You’ll never walk alone

Yesterday various things happened. I wrote a long post. And then I left it unpublished…

You see a while ago someone, for whom I have a great deal of respect, posted on a local FB group; it was a piece about the value of taking time to think things through, and about considering what you put online, amongst other things.

Wise words, don’t you think?

So here’s the version you are getting today, after thought and upon reflection.

Yesterday was a long, hard, emotional day. And as is ever the case these days, life had to pile an extra layer on top of what was already bad…

But let’s get back to starters. Yesterday was Jake’s funeral. We all gathered in the Square. We watched the hearse arrive, cried as his beautifully decorated coffin was carried into the church, and then sat outside and watched the livestream of the whole thing. As a Liverpool fan, the coffin had “You’ll never walk alone” written down the sides, with the Championship shield at the end, his army cap on top, and a Liverpool flag neatly tucked under that. It was unsurprisingly sad, and tragic, and I have been to too many funerals in the last year, and I really, really, really hope this is the last one for quite some time. I cried a lot, also unsurprisingly. I will miss him, as I will miss those others that I am still mourning. However weird it was, thanks to Covid, it was still a lovely service, even viewed remotely, and come the end, as closer family and friends exited to that immortal song, and relocated to the graveyard for the burial, and then the wake, Kevin and I stayed sat in the sunshine, with various others from time to time, and sank a fair few lagers in Jake’s honour. He’d have approved, and then some. He will never walk alone, and we will all carry a part of him with us.

A little while later, the two of us relocated to the Riverside Inn in Cheddar, to drink, eat, and as it turns out, to chat to a whole new bunch of surprisingly nice and interesting people. It was one of those days when you can drink lager all day, without feeling any effect….weird but true. But it was fun, and nice, and you know, it’s actually been quite a good week as these things go and although I am sometimes tempted to prod my thoughts to see if I’m still actually sad underneath it all (yep, still sad & grieving down there), I’ve mostly done a pretty good job of not doing that. I’ve just been going with it, getting on with life things, and generally holding it together a little better than usual. So a sad day turned into a nice evening, a nice way to round off the week – amongst friends, and out of town.

And then on to the life piling things on top of you, just as you were starting to scrape yourself off the floor…

…and this is where I have decided to leave that. Ever since Matt died I have made it my mission to do my best by him, and by us. To take the high road. It’s about integrity and respect and courtesy. Whatever happened to upset me yesterday, venting about it and how I feel about it here would serve no purpose, and also defeat that object. It’s enough that I knew him, and I still know him. I know who and what we were to each other. No-one can take that away from me, or from us. So that’s that. Yes, I am hurt, and I am upset, but although that’s not ok, it is what it is, and in some respects it’s taught me a couple of lessons I should have learnt already, and that’s probably a good thing.

And so, moving swiftly on as they say, to today. To be fair, I should have been hungover. I wasn’t. I had set myself two projects for this weekend, and after a lie in, and some chilling time, I actually achieved one of them. I have created a new pvc covered foam cushion for our much loved rocking chair, complete with protective back panel (our cats have been expressing their territorial issues in less than pleasant fashion…). It fits the sitting space perfectly, and more importantly it’s also comfortable! Tash helped me and it was really nice to work on something together, in collaborative supportive stylee. And I also got to use my Gran’s old hand operated Singer sewing machine which always pleases some ‘family as heritage’ part of me. It’s oddly satisfying. Maybe I’ll get the second project done tomorrow. Maybe I won’t. Although today wasn’t as good as it could have been, thanks to yesterday, it could have been worse. I got something done. One day, and one project, at a time? 😉

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.

Inking you

The kids and I got memorial tattoos for Matt today. I’m so used to being there with him I could practically see him there. So many memories of him there, in such a small space. I could hear him and see him and…but not. Ruby didn’t know what to say and John was a legend. He worked with all of us to get what we wanted, he coped when I cried, he gave us shots of rum to help, and even after I’d cried all over everywhere when it came to my turn he coped. He even joined me in a final shot of rum to round it all off. And on top of that, he refused to charge us for any of it – a good 3 hours of his time. I’ve rarely been so touched by anything – it was the sweetest gesture ever. That man has earnt my respect and tattoo loyalty for life.

I just wish I could show it to him. I wish I could show him how much he means to me. I wish…oh so many things. Once more, it was me and my kids against a very horrible world, and we supported each other through and I cried me yet another river, and we all thought of him. I just want Matt to know he is still my star, and I hope he will guide me through what is yet to come in my life. He is so loved by so many people and so many of us are not coping without him. And it’s all too late isn’t it? Everywhere I go he isn’t – from in Pierced Up to sitting outside Zero Degrees having the traditional post ink/hole drink. I just miss him. All the time.

Tomorrow I have to sort through photos for the order of service and for the memory boards at the Oakhouse after (I refuse to call it a wake). And I have so many amazing photos, but all they do is remind me of what I can never have or be again, I’m so far off being able to look back on them as happy memories of a time past. I just want him back. Simples. Except it isn’t, is it?