Anniversaries

Another year and another anniversary. Time passes. It never stops. It never stops.

These words will go live almost 5 years to the minute when I received that call from the Hospice. That conversation has faded into the mists of time now. I remember just a few words “I am so sorry”.

The first two anniversaries were so tough. I was in a bleak place. I couldn’t understand why my time had stopped but the world kept turning. It never missed a beat. How could that be possible. One thought dominated. Why her, why not me. The wrong person went. Over an over, the same thought. I was kinda rooted to the spot. No dreams left intact. Living purely through the eyes of our son.

Now it’s 5 years. What does an anniversary feel like now.

More like any other day. Does that sound bad….Even for me time doesn’t stop. Yes some moments spent remembering. Maybe not enough moments. But I know now. Those times have gone. The good and bad times. Just memories now. Time has moved on. I have moved on. New Dreams. Time moves on.

I won’t lie to you. Yes I still sometimes think -‘maybe it should have been me’. But……There is a phrase that can grind on me but in this case it’s true.

It is what it is.

Yes it is. That’s how it’s worked out. I can’t change it.

Memories are in the past, locked in time. I need to deal with today. Yes it’s an anniversary but it’s also another parenting day. Time doesn’t stop, even on an anniversary. Yes hopefully time for memories but also time to dream.

So how does this anniversary feel. Important YES but i realise it’s just about the past. Important but not as important living. So what does it feel like. It feels like today. It feels like the gateway to the future.

Memories will come but forgive me I need to dream first.

Meaning behind the door

My partner loved the Moors. She was always happy there. When our own family lockdown ends it will be one of the first places we visit again. It was one the first places visited after she had left us. It did take quite a while but we made it.

Is it really 4 and half years.

I have often talked about a vivid image that really helped me over that time. My grief felt like I was stood next to a closed door. A door that had suddenly locked shut and would never open again. I could see what’s behind the door. Memories. I can’t change or add to them. Just look at them.

So I had a choice. To stand by that locked door or take a leap of faith. Set off into the dark and see if I could find some new doors. Doors that are open allowing new memory experiences. I could either can actor or just a memory viewer.

I have mostly set off in search of new doors. Mostly…..

This door image has worked for me but I never fully understood its meaning. I always had a feeling that there was to it than life needs living. Why did it help with my grief. Why did it make me feel more at ease with myself.

I’m currently reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Suddenly the penny dropped.

In the book they talk about grief and dealing with suffering. They made a simple point that really struck home. Grief can either help lift a person up or drag them down. The secret is the focus. If you focus on the person you have lost, what they believed in, what they hoped for, their dreams THEN grief can have a positive side. It demonstrates LOVE. It can motivate you to live. ‘A determination to fulfil their wishes’. But if you focus on yourself then grief can bring you down. Focusing on things like how can I cope, how can I manage as a single parent, how bad will my life become. Those thoughts are negative and run the risk of dragging a person down.

Suddenly my image has meaning to me. Remaining stood by that locked door was not about my partner. It was about me. I was doing what I thought I needed to do. My partner had hopes and dreams that would not be nurtured by me remaining by that door. To keep those hopes and dreams alive, I HAD TO MOVE. Searching for new doors is best for my partners legacy, it’s best for our son, and yes it’s best for me. The end result is much more likely to be positive and uplifting.

It’s taken me over 4 years to suss that out. I actually don’t feel to bad about that. It took the great minds of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu to work it out for me. That’s not a bad couple of minds to defer to.

We can do this. It will take time but WE can do this.

Pixar

The sun always rises. It always rises in cartoons – eventually.

I so would like to have a word with those really talented people at Pixar Studios. You keep making the most wonderful cartoon movies. What a list

Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc, Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, on and on

I don’t know how many times Pixar has become the essential Parenting Tool over the years for me. Keeping both child and Dad occupied and laughing. But I need to have words. What is it with the fixation with death and loss. Is it possible to go a few years without have your cartoons venture into the subject. If I want to be depressed then I can pick up a Leonard Cohen cd or watch Love Story. When I’m trying to find fun things to do like watch Pixar movies I really don’t want to venture into the sad stuff.

We endured UP the other night. It’s a great cartoon with some really funny bits. But man those first ten minutes where Carl losses his beloved wife before they lived out their dream. I was in buckets of tears. Really Pixar. It’s not big and it’s not clever….

So come on Pixar stop going all Love Story on me. Or at the very least bring in a labelling system. List movies like UP as ‘contains mega bereavement’ at least then I can prepare myself for it. Or even better do more movies that are just slapstick ‘buddy’ adventures where I can park my sad emotions for two hours.

Where am I

It’s an old graveyard. Many of the gravestones have stood for hundreds of years. Many of the names and dates have now eroded away. Lost to the years and the hill top northern weather. Just maybe someone somewhere will be remembering those names.

I was stood watching the sun rise in the early morning air. My mind wandered. It’s been over three years since I visited my mums grave. It’s about 40 miles north from here. I had great intentions to visit every year. But life happened. No idea when I will be able to return again. But that’s how it goes sometimes.

Back in 2016 that thought would have really upset me. My thinking was very much that doors had very much closed on big parts of my life. My job was to not move on but to hang onto the past. Stay close to those locked doors even though they would never open again. In those terms visiting graves became a huge deal.

Now it’s a little different. Living has to come first. I can’t do that by standing by permanently locked doors. There will be times to visit places like graves but that will be when the time is right. The important thing for me is that I don’t need to be physically in one place to access memories. I always carry them with me regardless of where I am stood.

Putting off

The sun setting on another day. Another day of putting some things off.

Was it really 2016 when my partner died. Doesn’t seem like 4 and a bit years. But here’s the thing. I can’t work out if that time has dragged by or gone much quicker. 4 and a bit years just doesn’t seem right.

But 4 and bit years it is. That’s a long time putting stuff off.

The ashes are still sat on a cabinet with a view of the garden and fields. Not been scattered yet….

Her cds are still in a there in the corner of the room. They won’t ever get played. Doesn’t seem right to play them and we had completely different music tastes. Hawklad never plays cds and shares my music tastes. One day I should move them….

My partner’s photo albums are sat on the sideboard. I started sorting through them back in 2016 but stopped…..

I did quickly take her clothes to the charity shop. But then I found a few more items. These sit in the airing cupboard. Sat there waiting for me to decide what to do with them….

I sorted through her work papers. These are now sat waiting for me to have a bonfire to burn them. These are sat on the floor next to the desk. Just doesn’t seem right still to do that yet…

I could go on but you get the picture. Whether 4 and bit years seem like a long or short time. It just shows that loss and bereavement takes time. Each persons time will be unique to them. For me it’s definitely a long term journey. It’s also about Our son as well. What works for him. Long term means that we can take my time. Do it at our own pace.

Silly little things.

I think I might be on top of things. The mind is heading in the right direction. I’m in a decent place and then….

And then something sneaks up on me. With me it’s often seemingly a silly little thing. Suddenly the friendly wind is taken from my sails.

I couldn’t sleep late last night. Just wasn’t feeling tired so I decided to watch a movie. Something requiring no thinking power. So I went for a mindless comedy. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Haven’t seen that in decades.

The last time I watched this movie I was in a different place in life. Life was still yet to really hit me. So the movies ending never really registered. Well it did last night. Wow did it register.

Spoiler alert………

The jolly and silly little movie closes with Steve Martin sudden realising that the chap he had spent the last 48 hours in travelling hell might not be as happily married as he had thought. He goes back to find him sat alone in a cold train station waiting room. His wife had died 8 years ago, he was alone and suffering.

That scene just really hit me. So unexpected. I’ve been there. I was that man. I might still be that man. I so could imagine what he felt like, sat alone in that cold bleak place. Watching others live and seemingly having no where to go.

The movie ended well but I was shaken. Sad, confused, anxious. Even after many hours I’m still feeling shaky. All from one silly movie.

The next time I watch a late night thing then let’s play it safe. It’s QVC or Scooby Doo or the Real Fire Channel for me…..

Can you spot

Can you spot the photobombing bird…

Can you spot the grassy hill that on every single step you sink 3 inches into the mud…

We put the Christmas tree up the other day. And it was another CAN YOU SPOT moment.

Hawklad put the decorations up after I had disinfected them. Then I spotted it. A tree decoration with writing on. Three names. Our names. I had forgotten about that one. That was a link to a different time. A different life. A very different feeling Christmas.

Every day it’s amazing what you can spot.

Mud

Mud glorious mud. If only we could sell mud then we would be quids in.

Sometimes it feels like life is just a constant trudge through waste deep thick, clinging mud. Much harder than it was supposed to be? Was parenting supposed to be this demanding? Was the bank account supposed to be that empty? Was the career supposed to abruptly come to an end? Was my social diary supposed to be as empty as my bank account? Was I supposed to be this out of synch with life? Was grief supposed to hurt that much? Was I supposed to be walking these fields on my own? Why did depression and anxiety have to come knocking at my door?

But wait. Mud is good for the complexion. It keeps you grounded. Walking through it makes you stronger over time. You learn things about yourself. You grow. So……

Does a large bank balance matter – NO IT DOES NOT. Is living rather than following a career a better route to happiness – YES IT IS. So is parenting supposed to be this good and rewarding – YES IT IS. Is grief just another way of saying you love someone – OH YES IT IS. Do your real friends and those who truly love you always stick with you – YES THEY DO. Can I overcome my demons – YES I CAN.

Is it still a wonderful life – YES IT IS. It most certainly is.

That feeling

Holidays, special occasions and anniversaries can be a beautiful time BUT…

They can be a nightmare for many. A time when isolation, fear, anxieties and loss are amplified. Where a spotlight is directed on what is no more, what will never happen and what is looming. A time when probably the last thing you want to hear about is all around you. Blasting out from the TV and Radio. Seemingly the only thing that people are talking about.

I know that feeling because I’ve been there. Been in that position. I know what it feels like. Even after 4 and a bit years (is it really that long). Even though I’ve started down new roads, new paths. Even though I’ve learnt to smile again. That feeling can still be there. It probably always will be.

With me it’s a double edge sword. That feeling hits. My heart and spirit drop. I want to retreat. Hide away in my room. Find safety and sanctuary there. Yet doing that immediately opens up that feeling of isolation and being confined in a small space. A prison. Feeling even more alone.

So yes I so understand this feeling. That feeling still lives with me. Not all the time but it’s never that far away. Especially at these special times.

If you are in that place. Your not alone. I’m with you as well.

Yucky

Goodbye brief bit of blue sky as the next wave of grotty weather heads in. Now it’s officially yucky.

Ok I know the apple tree needs trimming. In my defence the second last time I tried to do that the tree battled back. Someone ending up in casualty after a direct branch hit on my eye. Then the last attempt ended prematurely when the ladders started sinking into the ground and I had to perform a dainty little sky diving forward roll landing. The new plan is to wait for a severe frost and then try the ladders on the hard ground. What could possibly go wrong.

What’s really annoying is that over the hedge is the neighbours garden. It is absolutely immaculate….

It’s always been like that really. A garden of mess surrounded by oceans of immaculateness. Is that even a word… it’s certainly a big word for me. When we moved in at the turn of the century (doesn’t that sound a long time) all our neighbours had beautiful gardens. The house we bought had a seriously overgrown one. A lot has happened since then. Too much. The garden is better now but never immaculate. We like to call it a bit randomness in a sea of order. I guess that’s quite apt for me. Over the last few years my nice, ordered and safe life has been upturned. It feels like I’m living this random, chaotic, unplanned life while the ordered world continues all around me, oblivious to what’s happening with me.

So just like the apple tree needs a bit of order restoring, I will need to think about doing the same to me as well….