Sunday, 27 November 2011

What I wanted to say

Today would have been Andrew’s 50th birthday.

Today this blog has been up and running for a year – well technically my first post was made on 28th November but I wrote it the day before.

Last night we had a party to celebrate Andrew’s life and to thank the friends and family who have supported us this year.  It was a lovely occasion but I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked as I have been over tired of late.  I am full of cold, finding it difficult to breathe and waking up every couple of hours in the night.  

There were things I wanted to say but because of exhaustion I fear I said everything wrong.  In my head at 5 a.m. it all made perfect sense.  I’d start by sharing memories and speaking about my grief, add some words of thanks and finally a poem to raise a smile before a toast.  All sorted.

Writing this blog has been a great way for me to assimilate my thoughts.  I can type and delete as necessary.  Cut and paste and form the sentences in a considered manner to convey my emotions and in the process make sure what I write is what I mean to say.  Therefore there is less chance my comments will be misconstrued.

I should have written out a plan last night but decided to improvise as I was amongst my closest friends.  At the funeral it had all been so easy to stand up and talk about Andrew, my words prepared in black and white in front of me.   It stopped me getting nervous, emotional and overawed by the occasion. 

Last night I fell apart and felt a wreck.  I didn’t explain things as I wanted and it left me feeling wretched.

I wish I’d have said how wonderful Andrew was, a good provider and a great father.  I should have mentioned how much he made me smile, how safe I felt in his arms.  I wanted to say how much I missed him and tell of that special relationship we shared.

As I looked around at all my friends each one married I wanted to remind them how lucky they were.  How each other was worth holding onto despite the daily disagreements and disappointments of married life.  How often I yearn for someone special to hold my hand.  How much I wish I had someone to reveal my deepest thoughts to.  How lonely it is when the whole is ripped apart.

The truth is they know how I feel and are aware of what they’ve got.  We are blessed to share each other’s lives.

I wanted to end my speech on a happy note, a poem to look to the future and express my thanks to my friends but the tone was somehow wrong and I don’t intend to repeat it here.

Pulling myself together I finally finished with a story.  I’ve written so much in this last year that I couldn’t say if I have told it before but here goes anyway.  I was reminded of it because my nephew played his saxophone, the same piece of music as he played at his uncle’s funeral.

When Andrew and I went on our honeymoon we went all the way to New Zealand to visit my aunt and uncle who emigrated when I was five.  On our way home we stopped in Singapore.  All our excursions were pre-booked including a harbour cruise one evening.

We got down to the jetty and there in front of us was the most amazing vessel all decked out in fairy lights.

We didn’t have the right tickets for this floating fairytale and a little was further along was a much smaller and less impressive looking junk.  They were pleased to welcome us aboard.  To start with we were a little dubious but decided to make the most of things and put it down to experience.

I’ve written on “re-ravelling” about first impressions and how they “count” but sometimes even the best of theories can be turned upside-down.   Often it is not until much later you realise that what you considered important really wasn’t and that which you carelessly disregarded was the real gem.

That evening was one of the most romantic of our married life.  The boat wasn’t overcrowded, the staff were attentive and the food delicious.  We suddenly felt sorry for the people on the boat that was all show.  This was a far more authentic and less touristy experience.  The background music was Kenny G, mellow and haunting; it always transports me back to that balmy evening.

My nephew playing the saxophone reminded me clearly of that special time, a special man and the wonderful life we shared together.

Happy 50th Birthday Andrew - to you from me xxx

Monday, 21 November 2011

re-ravelling, unravelling and trying not to knit too quick

Now I have two blogs on the go I am always flitting between the two. 

Re-ravelling for those short quirky posts of making sense of my new life and putting the pieces back together.   

Unravelling-edges for the days when I come a bit undone and feel more reflective.

Well you can see from the top of the page where this is placed, it is perhaps an indicator of my current mood.

As is always the case those potentially difficult days you plan for are the ones that pass smoothly and it’s the odd days in between which trip you up.

The anniversary of Andrew’s death passed by peacefully; as I wrote last time I was surrounded by love and only shed a few tears.  However now my parents have gone home and it’s once more just the three of us the emotions have kicked in with a vengeance.
What undid me yesterday was a cuddle with oldest son.  It was about 9 a.m. and we were all still in our pyjamas but he had Andrew’s old dressing gown over the top.  I wore it myself for the first few weeks but then bequeathed it to oldest son and I love to see him in it.  Snuggling back into the soft towelling when I was already feeling sorry for myself, well I won’t say it was a bad idea but all the heartache came flooding back.  Especially as oldest son’s shoulder is about the same height as his dad’s and my head rested perfectly.

I had to let him go. Then I went and curled up sobbing in a heap on the bathroom floor.

I have been so busy recently and am absolutely exhausted.  This is already a busy time of year.  We have three birthdays to get through before Christmas!

Andrew would have been 50 next Sunday.  I’ve planned a party and am now so glad a lot of friends can’t make it, does that sound awful?  It means I don’t have to go to so much trouble and it takes away a lot of self-imposed pressure to host a perfect party.

When Andrew was 45 we had a “bring a 45 party”.  Once again not many people came and actually that’s just how he liked it.  He was never one to like a fuss whereas I always wanted a surprise and was always disappointed and let down by the lack of Andrew’s imagination.

I’m really not getting stressed but I have so many other plans for the week too and wonder where I will find the time to fit everything in.

That is the real problem.  I have to effectively knit quicker, to use a craft analogy that fits my title.

I am not a proficient knitter but very slow and steady, having to repeat the mantra “in, round, through and off” with nearly every stitch!  Consequently my knitting is generally neat, but teach me a new stitch and it goes haywire. And I can get muddled if I try and go a bit quicker or pay too much attention to the TV at the same time – how do people knit without looking and natter and keep abreast with the goings on in Coronation Street?

Sewing is a skill I am much better at.  However sometimes I can be too cocky and heavy footed with the sewing machine pedal and then what happens?  I make mistakes and have to unpick the whole blinking lot and it takes three times as long.

This is my unravelling at the moment.  Going too quick and not taking my time.  Filling my days with long “to do” lists and unrealistic targets.

Is it better to keep busy?  It only keeps the pain at bay so long.

Yesterday I unravelled the furthest I have for a long time, but then after the anniversary I think it was overdue and bound to happen.

I spent the day doing the things I wanted, a couple of loads of washing out of necessity but otherwise I chilled out and although I made it to church I never even got inside the front door, it was just too much effort.

Some days you just have to take one step or stich at a time and recognise that each one is a huge achievement.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Remembrance Day

We’ve made it through the first year.

Last weekend on the anniversary we were surrounded by love and I was rarely on my own.  

On Saturday we took a drive to the spot where we had scattered Andrew’s ashes in the summer.  Mum and Dad have been staying and they came with us.

As I drove along the sun was low in the sky, that winter sun barely hanging above the ever darkening horizon.  With the twists and turns of the road I kept flicking the visor up and down to improve visibility.  One minute bright sunlight was shining directly into my eyes, the next the landscape was overcast, cloudy and grey.  A metaphor for our year with its highs and lows.

I’m getting far more confident now at driving somewhere new or different.  I didn’t get phased by the narrow roads and now have the route indelibly etched in my brain.  It amuses me that Andrew often took the wrong turn on this journey, despite him knowing this part of the world far better than me and it being one of his favourite places to visit.  It makes me smile to realise how self-assured I’ve grown and I like to think he is smiling down at me with pride too.

When we stopped the car we all wandered about looking at the view.  We each had a private moment and some minutes of solitude and silence.

I spied a cairn and carefully placed on top was a remembrance poppy on a small wooden cross.  On closer inspection there was a name on the cross and the initials R.A.F. written in pencil beneath.  On top of the mound of stones was a small heap of tell-tale ash.  

As I walked around the beautiful location there were more grey sprinklings. This was the final resting place of more than one soul.  This was somewhere loved by lots of people and many much loved people had been laid to rest here.  I was comforted that Andrew had not been abandoned all alone, although I had to laugh thinking that he didn’t have the complete peace and solitude he might have craved.

I took my camera with me hoping to take a photo of the view but as it was getting dark the visibility wasn’t so great, but better than last time when it was so spooky.  (Read about the day we scattered the ashes here)

The photo I took was of the sun as it descended.  It flirted with a low cloud and I took this great shot of the silver lining.

As ever there are song lyrics that fit my mood, my current favourite Lady Antebellum put my feelings into word or at least sing over me the soothing lyrics I need to hear.

Down the road the sun is shining
In every cloud there’s a silver lining
Just keep holding on
Every heartache makes you stronger
But it won’t be much longer
You’ll find love
You’ll find peace
And the you you’re meant to be
I know right now that’s not the way you feel
But one day you will
Find the strength to rise above
You will
Find out what you’re made of

One Day You Will

I am reminded too of one of my favourite Bible verses  - Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love.
He will rejoice over you with singing

Who says the Lady Antebellum lyrics above are not the very words God sings to me?  And I believe he sent the silver lining too!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Something new has begun

There are still a few loose ends to finish here but why not come and share the next stage of my journey in my new blog "re-ravelling". 

How I am creating something new from the unravelled pieces left behind.

Behold I am creating something new.
There it is!  Do you see it?
I have put roads in the deserts,
streams in thirsty lands.

Isaiah 43 v 19

To those who think Isaiah is full of doom and gloom, he did have some happy thoughts and so do I!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

When there are no words

We have reached that “time of year”.   

I think it shall always be called that now, in hushed reverential tones with a knowing look.  An unsettling time of remembering exactly what we were doing this time in November 2010.

Ushered in by the first falling of leaves to the explosions of fireworks on the fifth and building to a crescendo by Remembrance Sunday – how fitting.

Last year’s bonfire night was spent with friends in the garden.  It was something we had done quite often over the years with various groups of people that will never be the norm again.  Andrew wandering around the house beforehand cursing the fact he can’t find a torch that works then finally striding off in his big work coat, box of fireworks in one hand and loose matches jangling in his pocket where they had fallen free. 
It’s strange what sticks in your head but I’ll always remember that rattle of matches.  It makes me smile to think of all the fires he lit, the one that very nearly got out of hand and burnt the garden fence.  It was my turn to tease him for a change!

This year we spent November 5th with the same group of friends as last year.  Although there are some welcome new additions.  Two more families have joined our group and Andrew would have enjoyed the banter and repartee after the fireworks.

It’s so good to laugh and take pleasure from the happy times together.

Now of course we are heading for another weekend and the first anniversary of Andrew’s death.  Most of the time I am quite calm and philosophical about it.  In some ways isn’t it just another day?  I could never understand all this fuss about NOT making big decisions in the first year.  The sharp intake of breath when I announced I had put the house on the market six months in.  As it is we are still here – crisis averted.  But I have had a few wobbles of late.

Last night I was talking to youngest son as I tucked him into bed.  We’d had a minor falling out earlier in the evening.  He wouldn’t do as he was told, I crumpled and the enormity of the task of bringing up two boys on my own hit hard made worse by lack of sleep and waking every morning at six since we changed the clocks.

By bedtime we were on a more even footing and I was trying to reason with him.

“Grandma and Grandad are coming on Friday.”

“Why do we have to have the bossy people staying?”

He has his dad’s way of seeing the world, being blunt and forthright, some might say rude.  Although he loves his grandparents deeply they do tend to be stricter than me and won’t let him get away with so much, especially now when they know how tired and frustrated I can get.  I am sure it probably should be the other way round.  It takes a lot of energy to set boundaries and keep discipline going on your own.

“I need my Mum and Dad here to help me.”

His next comment cut to the core.

“That’s not fair.  I don’t have a Dad anymore.”

What could I say?

He cried softly as he clung to me and I offered him my bed to sleep in beside me but he refused and finally, reluctanly let me go.

It is so unfair that my Dad is here and his is gone.  I don’t know what I’ll do when one day I lose my own father.  Our relationship has grown this year as I have become more reliant on him and lapsed back into being his little girl.  A father’s love and comfort is irreplaceable.

Youngest son is still such a little boy and it makes me cry to think of all the things he will miss out on as he grows up.

This "time of year" is difficult for not just me but all of us.  We have all lost so much and this is our time to remember.

Sometimes there are no words.  If I can find none to say to my own son then maybe you can’t find them either.

I have to tell you that just knowing someone is out there and they care is all I need; I hope and pray that works for the boys too.   

A smile, a hug, a knowing look could be enough to help us through this “time of year”.