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?

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A Little Post-Christmas Pep

English: A postcard from 1919, with artwork of...

English: A postcard from 1919, with artwork of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those in search of a little post-Christmas pep, please refer to another website. Possibly that of hardy pep-perennial Noel Edmunds, or anyone from Steps. This post is for curmudgeons only, so if that’s you, pull up a chair.

The Big Day is over, and thanks to good friends, five kids, three dogs and Tesco’s wine department, I’m out the other side.

I’m not going to lie – in those moments when I allowed thoughts of my husband to seep in, it was tough, especially as I spent the day within the Instagrammed glow of my oldest friend’s beautiful and very much intact family. Me, my daughter and the dog, amid what ‘should have been’.

I found myself gazing at my friend’s husband as he set about the tasks of a family Christmas – placing a Santa-sized footprint on the hearth, filming the kids as they opened their gifts, painting the new guinea pig hutch, responding patiently to the incessant calls of Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!

My heart ached for Mark, for all that He was missing – most notably the look of delight on our daughter’s face when she opened the most repulsive present ever conceived – a shitting daschund toy by the name of ‘Doggy Doo’. But also all the feasting and the festivities, which were the aspects of life He loved most.

At one point, glassy-eyed and full of fizz, I grabbed hold of my friend’s husband and snivelled into his neck.  It took me another flute of champers and a bout of Michael Buble-inspired mirth to pull myself round.

I’m bobbing along on the surface of the season like one of those turds that won’t flush, and still have a New Year and the 39th birthday of my husband to contemplate before I can fully relax into the countdown to the second anniversary of His death.

I did tell you to refer to Noel.

The Grinch who twerked before Christmas

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Fuck Off

According to Andy Williams “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Does Andy really believe that shit? If he does, he’s never been bereaved.

The festive season seems to twerk before me like a tinsel-strewn Miley Cyrus, a twinkling reminder that I am facing the second year without my husband.

Pre-death of beloved spouse, I hadn’t fully appreciated the couple-centric bent of the season. Now it seems to exist solely to taunt me: Endless rows of socks and soap-on-a-rope in the ‘what to buy for Dad’ sections, Iceland ads featuring fluorescent-toothed families enjoying quality time together, Mariah Carey, Nativity plays (yet another bloody happy couple), Christmas couples drinkies, mistletoe, Mariah Carey…it begins in October and twerks obscenely into January, ending just in time for Mark’s birthday on the 4th.

The decision, therefore, is whether to beat ’em or join ’em.

So I have decided to flip the bird to the season. I am not sending cards, I am not buying presents, on the day itself I’m going to my friend’s house to get shitfaced. I am the Grinch, and I’m twerking before Christmas.

My one concession has been the erection of a small spruce in the corner of the dining room. But even the simple task of decorating it seemed leaden with pathos. What was once an exciting part of the Yuletide schedule was reduced to fifteen lacklustre minutes of my daughter and me grappling with lights, extricating baubles, dusting off stockings.

In the end, my daughter wrapped the tree almost entirely in tinsel and now it seems to leer at me like some kind of camp Dalek reminding me once again that it is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

Most torturous time of the year more like.

A Dispatch from Widow Twankey

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Me, last night.

I’m in love with a dead man.

Head over heels, lindy-hoppin’, hells-a-poppin’, TomKat-couch-jumpin’ in love. With a dead man. I think about Him and my heart swoons.

I remember the night we met. He was wearing a blue turtle neck jumper, blue jeans, and smoking a Marlboro light. He smiled at me and I was hooked.

“Mother,” I said to The Long-Suffering One that same evening. “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry.”

And I did, four years and a small amount of petulance later. (“Well, when ARE you going to ask me to marry you then, for fuck’s sake?!”)

So in all of this – this being truly, madly, deeply in love with a dead man – where could there ever be room for anyone else? And furthermore, what sort of head-banging masochist would put up with being in a relationship with someone who was still in love with said dead man? Particularly one with a small child, a red wine addiction and a habit of unexpectedly breaking down in the throes of grief?

I have been forced to consider this question this week, after a good friend who only cares for my well-being, called me Widow Twankey and instructed me to ‘get a life’. I would have preferred a comparison with a more romantic heroic lead, but I suppose if the hairnet fits…

She said it in response to my admission that I’m lonely and might quite like a friend who is a boy. Her outburst was tempered with humour and red wine, but based on the adages relating to these two concepts and truth, I kinda know she meant it. Others are probably thinking the same, of course, but lack her eloquence to express it.

So, in considering this question, here’s where I’ve got to. I’m in love with Mark. And we exist together in the impenetrable love cocoon that I have created inside my head.

I’m just not sure how to go about letting anyone else in.

Season of misseds and mellow fruitfulness

Mark loved Autumn, and here we are in the throes of a spectacular one. Yeah, yeah Mother Nature, rub my snivelling snout in it a bit more why don’t you? As if I don’t miss Him enough.balanced_seesaw-001

And golden leaf-flurries and abundant hedgerows notwithstanding, I am really missing Him at the minute.

It’s been a gruelling couple of weeks and I need His opinion on things. He countered my skewed world-view with His own skewed world-view, thus producing one perfectly balanced individual.

When you’ve had ten years of living side-by-side with someone – farting, burping, giving birth in their presence – it is impossible to reconcile the fact that they are suddenly no longer there. Entire chapters of your life are swallowed up in that furnace at the crematorium. Exclusive vocabulary, mannerisms, points of reference, all gone up in smoke.

I actually went to tell Him something the other day, unable to staunch the flow of the first few words before they came out.

“Remember: ‘Did you drawed that’…?” I began. (It was a line from this book, right, and… ahh, forget it.)

But I was talking into the wind. Of course, He wasn’t there.

Generally, we agreed on stuff, so I think I know what His counsel would be relating to issues of the day. (Although not the sexual allure of Jenny Agutter. We never saw eye-to-eye on that.)  And besides, I have a raft of other counsellors now, from my Counsellor with the capital ‘C’, to my friends, family and the odd individual who pipes in with an opinion every now and again. But that voice – His voice – is conspicuous by its silence.

So here I am, perched on my side of life’s see-saw looking up at the empty space where my foil should be.

At least the weather’s good though, right?

Scenes from the Boden catalogue

Someone hell-bent on covering up their drinking habit from their wife has filled my recycle bin with empties. Yeah! I found them yesterday when I couldn’t fit my own shameful stash into the little green box.

They’re definitely not mine; they’re San Miguel bottles and l wouldn’t touch that piss with yours.

That said, it’s been half-term this week, and shorter days coupled with protracted child’s DVD viewing seem to legitimise earlier drinking. I’ll confess I’ve lost track of how much I’ve consumed, what I’ve consumed and where I’ve consumed it. But San Miguel? Hmm.

October half-term always brings out the worst in widowed me.

Kids seem to be running round everywhere shouting for their daddies; and daddies seem to be running round everywhere after their kids. It’s like living out scenes from the Boden catalogue.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed the ubiquity of dad-child interaction before Mark’s death. But these days my eyes appear to be set to Instagram mode, where every scene featuring dad and offspring has a soft-hued, nostalgic edge.

And dads seem to be so much more interactive since Mark died. They’re feeding rabbits at farm parks, whizzing down slides, singing loudest at music groups. They’re taking time to hone their Hallowe’en costumes in order to engage in door-to-door widow-baiting with their apple-cheeked families.

What happened to the good old days of mother as the primary carer? Prior to Mark’s death I rarely saw a dad. Farm parks were the domain of women and cake. Mother’s was the only voice you heard at Joe Jingles. Between Mark and me, I was the one with the repetitive slide-burn.

I swear, it’s enough to turn me to San Miguel. God, perhaps they were my empties after all.

The Man

A simple flowchart for troubleshooting a broke...

A simple flowchart for troubleshooting a broken lamp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stink.

No really, I do.

I haven’t showered in 48 hours due to the fact that my boiler broke down on Sunday, and despite earnest button-pushing and knob-twirling and attempting to decipher flow-charts in the manual, I have had to call in The Man.

Prior to calling in The Man, two other Mans came to look at it – partners of women-friends, each with varying degrees of competence in boiler button-pushing. One of them even had the front of it off and was poking around with the PCB. (The something-or-other Circuit Board, apparently. He did explain but I dozed off. Standing up, with my eyes open.)

Once he conceded he couldn’t fix it, the second Man agreed to call in the current Man on my behalf – mainly because I hate dealing with this shit, I don’t want to try and understand it, and ordinarily I would have left it to my husband to sort out.

As if this weren’t enough, I have faced the triple whammy of car tax, insurance and licence renewal this week. Where Mark enjoyed the challenge of finding the cheapest quote and the timely submission of inane DVLA bureaucracy, the whole process fills me with dread.

This year, I decided to take it in stages. First, I diligently wrote on my chalk board the words: Tax. Insurance. Licence. They taunted me for a week, before I decided to ask other people what I needed to do.

Anyway, they’re done now. I’m taxed, insured and licenced to within an inch of my life. My boiler is being fixed as we speak.

I am, for all intents and purposes, (and with the assistance of loving friends and family) coping with this hand I’ve been dealt, one task at a time.

But in some areas – the everyday tasks of real life – I really wish I were being cared for by my own Man instead of someone else’s.