out of apples.

Finally my son, who is the voice of reason in this house, instructs me to just go and buy a ready made apple crumble from the shop.  So after two weeks we have finally an edible apple crumble on the table.  One small problem.  I never checked to make sure we had any custard or ice cream in, and guess what…. 

Over all these disasters I unusually never lost my temper once.  Just maybe I’m becoming a master of patience.

Painting

I was speaking to a neighbour today.  His partner of many years died during the summer.  In his own words he has been “sitting in his armchair just staring at blank walls for two months and going to pieces”.  I was lucky, I had a young son who stopped me doing the same.

He has now decided to take up a hobby to try to put some meaning back into his life.  Painting is going to be his release.  When I asked why Painting he smiled briefly and said “I can do it by myself , I don’t need to talk to anyone, I can shut the world out and I can cover up those bloody blank walls”.

I know what he means…

Warning – Snake

It’s taken a year but we’ve started trying to visit places again. We started going on a couple of hill walks.  Very quiet and avoiding crowds.  It might sound bitter but I didn’t want to see happy families – it would just remind us of what we have lost.  I know my son struggled for months when he saw other children being with their mums.  

But time moves on and I’ve got to try and give our son the happiest childhood he can possibly have.  So as soon as he became more comfortable with seeing ‘happy families’, it was time to try and make new good memories.  He has started to enjoy visiting places again, where as I still spend too much time seeing reminders of the past.  But on each new visit I do try to spend more time living in the present.   Trying to keep the retrospective to when I’m alone, not when I’m with my son.  My son is now good at telling me when he wants to talk about his mum.

We ventured to Doncaster Wildlife Park.  It’s one of our favourite places, such a good family day out.  As we were walking towards the Polar Bear zone we stopped dead in our tracks.  In the middle of the path was a snake – a Grass Snake I think.  It was happily consuming a poor frog.  That’s the first wild snake I have ever seen in Britain.  All the years spent walking through the countryside and you end up seeing your first wild snake in a zoo.  We watched it for 10 minutes before it slid off into a grassy bank.
It’s a memory, a new memory, a good memory.  

Sunsetting

We sat watching the sun go down the other day.  My partner used to love watching the changing colours in the sky.  


It’s been almost a year since the world changed for my son and I.   Although so young, he appears to be coping reasonably well.  In many ways better than his dad.  He can focus on living for today, while I still drift too often into the past.  He does revisit the past but he prefers to do that in the form of celebrations to mark key dates.  So we fast approach the first anniversary of the world changing.  We have decided to mark the anniversary by visiting one of his mums favourite places.  I’m sure the visit will see tears but hopefully more smiles.  Trying to focus on how fortunate we were to be granted such happy times.

The sky changed to a deep purple and red (the camera didn’t do it justice).  It’s a new memory.  A nice memory that has occurred since the world changed.  It is so important that we keep creating memories.  My son is so right to focus on living today.  I must try to follow his teachings.

The Rose

The world continues around me at a frantic pace but for me time has slowed down since my beloved partner died last year.

Fourteen months ago I gave my partner a miniature rose as a present.  At that stage I had no idea that she would be gone in a matter of weeks.  Now the Rose has decided to flower after months of looking rather sad and bedraggled.  I’m not sure if it’s a sign that life goes on, a reminder of the cycles of life, or just that I got round to feeding it a few weeks ago. 

Two things I do know for certain:

1) It reminds me that although I feel time has slowed down, almost a year has now past since the world changed,

2) How much I still love her and that makes me smile.

School drop off

I would share the School drop off with my partner.  It was something I never really thought much about, just a task you try to complete as quick as possible.  Just try to make sure your son arrives on time, hasn’t forgotten anything and looks reasonably tidy.  When it was my responsibility things tended not to be that well organised and my poor son was often last to arrive just seconds before the start of school.  

The School pick up was always more sort after as you could then spend time with your kid.  

I never gave any thought to social aspect of the school transport process.  

That was before the world changed.

Now fast forward 10 months and I find myself in the long summer school break.  Suddenly I now appreciate how important the School drop and pickup has become.  Without the twice daily interactions with other parents the world has become a very isolating place.  Don’t get me wrong, spending days talking Pokémon and wrestling is rewarding, it’s time spent with the most important person in the world to me.  

But sometimes you yearn for contact with the outside world.  Even if it’s just a five minute moan about the great British summer. That’s where the School run comes in.  Since my partner died it has become my only consistent contact with the outside world.  Something I truly appreciate and look forward to.  Maybe that’s the reason my son is now often the first to arrive in the playground on a morning.  It buys me a couple more minutes in the real world.