Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A change in the weather?

Here's a post from the end of the summer holidays last year. After 6 weeks of doing very little I felt swamped by all the tasks I'd left undone.

Fast forward to this year and I feel that the days before me are a challenge, yes I've got lots to sort out, new ideas to try, decorating to do. This year I am stronger but also I feel less guilt, I don't apply so much self-imposed pressure.

I'm learning to wait and see what's around the corner insteading of rushing to fix my life and make things happen NOW!

(I've written a little poem today about that end of the hols feeling but I'm going to pop that on re-ravelling...)

However with all the changes some things forever stay the same ... the rainy summer weather!


Rainy Days (written 27th Aug 2011)

Yesterday was miserable, it rained all day and today looks like it’s going to be the same.  Summer appears to be over.

In a couple of weeks the boys will be back at school and maybe I can start to clear some of the clutter accumulated over the six week holiday.  The piles of “stuff” where I have emptied a bag or suitcase from our travels but haven’t actually put things away properly!

Then there’s the paperwork that has been mounting up needing serious attention and filing.   My brain has shut down and it’s time to start getting back into gear.

I’ve just had a few days by myself but they have not been as productive as I would have liked.  There seems to be so much to “do” - AGAIN – there’s a recurring theme here I know.  Don’t tell me to rest, I’ve kind of done that for six weeks; there are things than NEED to be done to restore some order in this chaos!

I’ve yet to discover what all the buttons “do” on the car.  Where’s Andrew when I need him to read the manual and teach me what’s what?  My workload has doubled!  

Perhaps it’s the new car that’s slightly unsettled me, it’s a big change and I still have some niggling doubts with no calm voice to allay my fears.  Actually we’d have been as bad as each other, each taking turns to offer reassurance.  It doesn’t matter how many people tell me my new car looks great, I can’t hear from the one person I need to.

It also hasn’t escaped my notice that the nights are already drawing in.  It is now dark BEFORE the lamppost comes on outside, another task - reset the timer.

I’ve never been aware before of how dark the evenings get in late August and it scares me that the year is suddenly passing quicker.

A few months ago time moved so slowly.  I remember when I wished the months would pass so I could get over things.  Now I know I never will.  My heart still aches, I still find myself crying and the passing of time hasn’t made everything easier.

Back in June I bought a new CD by “The Pierces”, I was going to use some of their lyrics in a post, “Seven months to the day since I saw your face.”  It was so apt and the timing was perfect.

Baby where’d you go?
Did you sail away over some distant ocean?
Darlin’ what we had
It cannot be taken, it cannot be stolen
And it won’t be forgotten
No it won’t be forgotten

Now suddenly we are nine months along the journey and I’ve just noticed the second verse after the chorus.

Summer disappears like a dream I had
And winter comes with a knife
That cuts you down
And it never ends, it never ends.

I don’t mean to be morbid.  Maybe I should find some happy music to listen to?

As winter draws ever nearer so does the first anniversary of Andrew death. 

Twelve weeks today.

Some people say the second year is harder when all the birthdays and special dates come round again.  They are already stacking up, Andrew’s birthday in 14 weeks; Christmas only 4 weeks after that and in between two special sons will celebrate another birthday without their dad.

I remember summers when they were little.  Once we got to September and being back at school I would start planning for Christmas.  Would Andrew be home or away and where would we spend Christmas and New Year?  I liked to be organised so other family could fall in with our definitive plans.  Mum would start asking what the boys wanted for presents.  I’d start drawing up lists and getting organised for my busy December.

Now I don’t know what to do for any of it!  Where to go or how to “celebrate”.

I hate to leave my post like this.  I always like to end on a positive note.  Today is just too dreary, damp and depressing.

Maybe if the sun shines later I will add another happier comment…

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A car for all journeys

I have just found my post from exactly 1 year ago. It was written on the day I picked up my new car.

I wrote about journeys and cars past and present, about being unique and yet being comforted by thoughts that others have travelled this tough road.

Here's a special, silly little poem in honour of the Skoda that gets me from A to B. 

Happy Birthday car!
We've travelled near and far.
Through sunny days and rain
Through tears and aching pain.
With laughter, sometimes singing
Occasionally a SHOUT!
A helper on my journey
Of that there is no doubt!

And here's last year's post.

Same But Different (written 25th Aug 2011)

“I don’t remember driving on this bit of road last time.”  I thought to myself as I set off once more along the A1.  I’d only travelled it a few weeks ago and I was certain I was going the right way.  Why did it look so different?

Then it dawned on me, last time I drove this route there had been a serious hold up here and we barely moved for an hour!  The scenery went past much slower.  Two lanes merged into three just after the junction and then the road narrowed again back into two.

Same route but a different journey.

During our last journey we had passed the time in the traffic jam with a story tape called “Seriously Weird”.  This time the story CD from the library refused to play on the car CD player and I’d already had complaints from the back despite the fact we were making better progress.

On this occasion my eventual destination was somewhere different.  I wouldn’t be turning off at the usual junction to visit my parents.  This was an adventure for me and youngest son, oldest son being away on his own holiday escapade. 

We were visiting friends and they had given me fantastic directions.  My navigator in the back, now distracted from the lack of story CD, read them out to me,  past the sign to the swimming pool, Black Horse pub on the right, over two mini roundabouts (can we really drive straight over the top?) and along the wiggly road!  The Sat Nav finally fell in line with the route we wanted to take and I amazed myself – I was driving in London!

OK this may not be a very big deal for some of you and I was only in the suburbs not the city but this was a journey I may not have even considered if Andrew was still around.  I would have chickened out and planned a time convenient for him to drive us instead.

It’s another step forward and something else to tick off on my own personal CV of achievements in the past nine months.

The word “journey” itself has been an interesting one this year.

The Sunday before Andrew died as we sat in church together I was doodling during the sermon, pretending to take notes, and it was a word that popped into my head and it started my thoughts for the Nativity play last year.  I thought about all the characters and how they each had to travel to reach Bethlehem.

Maybe God had given the word for me personally as well?

And now I have found out about “A Different Journey”, I wrote briefly about it a couple of posts ago. It is a Christian organisation working with people who have been widowed at a young age.  It has been great getting in touch with others who are on a similar path and I have booked to go on a weekend away.  It will be a chance to meet others travelling in the same direction, not the one we all expected when we set off.

I love the fact that we are on the same journey and have appreciated reading other people stories as they are a comfort.

The organiser wrote me an email and said

“Although there are similarities each person’s journey is unique in time taken to grieve and recover.”

However at the moment it is the sameness that most attracts me.  The fact that these people can understand on a deeper level because they have shared this kind of journey.

There are many times when I want to be unique and stand out in the crowd, just look at the picture of the dress I posted in the last blog, that is not the dress of a woman who wants to fade into the background and not be noticed!

But then there are times when you just want to wear jeans and a T shirt, nothing special just something comfortable.

Today, in my jeans and Tshirt, I go and pick up the new car.  Something else “different”.  Something else that Andrew hasn’t shared with me.

I was sorting out the documents to take to the garage and found the receipts for both our current car and the previous family car we bought together.  I looked at how much we had spent before and satisfied myself that I had made a sensible purchase price wise this time, Andrew would be smiling.  But then I always imagine him smiling down at me with each new step forward I take.

(I have a photo of "happy" Andrew by my laptop and that’s the face I always see giving me courage to carry on despite the tears. A few are inevitably falling as I type...)

Our current car was imported it, a cheaper viable option at the time.  When it was delivered Andrew was away.

“What do I do when it arrives?”  I was flustered.

“Just look round it and make sure it looks OK.  You’ll be fine.”

I knew he really wanted to be there to take delivery but he trusted me to do this on my own.

When the car arrived neither me and nor the delivery truck driver could find the CD player but that was the only "problem".  It said CD on the radio so the man left reasoning it must be somewhere in the car.  It was eventually found underneath the front passenger seat.

So I was the first person to drive our car and I will be the last, at least while I own it.

From now on I whatever journeys I make will be different even if they follow a familiar route.

And Andrew is still there smiling, trusting me to do the right thing without him here.

Some things are different but some will forever be the same.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

still walking that hard path but looking back the view is astounding!

Here's a post I wrote about a year ago. It was the middle of the summer holidays, I was distraught and unable to cope. It wasn't an unusual feeling, holidays have often been tough, routine goes out of the window and there is no breathing space bewteen the hours of 9 and 3 when the boys are at school.

I was reflecting on these feelings yesterday while I sat at my counselling session. After a couple of abortive attempts at therapy I have finally found the most wonderful woman to talk to. It doesn't come cheap but as the saying goes you get what you pay for!

This summer I am calmer, more at peace with myself and with the world. Some of my anger has been spent and oh so many tears have been wrung out of me but I have evenually come to a place where I am ready to get up, dust myself down and continue.

The road hasn't changed, it's tough, full of grit and another word that rhymes with it! There are still 3 of us living in the same big old house and things are pretty much the same as they were twelve months ago.

But I have grown - stronger, resilient, more patient, more forgiving of myself. I have gained a perspective that only comes through time and circumstance.

Grief is such a long and winding road but I am glad of my blog, it gives me a chance to look back over the road I've travelled and marvel at the distance I've come so far...the view is astounding!

When the going gets tough…. ( written 15th Aug 2011)

Saturday -   I went into meltdown.   This new life is too hard. Sunday -   I stamped my feet again and declared, “I can’t do this anym...

Saturday, 4 August 2012


It's just over a year since we picked up Andrew's ashes from the undertakers.

Here's the poem I wrote about them.

All That Remains

Picked up ashes
They run like sand through my fingers,
Dark sand
Like the shores of Tahiti.

Volcanic black remains
A place where our story began
Love and tenderness intermingled.

White bone,
Black ash,
And specks of golden wood.

Weighing as much as our babies
But heavier by far,
The weight of the world
Encompassed in a shoe box.

The depth of our love
To be blown on the wind.

We stopped in Tahiti on our way to New Zealand for our honeymoon. It was the one place I always wanted us to return to when the boys had flown the nest. The beaches are made of black sand and I was reminded of them as I stared at the ashes before me.

Our dreams were gone and this was all that was left.

If you click here you can read about the day we scattered them which typically didn't go to plan...