Lucie brownlee










How’s your decade been?

Mine was a mixed bag. Lost a husband, gained Nietzschean resilience and a faux-fur coat. Every cloud.

It all started so well. Mark’s heart seemed to be shored up after the ‘cardiac event’ of 2008; we edged ever closer to North from Cheltenham to Yorkshire; our daughter (then two) seemed as if she might finally stop growling at people.

Two years in, on that unspeakable Saturday in February 2012, Mark died, and the decade as I’d planned it suddenly crumbled apart. ‘Time’ and ‘years’ – those chimerical concepts onto which we optimistically pin the structure of our lives – instantly lost their meaning. He’d been gone an hour and already it felt like forever. Soon He’ll have been gone eight years, and it feels like yesterday.

For anyone new to this loss of spouse stuff, I can tell you a little bit about the intervening years. I have scant recollection of the first one – it passed in a twelve-month hangover and the numb fog of disbelief. The second one, I spent writing – this blog, and a book featuring my version of what savage loss looks and feels like. (A heart-warming Christmas gift, folks!)

Through the rest, I have bimbled and spun. I have made some crushingly bad choices, investing myself in people who didn’t value me, or my daughter, enough; or hurting those who did. I’ve drunk too much red wine. Old worries have transformed into new worries, but in the spirit of my burgeoning anxiety distraction technique collection, we won’t dwell on those.

But I have made some sparklingly good choices too; those which have brought fun, and joy, and new meaning to my life. Old relationships have grown stronger, new relationships have flourished from the ashes.

And our daughter – my daughter – has gained ten years. She no longer growls; she whistles, with a gusto rarely seen. (TV theme tunes are a particular talent – she has perfected University Challenge and Only Connect.) But I can only look on in what feels like panic, or grief, as she loosens herself inexorably from where we have been barnacled to each other, and tiptoes into the surly freedoms of young adulthood.

With the turn of a year, many of us imagine renewal; transcendental change at the pull of a party popper. It is for this reason that resolutions are made, and for the same reason that resolutions are unmade three days later. Mine, if you’re interested, are to sod all talk of the end of the decade, and try and enjoy each day as it comes.

Instead, I’ll use it as a clumsy excuse to play Mark’s favourite song. Here’s Neil Young, from his album Decade. This is Heart of Gold.


10 thoughts on “#decadechallenge

  1. I’m sorry for your loss.The last 8 years have followed a similar path for me where I railed sand howled at the moon after my wife died. Apart from anything else I felt cheated as we were supposed to be together forever. I could not understand that she hadn’t broken her promise.Eventually we become a little more resilient and prove that life goes on, as it must for you with a young daughter.My daughter was mid thirties when it happened and married sso he need for me wasn’t as great as it used to be. Your fond memories will never change and your daughter will still need to share those for a while.Go oon getting stronger and have a beautiful life.
    Massive Hugs

  2. Yes, things move on in 10 years. My mother, who lost my father in similar circumstances when I was a baby, is now 87. Not exactly going strong. More frequent Hospital visits theses days for various things. The big change is my son made me a grandfather. A girl now 5 and a boy 2. More significantly my mother is thrilled with her great grandmother status. She also got two more through her stepdaughter from her later marriage, The shock of her experience burned a deep vivid memory. I do not think now a human lifetime is enough time to even dim it , let alone erase it. If I mentioned it , she would be back to that day in an instant telling me every detail. However, it is a path that ended. Other paths opened as it sounds like they have for you. So maybe the memory is at least crowded out a bit by newer nicer ones.. I wish you and your daughter all the best, one day at a time.

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