This is not a suicide note

In a tragi-comic twist, my Granny died five days before M.

Me, writing a message down for Granny on the whiteboard, as she couldn't hear.

Me writing a message down for Granny on the whiteboard, as she couldn’t hear.

She was old, tired, she’d had enough. She was also much beloved.

M and I cried together when we heard the news. Little did we know that by the end of that same week, He’d be gone too.

The day after Granny died, Dad told me: “It’s sad, but life is for the living.”

I took it as one of those perfunctory statements that people make in such situations. Didn’t give it much thought, got on with the task of living. For the next four days, at least, until my world would shockingly and without warning become utterly un-liveable.

Dad’s statement has been on my mind lately though. I understand what he was saying, but does living really exclude the dead?

In a purely physical way, yes it does. But M is still so much part of the fabric of my life and that of my daughter, I can’t condemn Him to that other land. His presence is felt in everything, from the food we eat, to the TV we watch, to the choices we make about the future.

I still grapple with a need to conceptualise the two worlds (living and dead) and their relationship with each other, which is why I cannot yet inter His ashes. I need a physical remnant of Him to remain here – a box of dust to act as a bridge between the two lands.

In the early days after M died, I wanted to die myself. Not to ‘be with Him’, because I don’t believe that’s how it all ends up. (If it does, however, knowing my luck I’d be stuck with Whitney Houston, who died on the same day. Christ, imagine that warbling in your ear for the ever-after.)

I wanted to die because the pain of losing Him was so intense, I just wanted it to stop. Many widows I know felt the same.

I never actually attempted to end my life though – mainly for fear that I’d end up in a series of botched attempts like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. But also because I have a responsibility to myself and those still living who love me. Plus it isn’t the answer to all this. I’m not sure what is.

But given that we’re all heading that way in the end, and seemingly there is no logic or forewarning from the Reaper, my revenge is to live.

And to live well. Cheers!

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A Very Moving Moment

Statler and Waldorf

Statler and Waldorf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Not bloody tennis again,” said my daughter, aged 5.

“Hail John Inverdale and be quiet. I need to watch it,” I replied.

We were trussed up on the sofa in our pyjamas under a duvet, bickering like Waldorf and Statler. Me with my Rioja, her with her milk and biscuit. The dog was also in residence, inevitably, chewing on the fetid raw-hide remnant he had just exhumed from the garden.

This is what we’ve become. Waldorf, Statler and Animal.

Most parents I know have their kids bathed, booked and in bed by seven. Our evening routine consists of a charging of glasses, a short bicker about choice of televisual viewing (Mummy TV presides after 8pm – my daughter now loves The Apprentice and is rooting for that sultry doctor), then an exodus to bed around 10pm.

Occasionally we’ll have pillow-talk:

“I don’t want curly hair.”

“I don’t like broccoli.”

“Why is Daddy in that box in the wardrobe?”

And then we sleep. Much like the evenings I used to have with the other love of my life, actually. (Pillow-talk aside…)

And when I wake up at 2am, thinking of M, I look over at the person spread-eagled in the bed next to me and the weirdest thing happens: I see Him! In the curve of her neck, the roundness of her cheek, the total calm blanketing her face.

(Statler: This is a very moving moment.

Waldorf: Yeah. I wish they’d move it to Pittsburgh.)