As I sit at the side of the house in Brecon in 30+ degrees in the shade in the middle of “an extreme heat” event, I am recovering from a horrid dose of norovirus. I will spare you the details. This month brings Mum’s 94th birthday rolling in with amazing memories of celebrating her birthdays particularly since she was 80 as well as the blackness of the space she’s left in me. I’ve been down at Oxwich every weekend since Easter slowly healing and giving myself the space to do that. I visited Cardiff on the way home each week to see my gorgeous grandkids and daughter in law. Keeping on with my weekly stints being a Samaritan listener has given me a strength nothing else can give me in my life. So many complicated lives to share and care about. Looking after Monty continues my joy with the added weekly swim/ splash now fully in place. Nothing like a special treat box to keep a two year old still in the changing room! His imaginative play has grown again. It goes into realms I can only guess at. Quite inspiring. Then as I finally get the completed bill from the solicitor ( that’s 1 year and 5 and a half months) I go into a tailspin. The expenses are ridiculous and so high it took my breath away. But absolutely everyone in the family has told me to walk away from it all for my sake. One hundred per cent the same advice from them and my best friend. It is unheard of them to be in unison! On anything! So I must do that. My first instinct was to fight for every penny of Mum’s money for her and dad’s sake. They had worked so hard for this. It was their gift to me and Laury. But I had a long reflection in Oxwich and decided to take everyone’s advice. It will always be their money in trust to me ready for my kids. Then my thoughts turned naturally to what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I feel as if I’ve been either drowning or at best treading water since mum died. This can’t go on. It’s making me ill. No peace. Almost 18 months. My thoughts went downhill again regarding my personal relationship. One late night phone call later and unbelievably some progress about the past happened. But it was extremely painful and the edge was not a pleasant place to teeter on. It could have gone either way. Everything had come to a sharp point. I can analyse why easily, but that’s irrelevant. There’s the beginning of a path cleared so we’ll see where it leads.
April was lovely as I could spend my weekends in my little chalet in Oxwich and my midweek at Samaritans and looking after my youngest grandson. Towards the end of April I decided to do a rather large detour of 45 miles to my eldest son’s house and spend some time with his wife and meet two of his children from school, play with them and tell them a Rhodri Rabbit story for bedtime before driving home. The afternoon was spent playing with Isaac- the one grandchild I haven’t looked after and I miss that closeness, so I decided to build up our bond. He doesn’t talk yet so it’s sometimes frustrating for both of us to understand each other, but I’m working on it. I value my time with him and his mum before the others invade our space. It gives us all warmth. Connecting. My younger son has started to come to my chalet with his son for Sunday lunch and cook it too, staying overnight. It’s so lovely.
I’m still in another place emotionally. A strange place and I just don’t know when this will end. Someone last week really understood the way I am feeling about photos and memories. He’d lost his mum 5 years ago. It was a few minutes conversation that gave me a real lift. Yet as May starts I’m feeling so awful, missing mum more than ever. It’s like I’m not really here. Just can’t focus on the future. Or the present sometimes. Just death.
Here by the beach in my little haven of calm I am still floating along feeling myself unwind. I’ve had my second vaccine this week and hope my sons and their partners will get vaccinated by July. Sitting on my patio I’m looking forward to my youngest grandson to visit today. He’s like a whirlwind at two and a half. But what a delight. We’ll be going down to the beach and lollies will be required! This week I walked to Port Eynon along the coastal path. It was a long walk 4 hours, punctuated with some lovely fish and chips, absolutely spectacular. The rocks are amazing, feeling the immense age of their formation. The angle and jaggedness is mesmerising. The little sandy sections are like secret spots of delight, some with makeshift ropes down a crevice in the cliffs. Very tempting, but not with my problem arm! The rock pools look clear and might hold some interesting surprises.
On Saturday 27th March 2020 I got up early after a restless night. The car was packed apart from the frozen food. I was so excited to be able to visit my little chalet in Oxwich Bay.. Of I drove with a smile on my face but also a few doubts- will my key work ( ridiculous), will everything look ok- no damp, no stale smells, will I remember how to switch the water and electricity on ( more ridiculous). After a lovely drive with no problems- I’d envisaged long queues of cars trying to get to the beach- I almost began to think I’d got it all wrong and I was going to be sent back by the police!
Of course everything was fine and I could see my new glass balustrade around my patio for the first time fully completed with no problems ( long story). As I opened the door for the first time it was joyous. It was calm and beautiful. I just keep smiling- all the time. It is just wonderful. As soon as I had emptied the car I was off down the lane to see the beach. Still no traffic jams or hoards of people. I stood and looked at the bay stretching away towards Three Cliffs Bay. A fantastic 6mile walk later I returned to my favourite beach takeaway cafe and Gary the cook for my guilty pleasure for lunch- chicken goujons and chips with Mocha coffee sitting on the beach watching the tide come in. Just felt deeply happy. Watching the waves crash and roll on to the sand is mesmerising. My eyes delighted in the texture of the rocks and the sand puddles, the patterns of the shells scattered along the shoreline were a visual delight. It was like I was high on nature! I knew I liked it here, but as this place has helped me grieve for mum last year I feel she would have loved being here with me. She would have understood. Perhaps the only one who does. I still miss her so much.
My brain filters out memories at different times. I thought I’d remember every good moment in my life and suppress all the bad things that have happened, but that’s not how it is working out. I know how damaging my thoughts about what has happened to me are. There’s lots of ways of dealing with negative thoughts about those people who have hurt me and I’ve tried most of them. So what should I do? My sadness is not good for me. My hatred and distrust of some people is not want I want in my life. These people probably have no thought about me and what they have done. Do I want to be defined by others actions? I worry about my own decisions at moments of intense stress caused by the actions of others were the right ones. I say to myself that I cannot change any of it so move on. Concentrate on the future and my grandchildren. Enjoy so many great memories with my family and students. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Today I thought about what can I do to celebrate women. So in my limited way I went for a walk. A beautiful walk by the canal. Wonderful noises- birds singing, sheep bleating with their new lambs. Sunshine yellow light making shadows and beautiful greens across the fields towards the Brecon Beacons in the distant blueness. Everything made me smile. Even watching the ducks squabbling and passing people saying hello or good morning. Having this place to go and being able to walk for miles has continued to help me. Still sat in the sun and thought sadly of mum. How I still miss her after a year. I realised how lonely I feel sometimes. The sun on my face was glorious. I am thinking about what I can do for others before I die. Death is always on my mind. But I’m also thinking of where I’ll be able to travel to eventually. I haven’t done that for a while.
Reading poetry by someone I know at 4 am, up all night, sleep has evaded me, brain stuffed full of stuff that needs to be forgotten, old feelings have returned violently invading me. The wind is howling outside, hurling droplets of rain on my window. Things will probably be scattered around the garden in the morning. I don’t really understand why I am nocturnal some nights. But it is unnerving. Yet as I inhabit this space it feels a bit comforting as if it’s all mine, I inhabit it, I own it, I am in control. My thoughts can’t be written down publicly sometimes. Their ferocity is frightening. They are still here so clearly after such a long time since it happened. Ridiculous. Aren’t memories supposed to fade with time. I wish I could filter them out. Walking by moonlight yesterday evening reminded me of times and feelings long gone. Looking down from the hill towards the town twinkling with lights, as if we were somewhere else. It was like a film. I could imagine many stories happening there. I wish we had stopped for longer. I felt like an observer of the world. Disconnected but humbled by such a beautiful sight. The air was still. Sliding on the mud as we walked through the trees, the branches wove together as they criss-crossed the moon overhead, the snowdrops carpeted amongst the tree roots, gorgeously glowing in the moon light. Everything seemed amazing and intense. I liked that.
Mum’s ashes were buried in dad’s grave in Bilsborrow Lancashire a year ago yesterday. I’m struggling again.
I had fennel and red berry tea in the early morning unable to sleep last night. Now I’m watching crows swoop down from my tall spindly birch tree to snatch the bread from the bird table. Feeling deeply sad as visited Mum’s house for the last time. It’s being handed over to new owners on Friday. This is good and I should be glad to get to this point, a big milestone and should help me with “closure”, but I feel lacking in energy and hope. Letting go is hard. So I watch the crows in my garden bending the birch branches and wish that a woodpecker or chaffinch would visit me. I’m waiting for happiness again.
The weather is awful, lockdown continues, grieving is still painful. Watching a Catalan series on Netflix was supposed to be the answer today. But this one was about death and regretting your choices and wanting to go back and change them. Multiple universes- not a new idea but got me gripped and I didn’t want to stop. But it was sad and romantic, making me look back at wrong choices I’ve made thinking they were the right choice at that time. Sadness at the wasted time on those who don’t reciprocate my love and kindness. Sadness at my lack of courage- even now. So now decisions need to be made swiftly as time is short. Honesty however difficult is needed. Missing mum has complicated things.