Yorkshire weather. Good running weather. Why would I want to run in dry warm windless conditions. Well that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m like Count Dracula. I would turn to dust in direct sunlight. I wonder what I would do if someone offered me the chance though.
I’m mind wrestling with something at the moment. My partner was an epic traveller. She visited so many countries. It was her extravagance. From her late teens she would save up during the year for one great adventure. Family and her adventures was what she lived for. The adventures only stopped when we became a family. Her dream was that when our son became older we could have adventures together. The two places she always talked about was New Zealand (would have been her first time) and Chile. She always said that we would all love Chile.
Then life happened.
I really want to complete those journeys for her. Our Autism World may preclude that. Circumstances may preclude it. But we will see. I most admit a part of me doesn’t want to do those trips. It’s just not right that it would only be the two of us.
Sorry I digress. Back to my mind wrestling. So many adventures and so many photographs. All sat neatly and well organised in carefully stored albums. Here is the dilemma. Part of me wants to do a retrospective photo journal. Tell her travel story. Her trip to the Soviet Union (gives you an idea of the timeframe) maybe would be a great starting point. YET another part of me recoils at the idea. What if she hates that idea. What if I’m breaking some unwritten bond of trust. It’s like having two competing voices on either shoulder each shouting differing viewpoints on life.
She’s not here anymore. What’s the problem!
YOU KNOW SHE WOULD SAY NO. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THIS!
But this feeling is something I’ve grown used to over these three years. On virtually every major decision I have these doubts. ‘What do I want to do’ balanced against ‘what would she do’. I try to see the world through my eyes and at the same time through her eyes. Problem is that we were two completely different characters. We each had our own unique take on the world. We would frequently disagree on the right answer. Often we would compromise. I’m still trying to compromise now. Yet I can’t replicate her thought process. I never could and I never will. I’m probably getting her point of view completely wrong. But I still do it.
Maybe other people do this. Maybe it’s just me sinking further into cabin fever.
So am I going to publish this travel journal? I don’t know. WE still haven’t decided.
“Sometimes only one person is missing and the whole world seems depopulated” – Alphonse de Lamartine
Maybe it’s your partner. Maybe it’s your child. Maybe it’s a parent. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a pet.
It does seem that way some days. Maybe it’s on a walk. MAYBE ITS STANDING BY A LONELY POND. Maybe it’s listening to a particular song. Maybe it’s during a movie. Maybe it’s when your in bed. Maybe it’s when your at the school gates surrounded by couples. Maybe it’s when your shopping. Maybe it’s just when you return to a home with no lights on.
But with bereavement it will happen. One gone make the world seems empty. So what do you do about it? Sadly no one right answer to that. Every person is different. Every grief journey is different. With me those lonely times still hit and still hurt. I try many things.
Sometimes I just let it hit me. Confused and helpless.
Sometimes I try to distract myself. Just hope I eventually forget that feeling.
Sometimes I just let it hit me but it’s kinda reassuring. Not ever loving would be so dreadful. Grief is another word for love.
Sometimes writing helps.
Sometimes reading blogs helps.
Sometimes I need to find solitude. Sometimes I need to be in a crowd.
Sometimes it’s reading an old favourite book.
Sometimes it’s looking at old photos.
Sometimes it’s playing a game.
Sometimes I go for a run.
Often it’s trying just that bit harder to be that better parent. Trying to make life just that bit more fun.
Then you get sometimes when the best thing is to carry on but just to do it louder. Much LOUDER. So this morning I am ironing but let’s just crank up that Iron Maiden cd just a little louder.
Although England does do an awful lot of water it’s not blessed with that many truly epic waterfalls. But we do have the occasional spectacular one.
High Force in Teasdale.
The Falls are about an hours drive from us. We haven’t been since our world changed. We had planned to go there as part of our school holiday road trip. But as I was packing up the picnic
Dad I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet.
I can so understand. It had suddenly dawned on our son the importance of the memory associated with High Force. It was 2016. The three of us spent a lovely hour walking around the waterfall then we ended up in the local pub for lunch. Son had sausages and chips. We had soup and fresh bread. Finished off with some highly calorific sweet. It was the last time we went out for a meal as a family.
This had completely slipped my mind. Not the forensic mind of number one son.
“It’s a long drive son.”
It’s a very long drive, probably bad for the environment.
“Its raining and very grey. Probably going to be cold.”
It’s very wet Dad.
“What do you fancy doing then.”
How about having the picnic in front of the television while watching the new Scooby Doo movie.
“That sounds a cracking plan Son.”
So we enjoyed sandwiches, crisps, fruit and cakes watching Return to Zombie Island. Yes a change of plan. But the right change of plan. We will visit High Force one day. But not this wet Friday.
Always two sides to every story..
Dad it’s been nice. On our walks we haven’t seen anyone. No one has been to our door all week. The phone hasn’t rung at all. Your mobile has not rung. Even when we went to the little local shop it was empty.
In the quiet moments of this week I had been fretting over the isolation. The increasing physical loneliness. Failing to adapt to the new world forced on me by bereavement. Yet one persons silent hell is another persons dream land. And when that person is our son then that is all that matters. The single most important thing. He is happiest when he distances himself from this strange alien world. So be it then
So I need to adjust to this new reality. So many others have had to. The wonderful comments I’ve received over the last few days have demonstrated this. It’s also demonstrated the indomitable human spirit. You can do this. I can do this. WE CAN DO THIS.
Friends. Good Friends. Close Friends. They are to be cherished and loved whether they are stood in front of you or if they are sat in front of a screen seemingly a million miles away across an ocean. Thank you for being there.
Let’s leave it with the fine words of Henry Rollins.
Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better
Autumn is definitely here. The flowers have gone. Many of the trees are bare. The leaves that remain have increasingly turned vivid red. My partner loved this time. She would find any excuse to spend time outside. Just looking at the colours. Today looking at the reds in the garden I have purpose. These eyes are looking for her as well. I try to spend an extra minute. Spending as much time as she would.
Before the world changed my partner would be fixated on the colours but I would have other things on my mind. Cobwebs. I love Autumn for the intricate and beautiful cobwebs which begin to take over our world. The young spiders have had all summer to grow. It’s also a time when spiders are out looking for mates. AND the weather and the dampness are perfect for adding to the cobwebs drama.
The weather is perfect but for some reason the cobwebs are largely missing. Still no abundant arachnid display. Maybe next week. Then we can be both happy. But at least this weekend we did get one cobweb. Hopefully it’s the start of Autumn becoming complete.
Hindsight and regret is so easy to fall back into. We all do it. Especially when you suffer bereavement. I do it. I could fill a War and Peace size book with all the missed opportunities.
- The deterioration came so quickly that we never had that last proper conversation. The last goodbye. I guess the last chat was about sorting out her laptop for when she came out after the tests.
- We never got to New Zealand.
- We didn’t have that family Santa trip to Lapland.
- We never got to Chile.
- We never got round to trying for a second child.
- The trip to Tibet and Nepal eluded us.
- I never did get round to putting those shelves up which she really wanted.
- Looking at the Northern Lights together remained unfulfilled.
- I never got round to getting the clip of our sons first steps off the broken camera and on to the video so my partner could see them.
Plenty of time to do these. So no rush. WRONG.
But as that line goes. That’s what it is. Until someone invents time travel I just can’t change the past. Maybe occasionally in dreams but when you wake up it’s back to the reality. But this misses the big issue. Yes stuff got missed. I occasionally unintentionally messed up (maybe more than occasionally). We didn’t complete our bucket list. BUT just wait a picking moment. Look at the stuff we did.
- Switzerland lots of times.
- That first romantic trip to the Lakes.
- The two mad cats and a savage Hamster.
- The three trips to Disneyland Paris.
- Buying our first house.
- Those trips to France.
- All those walks on the North Yorkshire Moors.
- That trip to the Newcastle match when you almost got run over by the Juventus Team Bus and the Police Horse ate my Mars Bar.
- That winter we got snowed in with 18 inches of snow. Days of snow fun.
- The trips to the Peak District.
- That stay in one of Britain’s most haunted buildings.
- Skinny Dipping in the freezing sea at Anglesey.
- That week in the Scottish Highlands and that cottage next to the grave yard.
- That walk up Snowdon.
- That mad evening at a Blues Brothers New Years Eve Dance.
- The trip to the French Grand Prix
- That week in the Gypsy Cottage In Northumberland.
- The concerts. Even Ronan Keating – twice.
- Getting to see some of the Olympics events.
- Producing our beautiful son. The single most perfect we both ever did.
Too many great memories to mention here. That’s the stuff I should be focusing on. The memories which should be on permanent replay. You know what – we had a hell of a ride. That’s what it is. Thank you.
After years of trying to grow just one chilli in the subtropical climate which is Yorkshire we get to this. In about 10 years this is as good as it gets. Two huge Guinness Book of Record Largest Chilli winners. But after all the years of failure I will take these mini wins.
The one thing you learn with bereavement is that every persons grief journey is different. Regardless of what the textbooks tell you ITS UP TO YOU to find your own route through the minefields you find yourself stuck in the middle of. Some can do it within months. Others it takes longer, sometimes much longer.
I was listening to a bereaved man on the radio. He had starting dating again within a couple of months of the funeral. He was remarried within 6 months. In his words he had ‘grieved for about 6 weeks then it was time to start again”. When asked if he still grieved he said ‘No I have moved on’. That was his way through and out of the minefields.
One of the saddest and most beautiful things I have ever heard was an elderly chap who had lost his wife. Every wedding anniversary he took his wife’s ashes out to the same restaurant. He would sit and have his meal alone with the ashes. Nobody knows what he would say but he frequently cried. He’s been doing that for over 20 years. Maybe that’s someone who has chosen not to leave the minefield.
I’ve been in the grief minefield for 3 years now. But that’s only part of the story. No real time to grieve as I had to step up to being a single parent. I needed (still need) to give our son the best possible childhood he could possibly have under these circumstances. In my brain parenting became more important than grieving. My way out of the minefield frequently became muddled and lost . What happened was often parenting driven rather than grief oriented. For example.
Three years of virtually no social contact happened not because of grief rather because of having a young kid with Aspergers.
In those three years my not so great social skills have become extremely limited.
Last week I had a lunchtime coffee with four of the mums from our sons school. I’ve done that a couple of times over the last 3 years. It’s only for 30 minutes or so. In my case it’s now Peppermint Tea rather than Coffee. It’s about my only non-son social life these days, certainly since the world changed. Talk about wooden. I end up just listening. Luckily the mums are really nice and I think they understand. It’s a start. A little dip of the toe back into the big bad world. It’s a mini win. At least I’m not still in the middle of the minefield.
So like the chilli in Yorkshire. I will take the little wins. I think it shows that I probably want to make my way out of the minefield eventually but I have to admit – I’m not entirely certain about that….
Every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide.
Too many die in silence. We need to continue to change our society. Progress is being made but not enough. A stigma still exists about Mental Health and Suicide. In my country you die of a heart attack but you commit suicide. Commit is associated with crime. That’s just wrong.
It’s time for change. It’s time to make it ok to talk. The more we talk the more acceptable it becomes.
I suffer from depression. It comes in waves. When I was young I hated being me. That’s still with me today. Two big things have stopped me becoming a suicide statistic. HOPE and LOVE. Both give you the strength to keep walking through the dark times. Just a fraction of either is all it takes for many.
So today and everyday let’s try to give that love and that hope to others.
Dreams and memories are a vital part of life. After my partner died memories became my essential comfort blanket – something which kept me going. Three years later they are just as important to my soul. The occasional forgotten photograph find rekindle long forgotten life snapshots.
Dreams come in three forms for me. Those dreams of a future life, memories and those dreams which come during those all too brief periods of sleep. My future life dreams died when my partner left us. All I see is darkness. My job is to give our son the best possible childhood. After that nothing. It’s something I’ve heard from others in a similar position to me – I live through my son.
After the world changed my night dreams became a weird bizarre place. Reality completely warped. But increasingly the dreams became memory driven. Accurate replays of precious moments. This brought great solace with a few tearful mornings. But recently things have changed. Suddenly the night dreams are actual memory based but morphed in some important and strange way.
A lovely visit family trip to Edinburgh Zoo to see the Pandas. But in the dream the family trip becomes a trip round Jurassic Park world. All the actual incidents but with a dinosaur flavour.
A trip to the Royal Ascot Racing Festival held for one year at York. The Queen riding past us. 2005. Yet in the dreams it’s not Horse Racing. Sometimes it’s Dragster Racing. Sometimes it’s donkey racing. YES I get these strange morphed dreams repeatedly.
A family trip to the beach. It’s cold so it’s double jumpers. Ice cream and hot doughnuts. Yet on the first sandcastle we strike oil. Oil gushes out of the beach.
A romantic meal. Days filled of love and smiles. Yet the fine food is replaced with bugs and slugs and grubs.
A hand in hand walk round York’s Roman Walls. But instead of lovely views of York and it’s stunning Minster we see Paris on side and Nepal on the other side.
A New Years Eve Blues Brothers Themed Night replaced with a WWE wrestling night.
I could go on. So many odd dreams. I’m not a clever man so I’m not going to venture into Descartes territory. I suspect the reasons may not be that fundamental. But the bottom line is that I want my precious original sleep dreams back. Often they are all that remain of a better place. I like a bit of craziness but not here please.
Jim has selected Train songs for today’s Sunday Song Lyric Challenge
I initially just could see the Crazy Train by Ozzy or Night Train by Guns n Roses. But another song kept nagging away to be included. A song I would listen to on a Sunday morning when mum would put on her sad songs.
I give to you On the Evening Train Song by Johnny Cash. Originally by Hank Williams. Although it’s not his song you can hear Cash sing it with so much meaning – he had lost his beloved wife June.
The baby’s eyes are red from weeping
It’s little heart is filled with pain
And Daddy cried they’re taking Mama
Away from us on the evening train
I heard the laughter at the depot
But my tears fell like the rain
When I saw them place that long white casket
In the baggage coach of the evening train
As I turned to walk away from the depot
It seemed I heard her call my name
Take care of baby and tell him darling
That I’m going home on the evening train
I pray that God will give me courage
To carry on ’til we meet again
It’s hard to know she’s gone forever
They’re carrying her home on the evening train
Source – Lyricfind. Songwriters Audrey Williams/Hank Williams Snr