Lost in Translation

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Mirth and marriage

Here is the problem with admitting that you may be beginning to feel the gentle rays of happiness in your life again after the sudden and untimely death of your spouse:

You say: “I may be beginning to feel the gentle rays of happiness in my life again after the sudden and untimely death of my spouse.”

People’s internal Google-translate hears: “I am over my husband’s death and have finally moved on! Dig your wet-look leggings out of the wardrobe and let’s have a P.A.R.T.Y.!”

So I’m relying on you to turn your Google-translate off and really listen to the words I am saying.

I may be beginning to feel the gentle rays of happiness in my life again after the sudden and untimely death of my spouse.

Who knew, right?

I didn’t think the word ‘happiness’ would enter my lexicon again, but there it is, nestling in nicely alongside those old stalwarts, ‘misery’ and ‘devastation’, with its jaunty double, double consonants.

Perhaps I didn’t give the New Year enough credit for its capacity for ‘renewal’, but the further I edge into 2014, the more determined I feel to start living again.

It is almost two years since Mark died, and it feels like both a lifetime and the blink of an eye. But what would He say if He thought I were still here, stymied by grief, feeling guilty about making the next move?

“Haway, man, Pet,” He’d say. (You may refer to Google translate here).

Don’t get too excited, mind. This does not mean the ache goes away, nor the tears, nor the moments of worthlessness. In fact, I may be back to square one tomorrow.

Today though, I think what it means is that the grief and the trauma have taken enough. I just want to be happy.

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Status report 2014: Husband still dead

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Happiness is…a shitting plastic dachshund

Despite the claims of my horoscope and Zara’s Spring wardrobe, 2014 has thus far offered nothing in the way of transcendental change. My husband is still dead. I’m beginning to think He always will be.

The festive season has been and gone, thank god, and I must send a shout out to those stalwarts who supported me through it.

It remains, however, a bloated turkey fart of a fortnight and I have come to the conclusion that it will never be the same again. The LED-lit jollity was bad enough when He was alive. Now it represents a poxy string of lights flashing around an empty wallet and an even emptier heart.

On the positive side, my daughter got the present of her dreams (yes, Santa delivered on the shitting plastic dachshund), and I was provided with evidence yet again – if any were needed – of the impenetrable nature of my human safety net. No matter how much shit I throw at these people, they just won’t leave me alone.

Over the festive fortnight they persisted in being there whenever my mood plummeted, armed with a salmon nibbly bit or a nice portion of Christmas pud. They sent me texts to let me know they were ‘thinking of me’. Even when I was hiding behind the settee at the strike of midnight at New Year, they sniffed me out and force-fed me champagne until I stopped crying.

And I logged into the blog to find messages of love from the ether too. People I don’t even know who wanted to say they were rooting for me.

Whilst I still enter 2014 with a heavy heart, it is comforting to know there are so many people out there who are prepared to take on some of the weight.

So thank you – and here’s to a Happier New Year?

The Dismay-dar

Anders Zorn-The Widow

Anders Zorn-The Widow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Widows.  We’re a distinct race. We should have our own category on those local council equal opportunities forms. Just before ‘Other’ on the ethnicity list. Young or old, long-served or new-entrant, we share a language and a tacit understanding of each other that ‘non-bereaveds’ just don’t get.

I met a widow last night. A reader of this blog, in fact. She rushed up to me and wordlessly sobbed into my shoulder. We held each other for a long time, and then we belly- laughed about the inanity of widowhood. It was like a Surprise Surprise reunion, with the woman’s non-bereaved sister playing an uncomfortable Cilla on the side-line. Minus the teeth and wig.

We were immediately on each other’s radar. Or rather, ‘dismay-dar’ – the frequency of which can only be heard by other widows. We connected in a way that I haven’t connected with some of my oldest friends since Mark died.

In widowhood, I am constantly grappling with how I feel. This is as tedious for me as it sounds to you, which is why I offload it onto my counsellor. She is paid to listen, dispense advice, then move onto the next depressive in the waiting room. And for a non-bereaved, she seems to have a reasonable insight into the erratic mind-set of our race.

However, sometimes only another widow can sum up how you feel. And one comment on an online forum this week did just that. I’ve never met her, but this widow knows exactly where I’m ‘at’. She wrote:

I am not unhappy. But I’m not ready to be happy.

I’m willing to bet that others out there tuned into the ‘dismay-dar’ get it too.

Coitus interruptus

English: Hugh Hefner attending Glamourcon #50,...

English: Hugh Hefner attending Glamourcon #50, Long Beach, CA on November 13, 2010 – Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Death, mid-coitus. What a way to go, eh?

At least, that was the general consensus after Mark died, after the dust settled and we permitted ourselves an uneasy laugh about it. Another of those placatory, consolatory observations humans make when they don’t know what else to do or say.

Apparently, every bloke wants to pop his clogs in the sack. (Although perhaps not at 37 years-old with a small child and everything to live for. But I’m willing to bet Hugh Hefner’s got his fingers crossed.)

But what about the woman (or man) who is left lying spread-eagled in the wet patch? Can the psychological trauma of such an event – a life-affirming, joyful act turning suddenly into one which represents death and fear – ever be overturned?

Because whilst watching your lover die is never going to be a fun-filled spectacle, feeling their warm, naked body against you one minute and then watching it turn cold just seconds later is up there in the Top Ten Things You Never Want To Have To Go Through In Life.

Sex becomes imbued with a kind of terror. You start to wonder who else you might see off with your thighs. Heavy breathing comes to signify a climax of a very different kind. Facial expressions are apt to be misread.

My counsellor and I talk through such things. But these are thoughts and images which cannot be erased.

So whilst dying mid-coitus might sound like the fun way to go, I can tell you this for nowt – it’s not.

With special thanks to…

It’s just as well I didn’t take too much to heart the comments of one of this blog’s early detractors, as last night it won in the Best Personal Blog category of the Blog North Awards.DSC02412

I did nearly stop writing it at that time, for fear that I was deemed to be pissing on Mark’s ashes. Or not grieving correctly. Or writing a load of old cobblers.

But I’m glad I picked myself up and continued. (I’ll admit it took a while, but hey – I’ve faced off worse than that.)

Writing about life after Mark’s death has been better therapy than any amount of money could buy.

I’ve made friends through it, and garnered support from the most unexpected places.

It’s provided me with time to sit and think about the human being I loved more than any other.

So thanks for reading and voting for me.

With special thanks to Him there, in the hat.

Things You Don’t Tell Your Mother

There are certain things you don’t tell your mother.

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Keeping me at arm’s length with a broccoli floret

Like how, when you were seventeen, you crashed her car into the gatepost while she was away in France and had it fixed out of your savings before she came back.

Or owning up to the true extent of what you got up to at University, and how little of it involved academic study.

Even now, close as we are, there are things I don’t tell my Mother. Partly to save her brow from further angst-incurred furrowing, but also because I have good friends and a counsellor with whom I ‘talk out’ my fruitier escapades.

Of course, when it comes to my own daughter, I like to think she does, and will, tell me everything.

Being five-years-old, this currently involves information about her latest bowel evacuation and news that she doesn’t like broccoli, (although she did tell me the Great Fire of London was in 1666 the other day, which really was news to me).

One thing she doesn’t discuss with me though, or even mention much these days, is Daddy. And I don’t push it, because I might cry and not stop, and she might end up as she usually does, wiping my tears and telling me everything will be OK.

I hadn’t thought much about this until I dropped her off at school this morning and her teacher asked for a ‘quiet word’.

Seems she’s been mentioning Him a lot at school. In the dinner hall. In assembly. She’s confided in staff that she’s sad that her daddy is dead and that she misses Him. She has sought comfort in the arms of teachers and dinner ladies.

I spent the rest of the morning ulcerating about this particular conversation starter. Arguably the most important and interesting of conversation starters for us to elaborate on, yet she keeps me at arm’s length with a broccoli floret.

She witnessed His death. She continues to witness the fall-out from His death. So why hasn’t she sought comfort from me?

Perhaps she’s trying to save my brow from further furrowing too.

Ways to spend an idle moment

Wobbly-Headed Bob resolves to commit suicide.

Wobbly-Headed Bob resolves to commit suicide. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love catastrophising, me. It’s one of my favourite pastimes. If my molars aren’t clamped together in angst, there’s something wrong.

Furthermore, I like nothing more than spending an idle moment picturing myself receiving bad news. Before Mark’s death, the worst combination of words anyone could have said to me were: “Mark is dead.”

In my reverie, on receiving this news, I saw myself, a sprawling, dribbling mess on the floor, unable to speak or move. I wept and wailed, pummelled my fists against my chest, and implored sweet Satan to explain why he had inflicted such sorrow upon my house.

Sometimes in my reverie I even went so far as to throw myself into the grave alongside my beloved, but that was only during a particularly tedious Powerpoint.

One thing I never envisioned myself doing though was looking at the stout little paramedic who delivered those very words and saying: “Right.”

I honestly did. I said: “Right.”

And then I made a cup of tea.

The reason I mention it is because last night I watched a documentary about the murder of Anni Dewani. Her husband, Shrien, is implicated in the death and whilst I have no idea whether he did it or not, a piece of footage was shown in which we see his reaction when he heard the news that she’d been found dead.

He is in a hotel corridor when he takes the blood-chilling call. Minutes later he is seen holding his hands up to his face and is led into his hotel room to be given a sedative. Then an hour later, he is seen prowling the hotel corridor on the phone to a friend, laughing and joking. What kind of maniacal psychopath would be LAUGHING after hearing his wife had been found dead? Surely that fucker wears guilt like a shroud!

Thing is, when I received that dreaded news, I was a dot-eyed, blank-faced caricature of what I always envisioned I’d be when faced with a statement of this magnitude. I may have laughed. I definitely drank. I didn’t, though, as I recall, cry. Not for a few days anyway. I didn’t break down and I didn’t commit suicide.

What this says about the Dewani murder I don’t know.

All I’m saying is don’t judge a griever by their laughter.