Pointing

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.

Lost Stories

That’s a leaf that clearly has a story to tell.

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.

Running to or from it

A view from one of my old running haunts. A wonderful place. Basically had the tracks to myself. Me, some farm land and nature. I enjoyed the peace.

Isn’t that strange. Looking back I really valued my space. Having some solitude. Yet fast forward to September 2020 and I fear the solitude and isolation becoming a prison. Surrounded by cold, grey walls.

Just can’t make my mind up can I.

But it is a genuine fear of mine. Becoming completely isolated. Cut adrift.

At present I am ok. I’m finding a way through the ever present danger of isolation. I still have dreams of a different life. There are people who care. We can find ways to stay in touch. I have a workable life balance at present. Not great but not too bad. The risk is that I know myself. I know how easily I can lose confidence. How my social skills can desert me. How I can start to overthink. Become too inward looking. That’s the danger zone for me. Then I can easily be sucked into a completely isolated lifestyle. A lifestyle which is not sustainable or healthy for me.

The other worry is that in the modern world it is so easy to be cut adrift. So easy for people to stop calling round. To stop noticing you. Just one unknown face in the crowd. It felt like that for a long time after I lost my partner. People stopped calling. I was just that unseen face in the crowd.

So for me it’s finding a balance. Enjoying more solitude but avoiding complete isolation. I guess it’s like climbing in thick hill fog. You might be relatively close to others, but they can’t see you. You might as well be alone. The solo climbing can be enjoyable but it can also be unnerving. You are never quite sure how close you are to the precipice. How close to falling over the edges do when your alone, no one will be there to stop you.

But the hope is that if it’s like the climbing metaphor. I’ve been caught out in those white out adventures many times. Yes they have been challenging, a little scary at times. But I’ve so far avoided falling off the edge. That represents hope.

Fifth year

So here I go again. Starting another grief year. This will be the fifth one. Grief is not something that suddenly stops. It changes, it evolves but it doesn’t leave you. It becomes part of you. It’s part of me. It will always be part of me.

I remember back in 2016 thinking Life had made a terrible mistake. The roles should have been reversed. It should have been me that went first and my partner became the single parent. I must admit I had the same thought a few hours ago. Why her and not me. For whatever reason it just happened that way and I’ve had to get on with it. But it doesn’t stop me thinking that especially on the anniversary. These days I realise that I will never know the answer. It just happened that way. The key is make sure I’m the best parent I can be for our son. My partner would have done exactly the same thing. Being that parent will not happen if I am constantly inward looking. So let’s put that question back in its bid for another year. Let’s get on with the fifth year of grief by focusing on the here and now. Yes it’s the fifth grief year but more importantly it’s the fifth year of being a single parent. That’s got to continue to be my focus.

L

Friday memories

This is a photograph that I always keep coming back to. Especially today. It’s a photo that can take me in two different directions. Sadness or Happiness. Currently it’s in the direction of happiness.

A meal and a drink outside while gazing upon one the worlds most epic mountains, The Eiger. Then a walk from Kleine Scheidegg down to Lauterbrunnen. Snow on the tops but wonderfully warm. Walking down listening to our son talk about Dr Who and monsters. A two hour walk was just not long enough for him, he only scratched the surface of his Time Lord memory banks. Listing to my partner laugh at our sons numerous monster jokes.

Yes a beautiful day. All flooding back thanks to a treasured old photograph.

A new day

It is a new day. The world keeps turning.

This is what is best described as a free form post. Just writing as the words pop into my head and then I will post it. No checking or editing.

At virtually this exact time four years ago my life changed. Our life changed. I received that late night phone call. I didn’t need to pick it up, I knew the words that I would here. I was right when I did answer the call. It was the Hospice. My partner had passed away. Even though I knew those words would inevitably come it didn’t lessen the pain. The loss. I called her sisters and her mum. I decided to tell our son in the morning after he woke up. I then just sat. I sat all night. Trying to get my head round life and death. The new situation. My old world was gone. The door had permanently slammed shut on that place. The new one was already starting. But it didn’t feel like that . It was just blackness. No light. No new doors to walk through. Nothing. Such a big part of my life was gone. All those unfulfilled dreams suddenly binned. Nothing. What do I tell an 8 year old boy. How do I raise him up when I am utterly flattened.

Looking back. I handled that chat with our son as well as I possibly could. I bumbled through that next period of my life. Can’t believe how devastated I was but still the world kept turning. I felt like I was still looking for a new door to walk through but I just couldn’t find one. Actually that was wrong. I had already walked through the door, I just hadn’t found the light switch. That took much longer to locate. But it was there all along we just find it when we are ready.

Four years on I am filled with emotions and memories. I still feel that loss. I can still feel that dark chill to my soul which I experienced that night. I feel a deep sadness but I may not mourn today, we shall see. It might be a time for tears but it might also be a time for reliving happy memories. I will definitely remember the wonderful times we had. The ways in which our fallen member of our family left the world she found a better place. But I will also not forget that it is a new day. The new crop of dreams still need planting, nurturing and harvesting. I can definitely today look back as well as forward. Here’s to beautiful memories and new dreams.

Double Edge

It’s a beautiful sky but it heralded heavy rain and high winds. Basically a double edged sword.

I am almost four years into my grief journey. Seems like a lifetime. Certainly been through some tough times. Can still experience grief storms even now. But as I travel further down the road the landscape has definitely started to change. I’ve started to laugh as well as cry. If I can feel sad at times then surely at other times I can feel happy as well. It must be ok to start to live again. To dream again.

But here’s the thing.

A nagging doubt still exists. A small part of me still feels uncomfortable with the idea of me living and having fun. That voice in my head is whispering that it’s wrong. Trying to force an image into my head. Me knelt over a grave, with a rose, filled with sadness – visiting every day. The voice keeps saying that is what I should be doing. That surely is the right thing to do. It is your assigned life. You signed up to this. In effect a grief journey is fine as long as it keeps returning to the same spot.

It can be such a struggle to break free of those nagging voices. But I know I must. Life has to go on. We make commitments but then sometimes circumstances change. Life changes. It becomes a different world. Don’t change and you are likely to wither away. We have been blessed with a life, surely it would be wrong not to try to make the most of it. I will certainly try to do that. At times that will make me feel uncomfortable. I will never forget my partner. Will never stop loving her. But that doesn’t mean that I need to be knelt over the grave every day. Yes I will do that somedays. I will do that on the anniversary of her passing. But life has to go on. I will keep telling myself that.

Almost ready

The apples are almost ready.

It will soon be apple crumble time. Now what to go for with it – Custard or Ice Cream?

There is always something to be thankful for. Even in 2020.

I heard someone on the radio say that to him 2020 was the worst period he had ever known. We are all different. We will have our own very unique years to forget. Suffering years. To me 2020 has been an odd year. Yes some new battles. Mainly filled with old battles. More isolation but not that much more than previous years. BUT crucially some wonderful things have also happened.

Eventually when I look back at my life 2016 will take some beating as my worst year. But even then that oversimplifies things. The first 6 months were not bad at all. Then the 6 weeks from hell. Lost my mum and then my partner. Came crashing into the competing worlds of grief, depression and single parenting. Those 6 weeks changed everything for ever. The despair associated with those 42 days and the following weeks just mark 2016 as a bad one. But you easily forget the good stuff that happened before and after. For example November 2016 witnessed the arrival of this well behaved and sensible four legged chap.

Yes it’s easy to forget that good stuff happens all around us, even in the darkest years.

Book

It’s definitely been good weather for fungi.

The first few days in September are often a little tough for me. My mind has a habit of drifting to a hospice in 2016. It’s only natural. Going back to a time of great pain and heartache. The last days of one life – in more ways than one. I remember thinking that it was the end of a book. The author was about to write the words – THE END. It did seem that way. I might be still here but now the words had stopped. It was just nothingness going forward. I would carry on as I had to be mum and dad for our son. But my storytelling had finished.

But life does go on.

Yes I experienced pain and sorrow.

But eventually more smiles.

The story continues.

Looking back now I realise that my partners book did end. But she was still an actor in Sons book going forward. My story did continue. September 2016 only marked the ending of a chapter. A new one started immediately. My story is still being told. New characters and themes are entering the books pages. Let’s see what the next page has to show me.

End of August

The end of August. Still no clearer on the road ahead. Apart from the fact that my knees may develop frostbite if I keep wearing my shorts.

Not having a clear road ahead at the end of August is not a new experience.

August 2019 – trying to get my head around Hawklads granny’s rapidly deteriorating health. Maybe days until I’m asked to make a call on ceasing treatment. What to do. School refusing to move Hawklad up sets and no sign of additional support. What to do.

August 2018 – Almost time to switch schools. New teachers, bigger school, less flexibility, no guarantee of support. The only message – he will be in the bottom set. What to do.

August 2017 – Struggling to get any support for Hawklad. What to do. School is trying but they are so small they don’t have the resources to cope. Much needed services have been cut. My finances are a mess. I’m a mess. What to do.

August 2016 – Partner in a hospice, just waiting now. Effectively I am a single parent now. What will I do. My job that won’t fit my new life. In fact what is my new life. What happened to the old life. What will I do.

So it’s August and here we go again. Is it true homeschooling or my attempt to mirror classroom schooling until he can return. Support at best is sketchy. The pandemic has not only messed up schooling it’s doing its best to mess up my job as well. Will the job be here in a few months? What will I do.

All a bit perplexing but that is August for me. Should be used to it by now. And that is a source of comfort. September will arrive and life keeps moving. The road ahead might still be confusing but it is heading somewhere.