Force-Fed Red Bull on a Waltzer

This morning I looked in the mirror and Jackie Stallone leered back at me.  It tends to happen following A Bad Day, which is what yesterday was.untitled (8)

I’d spent much of it peering in at myself from above, wondering how the hell my life had come to this.

It was perhaps not helped by going to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, which was akin to spending three hours being force-fed Red Bull on a Waltzer. At two hours in, I was so wrung out I actually thought I was going to be sick.

My friend and I went for noodles afterwards and I cried into my Szechuan Pork. Then I suddenly felt anxious: to see my child; to get home; at the sight of rain falling outside. I drove home as the light faded ahead of me, not quite believing that the sun was setting on yet another day He had missed.

It’s days like these when only my Husband will do. I want it to be His voice telling me everything will be OK, pet, and not to worry. I want it to be Him waiting for me when I get home, not a sideboard full of His picture.

I have Mother, of course, and my sister who take on much of the rage on my behalf, but sometimes I feel so broken that even the sisterhood cannot minister to the pain.

Yesterday, The Grief and The Disbelief got me, and like one of DiCaprio’s hookers I had no choice but to lie back and take it.

This morning, though, I patched up Jackie as best I could and told her that she must carry on. I dropped my girl off at school, walked over the fields with my dog and looked on at another day.

Come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough.

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That’s me, that is.

Perhaps it’s my hormones that are making me irascible as a cat, but that’s me there, a squatting sumo just waiting for a fight.

I’ll take anyone on, especially if they have an opinion on my grief and how I choose to deal with it. But no-one is immune. That Matt Baker gets it regularly, and don’t get me started on Steve Wright.

Of course, I’m a wuss and would run off in the opposite direction like Duncan ‘Chase Me!’ Norvelle if it came to a real bout of fisty-cuffs.

But fury is fermenting in my guts. I can hear it, gurgling away. It has one means of escape, and that is by knotting itself around my nerves, sinew and digestive tract. And by the occasional outburst of unspeakable profanity and violence directed towards my pillow.

Am I entering the ‘angry’ stage? Have I now ticked off ‘despair’ and ‘hopelessness’ (phew, thank god THAT’S over!). How far have I got to go now for fuck’s sake, according to the manual?

This ‘journey’ is wearisome. It’s becoming predictable in its unpredictability.

When do I arrive at that rose-filled garden of acceptance that everyone keeps talking about? How long before I can come off the pills, drink in moderation and have a laugh about the good times? At what point will I be able to tolerate other people and their concerns again, and afford them the earnest head-nodding of pre-Mark’s death?

I’m off to consult the manual. And then throw it off the wall.

This is life after death

I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be one of those days.

A wobbly-lipped, can’t-think-about-my-dead-husband-without-wanting-to-claw-my-own-eyeballs-out type of day.

Daft posing. I cry because I miss Him so...

Daft posing. I cry because I miss Him so…

They come and go, days like these. Most of the time, it’s like living in a kind of remission. But then one unremarkable Monday you wake up to find yourself being assailed by a hairy-arsed, sabre-toothed grief demon intent on juicing you to make emotional soup.

Why today? Well I dreamt about Mark pretty much all of last night. Images of Him spooled through my brain like a film reel. And even though I kept waking, the movie didn’t stop. It resumed as soon as my head hit the pillow again.

And I sobbed in these dreams, because I somehow knew that in the morning He would still be gone.

My daughter woke up, naked and small, and I cradled her in the crook of my arm and kissed her face and told her I loved her more than anything in the world. She lay there awhile, being kissed, then asked for Shreddies.

This is life after death. This is the fabled ‘New Normal’. (There’s an expression for the Grief Bullshit Bingo sheet! Cross it off, quick!).

Today I just need to leave my assailant get on with his attack.

Tomorrow the remorseless fucker will no doubt be juicing someone else.

An Acceptance Speech

Bingo

Bingo (Photo credit: Gerry Dincher)

Ten years ago I undertook a job within local government.

Along with the endless supply of cakes and people named Kevin came a whole new vocabulary.

‘Thought-shower’. ‘Blue-sky thinking’. ‘Silo-working’. It was Bullshit Bingo on a County-wide scale. It took some getting used to, but in the end I acquiesced and heard myself one day in a meeting uttering the words; “We must strive for a multi-agency approach in order to push the envelope further…’. That may have been the day I handed in my notice.

Like any new arena, grief throws forth a whole new vocabulary too. ‘Time’ is a popular grief-speak word. ‘Process’ is another. And everyone’s favourite (altogether now!): ‘Moving On!’

The most puzzling though, for me at least, is the word ‘Acceptance’.

The other expressions I can sort of get with, but ‘Acceptance’ sticks in my craw. In this context, what the fuck does it mean?

Dictionary.com gives four possible definitions of the word:

1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.

2. favourable reception; approval; favour.

3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory

4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable
Of all of these, number three seems the most likely to apply in the case of grief. But even then, it’s tenuous. How can one assent to, or allow oneself to believe, that one’s loved one has left the planet definitively, never to return? The person to whom one spoke, every single day, about everything and nothing? The one to whom one was attached literally, emotionally, perennially, and who was loved above all others?

This throws up another of the impossibilities of grief. Seemingly everyone wants you to strive for The Big ‘A’. This is the goal, the holy grail, the point at which everything will be OK. But, if Dictionary.com has it right, how do you ever reach that point?

To me, it’s another example of Bullshit Bingo. I’ve a feeling I’ll be waiting a long time for Full House.

The Gift

An icon illustrating a parent and child

An icon illustrating a parent and child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Child: good thing to be left with after death of spouse, or just another gut-wrenching reminder of what is lost?

Well, actually, both. But I hadn’t paused to consider it much until yesterday when I went walking with a widowed friend of mine and the question came up.

She lost her husband 25 years ago in a car accident. They’d been married less than a year and had no children.

“I wished we’d had a child, so I had something left of him,” she told me. “If your husband has to be taken from you, a child is the greatest gift they can leave.”

Which of course is true, right? An admission of anything else would be akin to child abuse and would cause any sane (or possibly non-bereaved person) to balk into their cornflakes.

But here’s the thing; I have been feeling a bit miffed with Mark of late. For leaving me with all this pain, and to cope as a single parent to boot. As a child of divorcees, unilateral parenting was not what I wanted for my daughter. Mark and I had created a happy household for god’s sake! Why did He have to go and break it up?

Totally irrational, I know, but there it is. Grief’s such a bitch, it makes you start resenting someone who had no choice in the matter of their death.

And whilst I love my daughter more than anything in the world, she does pose a problem. She looks like Him. She asks questions about Him. She reminds me every day that I am a lone parent and that He has gone.

She is indeed a gift. But one I wish we could have shared.

Shits n’ giggles

Public Toilet

Public Toilet (Photo credit: ilovebutter)

This blog used to be all about shits n’ giggles.

You know; drinking beyond excess. Frolicking with the Plumber like a reckless youth. Buying loads of ‘things’. The comedic potential of dog ownership. A right old barrel o’ laughs.

I’ve noticed, and also had it pointed out, that it’s become increasingly maudlin as time has gone on. I assure you, it ain’t intentional. It seems to be the way grief is leading me. The first few months were like, whoah! What the fuck is going on here? Suddenly, from being in a relationship with the love of my life for ten years, (married for five), I am, for all intents and purposes, single.

What does this mean?

He’s not here, that’s what it means. And I can do whatever, or whomever I want! I don’t have to ‘check’ if I can go out with the girls for a night. I don’t have to ‘run it by Him’ if I want to go away for the weekend. I can sleep with whomever I choose, without explanation. I can spend money on whatever I want, (He never would have agreed to half the shit I’ve bought since He died). I can now make decisions about my daughter’s future singularly, without having to seek a second opinion.

In short, it’s back to ME, ME, ME. Freedom, George Michael-style. (With the exception of that unfortunate public toilet debacle.)

But actually. Erm. I don’t like it. The ‘fun’ is over.

You can come back now, love…Love? Love?

Life goes on, and assorted other cliches

"Curse of an Aching Heart", 1913 she...

“Curse of an Aching Heart”, 1913 sheet music cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

It’s a warm and fuzzy theory and everything, but the deeper I sink into the hell of losing my husband, best friend and soul mate, the more I think it may just be another of those placatory statements which means absolutely fuck all.

A steely, love-free heart would be preferable to the broken, aching organ which currently occupies a cavity in my chest. At least then there would be no pain – it would simply be deflected.

If I’d never met Him, how much easier the act of living would be. He would have died and I would never have known. I would have always looked for Him, I’m sure, as I spent 26 years looking for Him, but this sensation of being somehow bereft of a limb would be muted. Selfish thing to say, but try a mile in these shoes.

We were cut from the same cloth, you see. Fitted together like the last two pieces of a jigsaw. Distinct personalities, yet fundamentally linked. How do I proceed now He’s gone, so suddenly, so definitively?

I’m on the pills, doing the counselling, distracting myself with child, dog, wine, writing! Child, dog, wine, inappropriate men! Child, dog, wine, new sideboard! I’m playing my role in this act of living to great effect.

But something’s shifted in the grief process. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I feel different. The weight on my shoulders feels heavier. Even the thought of His name is too much.

Listen, don’t worry though. Tomorrow’s another day. Life goes on. Onwards and upwards.

And assorted other clichés.