It’s better than drinking alone

English: KitKat chunky. Français : Barre de Ki...

English: KitKat chunky. Français : Barre de KitKat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK so starter for ten: The following lyric is from which song?

‘They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness / But it’s better than drinking alone…’

Answer at end of post. Scroll down there now if you can’t be arsed with a squiffy widow’s random ruminations on above quote.

In fact, my daughter, aged 5, selected this CD today out of a collection of thousands. (Mine amount to around twenty, the rest were His). We listened to it in the car and I was struck by the lyric, as I have been struck by many a song lyric since M died.

This tune involves barflies congregating around a piano, conjoined in mutual melancholia. It’s also a song about drinking, which has become as much a feature of my life as brushing my teeth and a morning brew.

The thing is – everyone is going through their own shit. I’ve lost my husband, I’m never going to see Him again. This has become my life and my eternal sorrow.

But I have come to recognise that my loss is relative to what everyone else is going through. People are fielding blows of their own. One friend has just found out her sister has cancer. Another’s boyfriend is on bail. Someone else is facing redundancy. My Dad visits my Grandpa in the care home every single day in bewilderment that the formidable character he knew and loved is now solely preoccupied by Kit-Kats.

We all invariably end up in the pub discussing and sharing our woes.

But it’s better than drinking alone, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVKtL9VU8rQ

Advertisements

A slippery little customer

English: Comfort in Grief

English: Comfort in Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grief, eh? Slippery little customer. It won’t be defined, no matter how you hard you try to pin it down.

Yesterday I was handed a bejewelled box and a book by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross by my daughter’s counsellor. The ‘intervention’ had come to an end and these were the legacy of the sessions.

The box had been hand-decorated by my daughter and had previously housed shoes. Now it was wrapped in brown parcel paper and covered in sequins. It contained a selection of brightly-coloured toys, stickers and pens, supposedly to comfort her in those moments when she was missing daddy. All I saw was flotsam which would invariably end up strewn about my living room floor. I asked her about the pink elephant.

“It’s a pink elephant,” she said.

“Would you like to cuddle it when you’re missing daddy?”

She looked me as if I’d just shat on the carpet. “……….It’s a pink elephant.”

Six weeks well spent then.

Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist with an interest in dying, who coined five ‘stages’ which are apparently typical of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I came across her soon after M died – those early days when I sought a ‘solution’ to my grief by spending a fortune on books on the subject.

Some books contained ‘road maps’ to recovery. Some were heavy with case studies and testimonials from people who had gone through it and survived. None of them made any sense to me though. I didn’t want to ‘recover’. I didn’t want to hear about other people’s losses. I wanted to stop retching every morning, I wanted the jags of anxiety to stop. I wanted M back and for Him not to be dead.

So my conclusion is this: Grief cannot be corralled or boxed or arranged into stages. Grief is different for everyone, as are expressions thereof.

The only solution is to put your head down and push through it. And of course, drink wine.

If You Died I’d.

DSC03355

The two loves of my life, six days before the big one died.

Cardiac surgeons! How come Eddie Large (20 stone and aged 72) lives on and prospers ten years after a heart transplant, whereas the love of my life foundered three years after aortic reconstruction surgery aged 37?

Answers in plain English on the back of a postcard please.

I became aware of Eddie’s death-dodging triumph tonight whilst watching – well, not watching, exactly, staring dumbly at – All Star Mr and Mrs. Ever seen it before? Me neither. I wish I’d never tuned in.

The premise hasn’t changed for a hundred years, only the prize (it’s gone from carriage clock to charity donation) and the calibre of the contestants (formerly members of the public, now people who were famous but are back to being members of the public again.)

Eddie Large and his wife Patsy – er – Large came stumbling onto the stage (no really, they did, Eddie tripped) and announced the startling transplant news. Happy though I was for Eddie, I couldn’t help feeling affronted. What’s his secret?

The show went from bad to worse, as VTs of the three happy couples showed them all at home, fluorescent-toothed and in love, kissing in slo-mo and telling the public how they couldn’t live without the other.

“I can’t imagine life without him,” said Yvette Fielding of her husband Wotzizname.

“I can’t talk about how wonderful she is, otherwise I’ll just fill up,” said Eddie of Patsy.

And who can blame them? I feel the same about my husband. I couldn’t, and can’t, imagine life without Him. I can’t talk about how wonderful He is and was without filling up.

I feel resentful, though, that other couples still have the luxury of only imagining the worst. I feel resentful that Eddie survived what my husband could not. This is a selfish, reproachful and childish response, I know, but there it is.

We used to say to each other, M and I, the line from Lemn Sissay’s Love Poem: If you died I’d.

He did, but I haven’t. I feel selfish about that too.

Lady in Waiting

883278_10151322318116657_970659820_o

My dog, waiting.

If only all men were as pleased to see me as my dog.

I came home earlier and there he was. In the window. With his waggly tail. And one of my daughter’s toys in his mouth, disembowelled and relieved of all its facial features.

Whenever I leave him, he takes his place on the back of the settee and stares out, waiting for the moment when I reappear. Sometimes I’ve only gone to the car and back, yet he greets me as if I’m Lord Lucan.

He spends his entire life waiting, actually. He’s sitting under my desk now as I type, waiting for a biscuit. He waits for walks, food, bed-time, up-time. In the year that I’ve had him, he has become utterly devoted to me and my every move.

In the first few months after M’s death, I spent much of my time waiting too. Like my dog in the window, I stared out, waiting for Him to return. Time marched on but still I waited. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was waiting for, as logic dictated that He wasn’t coming back. He hadn’t just nipped to the car. But still, I waited.

I realised today, when I returned home and saw the dog at the window, that I am no longer waiting.

I’m not sure when I stopped waiting. I still hold on to a brittle hope that somehow He’ll come walking round a corner – indeed, I fantasise about it: that He’ll materialise out of a crowd of shoppers, or step out of the woods while I’m on a walk.

But the waiting has ended. He’s not coming back.

Meep meep!

54226

Look out! Acme anvil!
(picture credit: http://www.rankopedia.com

I’ve started smoking again.

Strictly other people’s fags though – I wouldn’t dream of buying any of my own. (Have you SEEN the price of a pack of Marlboros?)

So essentially, I’m smoking on the odd occasion when I go out and find someone who is smoking, and who is prepared to give me a cigarette.

Hardly anyone smokes anymore though, with even fewer being prepared to share a commodity which costs more per ounce than solid gold, so I’m averaging about one cigarette a month.

If I’m honest, I don’t even like it. It tastes like shit and turns my brain into a waltzer. But! I can add it to the checklist of Reckless Things to do Since Sudden Death of Beloved Husband, and that is its one redeeming feature.

I find that I have stagnated at a confusing intersection on this journey. I am terrified of boarding a plane for fear of dying, yet I’m beating my liver into submission on a nightly basis with red wine. I catastrophise the potential for danger in EVERYTHING my daughter does (Look out! Falling Acme anvil!), yet feel like fucking the first man I meet.

In short, I am wilfully tap-dancing around the edge of oblivion and at the same time I’m scared shitless of my own shadow.

To an extent, I have always had this contradiction in my personality. But since M’s death, the two extremes have polarised further to a point where sometimes, I think I have regressed to my University days – the ones in which I would drunkenly ambush the lead singer of every band who played the Union and insist on taking over the mike. (Cringe!)

Anyway. Enough of this shit. My alter-ego wants to know if she can borrow one of your cigarettes?

Hunter-gatherer

NigelCarry_2102807c

This is not our doctor friend

Conversations with our doctor friend usually start with, ‘Could you just have a look at this rash?”

However the other night, when he joined us for a glass of wine after another gruelling shift,  I asked: ‘Working such long hours, do you miss spending time with your son?’

The answer was of course, yes.

But, he said, he is ‘programmed’ to provide for the family; for him, this involves long hours and therefore affective impulses must be muted.

Perhaps this is true of many men – they have an ’emotional stop’ button of sorts which prevents them from breaking down whenever they have to leave their kids to go away on business. Female friends who are mothers and career-women  inevitably end up making sacrifices with work (part-time hours, early finishes) in order to assuage the guilt they feel at having to leave their offspring with aged Aunt Maude for the rest of the week.

This is a generalisation of course, but in the realms of my own experience, it’s absolutely true.

I palpitate if I have to leave my daughter overnight, whereas M went off to Australia for two weeks with work, waving His cork hat behind Him. He may have wept into His Vegemite sandwiches whilst He was over there, but if He did, He never let on.

Another great sorrow, then, that I feel on His behalf. He too was ‘programmed’ to provide, a role which was so important to Him, especially when our daughter was born. I know He it would break His heart to think He’d left us to fend for ourselves (no matter how capable we are of doing it.)

So here we are, rattling about in this little house of ours, carrying on as best we can. I just hope He ain’t looking down.

Anyway, back to this rash…

BEWARE HOUSEWORK!

Fringe on the Royal Mile 2011 061

Fringe on the Royal Mile 2011 061 (Photo credit: byronv2)

The problem with housework is that it is so unfathomably tedious, it gives the mind an opportunity to wander blithely into that hinterland known as ‘Bad Thoughts’.

And as if on cue, today, whilst scrubbing round the u-bend, my mind got snaggled on a particularly thorny subject.

Loss.

Yes, I’ve lost M. But I’ve also lost the future we had planned together.

(Not that we had much planned actually, except to grow old together, laughing at that Channel 4 Arts Correspondent, whilst continuing to call each other Pet and Buble.)

One thing we had planned though, was to have another child – a sibling for our daughter.

Those who become embroiled in the complicated world of conception know that there is a ‘moment’ during the month in which all systems must absolutely go – you have a thirty second window before the egg explodes and the sperm shrivels or something. So that was our window, the night He died.

We’d lost a baby in the September. (Like grief, that’s another taboo subject, so DON’T tell anyone I’ve told you). I still think about that baby – it would be fifteen months old now, no doubt ginge like the first one, no doubt causing me endless worry about its blue shit. I mourn for it because of what it has come to represent – loss, on so many levels.

Yes, in theory I’m not too old to have another baby. But I don’t want any other baby  – I want HIS baby. And I am eternally grateful for the baby of His I already have.

But today, whilst on at the u-bend, I thought about my siblings – the one whose sole purpose it is to make me laugh and the one who is my best friend – and I felt like a right git for denying my daughter those relationships.

The lesson? As I always suspected –  DON’T do housework.