Marvel at Scotland

Back to last week. See you don’t need the multiverse to do a spot of time travel.

“Dad tomorrow can we go to Scotland. Don’t mind where just can it be really quiet. Somewhere different. Maybe even exciting.”

Two herbal teas later the solution popped into my head. Visit a place where we can MARVEL at who grand Scotland is.

Quiet means arriving early. As we were heading 180 miles north then we set off just after 5am.

Heading to the stunning coastal village of St Abbs. Part of the Marvel Universe……

The second highest grossing movie of all time, End Game used St Abbs as New Asgard. Hulk and Rocket came here to find Thor. Hawklad didn’t think he would be stood outside Thor’s house…..

I didn’t cause an international incident by taking my shirt off and pretending to be one of the Avengers. Maybe next time. Actually if people think that Thor looked out of shape when he was in New Asgard, wait to they get a look at my version of a shirtless Avenger. Let’s just say the 6 pack is well and truly hidden these days.

As we wandered around St Abbs a thought struck me. The place feels remote almost cut off from modern life. Operating at its own pace with the Sea dominating life. Could somewhere like this be a place which would suit Hawklad. Then the realisation, it might actually suit me. I was brought up by the Sea until I left to go to University. It feels very familiar, very safe. Would a return suit my mindset. Would it blow away the life cobwebs. Would it fix the problem that the world now seems to spin at a different speed to me. Is it a great place to forget the past.

Maybe Thor had a point moving to somewhere as wonderful as St Abbs. A perfect place for his New Asgard

Daffodils 2

So Yorkshire has enjoyed the briefest of Springs. We are now heading back into one last crack of Winter. Even mention of an outside chance of the white stuff.

So before the poor things are battered into submission let’s have one more Daffodil Fest.

The American Psychiatric Association have now officially recognised Prolonged Grief Disorder as a mental health condition. Intense grief that lasts for more than 1 year that disrupts a persons mental wellbeing and health.

Ok.

Surely much shorter, very intense grief can send people into terrifyingly dark places. Those places will have a profound lasting health effect. That will have just as much impact on a persons wellbeing than the new Official Prolonged version. Grief is GRIEF, regardless of how long it lasts a person.

I just hope that finally GRIEF gets the support it desperately needs. Too many suffer in silence. What support there is poorly funded and badly over subscribed. Even when it comes to children the support is just not there. Hawklad’s Doctor put him on the waiting list for Specialist Grief Counselling. That was back in 2016 and he is still working his way up the list….. How many parents are trying to help their grieving child when they are also suffering as well.

Grief may or may not be a separate mental health condition but it definitely has a direct impact on a persons mental health. Looking back the only support I received was a 12 page pamphlet handed out by the Hospice. For too many that is simply not enough. It wasn’t for me. Hawklad didn’t even get that…… That’s an 8 year old who has just lost his mum. That can’t be right.

Things can change

It’s not far from here that Hawklad wants to scatter some of his mums ashes. Yes 6 years and they are still sat on a cabinet in the back room. A view through the window over the garden and the fields beyond.

It will happen in its own time.

It will happen when it’s right for Hawklad.

We could see the place where we want to scatter his mum but we couldn’t walk there. Not this time. A place which his mum loved to visit. This time we couldn’t follow in her footsteps. Two rather angry bodyguards blocked the way.

Maybe next time.

Things can change.

Soon it’s going to be Mothers Day here in the UK. A couple of weeks of nonstop adverts which are almost impossible to avoid. How many kids have lost there mum and have to go through that. But this year we have a first. A supermarket that we order food from has just sent this email.

This is a start. It’s a small step but a welcome step.

Time changes

Virtually every day for over two decades I have looked at this landscape. Looked at that tree, stood alone in the next farmers field. The occasional trip away, the all too infrequent Swiss day broke those years up. But definitely for 6 years, every day I have looked upon that view.

After my partner died, I couldn’t contemplate making changes to the house. It just didn’t seem right. Then a few hesitant steps. Clothes, shoes, handbags and some books taken to a charity shop. But her cd’s are still sat, untouched, in the same place. Her ornament largely in the same locations. But now the mindset is changing. Time for change if Hawklad is ready.

A start will be my partners cd’s. A quick scan revealing a taste for 80’s pop and dance music. They are never going to get played in this metal and rock house. Music is such a waste of its not played. Time to move them on to a better home. Ok I might keep the Dido cd…..

I’m looking at a sofa that is over 20 years old. Cats, a mad climbing dog, food and drink spills, my enormous backside has taken its toll on the poor thing now. It’s really time for a change. Well kind of. Hawklad would appreciate some more comfort but is kinda attached. So we have plan b. But a new sofa, finally change the living room look. But the old sofa can find its way into the conservatory.

That’s still change.

Life has moved on.

I’m not stood by that permanently closed door anymore.

Moors

The North Yorkshire Moors late on a cold January evening. This is truly an amazing planet with so much staggering beauty to be experienced and enjoyed. It’s really there, we just need to remember to lift our gaze upwards.

Back in 2016 that was an alien concept. Gazing upwards. Why when all I could see was never ending emptiness with no sign of light. Robbed of dreams and a way forward. Refusing to move from a door which had abruptly slammed shut and as long as I waited, would never open again. I felt like screaming but what was the point, who would hear, I’m not even sure I would have heard or even cared.

But now in 2022, as I watch the setting sun cast a golden light over the moors, my gaze is lifted once more.

Yes life might still be tough somedays but it’s good to dream again. Different dreams, bigger dreams. It feels wonderful to want to experience the world and what it has offer again.

Kindred Spirit

That’s one hardy leaf. Some would say ‘mad’. Coming out now, just before the Yorkshire winter commences. When all it’s buddies will give it another 5 months or so….

Or is that Mr Lazy Leaf. “Sorry chaps, I think I overslept, oh pants did I miss summer. Big pants, missed Autumn as well……. Anyone got a hot water bottle and a warm blanket.”

Must admit I kinda feel like that most days. Kinda feeling out of synch with life. Not been in synch for years. I’ve heard this from quite a few people who have gone through LOSS. Your time slows down (even feels like it stops) while the world keeps spinning without missing a single heartbeat. Initially I found that hard to deal with. If my world has stopped why hasn’t the world stopped, actually does it even know what’s happened.

Over time I realised that life has to keep going. Why should the world stop for one person. But even now that feeling of being out of synch still won’t go away. Maybe the more I live, the more baggage I shed then maybe, just maybe, I will start to find that synch again with the big bad world.

So yes I feel like that little green leaf is a kindred spirit.

Thinking

A Sunday in a very quiet part of Yorkshire. A good place to think.

It’s now over 5 years since I became a widow. Where did those 5 years go. Some days it feels like a lifetime, then there are times when it only seems like yesterday. Whatever it feels like, a lot has changed over those years. I’m a changed person with a changed outlook on life (and death). There were times when I thought that was it, life was over. It was just a matter of survival. But I made it through those times and I’m ready to start experiencing what this world has to offer again. I am dreaming again. Different dreams and whisper it, bigger dreams. Maybe that’s a surprising thought. Grief has taught me how to better LIVE. Looking back, to the run up to my partner dying, my priorities were far too often skewed. Maybe I was just surviving. Taking life for granted. Going through the motions. Not looking for adventures. Already personally hemmed in, struggling. Then everything changed within two weeks. Suddenly life’s safety net was removed. I was a single parent with the established script ripped up. I didn’t realise it but I suddenly had to face up to life. Over those 5 years I had to make changes, reappraise everything. Finally decide what was truly important to me.

So as I stood looking across that peaceful graveyard I could see something which I had missed. Grief was about coming to terms with loss, coming to terms with regrets, trying to be the best parent I could be to a young child who needed me AND a process of coming back to life again.

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.

Change

Another cool and breezy Yorkshire summer’s day. The kinda day that always works better with black and white.

It’s five years to the day that I found out from the Consultant that my partner had weeks to live and was likely never to regain full consciousness again. From that day life changed. Not a gradual, planned change. This was a sudden, seismic explosion. Almost everything seemed to cave in. Nothing would ever be the same again. Those doorways onto my then current life slammed shut and locked forever.

The one single thing that kept me going back in 2016 was Hawklad. I had one job now. Give him the best possible childhood I could possibly manage, on my own. At that stage I was living purely though my sons eyes. Change had to somehow work for him .

Life was now different. Unplanned. Very much unscripted. It felt like that the life that had gone before was a more protected. More manageable. This new world seemed very real, very scary with no protection. But I guess that’s change for you. Often it’s too easy to have a change of heart. Avoid the consequences of change. Stick with the your current hand. But in that bleak 2016 moment, sticking with what I had was not an option. Change was happening and there was nothing I could do to stop it. That’s such an unnerving feeling.

Life has changed for me. There was nothing I could do to stop that. Some of that change was awful. Soul destroying. In the immediate aftermath most things felt that way. But now five years later the change that was forced upon me has largely worked out. And whisper it, much of the change has been positive or was in practice badly needed anyway. And yes in some really important areas things are actually better now than they have ever been.

Change can work with patience.

Endings

My mum had a range of old movies that she would watch over and over again. Every week she would go through the TV listings and carefully circle those movies she just had to watch again. She would the likes of Casablanca and Singing in the Rain at least once a year. As she made 90 that’s a lot of views. But some strange movies would also get onto the ‘watch again and again’ list. Dirty Harry….. Die Hard …….. anything with Chuck Norris in.

But then there were other movies. Movies she would watch for the first time and only ever once. For these B-list movies she had an interesting strategy. If she didn’t like how the plot was progressing she would stop the movie. Stop the movie and make up her own ending. That changed the very essence of certain classics. Maximus doesn’t die in Gladiator. Tom Cruise was the rogue agent who killed his spy team in Mission Impossible. All the Gangsters get captured at the end of The Godfather. Bruce Willis was a ghost in Sixth Sense right from the start and there was no need to watch the rest of the boring movie as he was going to be resurrected at the end. The little fishing boat was completely unsinkable in Perfect Storm.

The strategy worked for mum. She was never disappointed in a movie ending. I must admit I am tempted to give it a go. I could watch the first 10 seconds of a Newcastle United game and then assume we played total football like the great Brazilian side of the 70s, winning the game by at least 6 goals. I could read the first line of my annual tax form and then assume the authorities owe me money. I could start baking a cake then assume it’s a gourmet masterpiece. I could cut one strip of lawn and assume the rest would cut itself.

But here’s the thing. What happens if the bit of the story you miss out actually is the best bit. What happens if you skip the bit where your dreams come true. This will sound bad but I gave occasionally felt like skipping parts of my life. Life can wear you down sometimes. Single parenting sometimes feels like it never stops – it has done the last day or so. Constantly pushing up a never ending slope. I could also miss out the grieving and bereavement section. But if I did skip parts of my story WHAT COULD I BE MISSING OUT ON. The fact that yesterday and today have been tough doesn’t necessarily mean that tomorrow will be. You just never know. You never know when dreams can start to materialise. That’s a reassuring thought.