He shall not grow old…

So today, which is now yesterday, would have been Matt’s 49th birthday. Another first has come and gone, and I have used every tool at my disposal, and then some, ill advised or otherwise, to get through it. It wasn’t easy.

The first two thirds of the day were basically pretty hideous, as I sat on my own outside for hours and hours on my shaded seat looking out at the sun, and counted the minutes by, and basically kept as busy as possible doing nothing of any importance, as long as it kept my mind focussed elsewhere. Which wasn’t that successful, considering the breakthrough episodes of crying that would just hit me when my thoughts stopped skirting around the issue and accidentally bumped into it head on instead. And those episodes would kind of scare me because I wasn’t sure that having started I’d be able to stop and I knew I had a long day to get through, and I didn’t know if I could make it feeling like that. But I guess I did. Here I am. And as the day passed, thanks to Facebook amongst other things, I’ve had some lovely messages from friends and family, and also directly in reply from Matt’s kids, who I contacted because I wanted them to know I was thinking of them all today. Well, we all knew what day it was, even if most of the world did not. How could we not? When someone is alive, it’s quite easy to get busy, and distracted, and to forget someone’s birthday…but once they’re gone? That date suddenly shines like a beacon, and you can see the fateful day coming from weeks away. And man, once you get there, the pain… Grief hurts SO much; it curls you into a ball around yourself because it hurts so much, it leaves you literally unable to stand up straight. Every first, especially this one, rips the scab off again. And it’s not like there’s been much scab lately anyway, more of an raw open weeping wound… Once again I have not been coping well, and I’ve ended up in some, now sadly familiar, very dark places several times. I know I need to find some additional help somehow, somewhere, whilst not really believing that there’s anything that can help, so what’s the point?

If the whole day had been like that, then… But it wasn’t so let’s not go there. The final third of the day was improved by Austin bringing Tash home from uni. Obviously I knew this was happening, so I knew there was something at the end of the day to look forward to. I knew I couldn’t just take to my bed and hide there until it had gone away. And it helped to know I wasn’t going to be without support all day, which I usually am. Duly home they came, and the three musketeers are finally back together, it’s us against the world again, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have Tash home again, having not seen her since January. We got take out, we drank fizz, we toasted Matt, we toasted Tash’s return, and we watched films, and we were together. And if I cried, nobody minded, it’s not like they weren’t expecting it after all.

But…

Every year since I met Matt, we have celebrated his birthday together. And to be celebrating what should have been his birthday without him? Well it’s neither a celebration, nor a birthday is it? It’s just a day when the dark cloud over you feels that much more oppressive, and the loss feels more acute again, because his absence is brought glaringly and sharply into focus. It’s another “should have been”.

I can’t believe he’s not here to be 49. That he’ll never be 50. That he’ll never age. To paraphrase; “He shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old”. And then there’s the fact that one day I will be older than he ever was. Than he ever got to be. It’s just wrong. I still can’t believe he’s gone, and I just can’t get my head around the unfairness of it, the waste, the loss… I don’t think the human brain is actually capable of properly comprehending it. It’s just too big, too much. I do know that however life moves on, a part of me will always love him. Right now, that part is still all of the me that’s left around the massive gaping hole he’s left in me.

Two years ago I had these made for us for his birthday. Two separate pieces of a puzzle that just fitted together perfectly, because that’s what we both always said, what amazed us both – how we just fitted. He loved them, and he wore his pretty much all the time, and I wore mine much the same. These days I wear them for both of us but they are now separated, bizarrely yet oddly appropriately, by the last gift he bought for me on our last beach break away together. We may not have had that wedding, and said the things we wanted to say, but sadly we were together until death did us part. And there death sits now, separating us one from the other. Maybe one day, someway, somehow we’ll get to fit again, when my turn comes. In the meantime I wear them, and feel just a little bit closer to him, and I’ll take that any day of the week.

I couldn’t get to a beach today, and I couldn’t face climbing the long road up the hill on my own yet again. I just didn’t have it in me. I’m drained and exhausted and weak at the moment. But I did make it to the res with Kevin, in socially distanced fashion, and we raised a glass (well ok, a can) to him there instead, one of many that have been raised today. Matt would most definitely have approved.

And so here we are. The day loomed, arrived, hurt like f*ck, and is now done. Another first has been marked for him, without him. There will be more, but this one was probably amongst the worst. It’ll take me a couple of days to recover, put the pieces back together. But I made it through. I just have to keep doing that, one day at a time.

Just in case you were in any doubt, I love you, my eternally young, beautiful, birthday boy. This one’s for you. Happy Birthday wherever you are {{{hugs}}} xx.

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long,
and you burned so very, very brightly.”

💔

Boundaries

So. I’ve had a particularly bad patch which, in retrospect was probably at least slightly hormone related, not that that helps any at the time. It was the lowest I’ve been in quite a while, though all these things are relative. These days it’s all just shades of low.

But for the last couple of days I’ve been somewhere in a half nearly OK place. I had another numb contained day. I have seen my friend, in acceptably sociable fashion, and celebrated her birthday with her. I’ve done some work. I’ve sat in the garden. All within strict guidelines, within boundaries. It’s like I’m living in a box. I’ve been in that box, that exclusion zone, where I exclude the outside world and the past and the future and what isn’t and what will never be. I’ve focussed on being in there. I have batted away thoughts and memories and flashbacks. And I have kept the demons at bay, whilst being all too aware that they’re still there, just being glad not to be as down as I had been. But as long as the walls stay up…

Today we went over to my folks; Dad needed his new phone set up, and probably also some company, and so we went, and did what needed to be done, which comes as second nature to you and me, with our 21st century many and multi-phone experience, but not to him. We caught up, kept distanced, had some great food. And the phone is pretty much sorted now – next step new apps. I’ll pop in in the next few days, when he’s had time to play with it a bit, and we’ll add things, and open up his phone world a little more.

Mum was there and yet not there at the same time. She says less and less, and wanders around aimlessly more and more. She’s somehow more absent and more vacant; and I can’t explain why those two things are different but they are. I also think she thinks she’s being held against her will in somewhere that isn’t her home, by strangers, and some of it’s like a prisoner not communicating with her gaoler(s), like she’s biding her time until she can escape somewhere somehow. There’s the odd cutting comment… Her meds have taken the edge off; she hasn’t actually tried to escape lately but…so the doors remain locked, the keys remain out of sight/reach. Sadly the truth is that she’s actually at her home, with Dad, to whom she’s been married for over 50 years, surrounded today by family, her things, the cats… It’s heartbreaking.

And I’m sorting the phone, and chatting, and getting on with it, and coping…until I can get in the car and let Austin drive me home, and then cry because the one person who got me, who got my Mum because he’d been through it, isn’t going to give me a hug and make me feel better and isn’t going to tell me it’s going to get better, because it’s not and he knew that. And the outside leaked into my box…and I remembered just how much I miss Matt and wish he was here, and how am I going to cope with the future without him and his support, and with the kids growing up and spreading their wings, and there being just me? And then I’m looking down a rabbit hole, and it’s time to put me back in the box. Or at least go to sleep and try again tomorrow.

Graphical grief

Here. Have a picture. I wish I was allowed to use those scissors to cut that string…but I’m not.

Things seem to be getting worse day by day. I am back to crying at the drop of a hat, and like, ALL the time. Every day is the same. Yes, I’m no doubt feeling sorry for myself, and throwing a pity party, or whatever, but you know what, from where I’m sitting, inside my four walls, and inside my head, I am finding getting through each day harder, and harder, and harder.

Every morning I wake up, and get hit around the head with it all again. Yet again it hasn’t gone away. Yet again I’m not feeling any better. The massive weight that is absent, mostly, in my dreams, settles back down like a blanket over me again. Getting through the day is like walking across sinking sand, or through treacle, and the time passes so slowly and yet I get nothing done. I sit in the same place, doing the same things. And it’s shit.

Looking objectively at it, I know I should be happy. The sun is shining, it’s warm, the view is nice, the seat swings, the cats are around. I should be happy, and grateful for what I do have, and there are many people far worse off than me. I know that. And I try. I do. I try to be mindful and focus on that, and…yeah…no, it’s just not happening. I am not happy. I can’t make myself be something I’m not. And what I am is miserable, and lonely, and bored, and depressed. Broken and heart broken. Getting out of bed each day is getting harder and harder because, you know, pointless, and it kinda goes downhill from there until I finally get to bed, tired, drained & emotional, cry myself to sleep again, and then escape into my dreams, and then…repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I know I’ve said all this before. I’m pretty sure I’ll say it all again. Because it’s not going away, now is it? But hey, I drew a picture, that’s something new, right?

9 months

Nine months.
I sit and look at those two words and I just don’t know what to say anymore.

Nine months.
And yeah, it’s not like it was to start with, but it sure as f*ck ain’t a whole heap better. I guess I thought it would be by now. But guess what? It’s not.

Nine months.
Once upon a time, back in those blissful ignorant days, if I’d met someone like me, I’d be wondering why they weren’t moving on, were still unhappy, still broken… And now I know why. And it’s not something you can unknow. I get it now. Man, do I get it now.

Nine months.
Matt and I were never going to have kids, didn’t want to, and you know, *snip*. But there’s been a little bit of me that wishes that some kind of weird miracle could have happened, even though I’ve always known it hasn’t, but even so somehow I’d have been left with a little person to raise from the ashes. A little mix of me and him. Something for me to focus on, to be kept busy by. Someone to love me, someone for me to give the love I have for him that now has nowhere to go. Nope. Not happening. Probably just as well, bearing in mind my inability to cope with me, let alone anyone else, right now.

Nine months.
How did that happen? I do nothing and the world still turns. As my daughter points out, that’s three times three months. And then she pointed out that that means it’s also three months until one year. At which point my brain melted down a little more than it had already done today.

Nine months.
And I have achieved nothing today. Even my safe spaces haven’t helped hold and comfort me today. It’s just been another day of sitting places, being unable to settle, doing inane things, and waiting for time to pass. I missed my counsellor’s appointment because I slept through it, because the only thing I can do well now is sleep. Well, it’s not like there’s anything to leap out of bed for, now is it?

Nine months.
Nine months of crying every day.
Nine months of wishing life was different, that it hadn’t happened.
Nine months of wanting him back, whilst knowing that’s impossible.
Nine months of still loving him.
Nine months of loneliness and emptiness.
Nine months where everything seems pointless, even more so now than ever.

Someone told me how strong I am today. I’m really, really, not. I’m just getting through one day at a time because I don’t have any choice. That’s not strength. That’s just the way it is. I’m trying. I’m doing my best every day, but it just doesn’t feel like enough. And I’m not moving forward, because right now there’s nowhere to move to.

Nine months away from him, getting further away by the day.
It feels like forever, but the pain feels like it was yesterday,
And I still have a million questions that I will never have answers for.
And sometimes he still feels just a heartbeat away…

I’m tired, sad, and lonely.
Would it be ok if I slept for nine months now?
Thought not…

Not so comfortably numb

Today was…weird. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I was stoned. But I wasn’t. Ain’t touched nothing like that in a very long time. So for whatever reason I just felt very cut off, very numb, very spaced out and disconnected, and very, very tired. Very…odd.

But I just went with it. No point fighting some battles is there? I managed to get some shopping done mid afternoon so that we could eat. But other than that I just went with it. I sat and rocked gently in the sunshine, and did the usual inane things I do to pass the time at the moment. I even had to have a nap late afternoon; it’s been a while since that happened. But if that’s what my body and brain needed to be doing today then hey, have at it right?

It wasn’t exactly unpleasant. Or pleasant. Not thinking about anything much at all has its advantages. As a result I’d managed to mostly keep it together, apart from the odd moment here and there, until this evening my 8 year old nephew popped up and rejoined my team on one of the iPad games I play, and told me that he missed Matt, Loren (his sister), and me. Coming as it did, out of the blue, it pretty much floored me. Just heartbreaking. What can you say? Me too? There’s nothing to be said that can make a damn bit of difference…though I did my best. I can’t get my head around it all at my age, how on earth is he supposed to at his age? Instead we flew dragons together for a bit and chatted about nothing, before parting ways to respectively head for the land of nod. I have a funny feeling he should probably have been asleep already anyway, not playing games with me 😉

So off to bed I go in my turn. I need to do some actual work tomorrow. And sit on a spin bike. Provided I don’t feel like I did today that is. Then all bets are off…

Cold to the bones you made from me

In the morning I wake, and roll over, and sleep, and wake,…and sometime this morning in that rolling routine, when I went back into a dream in which I’d already been, there he was. He’d been away, working, but he was back, back to me, happy to see me, though in need of a shave, and just as it was going so well….my brain woke me up. Ripped me away from where I was happy. Like my subconscious wouldn’t let me stay in a lie, and yet I so, so, so wanted to stay there. I already knew it was a lie; would it have been wrong to stay with him for just a little bit longer?… It was just so nice to be with him again, to touch, to talk to, to hold…

Which was a pretty inauspicious start to my day. And, having shut my crap away in a box for 48 hours or so, to get through a hell that was not truly mine and to support those for whom it was, today was pay back day. Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, and all the distractions, and games, and reading, and work, could not put me back together again. Tbh I should probably have stayed in bed. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I didn’t. I guess getting out of bed is just what you do, right?

Today is my amazing, beautiful daughter Tash’s 20th birthday, and sadly I even managed to screw that up. Even though I’d paid for things to deliberately be there in time, none of them were. I know she says she doesn’t mind, but I don’t believe her, because I know I’d mind. We’ve messaged, and talked, and stuff but…I’d just like at least one of my presents to her to have arrived in time. Yet another lockdown casualty… And I’m gutted we can’t actually be together for her birthday, especially as one of the photos we both chose for me to post on FB to mark her birthday was from two years ago, when the whole family was together to celebrate her 18th birthday, including Matt, and it’s just the two of them messing around with a balloon, and having a laugh, and it’s just lovely… And now he’s not here, and neither is she. Hopefully she’ll be home in a couple of weeks though. That’s something. I miss my girl, and I’ve not seen her since January, which seems like forever ago.

I’ve been crying on and off since I woke up, with a brief break for some work stuff and a catch up with Gill. And I guess it’s probably just all the bottled up emotions coming out. And the aftermath of Loren’s funeral. A whole heap of everything really. And I can tell it’s a bad day, because I can’t get warm. It’s like I’m chilled to the bone. Outside, inside, sun or shade, I’m cold. Right now I’m wrapped up in my duvet, praying that sleep comes early tonight. I’m pretty sure it will, as I’m drained and exhausted again.

In expectation of sunnier days to come, I have bought my safe place, my garden swing seat, some solar powered led fairy lights. They’re lovely. I set them up yesterday, and when they’re on, and especially when you pull the cover down, it’s like being in your own little nest. Which sounds lovely, and it kind of is, and it should be…except all it did this evening was remind me that it’s an empty nest. That Matt would have loved them, but that he’s not here to love them, or to love me. And no-one else cares about such things at all. As ever. there’s no-one to share it with. It is, like so many things these days, pointless. Pretty, but pointless.

Happy Birthday to my no longer teenage daughter. I felt old already, now I feel ancient! We’ll celebrate all our birthdays when we’re all allowed to do so properly. I’m glad other gifts got to you, and that you have friends who thought of you and made it special for you.

Bubble

I’ve deliberately spent the last two/three days in my own little bubble. Austin has been working mostly. The sun has shone, until today. I have sat, I have read, I have listened to podcasts, I have played Evony and War Dragons, and I have achieved very little of any consequence. And when he has been home, we have hung out and watched films and eaten food etc, and I have generally spent most of the time trying very very hard not to think about anything in particular. Mostly successfully, apart from those breakthrough moments when some memory, some thought, breaks down those carefully constructed walls, and there you are, crying like a bereft child once again.

It’s like there’s a little voice in the back of your mind constantly going “I just want him back, please can I have him back?” and you can’t shut it up, how ever much you try, even though you know that can never happen. I never knew what it was like to want something so badly, and to simultaneously know you can never have it. I could want to be famous, I could want to win the lottery, I could want to win a medal. With work, or luck or training…there’s a possibility these things could happen, however slim. I can never, ever, have Matt back again. I recently rediscovered the word ‘yearning’, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long, but that’s what it is. An endless painful yearning for what can never be…

We accidentally ended up in the Square, running errands, on VE day at the same time as the British Legion were doing a very limited socially distanced marking of the event, complete with a respectful toast to those who have gone before, on the Church steps. And there were quite a few people out to witness, watch, partake. More people than I’ve seen in quite a while. Several of whom clearly have no idea of what two metres is. But that wasn’t my real issue. It was more that town was suddenly a place of people again. It was a small, but limited, Axbridge celebration. And I was suddenly surrounded by people who know me, who know what’s happened, and Matt wasn’t there sharing it with me, when he always would have been, and my anxiety levels went through the roof, and I suddenly felt very self conscious and naked and vulnerable and scared and emotional, and I just had to go home before I lost it in public. Looks like I get to add social anxiety and possible agoraphobia to life now too doesn’t it? I can’t really explain it, but I didn’t feel safe out there; I wasn’t, and am not, ready to cope with facing up to it all in public again. Social distancing and lock down may suck, does suck, but it does also give you permission and justification for not facing up to anything or anyone. It has made hermits out of many of us.

You see most of the time I’m kind of used to him not being at home. I don’t like it, but there he isn’t. Thanks to my keeping busy work, I now have my two safe spaces there, one indoor, one out. My places were I can sit, and rock myself gently back and forward in comforting fashion, and pretend, and not think, and just be in my little make believe chilled little isolated bubble. But out there, outside my front door, wherever I go, he should be there with me. And I haven’t had to face up to his absence in such a way for quite a while. It hurt. And yes, I know it’s coming. I know the world will start turning again, and people will go back to doing what they always did, but I’ll still be here, or out there, missing him, wishing he was with me, feeling his absence everywhere I go. It’s like you all got to join my weird little socially isolated world for a while…but I’ll still be here when you get to leave. Lock down has made my life, and my mental health, a lot worse, but once it goes away, I’ll still be stuck here, in my self-imposed isolation, wondering what the f*ck happened, and how the f*ck I go on doing this, and when on earth it gets better, if it ever does.

And tomorrow is my beautiful sparkly niece Loren’s funeral. Which are words that should never ever go together. How is this even a thing? But it is. Somehow it is. So I am taking my Dad up to London, whilst Austin Granny sits, and then we’re coming back again afterwards, when I intend to drink far too much white wine until I go to sleep again. I’m dreading it. I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know how a funeral with only 10 people works, I don’t know how I’ll handle it, and I also know that how I’m feeling about it all must be just a tiny fraction of how they’re all feeling. In fact I feel bad even talking about how I’m feeling. I’m just worried, because I’m not really coping with me at the moment, yet I want to be there for them, because this is SO not about me, and I don’t want to get it wrong. So I kind of need to seal my crap away into a box for the day, with iron bars around it, and man the f*ck up, and do my best to do what needs to be done. For them. And for her.  And man, she would have loved the DMs I’m going to wear for her, in her honour. Her kooky Aunt will be out in force, living up to expectations.

I can’t imagine how we’re all going to get through it, whilst at the same time knowing that we will because none of us have any choice. It’s going to be a long and hideous and difficult day, and I just hope they know how much I love them all, how much I feel for them all, and that I wish I could do more for them. There are no words, and not enough {{{hugs}}} in the world for a time like this.

Sometimes life just sucks, and it’s not fair, and that’s all there is to it.

Super moon

Tonight is the Super Flower Moon. And from where I’m lying, with the curtains partially opened, I can see it. And yes, it is big, and bright, and beautiful, and its light is streaming into our room…and once again I am not sharing it with him.

I am so low, so flat, and so lonely, at the moment. I just can’t pull my socks up, pick myself up from the bottom. Every day is the same day over and over again. Nothing changes. Nothing improves. My blood tests were clear, which you’d think was a good thing, but all it means is that I still have all the symptoms, and the pain, and no answers, thus no treatment. A referral, advice that might be forthcoming, an appointment that might happen if the world ever gets back to whatever normal was, but no answers. No help. Just more pain, on top of the usual pain (which is worse because my period finally arrived), on top of the pain of grief that is still ripping me apart however hard I try to be distracted, busy, focussed elsewhere… None of it works, and nothing is helping.

I’m just so damn f*cking sad all the time. I’m trying to avoid triggers, only to discover you can’t. They lurk, and then jump out and get you when you’re least expecting them – a random memory, phrase, something you see, hear…and I’m gone again, like I’ve regressed back to the early days, and the tears are falling, and the lump in my throat is back, and it just hurts all over, and over, and over again.

I’ve not just lost him, I’ve lost so much more than that. I’ve lost the me I was then, and am now someone I don’t even recognise, or like, and I’ve no idea who I’m going to end up being.

I can’t listen to music any more, when it’s been a massive part of my life for longer than I can remember.

I can’t drink fizz just for no particular reason at all, like just because it’s Wednesday and we fancied walking up the hill and drinking fizz, and even when there’s a genuine reason for fizz, it just feels all wrong somehow, to be drinking it without him.

I haven’t been able to go to a beach, any beach, since he died. And now I can’t even if I wanted to, and I don’t know if it would help or just make me feel worse anyway. We were never happier than when we were at a beach together, and I almost feel like I’d be betraying him by going there without him.

I can’t, and don’t want to, ride a bike without him, even though I’ve made it as far as the spin bike, I can’t imagine getting out on the road on my own, without him, without his support, without knowing that he’s there to get me home if it all gets too much.

I had music before him, and I had beaches before him, and I cycled long before him, but I don’t seem to be able to get those things back now that he has gone, having spent those years when all those things were done with him; always together, never apart. That was us. Even when we weren’t physically together, we were always in touch, always talking, texting. Always together, never apart. And now it’s never together and always apart. From one extreme to a very painful other. Together, alone. (take a listen, the lyrics pretty much cover it).

Time does not heal. Time just makes the distance between where you are now and where you were then greater. It takes you further away from your person when all you want to be is closer. Sometimes it makes the ache, and the yearning, even stronger. As time passes, I guess/hope I just get better at carrying those feelings, the loss, the insecurities, the void, with and within me. It’s pretty clear I’m not there yet…

And I know there are probably those thinking I should be moving on, I should be “over it” by now. I’ve already lost one friend, many months ago, who basically said he couldn’t read this anymore, that I was wallowing too much, and so he’d be taking his leave. So long and thanks for all the fish. Fine. Off you go then. Because that’s b*ll*cks.

There is no timetable. Everyone walks this path their own way, and if you’ve never had to walk it, well lucky you. Don’t you think I’d like to be feeling better, and happier, and positive? That was who I used to be. This is not the person I was used to being. But it’s just not who I am now. And I can no more make me turn from this into that, than you can hold back the tide. I will end up, once the waves have receded, washed up on my own internal beach, and I will never be the person I was. When something like this happens to you, your story becomes split. There is the life you had before it happened, and then there is the life that comes after it. And to have cared and been cared for, loved deeply and been loved deeply in return, and then to have lost that? How can you ever be the same again?

I am trying to learn to be kinder to myself. To not expect so much of myself. To not let other people’s ideas of how grieving is, or how it should be done, or when it should be over and done with, influence me. To take each day as it comes and to do what I can, when I can, to do what feels right for me. And if all I can do is sit and cry, then that should be ok too. Right now I really can’t imagine a time when I will ever be happy again. All I can do is hope that maybe that time will come, whenever that may be, and ride out the waves the best I can in the meantime. I just hope they don’t completely swamp me before then. Because I’m so tired of it all. I feel old, ugly, worn down, eroded; not waving but drowning. I cannot picture my future.

It is what it is. One day at a time.

There’s a worm at the bottom of my garden…

It’s taken me a few days to recover from the engagement anniversary, and it’s been a bumpy ride. I can find myself in tears out of nowhere, and be fine for a while in likewise unpredictable fashion. I do not feel at all stable and it’s been even harder cope with myself without Austin’s company.

For those that sent him positive wishes…sadly he didn’t get the paramedic job/course thing he went for, which really upset me, and probably him too, because I don’t get it. What are they looking for that he isn’t? OK I know, I’m biased, but he’s sound, intelligent, and sensible, old before his time, responsible, willing to learn…how is that not getting across? And it’s the things you can’t fix for your kids that hurt the most. I can give him a hug, I can sympathise, but I can’t make them employ him. It’s frustrating, and makes me feel even more helpless than I usually do which, at the moment, is saying something.

As ever, I’ve done what I do to cope with my days, which is to keep busy. Be that iPad games, or reading, or podcasts…or even more gardening. I even got to play with a (borrowed) petrol powered hedge trimmer. It took me a while to figure out how to make it work, even with previous outboard motor experience, but the internet served up the user manual, et voilà, it worked, and I got to hack even more things. Tbh honest I was quite proud of that. And however depressed I am, I still love playing with power tools 😉

Note to anyone – those things are heavy, especially when you’re waving them around all over the place in probably less than safe fashion. Today I have very sore spaghetti arms…

Which were probably exacerbated by me spending several hours standing in the rhyne behind the house today, hacking back what’s left down there into small enough pieces for it to be washed away by the water. It was suitably time consuming, and I had my bluetooth headphones with podcasts for company. I was wearing shorts, but I wore wellies and a long sleeved top and good gardening gloves and yet I still look like I’ve taken up self-harm which, in a bizarre way I possibly have. It’s nearly done though. I need the water to wash away some more of the underlying dirt, then I have about another foot or so of left over bramble roots to hack back to get back to the actual bank. So close…

The bags of garden waste from the upstairs bit of the garden are being collected for official disposal on Wednesday and when the last rhyne hacking is done, then the garden will be done – stripped back to the bare bones. What happens then, I have no idea. I expect, like today, when I’ve reached a sensible finishing point, I will sit on my swing seat, drink a cold beer, and then burst into tears because Matt’s not here for me to show my work to, to be proud of me for doing it even though every bit of my body hurts. Nobody else gives a crap, though Tash and Austin try, and I ping my brother pictures from time to time as a form of inane unsentimental conversation that saves either of us from having to get too emotional about anything, whilst letting each other know we’re both still here for each other. Or at least I hope that’s how it works.

Two days of this has proved that the joints in my hands and wrists and ankles really are screwed…which has me more than a little worried if I’m honest which, here, I tend to be. I probably shouldn’t have carried on doing what I’ve been doing, but what else was I going to do? Everything that needs doing in and around this house involves manual labour. It may seem rather an obvious statement, but it’s hard to do such things without using your hands. By this point this evening, even typing hurts. Everything hurts. But hey, at least I’m tired, and I’ll sleep well. It’ll be the first half an hour tomorrow morning that will really show how much damage I’ve done; when I’ll be too scared to roll over, or try and sit up, or to push myself up, because of how much I can tell it’s going to hurt…

But enough of my woes. Let’s try for something a little more cheerful…

 

Tiberius, the temporarily with us snake, was reunited with his owner yesterday (long story of woe…blah blah…happy owner). And because I was so gutted about it all, it having been the only thing to cheer me up in ages, a few rules were bent a little for me, and I am very lucky to have been blessed with a replacement; one that is also a rescue, but that will not be going anywhere. Livia, the juvenile pastel boa constrictor, came to live with us in her forever home on Saturday, and we love her to bits already. She’s beautiful and placid and going to grow quite some! I’ve levelled up my snake game 😉 I didn’t have time to handle her this evening as I had some actual paying work to do, but I’m going to make up for it tomorrow, when I think a break from gardening may be called for! Oh, and I rescued a caterpillar today too.

I know it’s daft, but I cried when Livia came home, and I cried when I rescued the caterpillar. It’s not like I need an audience for my life. It’s just that every time I do something, I want to do what I always did, which was to share it with him. We shared everything, all the time. And so just for an instant my brain thinks, right time to call/text Matt…he’d love this. And then I remember I can’t, and never can again. Unsurprisingly, that hurts too.

Three years

I’d known today was going to be bad. Firsts always are. In the run up to them I get emotional and anxious and stressed…but then they’re generally not quite as sh*t as I think they’ll be… And therein lies the rub. ‘Generally’.

Because not so this one. This one went off the scale…

So. Today marked three years since Matt and I got engaged, on a beach in South Wales, just the two of us. As I’ve said before, I wasn’t too bothered about getting married again, but it was what he really wanted, and when Matt’s mind was set on something…that was that. He said he wanted to stand up and tell the world how much he loved me. His first wedding was a small pretty much non-event, and this time he wanted to do it all properly, to have the wedding he’d always wanted to have. With me. And who wouldn’t swoon and melt when someone wants that and feels that way about you, especially when you feel the same way about him too? It’s like hitting the mother lode, the jackpot, your dreams come true…

So although I’d agreed, and we’d decided it was something that would happen at some point, and we’d found a ring we both liked, I didn’t know when he’d actually do it…until that day three years ago when he got down on one knee and officially asked me if I’d marry him. I said yes, obvs. Even if I did insist he swap in the real ring for the haribo one he initially used – which I ate… 😉

Only we didn’t get to have the wedding we wanted, did we? Not only had he not managed to get around to getting divorced, although he had just become legally separated for long enough to do so more easily, but he left us, me, before that could happen.  And so those plans, along with so many hopes and dreams, and our entire future, are just so much smoke in the wind, all blown away by the storm. Gone. So much is gone.

My birthday was bad enough. But it was my birthday, which was at least a little celebratory, and came with cake and presents and Austin, and thus company for being up on the hill. It was a my thing, celebrated without him. Not good, but, doable. Today was an US thing, marked without him, unlike the last two years when we celebrated it together, marked since there is nothing to celebrate now. Which was way, way worse. And I had to do it all on my own, literally, as Austin was at work, for a very long day. I gave up on today, and just let it be and go however it felt like going. There’s been lot of sitting and a hell of a lot of crying, and precious little else.

 As is ever the way, the only place that I have to go to, to be with him, to be at his favourite place, where we were us and happy and above the world, is up the hill. So I trudged up there very slowly, in the sunshine and chilly wind, for a glass of fizz and more tears. I managed to knock the bottle over twice, which actually seemed a little like Matt taking his share, in an odd kind of way, as well as being totally indicative of the kind of klutz I am at the moment.

And then I trudged back down. And then I had to go to bed for a while because I was drained, my ankles were killing me, I was exhausted, and basically just too sad to be awake anymore. I needed to check out for a bit. So I did, and I’ve basically been on or in bed ever since. Austin arrived home eventually, we chatted some, which helped a bit and now he’s gone to bed early. (It’s a big day tomorrow for him on a possible better job front, so please send positive vibes and best wishes his way.)

The day we got engaged was an amazing one. We were going to the beach every weekend – this one marked number 6 out of the eventual 10 we managed. We were at the beach, we were together, and massively happy, and he proposed and it was just perfect. He even got to go surfing (badly!). We left and popped into see his mate Gra and his family, and Mollie (Matt’s dog, who had ended up with Gra as he couldn’t take him with him one house move or a few before). Mollie was on her last legs, and it meant so much to Matt to see her one last time, and also for the first time he shared his good news to be with one of his best most long term mates. We then came home via my folks, and shared the news, and they were SO genuinely pleased for us both, and we all drank fizz, and celebrated, and Dad took some beautiful photos, which I’m so grateful to have now. All my family and friends were thrilled for us.

Matt’s family – not so much so. I don’t think they ever expected us to be a permanent thing – more just some sort of lfing. Us being the real deal was inconvenient and didn’t fit in with how they’d thought things would be once he’d left his wife. I know the difference in responses to our engagement really upset him. He wanted them to be happy for him, for us, and to support him in his choices…but the cupboard was bare. His Mum sent us a card and some fizz, once the dust had settled a bit, but I don’t think they ever got how much we meant to each other. I think they thought I had Matt under my thumb and he just did whatever I wanted. As if…! (As anyone who really knew Matt will tell you, that’s not how Matt worked. He was his own man, he did what he wanted, made his own decisions and owned them. There was no telling him to do anything!). When his kids found out we were engaged, they were far more supportive, and excited, and happy for us. Which is probably why, amongst other reasons, I’m still in touch with them, and not the others, I guess. That and the fact that his kids don’t blame me for his death, and the rest of the family does.

Today turned out to hurt a whole heap worse than I’d even imagined it would, from dawn ’til dusk. I just miss him SO much, every day, every where, in every way and in every thing, and especially today.  I wish we could have had the day we were going to have, on a beach somewhere, surrounded by those who truly loved and supported us, making what we already knew official, and sharing it with them, the sun, the sand, and the sea. I miss the life we were going to have together.

I had been starting to have the occasional better day, but now? In the world as it is now? The loneliness is crippling, the isolation is claustrophobic, and the depression and grief and pain can be overwhelming… I am stuck in a world where I can’t move forward even if I wanted to, even if I could.

At least it’s pretty much bedtime, and another first, another truly sh*tty day, is behind me.

PS: had my blood tests this morning – should find out more next Wednesday. Let’s see if my pessimism is justified shall we?