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.
I should have been enjoying a short half term break with my sons and grandchildren, but I’m not. Wales is still in lockdown with the rest of the UK. This week is also a year ago since Mum’s cremation, two funerals and burial of the ashes in Dad’s grave. Quite a week last year. Sadness pervades my life and although I don’t have that crushing weight on my chest from that time I can’t shift the grief, the sad remembering. I want to get to the stage where I can chuckle at a great memory we share. I have started to get there when others talk about mum, but not on my own. I read today about how hard it is to be kind to others. I agree particularly if someone has been unkind to you. Forgetting unkindness is really difficult. But the feeling you get when you are kind without wanting a return is amazing. Although being kind is either viewed as saintly or weak and naive, it is a truly strong act to another human being whether known or not. Let’s risk it.
I’m watching the clouds today. Getting through last week was tough, that’s one anniversary survived, but walking in nature helped. Started a new project last Sunday- a weekly postcard to my eldest granddaughter. I loved writing to my American pen pal from the age of 10 and still do. We’ve only met three times in 56 years and it was like meeting a sister. Quite amazing. We have grown up together through our letters. Maybe Megan will take to it although she’s only eight. My youngest grandchild fell asleep on my lap this morning, having been woken up at 3am by their dog Walter. I love Monty deeply. We’d been talking about one of our resident crows- “Naughty Mr Crow – get out of my tree” is our phrase when we see a crow balancing at the top of my silver birch in the garden. I think we’ll be visiting the playground later and doing some drawing and painting. Just playing. That’s a very special kind of healing we can do together.
Is it wrong to try and avoid a day in your life?
Yesterday I dreaded today and wanted to disappear. It was like staring into a black pool. Now it’s today. One year since mum passed away. I thought I could handle this but I feel like I am in a bubble of sadness looking out at everyone else. They all look normal. Even in this unreal time of COVID lockdown they all seem normal. I don’t feel normal. I know I can’t go back to the old normal life as all the things that happen in your life shape who you are and you change, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in huge ways. I miss her not just as a mum, but as a friend, as someone who gave me unconditional love, without that anchor I feel adrift. Yet I am so grateful for the trillions of memories I can call on at any time that will make me smile. Latterly they were just between me and her – very special. So after a tearful start I rang my best friend who was just the right person to talk to me and let me cry and give me the courage to get on with this day. First I visited mum’s house for my weekly check as its in the slow process of being sold, tears flowed- she loved this little bungalow. Then I went to the supermarket and on return to the car tears flowed, get a grip woman, returning home I messaged my sons and brother to ask them to call me to talk about a memory with mum – I wasn’t sure I should do this. I don’t know whether to just hibernate under the duvet until tomorrow. My youngest son’s partner called all of us on WhatsApp by mistake doing a group call which surprised all of us instead of just me. It was just lovely and natural and comforting seeing them all on the screen together, we did talk about mum too. It was the right thing to do. Yet I still felt as if I was separate – in my see through bubble. I know mum would not have wanted me to be sad, but she would have understood. Next was some cooking – mum liked to make apple pie, so I fancied it up a bit and made a French apple flan – tricky enough to make me concentrate really hard and make something rather special. I will be finding people to give it away to as I can’t eat it all myself. That’s also a lovely feeling. I better taste it first. Tomorrow I’m volunteering at Samaritans as usual, which is so good for me to be able to help others and put my piddling problems into some kind of perspective. I have to use every day for doing good or what is the point. Not big things but little things. That is the way forward.
I have to start writing again. I miss this blog so here goes. I thought I’d feel more positive in 2021. All that looking forward stuff. But I actually feel more fearful somehow. Have I just been lucky not getting COVID-19? The hospitals are full, the deaths keep happening, the new virus is more rapid, the vaccine is happening slowly but still has question marks about it, people still aren’t careful enough, schools are closing or not, what’s going to happen next? We start 2021 with such uncertainty. That’s not good for me or you. But my grandchildren are growing up in this crisis. It’s going to be their world. So I’m going to get back to my book The Queen’s Gambit and watch Staged to make me laugh and do some walking and drawing – and maybe some baking. I yearn to hug everybody again! ( well not everybody…. on second thoughts-yes everybody)
The 25th of every month brings memories of that day when mum died. But today was a glorious day spent with my wonderful grandson Monty yet to reach 2. He exhausts me in this heat with his boundless energy and curiosity as he explores the world of my garden and language and imagination. It fills me with awe. We laugh and giggle, occasionally I chase him with ripples of laughter on both sides. He moves my potted plants from place to place, playing some organisational game of order- his order unknown and unfathomable to me. His secret understanding of this world. He waters my plants and the path in equal measures. He stamps and splashes in the little inflatable pool, so happy at the sounds he makes. He runs down the long grassy garden watching his legs spring about with pleasure. Yet it’s baking hot and I chase him trying to persuade him to have sun cream and his hat on. After lunch he’s beginning to flag and falls asleep on my lap pinning me to the armchair for an hour. I love watching him asleep. Breathing. Gush with love for him. He’s contented. I’m contented. He won’t remember these times but I will forever. Such delight and laughter, healing me slowly.
Today it’s boiling hot and I’ve tried to be strong and let my grief happen. Somehow I just feel wrecked. I thought mum would last until she was a hundred. Yet I knew she could go at anytime. I thought time was supposed to heal. I get flashbacks of her face as she died. I want her back. I want to play Yahtzee and Rummikub and Canasta. I want to make her lunch. I want her to feed Monty. I want her to come to Oxwich Bay in July and help me set up the new bungalow. I want to do things together with her, feel her unconditional love. I know she would not want me to be sad. So I must pull myself together. Water the tomato plants. Make a cup of tea. Stop crying.