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.
Bereavement is one of the most intense and horrible experiences a person will ever go through. It’s sharp prickles and thorns grab hold of you. It scars you. So how can you ever forget it’s happened.
I had stopped off at the local store for food for tonight. Son is easy – just look for any food that starts with an S and ends with ausages…. Then fill the plate with tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers. I will look longingly at the cakes then eventually go for soup. Oh look they have some giant jacket potatoes I can get them for my partner. Where’s the cheese to go with them. No prizes for spotting the deliberate mistake.
It wasn’t until I was focusing on finding a mild cheddar that the brain finally kicked into gear. Oh bugger. For a few glorious seconds I was not bereaved. Not a widow. Then that sinking feeling. That awful feeling in my tummy. Completely disoriented trying to process two completely different places which are three years apart within a few seconds. Maybe this is what Time Travel will feel like.
Not a widow.
According to the UK Government I’m actually not a widow. Officially you can only be a widow if you are married in a manner recognised by our beloved rulers. We were a couple for 20 years. Now approaching 23 years…. The plan was always to get married but we had plenty of time to sort that out. Then we became a family. Then Aspergers entered our life’s. Again marriage was put on the back burner as we had something far more important to focus on. Then time ran out.
So since we were not married I’m not supposed to call myself a widow. The Government is not stupid. It’s a money thing. Death benefits are aimed at easing some of the initial financial pressures which will hit when a partner dies. These benefits need to be restricted so we have a very selective definition. If you are not defined as being officially married then it’s zero help for you. Your not a widow. It’s not the denial of benefits which annoys me it’s that somehow that unmarried bereavement is officially seen as less important. Not an issue. I remember talking to a man whose male partner had died. For years they were unable to get married because of the law. That has now changed. The irony was that it was done by a Conservative PM who needed help from the opposition as many of his own party voted against the change. Five of the current Government voted against same sex marriage. This wonderful couple never got married after the law changed in 2013. The man said
“All I wanted to do was call myself a widow and get on with grieving. But according to the Government I am not a widow.“
We agreed an appropriate response. Bugger off. We don’t care what others may think because in our eyes we are widows.
So I may briefly forget that all this bad stuff has happened. But sadly it has. So yesterday, today, tomorrow and going forward I AM A WIDOW. Interestingly my spell checker is desperate to change widow to window. So to keep it happy I AM A WINDOW. Now that opens up a whole new philosophical blog and probably makes a great Prog Rock Album Title. On that thought it’s time to draw the blinds down and go to bed.
I know that I will miss her tonight.
So like the weather we crash into the weekend. This photo was taken minutes before the heavy rain rushed in. It’s time to batten down the hatches for 24 hours.
For 10 brief minutes a delightful dry run in sublime autumnal colours. What followed was a long and protracted slog through a mud bath and driving rain. One step forward and two back. Seriously doubting if I could make the climbs which had been done countless times before. Soul destroying. No fun anymore just hard labour. Frigid isolation in this hostile environment. Doubting my sanity. What am I doing here.
It’s been a perfect microcosm of this week.
A week which has rapidly gone downhill. A long hard slog giving my soul a good kicking. Leaving my mojo and my confidence in tatters. Almost complete social isolation. Never ending pain from dental work. Failure to find solutions to home, school and work problems. Error strewn days. The house is filled with echoes of the past. Even blogging has been harder than usual. The words seem to be failing me. Three draft posts on Aspergers and one on Dyslexia deleted. Just not good enough. Not sure I trust myself enough to venture there. But then life interrupts my meltdown.
We have crashed into Friday. It’s also the start of the half term week holidays. It’s Halloween week. Remember the number one priority. The only one that matters in the end.
Give son the best childhood possible.
So it’s time to put my game face on. Work can wait until son has gone to bed. Halloween gives endless scope for creative fun. My problems will be pushed into the background by boundless youthful energy released by the school gates closing. I’m sure they will be back but just not this week. That’s not allowed.
Only one possible song to leave you with. Mr Alice Cooper and Schools Out.
Schools Out – Live
It’s been several years since we fed the ducks. It’s back to a time before our world changed. A family of 3. Every Sunday we would go to the lake armed with food left overs from the week. Often our son would be surrounded by hundreds of ducks and swans. He would carefully try to ensure all those impatiently waiting received a share of the food parcel. Then we would go to the local cafe for a freshly baked cheese scone. So many great moments sadly stopped one August three years ago.
Maybe this weekend will be a good time to rectify our absence. It wasn’t the birds fault that the bad stuff happened. Maybe we can rekindle some of those feelings. Maybe we will create new feelings. We won’t know until we try. I suspect the ducks won’t mind us trying.
So I’ve started filling a large bucket with out of date oats, some cheap tinned sweet corn, seed and of course a little bit of bread. Even ducks need a balanced diet.
While trying to find the old duck feed bucket I came across a couple of old concert T-shirt’s and ticket stubs. Days of hair, tight trousers and Thunderbird Cider. Looking at the names on the shirts it was very sobering. Many of those I went to see are sadly not with us anymore. So while I worked this afternoon I listened to a music from these fallen heroes. I tried to recall seeing that person on stage – in their prime. How they should be remembered. The roll call included
Ronnie James Dio
The more I think about it the more heroes I can add to the list. That’s really sobering. As you get older more and more of your heroes depart. But they have left so many lasting memories for us to enjoy. They left a positive mark on this world. That’s a life well lived. I will leave the last words to Lemmy.
“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good“
Sometimes the path leads to the light. The direction is clear. Other times the path takes you unerringly into darkness and uncertainty. Into fear.
Over the last few days my spirit and my mojo has dropped alarmingly. Today life is a struggle. I’m tired. I’m making too many mistakes. The smile is a little too forced. Confidence is a rare commodity. I feel old and worn out. The direction seems uncertain. Even the written word seems increasingly wooden. A few paths maybe have run their course. Maybe too many paths are now just covering old ground. Life focuses on don’ts rather than do’s. Where abstinence from the likes of caffeine moves from health enabling to puritanical punishment. Life doesn’t flow it requires back breaking effort.
It’s times like this that LOSS hits home the hardest. You realise what has been lost. That reassuring presence is just not there. The rooms seem empty and echo with sad thoughts. Isolation is all consuming. My bones feel fear. Yes fear.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear” – C.S.Lewis
The track in the photograph – eventually it bends to the left and takes you out of the eerie dark. On the other side of the hill the track opens out and runs through a beautiful little moor. Just need to have the courage to keep on going.
So tonight let’s just get through what’s left of this lifeless day. Then in the morning – reset and go again. Find that path. Maybe it’s a new path with old ones closed down. Have the courage to continue down it.
Everyday more red bursts through to bring life to Yorkshire In Autumn. No creative license required here. Last night son asked to watched the Mel Gibson movie Braveheart. He quietly watched the movie in one sitting. When it had finished he had one of those looks. The Paddington Hard Stare.
“Where do I start. I gave up making a note of the historical inaccuracies when I got past 30. I think they were averaging one a minute. I hope people don’t think it happened like that. As a piece of pure make believe it was ok. As an accurate record of real history I’d rather trust the new Dumbo movie”
I have to say the new Dumbo is great. But it’s one of the THOSE movies which would have been much easier to watch if it had come out before our world changed. Movies with the death of a mum are still very raw. For both of us.
Dumbo also touched on the idea that sometimes we are not prepared for what may face us a parent and as a human. Don’t want to give any real spoilers away so I can’t say too much about the movie.
I wasn’t prepared in the slightest way for being a single parent. For being a widow. For having that awful conversation with your son. For picking up the pieces of a life which had been based purely on three of us. But to be fair as a couple we were not prepared for the loss of one of us. Our lifestyle was based on two parents. Financially it only worked with two of us. After we became a family our careers only continued to work because we could share the load. We only continued to have a bit of a social life because the other partner was there.
So when you suddenly take one partner away …. it all comes tumbling down. Three years later we are still trying to rebuild our life’s. Watching another autumn and another set of red leaves makes you appreciate life goes on – even after a death.
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.
This photo is from a couple of days ago. It was reasonable weather.
Over the last couple of days the weather here has been a little more damp. The Photograph below from The Guardian sums up today’s dampness. Welcome to Yorkshire – the worlds best cyclist competing at the UCI World Championships and enjoying the welcoming Yorkie weather. As my Dad would have said that will put hair on their chests. Bet the poor riders didn’t expect to be riding through lakes. Amazingly the race was completed. Thats commitment for you.
Parenting is about commitment. Even I realised that before our son was born. The bizarre assumption we made was that at some stage the kid(s) would fly the nest and we would go back to something like our old life’s. Maybe after school, after college, after university, maybe a bit later. But at some stage it was happening. At some stage parenting becomes more part time and the stuff we had to park can be resurrected. In my case socialising with friends, climbing, playing sport, career, astronomy….
“WE” would get our life’s back – yes I never envisaged one tragedy…..
But maybe the full time parenting commitment may last longer. I remember our sons lead health professional telling us
“It is possible that your son will be largely independent at some stage. However on the current evidence this might be the least likely outcome. You need to prepare yourselves that he may find it very difficult to live independently at any stage.”
As a family we are so fortunate. Son is making great progress in many areas. So many families don’t get this level of progress. But there are clear areas where progress is not being made. We have to be realistic that progress may never be made. Support may be needed life long. That’s a sobering thought and raises so many knock on considerations.
Those parts of my life I assumed would restart at some stage may in fact not happen. I don’t like admitting it but this thought makes me sad. But that’s life. I now realise bad things happen and you have to deal with them. You never know son might one day take up something like climbing. I suspect not in the case of climbing. He is a natural risk assessor. He might make sufficient progress to become fully independent. We just have to see what happens.
I know I’m not the only one who is in this position. I was reading a similar thing from a blogger I really respect just the other day. Parenting sometimes doesn’t work out the way you have imagined. Parts of your world are lost. Dreams become unattainable. Although parenting is the best gig in the world it is so hard to explain to others how part of you can still feels so sad.
I now know that this is parenting. Its about sacrifices. It’s about commitment.
What’s that behind you. It’s that pesky grief sneaking up on you again.
Lost in a world of spreadsheets and work while listening to the radio. It’s a rock station so plenty of Aerosmith , Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd. Playing a game of which bands I’ve seen and which I might still see. Then an innocuous advert. NEXT sale starts at 7am.
Nothing wrong with that surely.
Suddenly taken back to a now closed off world. In the immediate aftermath of the funeral I took bag after bag of NEXT clothes to the charity shop. NEXT was her favourite shop. It’s just not right that I’m here and she is not. Tears. A few minutes later the mood has changed. More memories.
My partners ears would always prick up if she heard the two words NEXT and SALE. The alarm would be set 6am. For the big New Years sale it would be set for 5am.
Come on bag man get up.
That was my role. Trudge down to the store. Try to look vaguely interested. Then don’t get in the way and hold the potential purchase items. Occasionally chipping in with a helpful thats nice. Then the bagman carries the laden bags home. For the next couple of hours while our partner tries on the truck load of clothes I replenish all the lost calories with coffee and biscuits. Then bagman sets off back to NEXT again to take back the unwanted items. On the return visit I would briefly look at the Men’s section. A few muttered are you sure these are sales prices and its off to the coffee shop to reflect on the joy which is knowing that’s the sales are finished for 6 months. Not sure how she put up with me….
It’s smiles and tears now.
Spending money on clothes has been replaced with spending money on school.
Dad have you paid for the school reward trip?
Yes I have but like the NEXT sales I’m struggling to get my head round it. All the kids at the school who didn’t get a detention or didn’t pick up too many negatives qualify for a reward. The reward is a trip to a cool destination. As it was a school reward I assumed school would pay for it. NO. Parents have to pay. So the parents of kids who behaved badly don’t have to fork out this wedge of cash. Life was easier when I was the bagman.