Working from home does have so many advantages. Fundamentally it gives me the scope to flex work around our son. The days of my career coming first have long since gone. Trust me the career first option is the wrong choice.
But home working is not without issue. The biggest one I find is the isolation. I just don’t meet people face to face anymore. This week I have had only one face to face conversation with someone not in our little family group. That’s why blogging is such a blessing for me.
Isolation. It’s bizarre that like our son I often dream of shutting out this strange world on our own deserted island. Yet isolation in ones own house doesn’t tick the same boxes. It frequently draws you into prolonged periods of sadness. Without our son in the house, it seems so empty, so many echoes of the past.
Today my thoughts kept drifting back to holidays with my partner. One image on repeat loop. An image which is on my screensaver. Sorry it’s Switzerland again. I always seem to be blogging about that beautiful country. It was just so special to my partner. The view is looking across the edge of Lake Thun to Spiez Castle (Schloss) with beneath it the hotel we stayed at adjacent to the water. Many days this photograph brings so many happy memories. However today I just keep thinking that I won’t be able to share this view again with my partner. Sad face 😔.
DEEP BREATHS – MOVE ON
Grief is a double edged sword. Yesterday felt like repeated thrusts to the heart. Focusing on what has been lost. That ‘why did it happen to me’ feeling. Everything reminded me of the loss. That video. Sad songs. Radio advertising – anything from where to go for your romantic Christmas meal to the perfect present for your loved one. Her favourite painting. Her favourite cat. That empty bed.
The walk, the wet walk did help a bit. It did help me get focused and ready for our son.
Today I’ve experienced the other side of the grief sword. The positive side. Now the focus is on how privileged I am. Even someone like me was able to experience 16 golden years. Romance. So many happy memories. A beautiful, perfect son. Grief is really everlasting love. That is something which can’t be lost.
Everyday I find a quiet part of the house or garden and just sit and think. I think about the loved ones who are no longer with us. Just 10 minutes of reflection, but it is so important to me. Just trying to remember some of the key moments we shared. Trying to reconnect. They may not be here physically anymore but in my mind they are still here, still part of my life. Today I remembered a trip to Lauterbrunnen. Holding hands with my partner drinking in the alpine air and watching in awe at the spectacular Staubbach Falls
The reflections are uplifting but are tinged with sadness.
Such a happy memory but oh so brief. Little did we know how few opportunities we would get to visit this wonderful alpine setting together. Sometimes life is hard and painful but I am thankful that I have these memories. Thankful that I had that brief moment in time and also thankful that now, a 1000 miles away Lautterbrunnen is there. The falls are still crashing down given other couples the same opportunity to create their own brief moment in time. So today on this day, this somber day I am sad but oh so thankful.
I’ve wittered on about a number of subjects but not yet about books. Well let’s change that.
Over the years I’ve lived with depression. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts however after my partner died I did go to some dark places. I can fully understand the path those dark places can lead you down. Crucially for me there is our son – I have to be there for him over the next few years.
In the U.K. depression has been a bit of a taboo subject. You weren’t supposed to talk about it. You were expected to suffer in silence and just get on with it. Even suicide was reported as if it was some form of crime. A few years back I remember telling a friend that I was depressed, his response was “stop being a wimp and pull yourself together”. Thankfully things are starting to change. It’s now becoming socially ok to talk about depression.
Paul McGregor is one of the leading mental health campaigners in the U.K. He has now released a book based around his fight with depression and the impact his dads suicide had upon him. I found the book really thought provoking with many elements of the book striking a chord with me. Although it was an emotionally difficult read, I found the book completely inspirational.
Listening to David Bowie on the car stereo while driving into the local city. One hour earlier a conversation with the school convinces me that the they are not going to do any work on his Dyslexia. So it’s a hastily arranged meeting with the university to find out what testing and support they can offer. ‘Heroes’ blasts out from the speakers. Then I drive past a house. Not any old house, it’s a house that the two of us looked at 18 years ago. Suddenly I’m taken back to a different world. One which is full of dreams and hopes. Hopes of starting a family, maybe 3 kids. Dreams of spending a life together with the my sole mate. The most honest, calming, reassuring person I had ever met. Someone whose intrinsic goodness was the perfect anchor for my turbulent life. A world which was both exciting and happy.
Then suddenly I’m back in the real world. A chap who looks at least 90 swings his motorised wheelchair off the path and into the road. I brake as does the bus on the other side of the road. As the old chap drives serenely across the road he majestically flicks a v-sign to me and a middle finger to the bus. And with one surprisingly quick flick of the hand my underlying faith in human nature is restored…
This week been another tough one for my son.
- Still can’t make any progress on making new friends
- Struggling with the anxiety of being in the school environment with so many others
- Struggling with the noise
- Struggling with tying his tie
- No real help with reading in lessons
He describes it as feeling like being trapped in a really noisy and scary place, with no obvious way out. That sounds like how he felt when we visited a narrow gorge in Switzerland. It was just too much for him but he made his way out. When I mentioned this to him he immediately came back with ” we managed to make our way through the gorge in 30 minutes, unfortunately I’ve got FIVE years to survive at school.
Tonight’s French homework has not really helped. He has to complete a crossword with French answers. He has never been able to get his head round crosswords, never mind one requiring French answers. At least he can see the funny side. Now he says he is Dyslexic in two languages ….
As I was finishing off this piece I read Autism in our Nest latest post which covers the same isolation at school problems. You often think that you are the only family going through this. That’s so wrong. Many, many families are going through this.
Time seems to speed up as you get older. I can’t believe that it’s coming up to two years since the world changed for us. The dreaded late night phone call, that conversation with my son, the funeral …. all are still so vivid and seem like yesterday.
In that time somethings have changed:
- New School
- Anxiety levels
- Living in a country which seems to have completely lost the plot and becoming alien to me
- Loss of free time
- Increased disorganisation
- Increased mood swings
- Rapidly decreasing social circle
- New crazy dog (probably my only good parenting decision)
- Increased money worries (definitely not helped by my one good parenting decision)
- Rapidly thinning hair (largely due to my one good parenting decision)
And yet somethings have not changed:
- Still can’t cook
- Still burn myself on the iron
- Still don’t understand Pokemon
- Still haven’t found my ‘how to be a good parent user manual’
- Still shaking my head at our strange world
- Still fighting to get Dyslexia support
- Feeling blessed to have a son
- Love for my son
- Love for my lost partner
I could witter on for hours about all this. But all I really need to say is we still love you and will always do.
School summer holidays are in full swing and we have mainly been home based. Some splendid isolation. Summer holidays reinforces how much of our social connections are based around school. Without school my son has hardly seen any of his friends or spent any time with other children. Without the daily school drop off and pick up, my contact with the outside world has dried up completely.
So after three weeks of home based isolation we decided to make a break out. Just a small one to start with. We had a day trip to beautiful Northumberland.
It was my son who pointed out that after our splendid isolation we had decided to go a place which is cut off twice daily by the tides. Let’s visit a splendidly isolated place. At least we got to see some people in the real world, especially in the queue waiting to cross the still flooded causeway.
The school holidays have now kicked in. Amazingly the usual UK rain deluge has not accompanied the kids being off. Never thought I would say this but I can’t remember what rain feels like. It’s been over two months since our last bit of rain.
You get so used to something, you take it for granted and then when it stops you quickly start to forget it. It’s been over two years since my partner died and I’ve got a growing list of things which fall into this category:
– forgotten what it’s like to go out for a meal
– forgotten what it’s like to hold hands
– forgotten what it’s like to have an argument
– forgotten what it’s like to share a bottle of wine with someone
– forgotten what it’s like to plan a holiday together
– forgotten what it’s like to have a tug of war over the duvet
I could go on but you get the point. Well another thing on the list was I had forgotten what it was like to do our local walk which circles our village. We would walk this most Sundays.
Well today I crossed that one from the list today….well sort of. The walk used to take us 40 minutes, well today it took over 2 hours as I managed to get lost.
The last present I gave to my partner was a Yorkshire Rose. In the turmoil of that fateful year, I cannot recall if she managed to see it flower before she left us. Well for the second year I’ve successfully not managed to kill it – very unusual for my not so green fingers. The difference this year is that the rose flowered on my partners birthday. Strange how one small flower can bring light on such a bleak day.