Time

Finding time to live.

I think as you get older you start to realise the true value of time. We don’t have a finite amount of time to do the things we want to in life. In 2016 that point was brought into the starkest focus for me. Time can suddenly run out…..

So when the penny starts to drop the question then becomes Do you then do anything about it.

We all need to find time to really live.

I remember taking a job on the south coast of England. In Portsmouth. I was there for 6 months. It’s such a cool town, with much to see and do. It was new to me. In those 6 months I spent one afternoon wandering along the beach and looking at the naval history. That was it. The rest of the time I worked and basically just existed. Don’t get me wrong I had the opportunities to do much more with my time but I didn’t. Not much living went on there. Was I happy – certainly NOT.

Things are different now. Life has become a little too out of synch. Much feels out of my control. Beyond reach. Opportunities are not so apparent. But that fact doesn’t stop time slipping by.

Still need to find ways to live. Seize whatever opportunities that do present themselves.

We can do this. We can do some of that living.

Trying

Sunny but cold. Cold we are used to, sunny feels like a pleasant change.

Spot the photobombing bug.

How can hand stands be so difficult. I have been trying to do one in decades. As apparently I’m hundreds of years old well then that’s a lot of decades of failure. Today joined the long line of those. But what chance do I have. I can’t even balance on one leg (somedays two legs is even beyond me). I tried the old wall trick again. Slowly raise myself against a wall. Let the wall provide balance. All goes swimmingly. Well for about second. Then the gravitational pull on my excessively large bum takes over and I hit the ground. Somedays my backside feels like a villain in the Marvel movies. It is inevitable….

But I keep trying.

One day just maybe.

There is always hope.

I remember back in 2016 and thinking I’m never going to be able to do this single parenting gig. I’m going to collapse. And yes I have repeatedly fallen over. Can’t blame my inevitable rear ended for most of those….. But I’m kinda still here. Still trying. Still doing that parenting gig. You never know I might actually get it right one day. There is always hope.

Now let’s have one more go at a handstand.

Just ask once

I had a scheduled call with the bank today. Just routine stuff. Routine stuff which you would just a year ago pop into the branch and sort out at the counter. Nothing is routine now.

Anyway during the call the bank person asked a couple of not really banking questions that kinda through me

Can I ask. Are you ok. Are you coping. It must be so tough. Are you getting the support you need.”

That’s the bank saying that……

Now before I go on – I am ok. I am coping. A bit of support would be nice but it’s not happening. But here’s the thing. I could so easily be doing not so well in this single parenting gig. Really struggling. Getting no support. Desperate. Looking over the precipice. Sadly many are. In fact forget the single bit, many people are….

I became a single parent in 2016 following the death of my partner. In that time the only official person to ask how I was doing was that bank person. No doctor, no school professional, no education specialist, no one from the local services. NO ONE in the support areas has ever asked what the bank person asked. How many people are struggling and nobody finds out. Nobody asks. I guess the assumption is that those that struggle will always put their hand up. Sadly that might not happen.

That is such a worrying thought.

Pain

I couldn’t sleep last night. Maybe two hours max. Event after I abandoned and a few minutes later I had a chamomile tea in hand and was channel hoping. I stumbled across some really cheesy B-movie. Then one of the actresses delivered this line

The hardest thing for me after my husband died was having to be nice to my family.”

Wow. That must have been some family. But it got me thinking. What was the hardest thing about losing my partner back in 2016. Strangely worrying about being nice to my family didn’t feature. The Worst Thing Thoughts that did pop into my head were.

Telling a young son his mum had died

Empty beds

Feeling utterly alone

The dark thoughts

Losing all my dreams

Getting up in the morning and facing the world

That final goodbye at the funeral

Trying to sort through my partners clothes and favourite possessions

Hearing her favourite song on the radio

The deathly silence in the house when our son was at school or asleep

Those were the emotions that I went through in the immediate aftermath. But then something else kicked in a few months later. As I started to clear my head this thought kept dominating my thought. Going forward – “I didn’t want to feel this pain of loss again“. The pain was too much for me. I needed to stop myself from getting close to people again. The feeling of isolation that came from thinking that was utterly soul destroying.

So there you go. I’m disagreeing with a cheesy B-movie, but every loss is different. So family pains can be just as intense as the many I went through. The B-movie did pass some time. It ALSO was so boring that I nodded off. Nodded off still holding my mug of tea. Yep I ended up wearing most of that. Thankfully only lukewarm. Yes piping hot tea would have been a pain I could definitely do without.

New Hope

I was trying to free up some space on the blog so I was looking what old stuff could de deleted. Can’t believe I’ve tortured people with 1600 posts since I started back in 2017. You know what, I never got round to deleting anything. I was too busy reading my first few posts. Wow they were bad (I’m not saying I’ve improved over the years as well….).

Reading those first posts a couple of message shine through. I was understandably messed up and I was at my lowest point. There was hardly any hope in my words. Hope is often the first thing that LOSS takes from you. It did with me.

Well 4 years later HOPE has returned. I now have a better perspective on life. LOSS is still the worst feeling. Loss of Hope is just as soul destroying. But now I can see a number of new more hopeful dimensions to this dreadful process. It wasn’t all bad. My life focus changed. I realised just how unimportant a career is in the scheme of things. A career is not about personal development rather its often a way of missing out on those important family moments. Single parenting is a tough gig but you get more time with your kids. More quality time. Time is the most precious commodity. And yes doors to close permanently but life eventually does go on again. New pathways open up. Pathways which would not have been found without LOSS. New OPPORTUNITIES, new FRIENDSHIPS. New HOPE.

Come again

When we first moved into our little bungalow on the hill we had a beautiful Daffodil patch on the shared area in front of our house. At the time I would never have thought that 20 years later I would still be here. Certainly not still here as a widow and a single parent.

Over the next few years the daffodil patch seemed to flower less and less. The daffs would appear each year but more and more would just not bloom. The area was becoming such a shadow of its former self. Eventually I planted some new bulbs and now there is colour again.

This morning it dawned on that there is a message to all this. Life happens and sometimes things fade and leave us. But with patience and hard work life can happen again. That works for the daffodil patch and it works for me as well.

Rainbow LOST

First rainbow of the year here. Sadly I failed to find that pot of gold. If I had found that pot then I could have happily binned this application form in front of me.

Having carefully followed the IKEA flat pack like instructions that came with the application pack I was officially LOST. Don’t you just love filling out Government Forms. Especially the ones which are designed to stop you claiming any money from them. You know your in trouble when your lost on the FIRST page with another 30 to go. Only thing left was for me to contact the dreaded customer care line. 🤯🙈

Having showed them the tattoo on my left buttock as proof of who I am and confirmed that I was a UK citizen… the main event started. I carefully explained my personal circumstances

“How can I help you Sir.”

Box 4. I’m not sure which option to tick in terms of circumstances.

Well sir you are not classed as a widow. You also don’t meet the definition of single, divorced, separated or married. So you would tick the box marked OTHER.”

Ok there is a problem being OTHER. That option then directs me to the final page. I get a paragraph to fill out with any other information and that’s it. I don’t get the chance to fill out the other 28 pages of questions. I’m guessing they are kind of important to the overall claim…

Unfortunately those are the current protocol rules. You do get that box on the final page to set out you circumstances and information relating to your claim.

Is there anything else I can help you with….

Would you mind answering a few prerecorded customer care questions…..”

*****

So I’m not entirely convinced that my claim will go that well. More chance of finding that pot of gold….

Out of focus

Spring is coming.

Have you ever tried to take a simple photo of a bush. A bush in Yorkshire. That’s Yorkshire where the sun might be out but it’s blowing an absolute howler of a Gale. The perfect weather for out of focus photography.

Out of focus.

To be fair that’s been me since 2016. Better recently but still not completely focused.

So many reasons for that but one thing stands out. Let’s go back to the summer of 2016. I’ve driven my partner into hospital for a short stay so they can conduct some exploratory tests. Our son in the back seat. What did we talk about. Can’t remember. I’ve tried but can’t remember. Probably talked about visiting and picking her up again on Friday. Probably about some jobs to be done. Maybe some shopping…..

When I returned on the evening she was sleeping so we never spoke.

I returned the next day. She wasn’t feeling too good and was having tests so I didn’t see her.

Friday I turned up and was taken to a separate room by the Doctor. Her condition had worsened overnight. The test results were appalling. She had at most a few weeks. She was drifting in and out of consciousness. If she woke then she would probably not be aware of who was around her.

That was it. No more conversations. We never discussed the new reality. The grim new future. The plans we had were in tatters. No new joint plans. As a result I’ve felt out of focus. Hesitant about my intentions. Trying to think about what we might have talked about and agreed if we had one more conversation. Guessing what she would have wanted. Trying to make decisions for the both of us.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to go fully with my views. Can I ever be certain what she would have wanted. It’s hard enough to work out what I’m thinking some days. So yes still probably out of focus but now it’s just through my eyes.

Meaning behind the door

My partner loved the Moors. She was always happy there. When our own family lockdown ends it will be one of the first places we visit again. It was one the first places visited after she had left us. It did take quite a while but we made it.

Is it really 4 and half years.

I have often talked about a vivid image that really helped me over that time. My grief felt like I was stood next to a closed door. A door that had suddenly locked shut and would never open again. I could see what’s behind the door. Memories. I can’t change or add to them. Just look at them.

So I had a choice. To stand by that locked door or take a leap of faith. Set off into the dark and see if I could find some new doors. Doors that are open allowing new memory experiences. I could either can actor or just a memory viewer.

I have mostly set off in search of new doors. Mostly…..

This door image has worked for me but I never fully understood its meaning. I always had a feeling that there was to it than life needs living. Why did it help with my grief. Why did it make me feel more at ease with myself.

I’m currently reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Suddenly the penny dropped.

In the book they talk about grief and dealing with suffering. They made a simple point that really struck home. Grief can either help lift a person up or drag them down. The secret is the focus. If you focus on the person you have lost, what they believed in, what they hoped for, their dreams THEN grief can have a positive side. It demonstrates LOVE. It can motivate you to live. ‘A determination to fulfil their wishes’. But if you focus on yourself then grief can bring you down. Focusing on things like how can I cope, how can I manage as a single parent, how bad will my life become. Those thoughts are negative and run the risk of dragging a person down.

Suddenly my image has meaning to me. Remaining stood by that locked door was not about my partner. It was about me. I was doing what I thought I needed to do. My partner had hopes and dreams that would not be nurtured by me remaining by that door. To keep those hopes and dreams alive, I HAD TO MOVE. Searching for new doors is best for my partners legacy, it’s best for our son, and yes it’s best for me. The end result is much more likely to be positive and uplifting.

It’s taken me over 4 years to suss that out. I actually don’t feel to bad about that. It took the great minds of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu to work it out for me. That’s not a bad couple of minds to defer to.

We can do this. It will take time but WE can do this.

Cut the grass

I know it’s all gone but the field looks better for it….So let’s go back to just before the thaw.

I was sat in my car. It hadn’t moved in weeks so I thought I had better run the engine for a bit. Reverse it a few times up and down the our little drive. Make sure the brakes haven’t seized up. If I was sat for weeks my knees would definitely have stopped working. I was looking at the three peddles and scratching my head. I had forgotten which one was the clutch. After a few test presses I sussed them out again. Clearly driving doesn’t come naturally to me.

That’s probably very like parenting with me as well. I’m probably better at being the kid than the one apparently in charge.

Then a worrying thought. What if I’m getting this parenting lark completely wrong. What if I’m making things worse for a Hawklad. Who knows. I’ve never been assessed. It was easy when there was two parents. Someone would tell me if I was wrong. A quietly whispered ‘tell you what why don’t you go and cut the grass and I will do that’. But then that abruptly stopped in 2016. This summer it will be 5 years of me parenting solo. No checks. No assistance. No manual. Doing this all by myself. Over those years there were many times I would have definitely told myself to go outside and cut the grass.

What if I’ve got this wrong….

Would my partner have done it differently. Probably. We often politely disagreed. Even down to how to change a nappy. She wanted him to go to a different school. Was she right? She had a different view on the approach that should be taken with his Aspergers and Dyslexia. Have I been too laid back on the implementation of his Education and Health Care Plan. Have I done all I could for him. Have I missed something which would help him with his fears and phobias.

I guess the answer is that I will never know. All I can do is my best. Hope I get most things kinda right. Hope I don’t drop too many balls along the way. Maybe even find the time to cut the grass.