30th December 2017
It’s morning, sort of, although it’s quite hard to distinguish what time it is; it’s dark and wet with muted shades of grey, devoid of all colour.
I feel similarly vapid, awake amidst a sea of sleeping bodies, cats, dogs, and children.
I’m not sure what I feel, I try to feel my breath, taking it down, deep into my self; searching for peace like a homing missile.
It’s a complex time of year and the nation is in a state of come down, still in a frenzy of consumerism, eking out the last of the Christmas sales, still wanting, needing.
I try to keep my family safe from this but it’s not easy. I dip my feet into it, buy into the giving of gifts, but try to keep it real and sincere. Part of me loves Christmas; it’s a time of loving, giving, sharing, appreciating, making time for people and loved ones.
I love the sparkly lights, the frost on the trees, the clear crisp nights, the darkness. I love the spontaneous visits, endless cups of tea, but I miss my family, far away, wilting in the bright summer haze, lounging in swimming pools, seeking out shade.
Shade! I have not seen shadows for quite a few days now, and definitely no sign of them in this not quite day break.
So, we got through my daughter’s birthday yesterday, it was raining, wet and cold. I thought she had a nice day; people cared about her, sent her birthday messages, we opened presents, we went out for breakfast with our friends, we went to town, we came home, we went out for dinner.
Not a bad birthday I thought, but she was frustrated. We met up with our close family friends for dinner at Pizza Hut – her choice. I invited my older daughter’s friend along in a fit of generosity, why not, they all know each other.
In retrospect, I made a mistake and I felt awful, as everything is ‘always my fault’.
My friend’s son is thirteen, my oldest and her friend are thirteen and fourteen, my youngest had just turned twelve.
Whenever my kids meet up with friend’s son, they revert to fits of giggling, silliness and childhood reversion. They have fun, pure and simple. But with the addition of my daughter’s friend, who is lovely, they went all ‘teenager’ – out came the phones, the earphones and the grunting.
Friend’s son pulled his hoodie up, his fringe down and plugged up his ears.
My oldest and her friend played on their phone and my youngest tried futilely to engage her mate. I tried to leave them to it but really, on this brink inbetween the precipice of childhood and adulthood; they still need adult involvement, ice breaking and permission to have fun. It’s all changing and I need to be alert and responsive to these key change developments.
So, as much as I would prefer to collapse and pull my hood up, switch off and have some down time, much as I’d like to explore my journey, contemplate my horizon, climb a really high mountain, I can’t just yet. My children are getting older, more independent, bigger (than me) but not less needy, they need me more than ever.
So, feeling quite flattened, but relieved, I face another day. Relieved to have got through all these major annual events, but feeling the sole weight of responsibility, missing my husband and the sharing of these responsibilities and what should be joyful celebrations.
Another day lies ahead of seeking ways to get my youngest out of the safety and confines of the house….
It’s hard to imagine, but I know I will get there, I am seeking a way, and I am breathing, finding colours in the shadows because I know they are in there, I have seen them before and I will see them again.
6th January 2018
I want to run; I need to run, to flush my system, force air through my being. Tomorrow, I say to myself, but when tomorrow surfaces I realise that I can’t run, I can barely walk.
I take the dog for a walk and I feel a bit better, but mostly I feel shattered.
I’ve been fending off a cold for quite a few days now, I got through New Year and the following days, whilst fighting a streptococcal invasion, but it finally caught me and wrestled me to the ground. I thought I’d be grateful as it’s like an enforced stop, but I can’t manage to even relax into being unwell.
I was dreading the long drive to visit our relatives, Kevin’s brother and his wife, my children’s uncle and aunt, but I’m so glad that I did. The family link is strong, and even though I don’t know them very well, it made us feel close to Kevin and fortified the girls’ connection to their dad.
We’ve seen them more since Kevin’s death than we did during our life together. We met the various cousins (there are so many) and the girls were revelling in family and warmth and acceptance.
But then the most awful thing happened. Just over a year after their dad had passed, their favourite cousin, who they newly adored and with whom they hoped to spend many more Easters and family occasions together, was brutally murdered by her husband who subsequently took his own life.
Five beautiful children were orphaned.
There have been no more family gatherings, other than another funeral.
It’s so very tragic and Uncle and Aunt have been devastated by the loss of their daughter.
So, it was this sadness that we had to face with the visit, and also the reason that I really didn’t want to go. I was hoping that the sore throat would erupt into an excuse to cancel the trip.
But we went and I’m so glad that we did.
The girls’ basked in the adoration, the loving adult attention and familiar humour. And for Uncle and Aunt it was apparently the most relaxed they’d been all year. We are all nursing scars and gaping wounds and there is always the danger of implosion.
It’s a very hard journey.
So, contemplating 2018, a new horizon and changes brewing, I mostly feel panic and want to cry. So I do, I feel all of that and I cry and I feel bad and then I carry on.
I’ve spent most of this Winter break clearing various parts of the house. I’ve had friends rallying around, offering their time and energy and far more ordered attention spans than mine, to help me clear more of Kevin’s belongings. I’ve had to be ruthless, tough skinned and fast working. If I slow down to take notice, I become ineffectual; double weighted and can’t clear anything. There are too many things to hold on to, if not for me then for my girls. I’ve already had two viewings of the house and I know it could all suddenly move very quickly and I want to be at least marginally prepared for it. Even though I am being ruthless, it still exhausts me, emotionally and physically. And the more I clear out, the more stuff there still seems to be.
Tomorrow I have to focus on work. I’ve done as much as I can. Naturally I would have liked to do more, cleared more, sorted more, tidied more – there’s always more tidying. But there have been dogs to walk, children to motivate, celebrations to mark and life to live.
I miss Kevin deeply, from the bottom of my heart. I’m trying not to fight it and I don’t really know the best way forward. I know we need to leave this house, make a fresh start. But now that the time to move is approaching, I don’t know where to go!
But that’s another chapter.