Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Drawing a line through her old life

No words can sum up our loss as much as this. My beautiful 8 year old daughter opened her school homework journal a few nights ago and stared at it for a while. I didn't take a lot of notice as I assumed she was checking her homework list. Later when I went to tidy away her school stuff I saw that she had drawn a line through one particular part of it that had been filled out last September long before her daddy's illness and death. "Father's name and phone number". There's got to be a word bigger than 'heartache' to describe how this makes me feel. :(

Sunday, 27 May 2012

How the nightmare started...

I have a hundred million words stored in my head bursting to get out. Details of how D and I got to where we are today and how my life and my children's lives have changed dramatically in the last few months.

From the very beginning of this nightmare, I felt the need to write it all down because, frankly, my mind isn't big enough or strong enough to keep it all locked inside. So much detail, so many occurrences, too much information, all flying at us too fast, too soon, too stressful.

Initially, back in December, I started to keep notes: information that the first consultant gave us about the diagnosis, appointment times, specialists' names, advice on diet for cancer patients such as juicing, sprouting etc. In the blink of an eye all the appointments, information and advice became irrelevant and D was fast-tracked to a hospice to live out his final days. So my notes and my plans became irrelevant overnight.

However, I still have a need (an overwhelming need) to write it all down - not so much the minute detail of helpful diets and potential treatments but the actual events themselves and how it all came about. I'll devote the next few postings to that topic: how it started and how we got to where we are today.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

He's here... it's real... don't tell me it's not...

The sun is shining in the bedroom window. It's such a beautiful perfect day. Clear blue sky with a soft warm breeze. I woke up earlier and walked to the kitchen. Everything was so quiet. The two boys and A were still sleeping. Suddenly I felt Diarmuid's presence. It was so real and such a strong image and such a warm feeling of happiness and friendship.

I could picture him with his big smile and warm greeting as he saw me come into the room "hey Deb!!!!". Big big smile. Then he offers me a coffee and says "you go back to bed, I've got it covered here". Because that's exactly what he would have said on a Saturday morning. He loved me so much. We were best friends. We understood each other. He'd even bring me coffee and toast in bed on a regular basis. It wasn't always like that. We had rough times too. We drifted apart and barely connected for a while. But whatever we had in the beginning re-surfaced a couple of years ago. It was hidden. So hidden it was invisible, but it came back.

I can feel his presence in the house. It's real. It's lovely. He's wearing a grey t-shirt and black jeans and he's singing at the top of his voice. The boys are lying in bed, just waking up and rolling their eyes as they hear their Dad sing a Led Zeppelin or Queen song at the top of his lungs, thinking he sounds just like Robert Plant or, even more optimistic, Freddie Mercury, but in reality sounding way out of tune and flat as a pancake! He was musically gifted when it came to bass guitar but singing? I shudder at the memory! 

He's washing last night's cups and plates and he's talking to the dog like the dog is understanding everything. "Well Doug, it's just you and me boy. Any plans for today Doug? Got a hole to dig? A neighbour to terrorise? Birds to chase? I know I know, it's all pressure pressure pressure Doug. Go on out and see if you can find some bitches." Then he opens the back door and Doug runs out, oblivious to the 'conversation' but feeling happy that D is there for him. 

Diarmuid then comes into the bedroom where I am and where Aisling has joined me. He gives her the biggest smile in the world as only he could do and says "hey princess!! Look at you, the sweetest girl in the world, give me a hug. You're just too cute altogether." She smiles and runs to him and they hug as if they're squishing the life out of each other. He then resumes 'Whole Lotta Love' or perhaps he's moved on to Robert Palmer and is 'singing' the chorus of 'Addicted to Love' and Aisling, just like her brothers, rolls her eyes, shakes her head and smiles.

This is all so real. He can't be gone. Don't tell me he's gone. Shut the fuck up. We want him back now and if I have to pretend he's here in order to make it seem real then so be it. I prefer the pretence of him being here than the reality of many others. I can't bear the children's pain.

I haven't moved on, not even a teeny bit. In fact, I haven't caught up yet to the moment he died. Yes, I know in my head that he's dead but in my heart I haven't processed it. Not at all. He's not dead, not today. He's real.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The pretence of the grieving angry widow...

When discussing grief on a widow's message board yesterday, I ranted and raved about how I am so tired having to pretend that the children and I are fine. Why do we pretend? We do it to make other people feel less awkward and uncomfortable. Silly? Perhaps. Necessary? Yes. I asked on that message board: "Is this how it is now? We put on a brave face and pretend everything is okay?". Everyone who replied related to what I said and had experienced the same thing. 

We already knew (and expected) that people would disappear back to their old lives after a short time but what I didn't know was that even when I did see them again I would have to put my grief aside and laugh and joke and put on a fake smile. 

One of the women who responded to (and related to) my musings asked something that stuck out in my mind: 
"Is time just a teacher? At 10 months [bereaved] it certainly isn't a healer."

She really hit the nail on the head. That is what I was trying to say. It's what I fear and sadly I think it to be true. So from here on in we must learn how to 'act' differently around others to make them feel less uncomfortable. Time gives us the chance to learn those skills of pretence.

I'll admit some people in my life have been great but hardly anybody gets it. The anger and loneliness inside is so personal, so devastating, so inexplicable. No, I don't want to socialise. No, I don't want to smile and laugh. No, I don't want my old routine back minus my husband. No, things will NEVER be normal again. NEVER. Sorry if that upsets your life but it is what it is.

Don't get me wrong. I know that it's perfectly okay to say that I'm not doing great or that the children are not doing great but it seems to me it's not okay for us to ACT it. 

It sounds so self-pitying but I know that my grief and my children's grief are not wanted. I guess when you think about it how could it be wanted? How could I sit in somebody else's house and stare at the wall or cry or reminisce about old times? They don't want to hear that do they? So I try to get through the time, counting the minutes til I can go back home to my cocoon. Even my wonderful, jovial, smiley eight year old daughter looks very sad sometimes because she's thinking of her Dad but the majority of people don't acknowledge that or ask how she's feeling because it would take great maturity and wisdom to do that. Much easier to pretend that all is well and ignore the child's sad face or my sad face. She already senses that there is no point in telling them that she's sad. She knows they don't get it. She's more emotionally mature than them. So many people are assholes. Sheep. I always knew that. It didn't take this to make me see it.

So, to sum it up, it seems the majority of people insist on living in a bubbly happy shiny world and my grief is seriously cramping their style.

How I wish I could sit in a room with beer and food and comfy seats surrounded by others who have been through this life-shattering grief (or those rare people who haven't been through it but can empathise). We could cry, scream, hug and just relax, knowing exactly what all the others are going through. I can be a grieving angry widow without prejuduce. Bliss. 

As it is, yes yes yes, people mean well. If I hear that again I'll scream. Interestingly, people say "you mustn't pretend that you're okay, it's fine to be sad" and yet if there is even one spark of positivity in my day they will leap for joy, so relieved. For example I cut my hair today and my mother acted like I had brought about world peace. She felt, I suppose, that if I care enough to cut my hair then I must be healing. No, not really, it's just that my fringe was in my fucking eyes.

The same woman on that message board said that she read the following: 
"Let the grief take you where you need to go. Your grief is wiser than you."
Now THAT's the best line I've read since Diarmuid passed away.

I really like it. Maybe we're too scared to let the grief take us where we need to go? Are we overly conscious of what others think? Or are we just craving some love and attention from those we would have expected it from? And, if so, isn't that perfectly natural? I think I might just let it take me where I need to go from now on. If that means running away with the kids somewhere else (if I have the money) for a month or two then maybe that's what I should do. To hell with what others think. Let that make them uncomfortable. Hey at least they'll be off the hook then as we'll no longer be the sad people upsetting their routines.

Perhaps grief is its own entity, separate to our individual selves. So maybe we should let it take us along for the ride and be whatever it's telling us to be? That way perhaps we wouldn't feel so pressurised to fit in to what others want because after all we're not in control, the grief is? Perhaps. It does feel nice to think of not trying to force ourselves to be or do or act a certain way and just let grief lead us. Maybe in another few years this grieving angry widow will be a happy carefree... er, widow.