A brief few minutes of decent weather before the next wave of wet and windy ‘yuk’ arrives. It’s good to get outside to breathe even if it only for a short while. Having said that. Try telling that to a dog. A dog who has taken one look at the weather and decided to hibernate inside. Can’t blame him really. Cold wet grass or playing with a toy on the sofa. Not really a tough call.
I remember after my partner died that I felt like hibernating. Straight after a death you are constantly forced out to sort out death certificates, funeral arrangements, banks, legal stuff, family, friends and acquaintances (many you have no idea who they are). It’s the last thing you want to do but you just have to. But then after your back from the funeral it starts to change. The requirements to venture out start to diminish. In my case I had to quit my job to become a single parent. Apart from the school run and shopping, no need to go out. And that’s what I did. Started to hibernate. But home wasn’t a warm and safe nest. It felt cold, empty and scary. But hibernate I did.
I was lucky. For some reason one day I went for a run. Suddenly running was ok. I could avoid people and venture out. It helped break the spell of that lifeless house. Mile after mile running and listening to music. It was a start. I was outside more. Starting to breathe again. People would come later. And yes a mad dog would arrive to bring life back to the house. So yes I will grant the mad one a bit of hibernation. He’s earned that.
Where have all the leaves gone! I tell you where, in our front lawn.
The last few stormy days have rapidly accelerated the autumnal transition. Soon the colour will feel like it’s been sucked out of the landscape. Just dark greens and greys. The hope is that blue skies will frequently lift the mood. A close friend likes to remind me that as grey as the sky may appear, a blue sky is still close by, just behind those clouds. Yes there is always hope.
That’s so like bereavement and loss. When it first strikes it will seem so claustrophobic. You feel imprisoned in a world of pain and sadness. No way out. No hope. No dreams. No way new happy memories can form. Everything has gone. That’s it.
Every grief journey is different, unique. But so many travelling those roads will eventually in their own time find a way out of the darkness. Clouds will start to part and blue skies will slowly appear again. Hope and dreams will start to form again. You can start to build again. Start to live again.
It was another one of those Yorkshire days. Cold, wet, windy, brooding.
That weather combined with a pandemic, homeschooling and our enforced lockdown is a heady mix. A mix which gets me pondering life. Probably too much pondering some days.
I was sat looking out through the window at that dark sky. Sat alone while Hawklad did his school work in the bedroom. I was suddenly taken back to before 2016. The old small conservatory had finally fallen to bits. We had found the money for a replacement one. I think we planned for years of sitting in there, spending time together. But here’s the thing. We never really did. Life always got in the way. We always seemed to be too busy. If only we had found a way of slowing life down. Creating time at home. Seemingly having too much time on our hands. No excuses to not sit together in that new conservatory. At the time it kind of never really mattered. We had so many years ahead of us to do that.
Well that plan didn’t go well.
Here’s the irony that 2020 presents. Suddenly time has slowed down. Often a feeling of too much time on our hands. A lockdown enforcing time together. No outside distractions this time. A perfect time to sit with my partner and look at that dark sky. Thinking how lucky we are to have that time together. The irony is not lost on me.
That’s what my old Dad would have called a proper apple. Misshapen, blotchy and seriously tart. But with a lot of sugar it will make a grand apple crumble (crisp).
Actually that could be me. Misshapen, blotchy and seriously tart. I do like sugar as well. Actually that was definitely my Dad. Round here a better way of saying that is – he was well weathered. Another phrase is – he definitely had a well lived in face and body. He left this world when I was at university. So our son never got to meet him. In fact he never got to meet his other granddad. Which is sad.
Hawklad has asked about where their ashes are scattered. Unfortunately the answer is rather unclear. With my dad we just don’t know. How bad does that sound. Mum decided against getting the ashes back. They were scattered by the crematorium but we can’t remember where. We are not even sure that they were scattered there. It was one question we never got round to asking mum.
With my partners dad it’s equally hazy. He was scattered on a Swiss mountain top. The people who took them there have left this world now. The only person with a clue is me. The person with a capacity to forget important stuff and remember the useless stuff. I call it – Selective Total Recall. My partner wanted part of her ashes scattered on that mountain as well. One day she briefly described the exact location. I didn’t write it down as why would I need that any time soon…… So I’m a little unsure of the mountain and even less sure of the location on that mountain. Apart from its by a bench with some stones to one side. The ashes are where those stones are. Hardly GPS accuracy. At the moment it’s not really an issue. Travelling to Europe at present is not very likely for our family. But one day it will be.
Today Hawklad mentioned the need to get on with the ashes when he is ok in the world again. The pressure just ramped up a bit. I’ve started studying the names of Swiss mountains. Narrowing the potential choices down. If only I had wrote the instructions down. Still there’s a different way to look at things.
“Dad we might have messed up the scattering of the ashes in Britain by then. The secret is for us to do that before I get to the age of 18. Then I can officially blame you as the legally responsible parent and adult. No pressure on me then….”
Time passes. It keeps on passing. A wander round this small graveyard provides proof of this. Many of the once proud gravestones are now weathered beyond recognition. Time passes.
Five years ago I had just driven to the crematorium to pick up my partners ashes. They joined my mothers ashes on the sideboard. At that stage a real urge to get on with laying my those two precious spirits to the earth. Definite external pressure for this. I remember listening to one so called expert talk about it being unhealthy for society for people to linger on those who had left us. Maybe that’s the hidden message there – it might be ok for the person grieving but it’s uncomfortable for everyone else. Anyway it seemed like the right thing to do. The only thing to do.
Within weeks I had scattered mum on her family grave. I remember it so well and I have already wrote about a bizarre memory from that experience. I was alone in the graveyard. As I started to clear some earth away, to my side I noticed a little squirrel. A squirrel apparently doing the same thing on a neighbouring grave. Was it a case of burying nuts or was it a burial. It made me smile, two souls getting on with important stuff, maybe the same stuff, almost happy to have company there. Mum would have loved that sight.
Now time to get a move on laying my partner to the ground. Partly in England and partly in Switzerland. A bit of a logistical nightmare. I secured the paperwork to allow for the transport of ashes overseas. Ready to begin.
Five years later…..still waiting to begin.
Now I worry. Have I left it too late. Have I missed the window of opportunity to follow my partners wishes. Being a single parent and with son’s Aspergers, European travel is a nightmare – feeling like it gets more problematic every year. No similar excuse for the English sites. But it just didn’t feel right. Should I really put our son through more grief when he was still so young. No right or wrong answer here. We all need to do what’s best for our close ones and ourselves here. Unfortunately just like most things, just like European travel for us, it seems to get more daunting the longer it goes on.
Have I missed the best time to do it?
That feeling is making feel very anxious at present. Will we ever get round to doing what we have to do? Was life really supposed to be this vexing…..
Definitely it’s a time of change. The season of change. Yesterday was T-shirt and shorts. Today is wet, windy and chilly. 50F probably means the T-shirt season has gone and it’s time for woolly jumpers. Ice Cream replaced with Hot Chocolate.
It’s that time of year.
Four years ago I would have been sat at home looking at the ‘Sincere Condolences’ cards on the mantelpiece. It was a couple of days after my partners funeral. Life was looking bleak. But as the years pass this time of year has increasingly felt like a time of personal change. The end of a period which marked the passing of my partner and mum. A time of sadness moving to thoughts of preparing for winter and all that entails. Thoughts of loss replaced by thoughts of short days and long nights. This year is complicated with our ongoing lockdown which is likely to stretch through the entire cold months. So yes this period of change feels different . Definite change but what? In previous years the next few months brought challenges but also things to look forward to. Concerts, Football Matches, Firework displays, Halloween parties, family meet-ups and meals, Christmas Markets, crisp winter walks and runs. This year these are all none starters. Could that tip the balance of the change. Only time will tell but the change is not yet set in stone. It can still be a positive period but it will need much work.
It’s definitely a weather day. Lots of it. Just had to retrieve our bin from the neighbours garden. Very clever really as the bin had navigated two gates and had happily settled in the wrong back garden. Definitely weather but it will change again.
It’s very like grief.
Sometimes the storms are damaging. They cause disruption and seem to go on for ever. Wave after wave crashing down, adding yet more pressure, that awful feeling of sinking further and further down. But eventually the storm will subside. The weather will change.
That’s what needs to be held on to. The weather will inevitably change, even in Yorkshire.
I’ve just started my fifth year on my grief journey. A journey I would must definitely would rather had not started but now I’m on it, well I might as well make the best of it. And that’s what I am trying to do. For several years it was a nightmare. Just awful. But over time things have slowly moved on. Now it’s definitely good weeks and bad days.
I still get so many reminders of the process I am going through. Many of those are repeated experiences but every so often I still find new reminders.
I was checking the garden for things I could harvest for tonight’s meal and I came across these small tomatoes. Then a thought struck me. There was a time when this was not something I would do. Yes I would grow the tomato plants but that was it. My partner loved tomatoes. She would go out every day I see what could be picked and eaten right there and then. Those days have gone and now the ripe fruit sits and waits for me. That thought made me sad. But life has to go on. Hawklad would like a few fresh tomatoes on his plate. He currently doesn’t feel comfortable touching items outside so it’s down to me. Life goes on. Pick some tomatoes, think of my partner then it’s time to get on with living. Time to focus on the here and now. Find happiness in the world around me. It is most definitely there.
One of the advantages of exercising first thing in the morning is once I’ve finished I get a chance to enjoy the view. It always amazes me how damp our ground can get when we have had no rain for days.
Clearly it’s very easy to feel damp. The weather can cause such sudden changes. It like life and the soul.
I was putting together a post for tomorrow. A Swiss Sunday post. Looking through some photos. Then I came across one. Looks like one of those family photos. I’ve cropped this one down severely. The photo is my partner sitting next to our son on a bench.
How had I missed this photo for so many years. It’s from 2015 and our last trip to Switzerland. The last day of the trip. My partner was not very well and on a lot of medication. We didn’t know how ill she was. The doctors didn’t. Exactly one year later she was in a hospice and she was gone a few days later.
Finding this photo shook me in two ways.
Firstly this might be our very last family photo. The last photo of Hawklad with his mum. Don’t think there was another photo with my partner in. I had never thought about that . Never thought about the last photo. Well this is probably it.
Then there is one more thing about this photo. A completely forgotten memory. It’s what my partner is pointing at. I think she knew what was on the horizon. That afternoon we randomly seemed to get onto the subject of where she would like her ashes scattered. She is pointing at one of the places . A rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful lake. It wasn’t a serious conversation. Our son helpfully suggesting some interesting places to consider. I didn’t take it seriously. We surely had many years to go. Finding this photo has really shaken me. As I say I had forgotten about the photo. I didn’t know she was actually pointing at where she wanted her ashes scattering.
I really don’t know what to say.
One thing is that it’s a beautiful location.
I wasn’t sure about posting this at all. But what did convince me was one thought. You just don’t know what is around the corner. Don’t assume you have time. If you have dreams to live, don’t wait, try to do them now.
We all have so many stories to tell. Wonderful stories. Stories that tell us about life. Characters. Events. Even reveal things about ourselves.
It’s sad when those stories are lost. When the are lost they are lost forever.
I’ve lost so many people in my life. Friends, grandparents , parents, even my partner. All had stories to tell. One of my biggest regrets is that the importance of stories didn’t sink in until far too late. Not until they had left this world. So many stories went with them. All I can do now is just shake my head at the thought of how little I really know about those loved ones. Can I even remember how their voices sounded!
Now I look back and wonder what could have been. If only I had found more time to listen. To ask more questions. To write some words down. Maybe even record them. How treasured would it be to listen to some of those lost voices again, to listen to them tell their stories. Even just to hear those voice again talking about routine stuff. Just before my partner went into the hospital for the final time she left me a voice mail. Seemingly nothing important, can’t even remember what it was about. Why didn’t I save that. Why didn’t I save that last voicemail from my mum asking for some items from the local shop.
These are real regrets. Please don’t make the same mistakes I made. Some mistakes can’t be fixed.