Two become one

Two years passed, and now nearly another 2 months more since then.
It could be two years, twenty years, two hundred years…but sometimes it’s two seconds.
When I let myself remember it all, it’s like I’m actually there, and I’ve just slipped back into my head back then, and no time has passed at all.
It’s all just as vivid as ever it was…and I can play it all over and over…

All my memories of us are like that. Sharp technicolour. They don’t fade, I just try not to visit.

Too long.
Too soon.
Too real.

The days are passing. Time is filled. But I’m not getting anywhere. I’m just treading water. But maybe that’s enough?

I now have two jobs. Because it’s good for me to get out, and to keep busy, and to be distracted. To be paid. To meet people, to chat, to play nice and friendly for a while, to have something else to be good at, to remind me that whatever I do, I will always do it to the best of my ability, and I need to remember that, and be proud of that. I’m also enjoying the work, which is a good thing, though the novelty will wear off, work politics and dynamics will eventually drive me up the wall, and I’ll have to leave at some point before I lose the ability to hold my tongue. It’s far from rocket science, so even though I need the extra money, there are other such jobs all over the place. The timer is ticking…lay bets on how long it lasts folks!

Of course all this constant working is also a distraction tactic. I know that. And there’s always the risk of doing too many things and none of them well. Plus, you know, work hard, play hard, right? I’m pretty sure I have a self-destruct thing going on because, hey, who’s going to tell me off? Or tell me to stop? I have no-one to answer to, other than myself, and I don’t ask myself questions I don’t want to answer, because I already know the answers am choosing to ignore them. I no longer have my boulder to lean on, and so I get to flail around wildly and aimlessly. No compass, no compassion, no roots, no direction.

Maybe a bit of me is hoping someone will call me out, and look after me for a while. Someone to care, to make it all a little less hard, take some of the weight off my shoulders, and let me just let go of all the responsibility, pressure, grief…for a while. Somebody I can lean on. But they won’t, and there isn’t anyone, and I know my sensible side will get a grip at some point, I’ll HTFU, and get back on with it. To be fair, I probably wouldn’t lean anyway, I don’t trust anyone enough to do so…and I’m not letting anyone get that close again any time soon. If ever.

Besides, I’m a grown-up, I’m single, and I can do whatever the f*ck I want, and f*ck up however I want. I neither want nor need anyone else’s approval. Remember, those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter. Judge not lest ye be judged yourself, and you have no idea what it’s like in my shoes, nor do you want to have.

Two sides to every argument, and a truth in the middle. Maybe.

I still have two amazing kids.
Neither of whom currently live here.
Eldest is still living where he now does, in a new job, discovering that not working in hospitality means you can actually have a life.
Youngest is off being incredibly intelligent, doing a Masters in something involving stem cells and genetic research. Told you she was clever!
I am mad proud of both them.
They are the two best things in my life.
Though the house is too quiet without them, and my head is too loud.

No-one talks about him. Not to me anyway. If I talk about him, people start shifting in their seats and getting uneasy. I get it. But it’s like the only place he exists, and existed, is in my head. And I want to remember him, out loud and proud. Even if I do cry. Aren’t you all used to me crying in public yet?

It’s somewhat better than it was. Except for when it isn’t. And then it’s just as bad.

Being intelligent and self-aware sucks.

Sunday’d be too late

So, it’s been seven hours and fifteen days… No it hasn’t. It’s been 367 days, or is it 368, and however many hours, but I’m not Sinnead O’Connor, quietly dripping one beautiful tear down a flawless cheek. I’m a messy, lost, emotional, rudderless, ugly crying, me. Sunday marked a year since you left us, and still, nothing compares to you, and nothing ever will.

I had so much to say on that anniversary day and I still do. So much. But I just haven’t been in a place where I could do it. I’d battened down the hatches, and didn’t want to open the floodgates. I have been lucky enough to be able to talk to, and spend time with, some very important people over the last two days, which has helped. I have been reaching out left, right, and centre…to friends and family…and then I realised, *face palm slap*, that what I was actually trying to do was to talk to you…so it’s no wonder that nothing was quite scratching that itch is it? If only… I live in a world of if onlys…

It feels like it’s been forever, and also no time at all, and yet it is also still so surreal that maybe it never happened at all. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all some kind of sick joke…and I’ll wake up and it will all be over. But, as that song says, I’m still here, and I’m still not dead. And you are. It’s still all far too real.

It would have been the worst year of my life even had it been the only tragedy to have happened in it, which sadly it has not. Every time someone has said things couldn’t possibly get worse, they have. It has been a year of complete h*ll, and it hasn’t suddenly gotten better just because that year has passed. I am quite honestly surprised that I am still here, no thanks to some, and heartfelt thanks to many.

Being neither Sinnead O’Connor, nor Prince, I don’t do lyrics. So I thought I’d try a poem. Maybe this would be his song

And I did write one. But I just couldn’t get it. Because there just aren’t the words. However I tried, it all felt clichéd and trite and it’s all been said so much better by others… I’m no W.H.Auden, no AE Houseman, who both say it better than I ever could. As ever, I’m just me. I tried, I did my best, and I was going to put it here. But I just couldn’t do it well enough to say it all in a way I could be proud of.  I couldn’t do you justice with my words, and I didn’t want to get it wrong and let you down. So many others have done and continue to do it better.  If I could, I would write you a poem, I would sing you a song…but I’m not talented enough. You’d get it though. You always did. We always knew what each other were thinking, but when we were apart we didn’t always have the words we wanted. Being apart was always so hard. It hasn’t gotten any easier…

I guess that’s why we used songs to say things to each other that we couldn’t say quite the way we wanted to ourselves, something you can probably tell from the links that have been scattered throughout my blog entries. We shared so many songs, so many lyrical words, and I am so glad I still have all our playlists, all those songs, for when I am able to listen to music again.

I couldn’t have this played at your funeral, though I wanted to. It’s a song you sent me a long time ago, but it would have been considered inappropriate, and I was only permitted so much influence over your farewell. But, whatever some may say, this is what we were underneath it all. Pure f*cking love. Just so as you know, I’m going to carry on being me, for you, because that’s what you would have wanted. In the meantime, here’s the song that said it when we laid you to rest…another one that you chose to send me. And I’ve still got love, so much love in my heart for you, and, come what may, I can’t and won’t let it go.

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, we fought our way to be together. It took a long time, and it sure as h*ll wasn’t easy. Juggling everything we had between us sometimes made walking our life together a tightrope, but I’m so glad I got to walk along it with you. I’ll never let you go. And while I’m here, quoting away like mad, here’s one more song for you… Like so many films, but this one especially, your favourite, I can’t watch it without you. Your crazy still matches my crazy… And hey, I’m probably a whole heap crazier now than I was then. Grief tears you apart, and when, if, the pieces come back together, you’re just not the same, and never will be. There is always a crucial piece missing, and you are always broken in a way that can never be fixed.

I have no idea who I am now, but I am apparently a world of clichés and quotes, so why stop now? So, if the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and to be loved in return, we were that for each other. Man, to be loved like that, and to love like that…just amazing. One year on I still love you as much as ever, if not more, and I’ll love you forever, to the beach and beyond. You were my new day, and you are still the little birdhouse in my soul.

We marked your passing in many a typical way, including a beach, with fizz, just the three of us. It all hurt like hell, and it still does. Life may be better at the beach, but being on a beach without you was a very hard step to take. It may have been an anniversary, but it was not a celebration. Just an acknowledgement of the time that has passed. And if there was anything celebratory about it at all, it was just that I am still here a year on, and I have made it through the many many times when I thought I would not, when I would cheerfully have gone gently into that good night and joined you.

So here we are. One unimaginable year later. Who knew you could cry every day for a year? I have been forced to learn so much about life, myself, others in that time… And here I am, still expressing myself by writing it all down, and since I’ve always been able to say more in the written word, be they mine or those of others, than those spoken in person, it’s helped, in so far as anything has, so I guess I’ll keep on doing it. In the meantime, here I am, lying here with all my thoughts inside this empty bed, and I miss you. If you distill it all, take all the words I write here, all the lyrics in these songs, and all the days I go through, that’s what you get. Three simple words that say so much. I miss you. And I love you. Another three words, that really go without saying, but I’m saying them anyway. I love you.

And so, life goes on. One foot in front of the other, remembering to breathe, one day at a time. It’s not really living, it’s just existing. But, like everything else, it is what it is. If only…

PS: Neck Deep have a new album out. You’d love it. I love it. And on it are so many songs we would have sent each other. It hurts, but I feel like I’m listening to it for both of us. It’s so sad that you’ll never hear it. And as they say on it, whatever storm is passing by…we all know nothing and we will all end up pushing daisies, and that’s the way it is.

Come as you are

So here we are. It’s this weekend.
It was a Friday when my world collapsed around me. This year the “anniversary” date falls on on a Sunday. And luckily, thanks to my antidepressants and other meds, there was no chance of me being awake early enough this morning to relive that Friday today. Silver linings I guess. Not that it really helped, I just got the flashbacks a few hours later. It’s all etched in my mind, in technicolour, every single detail. Which is ironic since my memory is usually rubbish… But I remember all of it. Everything. My brain frequently plays it over, and over, and over again…

So I’ve taken a few days off work. I’ve gotten a few things done, and I’ve made some plans, things to do with kids, and with some friends/important people over the weekend.

And here we are.
I should have been in bed hours ago.
But…

Because we are when we are, my brain has brought all my memories and thoughts to the front. Normally I can keep busy, hide in a book, whatever, to a degree. Now there’s no way of hiding from anything. It’s like having it all forcibly brought back into focus, and then being made to look at it all, live through it all, all over again. Not just the day, our whole time together. All those years, our trips, our everything. Memories popping into the present from nowhere. Memories that hadn’t popped up before. And man, it is so hard. I still can’t believe it. I thought a year would have made things better. It hasn’t. And it’s made a fair few things worse.

Every night this week, every time I’ve gone to sleep, my dreams have been mental. And fantastical and pure escapism, and so not what my life actually is. In short, somewhere I would far rather be.
And every time I wake up, reality settles in, sometimes instantly, sometimes it takes a while.
And then I remember.
Just like back then in the early days.
I remember.
And then I cry a lot.

I doubt tomorrow will be any different.
But we have plans.
My coping strategies for the weekend are locked and loaded.
I have beer, and wine, and fizz, and places to be, and people to be with, and if necessary I can spend the whole weekend just slightly comfortably numb. And I know they’re not healthy coping strategies, but tbh, I don’t give a monkey’s. I may even turn my phone off for a few days, and just focus on being mindful and looking after me. I will do what ever I have to do to get through this and out the other side.

But I still don’t want to go to sleep.
To be fair I don’t really want to wake up either.
But I’ll do both.

It’s going to be a sh*tty weekend.
I knew that.
So here we go…

Man, I miss my beautiful boy so much. And love him even more. Life’s just not fair.

Here comes the rain again

It’s raining outside.
Heavy fat drops of what is probably the edge of a thunderstorm.
Which is appropriate and apt.
Because I feel like I’m in the middle of my own personal thunderstorm.

Plans are being made, kind of on the fly, depending on who’s been in contact.
There will be places I go over the next few days with friends, family, both, neither.
I won’t be around here a lot.
And I guess I’ll get through this, because that’s what you do.
When you’re going through hell, just keep on going, as someone said.

I hope none of the worst case scenarios that have run through my head come to pass.
I hope I come out the other side feeling like I’ve marked it appropriately.
And I hope getting through the worst year of my life helps me feel better afterwards, and helps me go forward.

Time will tell…

In the meantime I still miss him so much it physically hurts…and I’ve been crying on and off all day. It’s almost impossible, as the anniversary approaches, not be be thinking about him, and that day, all the time. I just want him back. Which is the only thing in the world that I can never have.

SSDD, right?

And here’s the actual thunder. Awesome. And perfectly timed.
Plus I love thunderstorms and since I am, inevitably, awake, maybe I’ll open the curtains and watch the lightning for a while…

I just don’t know what to do with myself

It’s nearly here.
We keep trying to make plans.
People want to be there for me, whatever I want to do.
Some of our friends need/want to mark it too, but don’t want to impose.
Which is all very well, but I don’t really have a clue what I want to do.
I know what I don’t want.
I know where not to be and when.
But what do I want to do?

I want to mark it.
But it’s not a celebration. Anniversaries usually are. This is most certainly not.
Well, unless you want to celebrate the fact that I have survived this year, which after some of the times I have been through, I honestly wasn’t sure I would.

I don’t know what I want to do.
I don’t know what feels right.
I know that I probably need to get of town for a bit.
I feel slightly run out of town, to be honest.
I know where I’m not wanted.

I know I need to do what feels right for me.
But I really wish I knew what that was.

Maybe it will become clear to me when I get to it?

I know it’s going to be a really sh*tty day.
I know I’m avoiding thinking about it or making decisions about it, because I don’t want to face up to it.
And I also know it doesn’t really matter what I do, because it’s not going to make any difference; it won’t bring him back, and it won’t make it all suddenly better.
Yes, the first year of firsts will be over and done with. But that isn’t going to make me miss him any less, or love him any less, or suddenly heal me.

Maybe I should just take myself off on my own?
Maybe I can’t actually do it on my own?

So many questions, so few answers, and even less decisions.

6 days and counting

So this is the week that was always going to be.
And I have decided just to go with the flow through it.
T’aint nobody’s business but mine, after all.
There is no signposted path for this, there is no template, no map, and even if there were, one size never fits all.

So I may sleep too much, drink too much, stay up too late, wake up too late, write rubbish here, whatever…
I am doing what it feels like I need to do; whatever works for me. Whatever feels right, and whatever is going to get me through it.

Let’s face it, most of you have no clue what this feels like (and also, thankfully, don’t know how lucky you are).
If you do, you get it.
If you don’t, then there’s no way I can make you understand.
So, as with everything else, it is what it is.

This time last year we were so happy, and we were looking after, and out for, each other. We were in the middle of the most amazing couple of weeks.

And then…

Now I have to look after me, by myself, in my own way.
Judge how I do it if you want; and hey, I’m used to judgement by now, so knock yourself out, it won’t touch me. Judging me says more about you than it does about me. And as they say, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind. If you’re not here helping me through it, being there for me, helping me to do it better, then you have f*ck all right to have an opinion on it as far as I’m concerned.

Walk a mile in my shoes…and then maybe you’ll get it. But I hope you’ll never have to. I wouldn’t wish this on even my worst enemy. But if you do end up here…then you’ll get it. And you’ll also learn that, even if it feels like walking over broken glass, you keep on walking, however slowly, because you have to. It has nothing to do with bravery.

Oddly, in a serendipitous sort of timing way, it would appear that this week I have some actually gardening to do, at precisely the same time as I have some metaphorical pruning to do.

Sooner or later you have to focus on, and look after, yourself. However much I wish he was, he’s not here to look after and support me anymore. I have lost my rock. The only person to look after me now is me, And as someone wise once said to me, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And I’ve got enough problems right now without carrying extra ones with me… Hey, if you don’t care about me, why should I care about you?

Two years ago, this was us, out and about doing our thing, our way, in our little happy bubble. Look at those smiles. Man I miss feeling that way. So much love 😭💔.

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?