Grief and muddy puddles

A brief respite before the next storm arrives. Grey, cold and very muddy. Soon to be grey, cold, very muddy, very wet and stormy. It’s been one of those winters. Constantly just trying to avoid deep muddy puddles. Today I failed. My old running shoes have hardly any tread left on them. As I tried to sidestep a large puddle my foot slipped and I ended up standing in 4 inches of dirty water. Lovely. I really should buy a good pair of trail shoes but money is a little tight. Expenditure is prioritised. They will have to wait their turn.

If you we’re like me then you tried not to think about death and grief. I knew it would strike at some stage (that’s life) but best not think about it too much. I could understand the emotions as I had experienced losing my Dad when I was quite young. But I was shielded from much of the fallout. I really didn’t have the faintest idea about the practicalities. Years passed and I avoided thinking about death again. Then my mum died. This time no shield. Suddenly I was grieving again but this time I was also dealing with practicalities. So when my partner then died 6 weeks later. I was doubling up on the emotions and doubling up on the practicalities.

That is what’s tough about losing someone so close to you. At your lowest emotional point you are saddled with practicalities. You can’t think but you are trying to organise

  • Registering the death
  • Informing people
  • Organising a funeral
  • Sorting out your job
  • Sorting out your partners job. Returning work assets and documents.
  • Trying to work out finances
  • Trying to find the will and wade your way through probate
  • Dealing with Government Departments, Banks, Utility Companies
  • Trying to change the deeds to the house
  • Going through personal items and enduring countless trips to charity shops
  • Trying to change car ownership so I can sell her car
  • Sorting out what to do with the ashes

Your not even warned that the ashes come back in a glorified giant sweet jar. I wasn’t expecting an Egyptian Sarcophagus but I certainly wasn’t expecting a sweet jar shaped thing.

Like grief the practicalities tend to stick with you. As we were not married probate was brutal and took 15 months to finally bottom out. I didn’t expect that. I never considered that my career would have to be ditched quickly as it became incompatible with the now number one priority – single parenting. Suddenly two steady incomes dropped to one zero based hours contract income. Where did that practicality come from. I should have realised really. The sudden loss of someone your intrinsically linked with is going to send seismic waves through the very foundations of your life. Stuff will fall down. Things will change. Seismic waves – guess whose been trying to help son with Wave Theory for school.

So here we are in 2020 and I’m still dealing with grief. Still dealing with practicalities. I have managed to kinda stabilise the new post death financial world. But things are tight. Very tight. Again something I would never have immediately associated with losing someone close to you. But it is what it is. You prioritise the essential stuff. Unfortunately brand shiny mud loving trail shoes are not essential. So I guess it won’t be the last muddy puddle I end up standing in.

I guess I can forgive myself for not seeing that particular connection. Grief and muddy puddles.

Breaking his body

Running past this monumental feels like a daily privilege. Must admit running anywhere these days is a privilege.

The last two years brought injury after injury. Clearly doing the same thing over and over again was not working. Finally the penny dropped. But it did take the doctor warning me that actually I might have to PERMANENTLY STOP running and working out for common sense to finally take hold. Change was needed. A new exercise approach was put in place. Alternate Home CrossFit days with a day of running or cycling. No same exercise on two consecutive days. Sunday is a gentle exercise bike session and yoga. No pre exercise stretching warmup. If an exercise is causing the body pain stop it for a few days. If the exercise hurts again stop for a few weeks. If it hurts again then ditch the exercise. THATS IT. So far it’s working (touch wood). Four months of uninterrupted, mostly pain free exercise.

Change worked.

Our sons Aspergers journey continues. It’s a journey without a map. Who knows where it may lead. But I do have a gut feeling. The health professionals have talked about the possibility of our son becoming increasingly ill at ease with social interactions. Although from the age of 5 he has always struggled with this 2019 certainly has seen this intensify. Increasingly he just wants to spend his time in the safety of his home realm.

Although he seeks isolation from the outside world he struggles to be on his own. In our one parent, one child, mad pets kinda world that in practice means he struggles to be without me. With the advice from his health experts we have tried to gradually change things up to help with this. But it hasn’t worked. We tried things like him staying on his own at the house while I took the dog for a quick walk. Even though I would tell him the route. Stay in the village. Talk to him on the phone while I walked. The brief periods of solitude would throw him into a nervous meltdown. Any longer than 10 minutes and he would have to come looking for me. The only thing it achieved was to spike his anxiety levels. We decided to abandon the changes.

Whether this is Aspergers or whether it’s to do with losing his mum or both – who knows. But currently as a single parent I have to make the necessary adjustments to work around these constraints. One of which is that when he’s not at school my exercise programme is tied to the house or garden. Hence that rather puzzled look I got on Saturday. A group of walkers giving this rather odd looking chap a puzzled look. Even standing to watch for a few seconds. In the pouring cold rain why is a man in his garden dressed in shirts and a T-shirt jumping on and off an exercise bike to throw a 20lb kettlebell about.

It’s because I’m a single parent who can’t leave the house who has found a way to keep himself fit while not breaking his body. At least allow me that.

Perfect timing

Perfect timing. The walking woolly jumper had been resolutely looking the other way. After a minute of waiting I gave up and took the shot. Just in time for the sheep to turn it’s head and briefly pose for the photo.

Perfect timing. After 4 hours of excruciatingly boring work I needed a run. But some days the mojo is just not there. After a couple of minutes I was on the verge of abandoning. Just outside the village a car was at the side of the road. The car had conked out going through a deep flood. After a few minutes with a push start we managed to get it going again. A quite reasonable run followed and I only remembered that I was going to give up when I was sat back down at the works laptop.

Perfect timing. I made homemade ice cream tonight. For some reason my vanilla recipe came out luminous yellow. The ice cream was served midway through the Monsters Inc movie. Unfortunately we were still sampling it when we got to the scene with the yellow snow cones and the Yeti. The immortal Yeti line rather killed off the taste sensation

“Oh would you look at that. We’re out of snowcones! Let me just go outside and make some more

Homemade Yellow ice cream is now banned.

Perfect timing. I was going to do a post about school. You can guess what it would have been like. Probably done a few of those over the last year or so. But as I started writing it a song came on the radio. Not sure who the band was but the songs basic theme was

Those with depression sit in silence. Feeling they are the only ones. Those who have suffered need to shout. So others know they are not alone. So they know it’s ok to shout to.

So here goes with a change of plan. Imagine I’m shouting to some Nordic Operatic Metal music.

I am a single parent. I’ve experienced a few too many deaths over the last few years. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve become too isolated. My personal confidence is shot. The upshot of this is that I have been to some really dark places in my mind. Scary frightening places. Yes I suffer from DEPRESSION. So if your reading this and you are suffering then please remember that your not alone. If you can then it’s good to talk. Talking or writing really helps. There is absolutely no shame in admitting your struggling. I struggle. Millions struggle. Let’s shout together. We can do this.

Change

When grief comes calling your life changes. It changes almost everything. Your concept of time. Your priorities. Your dreams. You hobbies, Your finances. Your sleep. Your diet. Your confidence. Your mood. Your lifestyle. Your social life. Even the food you have in the fridge. It’s complete upheaval and your life will never be the same.

Almost everything. Grief doesn’t change three key things.

The world – it just keeps spinning, the world continues without blinking an eyelid at your personal tragedy.

BUT

Grief doesn’t change your love. Your special person may have left this world but you still love them dearly. More than ever

Grief doesn’t change your memories. They will be your special gift forever.

Bagman

What’s that behind you. It’s that pesky grief sneaking up on you again.

Lost in a world of spreadsheets and work while listening to the radio. It’s a rock station so plenty of Aerosmith , Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd. Playing a game of which bands I’ve seen and which I might still see. Then an innocuous advert. NEXT sale starts at 7am.

Nothing wrong with that surely.

Suddenly taken back to a now closed off world. In the immediate aftermath of the funeral I took bag after bag of NEXT clothes to the charity shop. NEXT was her favourite shop. It’s just not right that I’m here and she is not. Tears. A few minutes later the mood has changed. More memories.

My partners ears would always prick up if she heard the two words NEXT and SALE. The alarm would be set 6am. For the big New Years sale it would be set for 5am.

Come on bag man get up.

That was my role. Trudge down to the store. Try to look vaguely interested. Then don’t get in the way and hold the potential purchase items. Occasionally chipping in with a helpful thats nice. Then the bagman carries the laden bags home. For the next couple of hours while our partner tries on the truck load of clothes I replenish all the lost calories with coffee and biscuits. Then bagman sets off back to NEXT again to take back the unwanted items. On the return visit I would briefly look at the Men’s section. A few muttered are you sure these are sales prices and its off to the coffee shop to reflect on the joy which is knowing that’s the sales are finished for 6 months. Not sure how she put up with me….

It’s smiles and tears now.

Spending money on clothes has been replaced with spending money on school.

Dad have you paid for the school reward trip?

Yes I have but like the NEXT sales I’m struggling to get my head round it. All the kids at the school who didn’t get a detention or didn’t pick up too many negatives qualify for a reward. The reward is a trip to a cool destination. As it was a school reward I assumed school would pay for it. NO. Parents have to pay. So the parents of kids who behaved badly don’t have to fork out this wedge of cash. Life was easier when I was the bagman.

In the Deep Dark Woods

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.

Our son adored the Gruffalo story. I think our son had all of Julia Donaldson books. We loved reading them to him, that’s what parenting should be about. Not the anxieties, the stress, the frustration, the heartbreak.

Walking through this deep dark wood took us back to that golden age. Fairytales and colouring books. Toy cars and Teddy Bears. Dragons and magic. Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer and Iggle Piggle. When we were a team of 3. Golden Years.

But time marches on…

Son gets older. Fairytales replaced with Manga. Colouring books replaced with an iPad. Toy cars replaced with FIFA 19. Teddy Bears assigned to the shelves. Dragons upgraded to Transformers. Magic being drummed out of him by school. Thomas, Dora and Iggle now Assembled into Thor, Black Widow and Ironman. A team of three assigned to memories. The Golden Years now the Anxiety Times.

We walk further into the deep dark wood. Let’s hope it’s magic returns and takes us to a different world. One where anxiety is vanquished, dreams flourish and life is enriching.

The mouse found a nut and the nut was good.

Coming to an end

Do all good things come to an end?

The Daffodils are now on the turn. They have been spectacular this year. It makes you think about life and how you spend your time.

Things change.

The world keeps shifting.

People move on.

What is working.

What isn’t working.

Are we doing stuff which we had high hopes for but is in reality falling short.

Is it better to leave a field to people more able, more gifted, more talented. Listen and learn rather than preach.

Stuff you have enjoyed and it’s been enriching and outside your comfort zone but maybe it’s time has passed.

Do new challenges exist.

Do we revamp projects.

We all sometimes need time to think.