Please send back my leg-warmers.

leg warmers photo from flickr by iluvrhinestones

leg warmers photo from flickr by iluvrhinestones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sudden death of a spouse is fucking rude.

It waltzes into your life without invitation and gives you no opportunity for recourse. I want to tap it on the shoulder and say, excuse me but…fuck off. Can you come back in, say, 50 years time? And give us warning next time?

It brings to mind those excruciating moments when one ‘breaks up’ with a boyfriend. The build-up. The announcement. The returning of items which held so much weight at the time:

“Please send back my leg-warmers and the Belinda Carlisle album, asap.”

Sudden death affords no such luxury. One minute, the love of your life is alive. The next, they are dead. You have no chance for discussion, no build-up, no demands for significant items to be returned. Indeed, you are left to look through things belonging to your beloved and decide what is significant or not.

When M died, there were a couple of boxes of memorabilia I’d never seen. Not that He’d hidden them from me – we just hadn’t got round to them, as a couple.

I asked my oldest friend in the world to come and sort through them with me. Contained within were photos, letters and pictures that revealed a whole other side to my husband.

“What’s this photo of?”

“Who is this?”

“What does this mean?”

We spent an evening trying to decipher His life ‘before me’. Of course, we reached no conclusion. There were no answers, because the only person who could provide them was gone. So I have boxes full of unanswered questions in my loft.

I wish I had a few moments just to ask Him about the contents of those boxes. What? Who? When? Where?

But this is the nature of sudden death. It gives you no time.

Fucking rude.

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Two fatal errors

English: cigarette butts

English: cigarette butts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The family weekend at my Dad’s was unusual in two respects – there were no arguments and I was first to bed. Granted, we’d been drinking since lunchtime, but I pride myself on normally being the penultimate one to stagger up the wooden hill at these events – Dad is always last on the pretext of ‘locking up’, which is shorthand for a whisky nightcap. (Gotcha!)

This time, however, I was tucked up by eleven, shedding fat mascara tears onto the pillow. It was my sister-in-law’s fault. She has the misfortune of being a good listener and a pragmatist, and also had a soft spot for M, all of which combine to make her a lamb to the slaughter in the face of my mental state.

She made two fatal errors. Earlier in the day, she mentioned Him in conversation. No-one EVER mentions Him. Indeed, she went so far as to reminisce about a time when He was alive. Then, much later, she invited me outside for a cigarette and put an arm around my shoulder. Consequently, she bore the brunt of an emotional eruption of seismic proportions. She stood, helpless against the onslaught and said, finally;

“I’ll dispose of the fag ends. At least it’s one thing I can do to help you.”

I’ve been weepy for days, so it was perhaps inevitable that a sun-soaked, booze-fuelled family gathering without my beloved family member was going to be tough. And the reality is, there’s nothing anyone can do. Except dispose of the fag ends.

Inverse proportionality: bereavement and wine

English: Alan Carr at The British Comedy Award...

English: Alan Carr at The British Comedy Awards 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My relationship with alcohol since losing M reminds me of the joke my Dad tells:
Fred: I drink to forget.

Jim: Forget what?

Fred: …I’ve forgotten.

Someone, somewhere, must have done a study into the relationship between alcohol consumption and bereavement. The level of shit one is going through at any given time is inversely proportional to the amount of wine drunk, and the sudden loss of a soul mate must be up there with the worst of the shit. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been an enthusiastic booze-guzzler (it’s genetic), but a bottle a night doesn’t now seem to touch the sides.

School pick-up comes around and I feel my taste buds agitating for the Rioja which I know is sitting on the kitchen bench back home. I do, however, wait until 5pm to start drinking – any earlier would seem indecent, especially on a weeknight. Perhaps even more indecent is the televisual viewing legacy I face the next day – I turn the box on and find the last channel it was tuned into was QVC. Or worse still, the one showing Alan Carr.

Drinking doesn’t make me forget, but it releases endorphins which make me believe I can cope with the enormity of the loss. Oddly, wine consumption brings a clarity of thought which is absent during the day. By morning though, I’ve forgotten what I was so clear about the night before and find myself referring to this blog to find out what the fuck I’m on about.