Mixed Up Emotions

I noticed Kelley Lynn put up a couple of lovely questions on her Facebook page in the run-up to Christmas. It went along the lines of: 

  • Tell me, what/who are you missing?
  • And if you’re joyful, then say more about that 

It’s Christmas morning, and I am sitting in bed. No rush here, because for over a decade, Mike and I said to our guests, “Christmas lunch will be 3pm or 4pm. 

That habit probably started in my teens when, as a family we went to the Lake District, walking in the hills, at Christmas, and seven of us (plus hangers on) stayed in a tiny miner’s cottage. We had to go for a long walk just because it was beautiful, whatever the weather; and because inside we’d have got on top of each other, metaphorically in terms of nerves and literally in terms of bodies. 

Then living with Mike in France, he and I got into the habit of going for a gentle Christmas jog in the local woods, which made the whole preparation thing get quite late. So late that lunch/early dinner it became. And of course, added bonus, there’s no need to actually provide lunch (nibbles will do), nor dinner (because you’re still stuffed).

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A New Year 2020

Soon it will be my fourth New Year's Eve without Mike.  Huh.  Wow... I don't even know what any of this means.  Everything and nothing all at once I suppose.  No matter the year, I miss him and this will not change. 

My grief is evolving with time, but the missing is always there.  It is more tolerable now, but in my fourth year of widowhood the sense of his absence is still ever present.  I do not think this will ever change. 

Mike is missing from me and it is hard to live with the aching inside me -  time does not make it better.  Easier?  Maybe.  With time, the emptiness inside me is less shocking.  I am more used to the hollow feeling I have within me.  In truth, I  hardly remember living without the dull ache of my grief.

A new year is before us whether I like it or not.  2020 is a year Mike will never be here to live.  But, I will usher it in.  I didn't die.  Shouldn't I welcome the new year and all the possibility it holds?  Shouldn't I rejoice in my life?  After all, I do still have a good life.  I am grateful for all I have; but, nonetheless, I hate NYE because it feels like it puts more distance between Mike and I.  He feels noticably further away these days.  I don't sense him like I used to.  With time, his physical attributes are fading.  His voice isn't clear anymore.  The feel of him is blurring.  Time is making him more of a memory and less of my man. 

It is very difficult to welcome in a year he will not be a part of.  But, for the rest of my life this is what I will do.

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Orbiting Closer

It’s almost the end of the year. In a few days, it will be the 8th time I have welcomed a new year that Drew will not be alive to share in. The years have now stretched on for so long that it has all become so surreal. Eight years used to be something I was so afraid of. That first year or two, I could not fathom being 8 years away from him. Having that kind of distance of time between us. It felt so painful to think of the fact that I had absolutely no power to stop the distance of time from becoming greater and greater. 

Now, on the eighth year I am about to embark on since his death, it doesn’t feel painful. It doesn’t feel like there is a greater distance between us at all. In some way, over time, I feel as though I’ve settled into a new relationship with him, and once I arrived there, I have not felt greater distance from him through the new years. I believe 100% that he still exists, in some other form, and that he is still present very often. His death changed our relationship, but it did not end it. And that is solidly what I feel...

 

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Already A New Year without You

I’m halfway through this winter warfare others call “the most wonderful time of the year”. The annual arrival of the four holiday horsemen. Just as one battle ends another commences giving us barely enough time to heal the wounds and gather back the troops. Thanksgiving with grief in the gravy. Christmas’ hallmark heartaches. Now the approach of a New Year further away from our yesterdays with the final horseman named St. Valentine charging into battle just a month after.

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Marinating

There is a space in my heart where that life that I knew now sits. 

It started somewhere around six or seven years after the loss. 

That is when the grief began to move from "always active", 

to more of a "quiet state", where it just sort of sits and hangs out, 

and then every now and then, 

something happens to awaken it, 

and Im brought back to that place of early grief. 

The terror, the shaking, the loud crying. 

That place where you can barely catch your breath. 

It returns now and again,

as I imagine it always will. 

But most of the time these days, 

after eight and a half years, 

the grief and the pain are sort of sitting. 

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Pizza Toppings

At home I have a big bathroom. Built and decorated by Mike. So big that it has two basins, each with a mirror above it. “His ‘n’ Hers”. Two basins are not common in European bathrooms. Houses don’t usually have the space. 

In between the basins and the mirrors, stuck to the wall with blu-tack, is a yellowing, curly-edged, typed piece of A4 paper. A love letter of sorts. I don’t read it so often anymore, but a few weeks ago, Medjool asked about it and I explained what it was. 

A letter. Or more specifically, a long sms message. Written by Meg Jones to Mike when he was first diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I was so touched by the message that I sent it to my phone, then to my email, made it into a word document, printed it out and stuck it up there. Over three years ago now. 

Powerful words. Of love. Of support. Of caring. Of understanding. Of recognition. Of “I am with you in this, and here’s how”. Words from a woman who felt/feels about Mike some of what I felt/feel about Don. A deep and strong platonic love. At the time of Mike’s illness and treatment, I read the letter many times. Over the months since Mike died, I have read it a handful of times.

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Hustle and Bustle

I’m sitting in a coffee shop that is brimming with hustle and bustle and holiday cheer.   And, amid all the merriment and the hum of constant conversation I am realizing, for the thousandth time, how very detached I’ve become. 

Sitting here alone at my table, I put in my earphones, then I cranked up my music because I just can’t listen to the idle conversations that are going on around me.  I had to drown the sound of their voices out before the ridiculousness of it all swallowed me whole.

Pretentious?

Maybe.

I don’t care.

 

I’m different now that I’ve had to outlive him.  I won’t apologize for how I’ve put myself back together. I’ve survived.  I’ve been forced to reinvented myself.  And, I’m changed for better and worse.

 

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The Ghosts of Christmas Past , Present and Future

Thanksgiving was a beast in itself but Christmas can be the kraken in unicorn’s clothing. I love parts of Christmas like the lights, smell of Christmas trees and giving others gifts. It’s the other parts - families gathering, couples under the mistletoe, Hallmark everything that always ends up like a fairytale…

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Six Degrees of Don Shepherd

There are some days, still, where my late husband Don dies over and over again. 

Or at least it feels that way. 

 

As the years go by, all the things and all the people and all the ways that I am connected to Don Shepherd - 

they change. 

they alter. 

They die. 

And whenever this happens, 

it feels sort of like he is dying all over again. 

Not in that all-consuming, I don't know how to even breathe kind of way - 

but in a more subtle way. 

A way that feels like little pieces of him, and us, and that life, 

just keep disappearing. 

 

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Feeling Numb

I can tell you as I am sitting here in my living room writing this blog, I am feeling numb. In the past two months, they found an irregular function with my heart, my house got hit by a tornado, and thankfully only knocked down a wall in my backyard. I had to get my roof redone and as they were putting in the new roof, a bunch of water poured all over my furniture and Christmas decor. I rushed back and forth trying to get buckets to collect all the water that was coming down, all while trying to take care of my sick two-year-old daughter. 

All I can say, is that I wish you were here.

 

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