Saturday, 3 September 2016

Goodbye to this blog...

In 5 days we'll be on a plane to Paris, the most beautiful city in the world. This will be our first proper family holiday since before Diarmuid died. It's a trip I've been promising since 2012 and it means a lot to me. As a family we adored the Disney theme parks and were fortunate enough to visit them four times, Orlando twice and Disneyland Paris twice (well three times actually if you include the time Diarmuid and I went to Paris when the boys were very small and snuck off to the Disney parks without telling them. It was a wonderful mixture of guilt and pure fun. Mostly fun!). 

We're not just Disney fans. We also love Paris city itself and it holds many wonderful memories, except for Aisling who doesn't actually remember being there so this holiday is especially exciting for her. And it's something I promised her I'd do when we were in the throes of grief back in 2012. Finally we're doing it.

This holiday seems significant somehow. I feel it marks the end of those dark days when we could barely function in the first couple of years, and even the troubles of the last two years, a crazy haphazard confusing time of mental illness, adolescent angst, confusion, financial woes and fears. Hopefully our family trip marks the beginning of brighter days.

When we return it'll be to a family schedule where all three 'kids' will be occupied, doing what they love. Aisling loves school and she has just started her last year in primary school. She was in first class in a different school when her Dad died. The people who ran that school simply couldn't fathom why she was frequently absent in those early months. Their agenda (to be the school with the least amount of absences) was far more important to them than my 7 year old's need for hugs and love from me. Her heartbreak and tears for her Dad were a nuisance to them. But since 2012 she has thrived in her 'new' school, a school full of professionalism, compassion and love. As she embarks on her last year there, I can see how grown up she has become. And I feel she'll thrive in secondary school. Sadly, a huge chunk of her childhood was lost to grief, not just her grief but her witnessing mine and her brothers' grief. But that experience has also made her an incredibly compassionate and empathetic child. 

Daniel is soon starting second year in music college, a course that he loves. He's in three bands and is constantly writing music charts, practicing keyboard and basically doing what he's passionate about.

Emmet has struggled to find his feet the last few years. When you lose a parent at the age of 17, when you're just on the cusp of adulthood, it knocks your whole world on its head. But shortly after we come back he'll be doing a year-long music course which will hopefully lead to a degree course. He's still glued to his guitar, plays in a band and is looking to the future :)

I know there are people who just can't fathom why Diarmuid's death had such a huge impact on us. I hear it all the time. Surely, after all this time you're not still affected? Surely you could have just picked up the phone and asked for help? Surely.....? See, here's the thing, if you haven't experienced the trauma of raising three heartbroken grieving kids, the fear that you'll lose your home to the mortgage company and the utter heartache of watching your son change personality and swing from deep depression to frantic mania, the guilt and terror of having to watch this wonderful, clever, creative boy be sedated for days on end, well, it's very hard for you to comprehend that all those things were so difficult to live through and to survive. Lots of people were able to empathise with our initial grief but found it almost impossible to comprehend the long-term fall out. 

But, and this is a big BUT, it's true what they say. You really know who your friends are when a crisis occurs. And I am blessed to have some wonderful people in my life. I'm not going to name them. You know who you are. If we're still in regular contact, then you're one of them :) I don't know if I ever actually said thank you to those people - the ones who walked this horrible lonely journey with us, from that terminal diagnosis to financial chaos to sleepless nights and tears but let me say it now. From the bottom of my heart, thank you thank you THANK YOU to those who hung in there with us through our tears, our anger, our bewilderment. And to those wonderful new friends I made in the widows group. You're now a part of my life and always will be. I will never ever forget the kindness of those friends (old and new) and family members who stood by us.

We survived!

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned from those dark days (my brother's death, my husband's death) is that just because you go through huge pain it doesn't mean you're in any way immune to future pain. I had this daft notion that if I survived those deaths then surely nothing could ever hurt as much again? I was wrong. Perhaps because our hearts are vulnerable and damaged, we feel even greater pain when new losses occur. It cuts just a little bit deeper. And it sucks. :(

This is the last time I'll post in this blog. Those dark days of grief are well and truly behind me although the repercussions of his death will probably be felt, in many different ways, for the rest of our lives. 

I hope this blog brought some comfort to those who read it. I know that writing it saved me in those early days. To anyone reading this who is newly bereaved, please know that this too shall pass. You cannot fathom it now, you cannot see a future without pain and fear, but please hang in there. You're going to be okay.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dear Diarmuid

It's been four years since you took your last breath. Four years since we spoke.

It feels like a lifetime ago.

Life, for me, is divided into two - the 'before' you died and the 'after'. It couldn't be any other way. You were inextricably linked to every single thing I did and felt and thought before 17th January 2012 - every meal, every bedtime story to the children, every holiday, every laugh, every car trip together, every decision about our children's education/hobbies/play dates/doctor's visits. *Everything*. Even when we weren't physically together, we were living this life together. And then you were gone. I had lost you and every aspect of my world changed forever and I had to become a different person.

I'd like to think you'd be proud now. Our boys are men. Our little girl is almost 12. All three are funny, mature, interesting human beings. You should hear the boys play guitar/drums/keyboards. You'd be blown away by them. You should hear Aisling talk about science, books, life. She's incredible. I wonder if you met us now how would you feel? Proud? Surprised?  Shocked? Disappointed? Annoyed? Happy? Sad? Would we feel shy together because it's been so long since we saw you? Would you recognise our personalities? What would you have done differently?

I've tried my best to keep things going. Some days I attack life and I fight hard to help the kids through a myriad of challenges. Other times, I just get too tired and all I can do is muddle through. Then there are days when I just give up. Parenting alone is the hardest thing I've ever had to do and there have been so many rough days since you went, so many unseen challenges. I wish I could say, four years on, that everything is perfect. It's not. There have been too many obstacles to overcome. But I will keep on muddling through. I'll keep on going and I'll keep on trying.

You would be so happy and relieved to know that some of our friends and family have been amazing and have stuck by us through all the rough times. You'd be upset and shocked to know that some have left and the kids and I no longer see or hear from them. They didn't have the patience to wait for us to "get over you" and they didn't have the warmth of heart to want to support us. But I forgive them. I pity them for their weakness. And also I hope they get big puss-filled painful boils on their asses. (I haven't changed THAT much I suppose.)

Diarmuid, my husband, the father of my children, but mostly my best friend, I want to assure you that you will always be remembered and always loved.

"The fact that someone is dead may mean that they are not alive, but doesn't mean that they do not exist." [Julian Barnes​]