I have a story to tell. Perhaps it’s not really a story, but, rather, a little vignette from my life. It is a vignette that deals with reality, or truth, or perception, depending on the reader’s interpretation. Four months, one week, and two days ago my beautiful wife Catherine died, just short of our forty fifth wedding anniversary. It was a sudden and unexpected death. Although our children and I were inconsolable, I drew some small comfort from the fact that it was a very peaceful, painless and fear free passing from this life. But, it was only a small comfort.
Raging against the dawn. Why now? Why me? I’m overwhelmed and feeling angry just about everything. I can’t understand why I’m so angry with life? It’s six years later after the death of my husband I am angry beyond any bounds every day and often at night. I am twisted with rage against the world. Can’t understand why this is happening now after all this time. My therapist advised me to let my feelings out. Free them and they would set me free. I answered by saying I was not an angry person. I accepted the trials that life put in front of me. I was a world class avoider of all things menacing and confrontational.
Yesterday I was a wife. Today I am a widow. Yesterday I had a life. Today I do not know what I have, where I am, or who I am. I do normal stuff. I do not cry. I get up and behave quiet as I always do. I wash, dress, make our bed, it is less disturbed than usual. The pillows on my side bear the imprint of my head but the other pillows are fat and plump. Down stairs I boil the kettle, take down two cups and put the teabags into them – make the tea and bring it to the table. I sit in my chair and stare. I stare at the nothingness before me. My neighbour calls in and sits in the empty chair. He called in last week and discussed his new purchase with my husband Tony, a new vehicle. My husband wished him well with it. A customer of mine poked her head into the kitchen “are you measuring him up Tommy” – the two men laugh, I laugh, Josephine laughs. Tommy is an undertaker, its his job and he does it well.
If you did a straw poll and asked folk what is their favourite season I'd hazard a guess that a lot of the answers would be Summer and Spring. After all they are the two seasons of growth and renewal. What's not to like about Summer? The days grow long. The sun shines and it's holiday time. Spring is the beginning of the end of Winter. Daffodils poke through the cold, wet ground and Mother Earth awakens from her Winter sleep. So, what about poor old Autumn/Winter? I like being different. I am not a great fan of Spring or Summer. There's too much light around. I love the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness that poet John Keats wrote about and and the Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
I talk to my children about their Dad very regularly. Tell them funny stories about my life with him or stuff he told me about his younger days. I’m trying to fill in the gaps. I edit out the bad stuff because that was between him and me as I’m trying to keep a positive set of memories alive in their heads. They have lost a male role model. Someone who was there to teach them to drive, teach them how to make pancakes, teach them how to survive life and all its difficulties. A father offers a very different relationship to his children than the mum does. Of course, we both loved our kids and raised them together but, each parent brings their own skill to the job of parenting.
What a month this has been! I was dreading it and so looking forward to things that happened this month. First Philipp's adventure. And I am still on a high about how well that turned out. (Did I mention just how proud I am ) And then there was the last weekend. I was so looking forward to seeing Rodney's friends. And, OMG, how I was dreading it. For many reasons. There was the obvious question - would I be able to let Rodney go?
I'm trying so hard to make sense of my World. This post may be an exercise in naval gazing. I make no apologies for that fact. Definitely a deep, dark look at the way I now view the world. There are plenty of opinions and advice given to us when we are bereaved: You'll get over it. Time heals all sadness. You'll find someone else. You've got to get on with things. You should be better by now surely?
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO HEAL I still ask myself this question every day, even though my husband died in 2010. It especially raises it's ugly head when things are going bad for me in work or financially or generally. I'm on sick leave again due to my medical condition of anxiety/stress responses. I do not like feeling this way and it takes a lot of work to get back to feeling normal. It's human nature right?? One part of my brain is telling me I'm a great girl to be as good as I am and the other part of my brain turns into a child-minded wreck. Sometimes there are no answers. There are only questions. Time after bereavement feels longer and more difficult to get through than before we have been bereaved. Or maybe it's because our focus has shifted to be on our own now and the adjustments we have to make in our every day life and dealing with the emotional fallout too.
And the "Mother Of The Year" awards goes to... Where were we? Feeling miserable? Being a useless mother? Not sleeping? Too much crying going on? No energy? Yeah, something like this. So, school has started. And we survived the first week. Another big achievement considering I nearly poisoned my daughter. And I totally grossed her out. All in one day. Last Monday - first day of school. I started off do well. Got up early to fix her uniform, to make her lunch, to make sure she gets up on time. Doddle right? Just one kid left, nothing else to worry about... When we left the house I noticed I had used a blue thread to fix her black uniform. Oh, well. Spent the day doing whatever until it was time to collect Katie from the bus stop. As she walked towards me I noticed a somewhat not impressed look on her face.
So. I'm off work on sick leave. Again I have found my inner self being in conflict with my work self. Stress and anxiety. How to cope? Small steps forward led me back to an activity that had been a joy to me throughout my life. I've rediscovered my love of reading. I joined the Galway City Library recently. For free. Hundreds of books from A to Z. I was going to substitute a novel instead of doing more therapy. I was taking a big chance but it's working.
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