Over the weekend I was watching some people paragliding over the cliffs near where we live. There were four gliders altogether, soaring and spiralling on the air currents. I’ve always watched with fascination. I would love to have a go, to drift weightless and watch the world go by.
I’ve been in a glider before. We got the chance to have a go once with some of Andrew’s colleagues. They started a social club at work called the “Over the Top” club and even got money from the company to pursue their daredevil ambitions!
They went white water rafting, paintballing, karting and gliding.
I have a photo of Andrew sitting in the glider; he was so happy that day and overjoyed at the thrill of piloting a real flying machine, instead of sitting playing flight simulator on the computer!
When it came to my turn I was happy to sit back and watch the view. I didn’t want to touch any controls I was content to trust the pilot. It was peaceful up there and I loved floating in silence!
When you are up in the sky all the problems down below get smaller and smaller until they almost disappear.
Time sometimes works in much the same way. The further away you get from an event the more it can diminish.
There was a time when I could tell you exactly how long ago Andrew died. Now all I know is it was about 15 weeks ago. It may have been exactly 15 weeks last Saturday but I’m no longer counting them religiously. Even if “15 weeks” seems a very specific number, I’ve just always been good with numbers!
I used to know if he would have been home or away on his rota. Now the rota for 2011 has been thrown away. It doesn’t matter because now he is not here all the time. My life is no longer shaped by his shift patterns.
In the early days I would wear Andrew’s clothes. Sometimes I would even sleep in his jumper. Now his clothes are folded away and some have even been given away. Today I’ve bagged up even more and I’m ready to give them away too.
The other day I decided for the first time to wear my own watch and not Andrew’s. I didn’t want to wear a black watch but my white one. Now I am free to choose whichever to match my outfit.
I’m slowly letting go and “moving on”.
Andrew always used the expression “moving on” when I wanted to talk about something and he didn’t want to discuss it.
“Andrew - you need a haircut.”
It was said in good humour, never with any malice. If friends talked about buying flowers or gift s for their wives…
“Andrew you could buy my flowers,” I’d simper sweetly,
deliberately provoking a response.
“Moving on!” He’d conclude with a cheeky grin.
I’m beginning to let go. My fingers are no longer clenched so tightly to the past. My grip is loosening.
I was telling a fellow widow that I had booked our holiday this year.
“That’s good. You are no longer living a minute at a time.”
I hadn’t realised until her comment how far I’d come. I’m planning for a future. My future and the boys’ future. I have new dreams and ideas for us as a family of three and plans for me on my own!
Obviously it is still early days, as people keep reminding me, and there are some things I’m not ready to give up yet.
I still wear Andrew’s wedding ring on a chain round my neck but one day I will choose to wear a different necklace.
Andrew’s profile still survives on Facebook. I’m not ready to delete it and change my status from "married" to “widow”. Although on the census form that’s exactly what I will have to put. Then the other day I had a form to fill in from school from my eldest son and I had to put “I” will be attending parents evening and cross out the usual “we”.
I’d like to change the message on the answer phone but my youngest son doesn’t want to lose his dad’s voice at the touch of a button and I have to respect that for now too. This grief is not just mine.
But with each bag of “stuff” I give away I take another step forward. With each decision I make on my own I create our new life.
It’s like the paragliders I saw the other day. They wouldn’t be able to leave the ground if they were carrying too much weight or were tied down. Letting go means you lift higher. However scary that process may be.
We listened to a song at Andrew’s funeral called “Everlasting God” by a Christian band called Y Friday. The words of the song are taken from Isaiah chapter 40.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no-one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”
I want to soar like an eagle.
I want to dream of a future that’s filled with hope and laughter.
I want to feel whole again and not torn in two.
The other day I wrote in my diary that I want to be able to turn over several pages at once and be several months from here where the pain has subsided.
In reality I know I have to go through this to grow strong.
But just like being up in a glider I want to be able to look back down and see where I have come from and remember the happy times from the past. They have made me what I am today.
My diary and my blog are evidence of my journey. My journey of “moving on”.