That play

We had set our hearts on a trip out. Son wanted to go for a walk round a quiet lake. I wanted sea air to cleanse my soul. I was born near the sea and it has great healing properties. But the weather was grim. Too grim. So a change of plan.

Plan B. We needed a few smiles this morning so off we set to the cinema to see the new Horrible Histories movie. Maybe not quite as funny as Bill but it was a really good film. Yes it brought many smiles.

As the rain lashed down on the drive back home it was decided to just have an afternoon of movie watching.

Dad let’s watch Bill when we get home.

So it was a TV lunch. Jacket Potatoes and a super funny take on Shakespeare. It’s amazing how a couple of funny films can lift the spirits. Makes you forget your own reality. It’s a most odd feeling these days. That feeling of laughing. So as Bill finished I wondered what comedy classic our son would pick next. Monty Python? Paddington? Ice Age? Spongebob?

I’ve decided Dad. Can you check if you can find XXXXXXXX for free. Always fancied watching it.

So 20 minutes later we are watching another movie. MacBeth staring Michael Fassbender. Yes not the happiest movie. A bit short on laughs. One of those films which is just so bleak that it forces you to put on the thickest jumper you can find. Even the steaming hot coffees fail to warm my bones. It’s gory, it’s dark, the music is brooding, the imagery is stunning. Not quite the family movie I had set my heart on but I suspect William Shakespeare would have loved what his words had become.

It’s strange how something so bleak can help you forget your reality as well. My mum would always say she would play sad songs to cheer herself up. I understand that now.

Real

There is a scene at the end of the third Hobbit movie where Tauriel pleads after the death of her love

Why does it hurt so much?

With the telling response from Thranduil

Because it was real.

This is a bit of movie padding as it’s not from the book. Tauriel is not even in the book. So it’s not canon. But frankly I don’t care. It’s a rather fine movie and the sentiment can’t be faulted. It is hauntingly true.

Before 2016 I never noticed this movie exchange. Now it never fails to get to me. How often do you experience real love and yet it passes you by. You seem to miss living in the moment. Take things for granted. Assume you have time. Plenty of time to get round to the important stuff after you have ticked off the mundane tasks. The tasks expected of you. In reality you may have little time. Putting love off proves to be little more than a foolish role of the dice. A gamble where the debt can never be paid off. Suddenly when it’s ripped away from your grasp love becomes so vivid, so obvious ,so painful. Yes it’s real but now it’s not just a memory. Your moment has gone.

It’s a stabbing pain. A pain etched in memories. I have a few particular memories which are like the most vivid photographs ever. All real and all so painful. Yes painful but they are about love. Real love. One is from a Swiss trip before our son was born. We were on a boat on Lake Thun. I had gone outside to take a photo. The image is me looking through the window and seeing my partner smiling back at me. Every time I see that memory a bit more of my soul dies.

Why does it hurt so much.

Because it was real.

A hill

It may look picturesque and relaxing but….

Looks can be deceiving. The lane bends to the left and then suddenly drops. And wow does it drop. One hundred yards of hell. Having had the pleasure of running up this slope I can officially call it a ‘ball breaker’.

Life is like that. Contentedly tottering along the paths that take you through life then suddenly you face an unexpected uphill struggle. Suddenly life becomes tough, it saps your energy, it tests you. The argument goes that when you get to the top of the hill you are a better person. Or your hot, sweaty and distinctly limping.

Three years ago mum went into hospital on my brothers birthday and left us a few days later on my birthday. Days after the funeral I found out the my partner was dying and had no more than a couple of weeks to live. Happily walking down the country lane and suddenly dealing with this and trying to get our young son through the shitstorm (sorry for the language but it’s the most apt word I can think of). It feels like the mother of all hills to climb and we are still climbing. Maybe the slope has eased a bit but the brow of the hill is still not in sight. Maybe it never will.

The meaning of my birthday has now changed forever. It’s not a day to be enjoyed anymore. I suspect if it was just me climbing this pesky hill then I would have sat down by now. But it’s not. That’s why everyday we start charging up that hill again. Son deserves that.

Sunday night Kissing

Kissing is something which died when the world changed. Well anyway for me. But Sunday Night Kissing is still just about possible.

Last night we went to see Kiss perform their last ever English concert.

It was loud. It was cartoon like. It was larger than life. It was ridiculously full of explosions. It was Rock and Entertainment at its best.

Unbelievably I noticed a young chap stand up without prompting, start dancing, shouting, singing and clapping. That’s a first. Thankfully he has more rhythm than his Dad.

I have to say music has been a lifesaver. It’s always been the one constant. It wasn’t embarrassed when I struggled with depression. It didn’t turn its back on me when death came calling in 2016. And it didn’t batter an eyelid when Autism came a calling.

Yes Kissing is a memory. No more Kiss concerts for us. But we have precious memories.

Music is an unwavering friend who has embraced our son. Thank you Kiss. Thank you Rock. Thank you Music.

Moody

Moody skies. In the distance a Buzzard is being chased off by two Crows. That sort of distance shot is way beyond my old mobile.

I keep saying it but grief is really pesky. It likes to sneak up on you. Even after more than two years it still does. Of all the sneak attacks one always hits the hardest. It’s when you momentarily forget what has happened. You only need to forget for a few moments and then wham – grief slaps you in the face.

The same thing has happened time and time again to me. I’m driving towards our house. I look up and see no car sitting on the drive. I immediately think that I’ve beaten my partner home today. That means I can ….. Then it hits you. She’s gone. It’s the most soul destroying feeling. Absolute desolation. The shock literally takes your breath away. You then have to enter a house which is so full of memories. It really does take quite a while to get yourself back on an even keel.

It happened again today. No car on the drive. Beaten her home. I can get the housework done before she’s back. Maybe even get a mushroom stroganoff on the go. Her favourite. Then it hit me. Bugger… Even with a mad dog the house seemed really cold and colourless. So empty. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

But it is. Got to make the best of things. Just have to accept that grief is the new reality. But I can keep going. I try to see grief as sitting by the seashore. Sometimes the tide comes in. Often the waves are tiny and you hardly notice them. But every so often the tide comes in with force and the waves crash over you. It’s a full on storm. But I tell myself to breath and eventually the tide has to retreat. It really has to. And I do realise that I am so fortunate. I have a purpose to drive me on. Give our son the best childhood possible.

But still I could try and hire those two birds in the photograph. Maybe they can keep watch for grief and then chase it off when it comes hunting. That really would be something to crow about.

Soulless

That pesky grief monster sneaking up on innocent folks again. Should be a law about that. On sorry I forgot our Government ceased being a viable legislative body two years ago. Still we can look forward to Johnson or Hunt now. OMG. One is a self serving buffoon who dresses up outrageous racist comments as free direct speech. A man whose middle name should be dishonesty. The other is a man who forgot which country his wife was born in (supposed to be our Foreign Secretary) and who wilfully wrecked our NHS.

So no help coming from the Government any time soon then.

I was having a 50 minute walk – can’t believe how much I miss my runs. Tired but been worse. Then out from a side path a couple emerged. Holding hands and clearly so in love. Suddenly waves of grief and remorse smash me into the ground.

That was us a few years ago…

We should be still holding hands today…

Those days have gone…

Suddenly I feel very tired, very old and very broken.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.

An hour later I’m back at work but basically I’m going through the motions. My heart is trapped in a different year. It’s unlikely that it will be released. I feel soulless, yes that’s the word, SOULLESS. Just an empty shell. Just focus on that one job – give our son the best childhood possible. That gives me a purpose. Something to keep me going.

Deadly Question Time

So she is leaving before the job is done. Tears for her own job but not for 72 people who died in London on the 14th June 2017. Says it all. Time for the next numpty.

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You do get asked some questions in life. Some you can answer, some you can’t and some which you can’t quite comprehend. In 2016 the world changed for us. Over 6 weeks our young son experienced two much death for someone so young. I got plunged into single parenting – a role I was completely unprepared for and at a time when I was close to breaking. Since those fateful 6 weeks we have been asked so many questions about bereavement, single parenting and the future. Here are some of the left field ones.

“What’s it like not to have a mum” – a classmate asked that 4 days after he lost his mum

Have you thought about hiring a full time nanny” – a Parent

Do you think he is too young to properly grieve” – a Parent

Have you thought about a dating agency ” – a neighbour 2 weeks after the funeral

Luckily he is autistic so he won’t feel as much” – a Parent.

“I’m sorry for your loss but can you start back at work tomorrow as your project needs to stay on track” – a Senior Manager one week after the funeral

Now your a single parent what are you going to do with your new found free time” – a Dad in the school playground

Dads don’t cook so do you get lots of takeouts” – a classmate with a Dad who spends most of his time in the pub and playing golf

“Surely your career is the most important thing to you” – a Senior Manager after I quit to be there for our son

“Can’t your son just go to stay with someone during the week so you can do this role. Have you got family who could look after him” – same Senior Manager

“We are reading a book in lesson next week which has a boy who has just lost his mum. You don’t have any objections do you” a teacher

“You must think yourself quite lucky. You have closure. When my wife left me I didn’t get closure” – a Dad in the school playground

Have you phoned the Samaritans.” – a mum. I only asked if she had any idea why my bread wasn’t rising evenly.

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This time can we get a Leader how is up to the job. No numpties should be allowed to apply – that includes you Boris.

Ronan did me again

Grief is really sneaky. It’s like you at sea in a boat in perfectly calm water. But somewhere underneath you know a Great White Shark is silently hunting. Could be hundreds of miles away or it could be feet away. You just never know.

Everything seemed ok. Yes my partners birthday is approaching but I was ok. Needed to go food shopping. No red flags yet.

At the Supermarket walked passed the flowers. No problem. On passed the birthday cards. No problem. Uneventful food shopping then…..

Without warning the background music started playing Ronan Keating – Life is a Rollercoaster. This was one of her favourite songs. She would always be singing it. I took her twice to see him in concert.

Full scale grief attack. Floods of tears. Lord knows what the other shoppers thought in the soup aisle.

That’s the thing when you lose someone the world doesn’t stop. You might but the rest of the world does not. When you eventually do brave the world again it will try and get you – you just never know when….

Alone

Complete white out. Zero vision. Your boots constantly struggling to find grip on the sheet ice. All you can hear is the wind howl and your rasping breathe. Somewhere to your right are bone breaking crags, to your left a 200 feet sheer drop. Holding the ice axe waiting for the inevitable fall. The trail has disappeared. The map is useless. The compass won’t give an accurate reading. Alone. Are you too far right or god help you …. too far left. Too late to turn back. Your only guide is to follow the sharp slope upwards to the summit.

The delights of winter mountaineering. Or is a metaphor for life. Disorientation, lost, no idea where your going, unattainable goals, alone, no plan, fear and panic.

Then hope. A kind word. A caring hand in the dark. Brief enlightenment.

The clouds briefly part. The beautiful mountain summit reveals itself. You survived that crisis. Panic subsides. Your pounding heart starts to ease. The break in the clouds is short lived. But you have a path. You have a direction. You have hope. The climb continues.

Storm Bunker

We had a large thunder storm pass over this afternoon. The cat was taking no chances. After the first bang he made his way to his storm bunker.

Unbelievably the early morning cinema screening was very full. The cinema was mobbed. Not seen crowds like that since the ‘Everything for a Pound’ Store had a sale. It’s not a statistical significant sample population but from the early morning hordes I guess that The Avengers movie is going to pull in some astronomical numbers.

And yes it is an astonishing movie.

Yes the crowds unsettled our son but we took our customary place on the front row so no one could be in front of him or to the left of him. It’s so close to the big screen that I come away feeling like I’ve been chewing on magic mushrooms but it works for him.

For 3 hours we both lost ourselves in the Marvel Universe. All our problems and anxieties forgotten. Heroic deeds fill your heart. With even a bit of free grief counselling thrown in by Captain America. But sadly it doesn’t last. You eventually find yourself back in the same place with the same issues.

In fact it feels like we have regressed. Fifteen months ago we eventually secured some anxiety counselling for our son. I say ‘we’ as the fight to get some help started while my partner was still very much with us. It seemed to really benefit him. Progress was starting to be made. But now due to cutbacks that support has dried up. The anxieties are building and it feels like the system has cast him adrift again. We have been lucky really – far too many families get zero help – all they get is patronising comments from politicians who have no interest beyond their off shore bank accounts and rich friends.

So as the thunder rumbles on we try to fight demons. Health anxieties, fear of death, school anxieties, friend anxieties, social anxieties, reading anxieties, fear of being left alone anxieties…..

I’m no psychologist. I’m no health professional. I’m no education specialist. I’m not a grief counsellor. I’m just a parent trying to figure out this increasingly bizarre world with no one to help guide me. Doing the best I can. Deep down this scares me as what chance do I have when I can’t even come close to fixing myself. Queue worried face. 😱

Pleased to report the immediate threat to life and property must have passed as the cat has made his way back to his favourite chair again. That’s one less worry to deal with.