EUREKA!

plastic-island-2

You see that? That’s the contents of my cranium, that is.

It’s taken 22 months of ardent chin-scratching, but I think I may have finally worked out why widowhood is so uniquely isolating. (I’m a slow burner, ok? It took me three attempts to pass Maths at GCSE).

For everyone else, life, fundamentally, hasn’t changed. Once the initial shock wore off, their concerns reverted back to their kids, their households, their hatred of that bloke in Accounts.

And why wouldn’t they? Mark wasn’t part of their everyday. They didn’t wake up next to him, kiss him as he left the house in the morning, listen to his lengthy explanations of how things worked, bid him goodnight and then spend the time ’til dawn willing him to stop bloody snoring.

Neither did they have their hopes and dreams for the future entangled with His. We were planning to move to France. Have another child. Get a dog with big paws and a long muzzle. Finally eat at The Coachman in Snainton. (I have a suspicion He was planning that for Valentine’s Day actually – I found their menu in His backpack after He died. Gah! Three days too late!)

When He died, everyone who knew Him was devastated. But now they miss Him intermittently, and reflect on Him warmly at moments when He pops into their heads.

But my existence has been turned inside out. I have had to relocate, physically and mentally. I have had to realign. Rethink.

And all that whilst trying to take in the fact that the love of my life has gone forever and simultaneously raise our child. I am the only person who has had to do this in the aftermath of his death. (Do I get a nice badge?)
Little wonder then that the contents of my brain feel like that Plastic Island in the middle of the Pacific – a whirling vortex of uncertainty and half-consumed, useless shit.

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The Cynical Imp

A stainless steel frying pan.

A stainless steel frying pan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know on Tom and Jerry, when Tom gets hit by a frying pan and there’s that ‘doiing-ng-ng!’ sound, followed by Tom’s teeth dropping out one by one?

That was me, today, after my counselling session.

The idea was to talk through M’s last day on Earth in the present tense, responding to prompts by my counsellor. The conversation would be recorded so that we could listen back to it.  The cynical imp who has occupied a space on my shoulder throughout most of my life snortled: This is going to be a total waste of time. What’s for lunch?

Yet despite him, the Exposure Therapy began.

“What’s the date?” the counsellor asked.

The cynical imp was slightly affronted. He didn’t like being taken back to that date. “It’s Saturday, February 11th, 2012.”

“What are your plans for the day?”

“We’re going to Durham. My Grandma died on Tuesday, (yes, in a tragi-comic twist, my beloved Granny died 5 days before M) so we’re going home to support Mum.”

“Are you leaving on time?”

“No – we’re messing about.”

“What are you doing?”

“M is in the shower and I’m drawing rude shapes in the condensation and telling Him that I’m apprehensive about the funeral of my Grandmother. It’s the first funeral of a family member that I have attended, and I’m scared.”

“What does M say?”

“He says, ‘don’t worry pet, I’ll be there with you…'”

We continue for 13 minutes. We go through loading the car, listening to Neil Young on the car stereo. We go through leaving the village and heading west on the A64 towards the A1 north. We don’t even make it to my Mother’s house before I’m weeping into a tissue.

The cynical imp is WELL fucked off at this emotional turn of events.

The tape is stopped and rewound. This is the point when the frying pan comes swinging into full force. I close my eyes, I listen to myself and I relive that day.

M is there, in His black-grey M&S Italian-cut jacket. We’re in the bedroom of our home: our little nest, just off the A64 – opposite the church, 100 yards from the Coach and Horses. We’re shooting the shit, talking about something and nothing, like couples do. Like couples do. Like couples do.

I sob and I sob, and the counsellor says she’s going to stop the tape.

She asks: “What was it that prompted the emotional reaction?”

“It’s the conversations which only happen between two people who have known each other intimately inside and out; who are best friends and lovers in one. The sort of conversations you can’t have with even your closest friend. I haven’t had one of those for eighteen long months. I’m never going to have one again with Him. It’s another layer of my sorrow, exposed.”

I call for a halt and leave the session.

The cynical imp is chastened and exhausted.

Round two next week. Doiing-ng-ng!!!

An inbox full of Arnie

English: Walk-behind lawn mower

English: Walk-behind lawn mower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since I made the mistake of signing up to an online dating agency (and swiftly un-signing up might I add), my email account has been deluged with photographs of ripple-chested, mahogany-coloured males, all branded with the legend, “These are real members!”

This claim is patently untrue.

Even if I were interested, which I’m not, how is it that when I was (momentarily) a member, my matches were all either aged seventeen with plooks or portly jokers with an interesting line in ties? There wasn’t a mahogany torso to be found. And believe me, I trawled the site looking for one.

This is the insidious nature of the Internet about which M warned me time and time again. Never subscribe to or look at anything unless you are prepared for it to come back and bite you on the arse. I subscribed in a fit of drink-fuelled loneliness, and now I can’t escape from it. Doomed forever to an inbox full of Arnie look-alikes.

The loneliness which prompted the whole damn thing persists though. I miss His company, His humour, the feeling of His body next to me in bed. I miss seeing His face, the sound of His voice. It goes beyond loneliness though; it is a kind of yearning which can’t be fixed by a date with a man with a rippled chest.

Even the lawn-mower-like roar of His snoring which caused so many grumpy nocturnal stomps to the spare room – I’d give an inbox full of Arnie to hear it again.

I Should Be So Lucky

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Waiting for his homies to arrive

In an echo of Kylie Minogue’s seminal hit, I did, today, feel Lucky. In Love.

(And in life, actually, but Minogue clearly didn’t feel inclined to go that far.)

The feeling of good fortune started when I was walking the dog last night. I passed a row of bungalows for the elderly and in one of the windows sat an old man, just staring out. I smiled and he smiled back.

I looked into the room where he was sitting and saw he was alone. There was no TV lighting up the corner, no cat curled on the windowsill.

It made me consider the gut-wrenching loneliness I feel on a daily basis since M has died. And it is gut-wrenching – a physical sensation of someone ripping out my guts. (And I should know – I had a Caesarean).

At least, I thought, I’m going back the loving arms of my daughter and the enthusiastic leg-humping of my dog. I am physically well and able to visit friends. I have enough money in my pocket for a bottle of wine when I need one. (Essential, according to advice from my grandpa).

I wondered about the old man. Clearly I could have been jumping to conclusions – he might well be the Peter Stringfellow of the village party scene, just waiting for his homies to turn up. But more than likely, he wouldn’t see another face until the postman arrived tomorrow afternoon.

Today,  I feel lucky to have met M, and privileged that He chose me to spend His short life with. I feel blessed that I experienced love like that – tender, respectful, intense, to the exclusion of all others.

We had just ten years, and hell, I feel cheated and enraged at it being so savagely cut short. But some people don’t have that in a lifetime.

I guess you’ve got to count your blessings while you can.