Saturday, 25 February 2012

Hard Habit to Break

It’s been a while since a set of song lyrics resonated with where I am at the moment and how I am feeling.

Wednesday teatime I had the radio on and Simon Mayo was playing songs related to the theme of lent and giving up.  I voted for KC and the Sunshine Band, which he played but he never read out my name.

Then he played Hard Habit to Break by Chicago.

I guess I thought you'd be here forever
Another illusion I chose to create
You don't know what you got until it's gone
And I found out just a little too late

I was acting as if you were lucky to have me
Doing you a favour I hardly knew you were there
But then you were gone and it all was wrong
Had no idea how much I cared

Now being without you
Takes a lot of getting used to
Should learn to live with it
But I don't want to

Being without you
Is all a big mistake
Instead of getting easier
It's the hardest thing to take
I'm addicted to you baby
You're a hard habit to break

I remember hearing this song as a teenager, I have the 45 in my record collection so I knew all the words to sing along, but never have those words of loss meant so much or cut so deep.

Life is still so hard and my loss is not always getting easier to bear.

I don’t want to be here on my own.

Andrew still is my reference point, what would he think, say or do. Detaching my own identity is painful. You can read all about my hair dilemmas over on re-ravelling.

Did I find out too late what Andrew meant to me? Did I really not love him or care enough for him when he was here? These days I usually manage to push the pointless guilt away but hearing these lyrics makes me stop and wonder afresh.

And then someone posted this on their Facebook Page.

People say you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
Truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you'd lose it.

Maybe that’s a much better way of phrasing it.

A habit is a custom, a routine, an addiction, a dependency.

In a lot of ways Andrew is still here in the two sons he left behind, each of them so similar to their dad, sometimes it is scary how alike they are. Yet they are both so different from each other! 

I don’t need to learn to live WITHOUT Andrew but how to live WITH our sons and our memories. It’s easy to get caught up in my own world of grief; the boys appear to be so self-sufficient. Sometimes I feel there is still a mountain to climb.

And I am churning up the water again as I start to piece together a manuscript to turn “unravelling-edges” into a book.

It’s going to be an interesting few months as I sift through those recollections and sort them into some kind of cohesive order – I may end up back here at unravelling more often as I pick at loose threads remembering those very difficult and painful early days.

Perhaps it will serve as a reminder of how far I have travelled and I can gradually change my habits to suit my new season.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


I thought it was worth re-posting something I added a year ago especially for Valentine's Day. Especially for those who have loved and lost. And those who look on with a little bit of envy at the cards sent to others.

It's all too easy to have a "bah humbug!" attitude to Valentine's if you are all alone...

More thoughts to follow over at re-ravelling, I'm heading off there now to write you something fresh and new...with lots of love xxx 



An interesting question (originally posted February 15th 2011)

I was asked the other day if it bothered me seeing other couples together.

It’s an interesting question particularly as yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

Andrew obviously had very little time for the patron saint of all things romantic.  It was just another money making venture for florists and card shops – in his humble opinion!

But back to the question – does it make me jealous or sad or angry to see other people happy?  To see couples holding hands or sharing a private joke?

Not at all – it actually makes me smile.

It helps me to recall the good times we had.  All the happy memories flood back as I remember when….

We usually did hold hands walking down the street.

When we started going out we would let go if we spotted someone we knew.  We had a code word - “Ruth!” (Ruth was Andrew’s mum’s neighbour.)  At the mention of her name we would drop hands quickly.  

As time went on I wouldn’t let go no matter how many times Andrew would mutter “Ruth!” under his breath!  I didn’t want it to be a secret that I was falling in love with him.  We got engaged, got married and the rest, as they say, is history… Andrew’s ambition was to still hold hands walking down the street when we were old and grey.

I love to see couples together enjoying each other’s company.   

I’m glad when a friend talks about her husband and I can see her face light up and her eyes begin to sparkle.  

Let’s face it girls, there are many, many times when we get together and moan about our husbands and I’m sure they have one or two not-so-kind words to say about us occasionally!  

How much better it is to know your friends are contented and in love.   That despite all the day to day problems deep down there is real love.

As you can expect I had several emails and messages after Andrew died.  Lots of people remembered special things about him.  The ones I like best spoke of “us” and our relationship.

I remember Andrew standing in the middle of his huge train set at the top of the house and being in his absolute elements; whilst you smiled at the side to see him so happy.

I always remember that with Andy the moment he spoke of yourself and the Boys he drifted into a very calm wonderful world for himself as if he was suddenly transported home to you.

Andrew spoke so loving and committed about you and the children, what life threw at you both you always managed to deal with and I know Andrew struggled with this at times, but you were his rock and I know how devoted he was to you. There is one thing I can honestly say about your relationship, you had something special that others can only envy, and that is something no-one could damage.

For all the difficulties a marriage can bring I am so glad that friends remember us at our best.  That they witnessed our love for each other in the simple things, the smiles and laughter and seeing us hold hands.

When I was shopping at the weekend and trying some clothes on, there was another woman opposite peering out from behind a curtain looking for her husband.

She wanted his opinion of the dress she had tried on but typically he had disappeared from the shop.

I knew that feeling all too well and remarked to the friend I was with that at least I’d never again be standing in a fitting room looking for Andrew above a sea of heads and clothes racks, desperate for his attention – how dare he wander off!

The woman said she would ring her husband – whatever did we do before mobile phones?

I said I’d love to be able to ring my husband to ask for advice but that he had died thirteen weeks ago.

I wasn’t looking for sympathy.  Maybe I shouldn’t have said it but after expressing her condolences the woman added, 

                       “I’ll be a bit nicer when I ring him now.”

My hope and prayer is that because of everything I’ve been through my friends will appreciate what they’ve got and “be a bit nicer”.  I don’t mind them whinging about their husbands.   Marriage is never easy, it takes a lot of work.  I’ve been there and got the Tshirt!

But what I like best of all is to see other couples enjoying being together.

Because once upon a time, not all of the time, sometimes even for the briefest of moments I lived in that fairytale when all was right with the world

          and I was truly blessed 

            to be deeply loved.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Still Learning...

A year ago I wrote this poem. Three months into my journey and I was only just beginning to realise what the term "grieving" actually meant. It took a while to sink in that Andrew was gone forever. My days were so full and busy as I tried to hold everything together.

Now I forgive myself more readily for the things I haven't done and can go with the flow more easily. I have days where I actually achieve very little but that's OK. 

Moments of sadness come and they go, although they now tend to pass more quickly. I have gone two days without taking my anti-depressants and I can cope. Three days without them and they will be out of my system, according to the GP, and I will be a person not on any medication!

I continue to wear my wedding ring all the time, I haven't quite reached the point where I want to take it off yet. I am still the "single wife" of the poem, married and yet free. 

I am still learning but hope I can pass on the wisdom I have acquired and support the next unfortunate person who has to tread this path. Because there will always be those who follow and have to learn for themselves what it really means to grieve.


Learning to Grieve

No one gives you lessons
On "how to live your life"
How to cope with loss
When you become a single wife

No one has the answers
To mend a broken heart
There’s no secret knitting pattern
To stitch what’s torn apart

No one knows the depth
Of sorrow you can reach
It’s not a subject that you learn
Or something you can teach

No one else remembers now
All the memories that you hold
Those hushed night-time whisperings
Shared treasures of pure gold

No one truly understands
The guilt that still remains
The hurtful words and silences
You can’t take away their pain

No one ever tells you
That "all in life is fair"
Grief is mine and grief is yours
And some parts we can’t share

No one said it would be easy
That would be a mortal lie
Some moments there are laughter
Then all you can do is cry

No one can ever make this stop
By a kind word of phrase
A bit of comfort here and there
Will get you through these days

No one could give you lessons
On how to grieve a life
With baby steps you’ll learn your way
To be a single wife

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Another bump in the road

I've just found what I wrote a year ago (pre-birthday blues) - it is so depressing, I really hate the first few days of February when I'm waiting with dread for my birthday to arrive.

I was so ANGRY then but I don't think I realised at the time. It's only now reading back over old posts that I can see it so clearly.

I don't feel in a much better place now, I've been fighting with the boys over homework and tidying up.

"You're not the tidiest person." retorted oldest son and it is so true.

There are many untidy corners in this house and still I am here typing, unsure if I will ever let you read it.

I share so much and maybe I give away more than I intend.

Do you see through me? How thin is my veneer of bravado?
Being a single parent is the toughest job I've ever had and having 2 children pulling in different directions leaves me frazzled.

Andrew never wanted more than two, "one for each hand," he said.

Or one each to pacify if there are two of you.

This is when I miss him most.  This is when I need another grown up point of view. Two against one just isn't fair!

We are all tired tonight, we've had some late nights recently, youngest son slipping into my bed and then chatting to big brother when he passes through the bedroom for his shower.  I love to hear them, hoping they will always be there for each other, always close.

Not this evening, too many recriminations and arguments over who could sit at the kitchen table to do their homework. So it's an early night all round - tomorrow is another day, hopefully a brighter one with a lot more laughter and a lot less tears.

Just another blip, another bump in the road that is family life. Every family is the same however the set up, it is never easy but ultimately so rewarding.