It’s inevitable that if you spend anytime on this planet then you will experience what LOSS feels like. Losing something precious to you. A person, a dream, a way of life, a friendship, a love, a companion….. It’s inevitable.
When I experienced LOSS I also LOST something else. MYSELF.
LOSS is about losing something permanently. Never getting it back. That’s why it hurts so much. All you can do is to try to learn to live with that LOSS. But with LOST it can be different. It doesn’t have to permanent. You can find it again. That’s what I did with MYSELF. It took several years but I have found MYSELF again. And here’s the thing, I actually may have found more than I LOST. I may have grown as a person. May have a better outlook in life. More appreciative of what is truly important to me. I definitely understand MYSELF better now.
Wind back the clock 20 years and a couple walked along a country lane and thought we must try that narrow path that runs along by those trees. Where would it take us.
Virtually every single time that couple walked that lane one voice would mention the need to walk that tree lined path.
20 years, 15 years….
Then it became a family of 3. Still they walked that lane and pondered that mysterious path.
10 years, 5 years….
The TIME ran out. Time ran out for that couple, that family. Since then the bereaved partner has finally run down that path. Found out where it led to. Definitely beautiful but such a powerful symbol of missed opportunity. The dangers of thinking that you have plenty of time. in reality the clock is always TICKING.
One of the first things you notice living in the hills is that you don’t get many poles that are straight up. There is always a bit of a lean to them. Nowt wrong with that. It feels like I’ve had a bit of a lean for years.
There is a really apt song line that Roger Waters wrote a few years back.
You lean to the left but you vote to the right.
This morning I read a work email exchange. One guy was saying that he had voted for Brexit because it seemed cool but hadn’t voted for higher food prices and more expensive import taxes. He certainly hadn’t voted for the nightmare it had become to own his time share in Spain.
Maybe its just me. 😳
But I guess we all do a bit of that lean to the left but vote to the right thing.
I’m not immune to that. As a kid I fell in love with football. What an exciting game it could be if I picked a great team. I then picked Newcastle United to support. If I liked football so much why did I pick that bunch of numpties.
Then there was a time when I was a fully paid up member of CND. Proud owner of the ban the bomb T-shirt. I picked what look like a really interesting University option. All went well until I found out where my option was based. The National Atomic Weapons Research Facility…… I’m not making that up. How on earth did I get through the vetting.
But it goes much wider. I wanted desperately to be a parent but not sure I would have initially voted to be a single parent. Definitely not this way.
So I guess there are times when things are out of our control. Life happens. But there are times when it is down to our decisions, our actions. If that happens you just have to own the consequences….
I had a scheduled call with the bank today. Just routine stuff. Routine stuff which you would just a year ago pop into the branch and sort out at the counter. Nothing is routine now.
Anyway during the call the bank person asked a couple of not really banking questions that kinda through me
“Can I ask. Are you ok. Are you coping. It must be so tough. Are you getting the support you need.”
That’s the bank saying that……
Now before I go on – I am ok. I am coping. A bit of support would be nice but it’s not happening. But here’s the thing. I could so easily be doing not so well in this single parenting gig. Really struggling. Getting no support. Desperate. Looking over the precipice. Sadly many are. In fact forget the single bit, many people are….
I became a single parent in 2016 following the death of my partner. In that time the only official person to ask how I was doing was that bank person. No doctor, no school professional, no education specialist, no one from the local services. NO ONE in the support areas has ever asked what the bank person asked. How many people are struggling and nobody finds out. Nobody asks. I guess the assumption is that those that struggle will always put their hand up. Sadly that might not happen.
I couldn’t sleep last night. Maybe two hours max. Event after I abandoned and a few minutes later I had a chamomile tea in hand and was channel hoping. I stumbled across some really cheesy B-movie. Then one of the actresses delivered this line
“The hardest thing for me after my husband died was having to be nice to my family.”
Wow. That must have been some family. But it got me thinking. What was the hardest thing about losing my partner back in 2016. Strangely worrying about being nice to my family didn’t feature. The Worst Thing Thoughts that did pop into my head were.
Telling a young son his mum had died
Feeling utterly alone
The dark thoughts
Losing all my dreams
Getting up in the morning and facing the world
That final goodbye at the funeral
Trying to sort through my partners clothes and favouritepossessions
Hearing her favourite song on the radio
The deathly silence in the house when our son was at school or asleep
Those were the emotions that I went through in the immediate aftermath. But then something else kicked in a few months later. As I started to clear my head this thought kept dominating my thought. Going forward – “I didn’t want to feel this pain of loss again“. The pain was too much for me. I needed to stop myself from getting close to people again. The feeling of isolation that came from thinking that was utterly soul destroying.
So there you go. I’m disagreeing with a cheesy B-movie, but every loss is different. So family pains can be just as intense as the many I went through. The B-movie did pass some time. It ALSO was so boring that I nodded off. Nodded off still holding my mug of tea. Yep I ended up wearing most of that. Thankfully only lukewarm. Yes piping hot tea would have been a pain I could definitely do without.
I was trying to free up some space on the blog so I was looking what old stuff could de deleted. Can’t believe I’ve tortured people with 1600 posts since I started back in 2017. You know what, I never got round to deleting anything. I was too busy reading my first few posts. Wow they were bad (I’m not saying I’ve improved over the years as well….).
Reading those first posts a couple of message shine through. I was understandably messed up and I was at my lowest point. There was hardly any hope in my words. Hope is often the first thing that LOSS takes from you. It did with me.
Well 4 years later HOPE has returned. I now have a better perspective on life. LOSS is still the worst feeling. Loss of Hope is just as soul destroying. But now I can see a number of new more hopeful dimensions to this dreadful process. It wasn’t all bad. My life focus changed. I realised just how unimportant a career is in the scheme of things. A career is not about personal development rather its often a way of missing out on those important family moments. Single parenting is a tough gig but you get more time with your kids. More quality time. Time is the most precious commodity. And yes doors to close permanently but life eventually does go on again. New pathways open up. Pathways which would not have been found without LOSS. New OPPORTUNITIES, new FRIENDSHIPS. New HOPE.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to an alpine paradise. To a country which is staggeringly beautiful. Let’s take a trip to Switzerland.
2015 was our families last trip here. Things have changed for us so much since then and certainly not for the better. But life has to go on. So I’m going to look at these treasured old photographs and remember just how beautiful our planet can be. And then dream of a return and the creation of new memories.
When we first moved into our little bungalow on the hill we had a beautiful Daffodil patch on the shared area in front of our house. At the time I would never have thought that 20 years later I would still be here. Certainly not still here as a widow and a single parent.
Over the next few years the daffodil patch seemed to flower less and less. The daffs would appear each year but more and more would just not bloom. The area was becoming such a shadow of its former self. Eventually I planted some new bulbs and now there is colour again.
This morning it dawned on that there is a message to all this. Life happens and sometimes things fade and leave us. But with patience and hard work life can happen again. That works for the daffodil patch and it works for me as well.
There are things which I should not be allowed to do when I am are feeling depressed. Here’s are a few things that can send me spiralling downwards.
Watching my so called football team
Look at the news
Anything to do with Boris Johnson
Standing on a Lego piece
Listening to Roger Waters
Looking at the bank account
Watching the first 10 minutes of UP!
Looking at my face in the mirror
Now I can add something else to that list. Going on Street View…
I don’t know how but I ended up on that App, randomly looking at a street in New York. I had been searching for Science news items. But now I was in Street View. Thats when I made my first mistake. I looked up my old childhood home town. It’s a clever app as I could effectively wander the old routes I would walk when I was young. Seeing just how much had gone and just how run down it had become really made me feel even more down.
Then the next big mistake. I looked up the town we used to stay at in Switzerland. I wandered that beautiful place. At first it cheered me up. Remembering sights and sounds. But then pangs of sadness. Reminders of just how long it’s been since I was there. Then a nagging feeling. If I do ever make it back here I’m doing it as a single parent or probably on my own. Suddenly going back seemed even more unlikely.
Now I’m getting really down.
As I navigated the streets I caught sight of a building we wouldalways walk past on the way to the train station. A shop window I would always look at. It was a steep climb up that street and it would give my partner a chance to catch her breath. But now it looks like it’s gone. Turned into luxuryapartments. That made me really really sad.
A few minutes later I was stood outside in the garden. Stood alone in the darkness. Feeling really low. Yes definitely time to start avoiding Street View.
Have you ever tried to take a simple photo of a bush. A bush in Yorkshire. That’s Yorkshire where the sun might be out but it’s blowing an absolute howler of a Gale. The perfect weather for out of focus photography.
Out of focus.
To be fair that’s been me since 2016. Better recently but still not completely focused.
So many reasons for that but one thing stands out. Let’s go back to the summer of 2016. I’ve driven my partner into hospital for a short stay so they can conduct some exploratory tests. Our son in the back seat. What did we talk about. Can’t remember. I’ve tried but can’t remember. Probably talked about visiting and picking her up again on Friday. Probably about some jobs to be done. Maybe some shopping…..
When I returned on the evening she was sleeping so we never spoke.
I returned the next day. She wasn’t feeling too good and was having tests so I didn’t see her.
Friday I turned up and was taken to a separate room by the Doctor. Her condition had worsened overnight. The test results were appalling. She had at most a few weeks. She was drifting in and out of consciousness. If she woke then she would probably not be aware of who was around her.
That was it. No more conversations. We never discussed the new reality. The grim new future. The plans we had were in tatters. No new joint plans. As a result I’ve felt out of focus. Hesitant about my intentions. Trying to think about what we might have talked about and agreed if we had one more conversation. Guessing what she would have wanted. Trying to make decisions for the both of us.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to go fully with my views.Can I ever be certain what she would havewanted. It’s hard enough to work out what I’m thinking some days.So yes still probably out of focus but now it’s just through my eyes.