Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The one year myth and other stories

Wow, it turns out I was no good at blogging. October 2009 my last update. I would like to say that it is because I got a life and because I was healing, but the reality is that I just did not have the energy or the will.

My road has been long and complicated.

I guess I survived my first Christmas and New Year, so hard, starting a new year without him. No Christmas tree or presents, I rolled into 2010 feeling so hopeless and helpless and sad.

I went overseas, I now realise I was trying to run away, but of course my pain followed, I went to the UK, met some friends and family, felt very alone travelling without Brian, collapsed in a heap the last few days of my trip. It was an important step but a very hard one, and not at all what I expected. Thank goodness for good friends and an amazing cyber support group.

And then the dreaded one year mark. Not sure that I can remember what I did, I think I stayed in bed. One year, remember, everyone said the 1st year would be the hardest, remember that today is 1 year .... well surprise surprise day 366 is no different to day 365, there is no reward for reaching the 'magic' 1 year mark. I now refer to is as the one year myth. There is no such thing as the first year is the worst. No year is better, no year is worse, you do at some point start learning to live without your soul mate, but you don't get better, you don't get over it.

My birthday, exactly 2 weeks after his sadversary, I asked my BFF to come and visit, she arrived the of my birthday, I took my immediate family and her out for dinner, to thank them for their love and support. BFF and I went off for a day spa, it was a nice weekend, but I wonder if my birthday can ever have a glimmer of joy again.

May was a trip to Switzerland and Portugal to meet some of my cyber friends, it was good, but difficult and hard to be away from home. It was also the first time I had been in a crowd since Brian had left this world, it was a bit overwhelming.

I had been suffering with depression and overwhelming sadness (no shit sherlock) and my doctor had been adjusting my anti-depressants etc. and by August, for the first time, I thought I could breath again. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I could see where I was going, I was sore, I was sad, but I had purpose in my step, though still no purpose in life.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Distractions don't always work

I can't believe it has been so long since i update my blog.

Shortly after my last blog update, I decided to start tackling the task of planting Brian's memorial garden, this started out as a small section of garden where I could plant his favourite plants and a bench, where I could sit and contemplate, remember and be quiet with Brian. It turned into a rather large garden makeover project, which was way overdue. Very bitter-sweet, when we moved into our home July 2 years ago, the garden had been neglected and so we started removing the unloved, untended plants layer by layer. Then we started to plan our new garden. Only it is now my new garden and not our new garden. Many tears were shed, decisions that we would make as two now had to be made by me alone, and some of my ideas I just can't get to work. I know without a doubt that Brian would have found a way.

I have also had to make some financial decisions, rather big ones that affect the rest of my life, and I kept postponing my appointment with our financial advisor because I don't want to make these decisions, and I don't want this money. I know I am lucky that we had life insurance, I know that some are way worse off than I am, but really this money signifies what I have lost. In the same breath, thank goodness for life insurance, I am by no means wealthy and I will most definitely have to go back to work, but I know my home is safe and my future will be ok. Anyway, I eventually met with the financial advisor, but I am finding it so hard to commit to anything, I need my bouncing board, my go to guy, my sanity to help me make these decisions.

Then, not surprisingly, my grief has started to affect my health, I have been mildly unwell for the best part of 6 weeks, but about 2 weeks ago I just ached all over. So, I took myself to the doctor and I have developed a stomach ulcer, high blood pressure and a throat infection, amongst a few other niggly things. My throat was not even sore, but badly infected, I think the rest of me was too sore to notice that my throat hurt. So I am working on getting my health back on track.

My BFF and her two little bundles of energy and joy came to visit for a weekend, and we did lots of fun stuff with the kids, the Sunday that they were with me brought the 7 month mark, I had an off day, throat DID get sore, but being the wonderful friend (well really my sister from another mother) that she is, she took the kids out, let me rest and cry a bit and we took the kids to the movies in the afternoon.

And then 3 days later is was our wedding anniversary ..... I think this is one of the hardest of days to bear, it is a day that is uniquely special to you as a couple. I struggled a bit with what to do and eventually decided to invite my sister-in-law to go with me to a Day Spa. I woke in the morning and the tears flowed, I got ready for the day and by the time she arrived I had "pulled myself toward myself" but the tears flowed on and off during the day. By lunchtime I was feeling more at peace. We had a lovely day of bonding and I arrived home to the most beautiful red roses sent to me from Brian's sisters and their partners. A lovely surprise to come home to. I survived our first anniversary apart.

Living in South Africa, I am very blessed and lucky to have a full time live in helper. Koena has been my rock for me over these last few months. She has really kept the house running, made sure I go shopping when there is no more food in the cupboard and gently entices me to eat. I decided it would be good for us to have a holiday. (Another blog entry with the story of our holiday).

So all in all it has been a busy time, with some major milestones survived, so why does it not feel better?

A fellow widow (a lot further along in her journey) told me one that the second 6 months are harder than the first and the second year is harder than the first. At the time I wondered how anything could be harder than the first 6 months of living without Brian.

The first 6 months you are protected by shock and deep, overwhelming grief. You have permission to sit in a chair and just feel the pain all day long. You don't have to put on your pretend face and pretend that you are "moving forward" you just have to get out of bed each day. I also spent the best part of the first 6 months convinced that I was going to die too, how could I possibly survive loosing my love, my soulmate?

Somehow as you pass that 6 month mark, people seem to think that it is now time to "start getting over it", and in a way, they are correct, not so much about getting over it, but that is when you realise that you have to start building a new life. I realised that in fact I am not going to die, I am going to go on living and I am going to have to learn to build a new life, a life without Brian, a life that works for me, not us. I have to make decisions on my own. I have to start picking myself up and starting to forge forward.

This is almost more heartbreaking than Brian dying, because this is now the new reality, and this new reality takes almost every opportunity to slap you in your face. To remind you that you are alone now, to remind you that what your life was is no longer and it will never be. The life we worked so hard to build together, our little bubble of joy and love is REALLY never coming back.

So the next 6 month, I guess I will spend coming to terms with reality and start to try and lay the foundation of what my new life will look like. And this withouth the protection of shock and numbness.

I have also come to the realisation that I cannot wait to stop grieving before I start to rebuild this new life, because grief IS a lifelong process and I will never start to rebuild if I wait for that magical moment when I am "finished" grieving.

She was right, the second 6 months are much harder (in a different way) to the first 6 months.

I miss you my love, forever in my heart.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On growing up

Last night as I let the dogs out for last "call", made sure windows and doors were locked, lights were off etc. I suddenly felt "all grown up". I have always felt "younger" than my peers, Brian too, we always felt it was because we did not have the responsibility of children. We would often do things and afterwards comment on the fact that it was such a grown up thing to do.

I have let the dogs out for last "call", made sure windows and doors were locked, lights were off etc. many times before, but last night, it just struck me that I am the grown up now. Widowhood has stolen my eternal childhood from me.

Then I got to pondering about the ways that widowhood has changed me physically

1. I weigh 15 kgs lighter
2. My hair has fallen out
3. My body aches all over, all the time
4. My eyes no longer have any kind of spark or life, a smile does not reach my eyes.
5. I have constant dark rings under my eyes
6. My skin looks dry and dehydrated, I cannot keep the intake of fluids equal to the output of tears.
7. My hair has greyed significantly.

I am sure if I gave it any more thought this list would just go on and on.

So, not only have I grown up emotionally, I have aged physically.

Death came like a thief in the night and stole my love, my soulmate, my friend, my playmate, my sanity and then it went on to steal my youth.

This is not what I ordered.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And the tsunami rolls in

In the last few weeks I have achieved so much, I finished work, closed down the office, did my first trip away since Brian died and have generally been feeling like I am starting to function rather than just existing.

My trip to my BFF was very good, a safe place with the most caring people to surround me. She spoilt me to a Spa Day, massaged and scrubbed and oiled from head to toe. Just the 2 of us catching up, shedding a few tears and remembering good times. I cried all the way there and as soon as I saw her I started sobbing, but once I was there, I was "good". There were tears but there was laughter too, as we remembered times that we had shared together. I was ready to come home and the 3 day trip was just what I needed to show that I could do it!!

Luc and I have been going to dog training once a week and I am very impressed with the progress that we have made. I feel more confident with him and he obviously feels more secure knowing that I am more confident. Also, he gets lots of praise at school and the trainer is very good and knows what Luc's strengths and weaknesses are and she makes sure that we do a lot more stuff that he is good at and sneaks in a bit of the other stuff when he has just done very well at another excercise. I think Brian would be so proud of his boy (and me I suppose).

So, I have been moving forward and re-building this new, unwanted life of mine.

However, the whole week I have been aware that tomorrow (11 Sept) I will reach the 6 month milestone. But not with panic or anxiety, just aware that it is coming. And today I started to feel the wave of grief roll in, I was vaguely aware of feeling a little more tearful. And then! I turned on the radio in my car for the first time since he died and "our" song was playing. This is the song we played at our wedding, this is the song we would play on our anniversary and other days that we just wanted to connect, this is the song that we would start dancing to in the middle of the mall if it came on:

Here I am - this is me
There's no where else on earth I'd rather be
Here I am - it's just me and you
And tonight we make our dreams come true

It's a new world - it's a new start
It's alive with the beating of young hearts
It's a new day - it's a new plan
I've been waiting for you
Here I am

Here we are - we've just begun
And after all this time - our time has come
Ya here we are - still goin' strong
Right here in the place where we belong

Chorus X1

Here I am - this is me
There's no where else on earth I'd rather be
Here I am - it's just me and you
And tonight we make our dreams come true

Chorus X2

Here I am - next to you
And suddenly the world is all brand new
Here I am - where I'm gonna stay
Now there's nothin standin in our way
Here I am - this is me

And these are the words that have opened the water works and have the tears flowing and have me just wanting to curl up in a ball until the pain subsides.

I also cannot believe that tomorrow is half a year that he has been gone, half a year since I last saw, touched, kissed, hugged him, half a year of crying, half a year of wondering what I could have done differently to make the outcome differnt, only to realise that there was nothing I could have done only to start wondering again. Half a year of wishing him back, half a year of knowing that no matter what I do, I cannot have him back. Half a year that has gone by in a flash and has dragged by like an eternity and finally realising that half a year is nothing compared to the life time ahead of me without my beloved Brian.

I miss him so much, everything I do and everything I am has been profoundly changed by living with him and by living through his death without him. He is so much of who I am today, his death has changed me in ways I could never have imagined.

Brian and I often had this conversation (borrowed from The Grand Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)

Me: I will love you forever
Him: Forever is a long time
Me: Forever is not long enough with you

Well I was with him for his forever and it was not long enough.

I miss you my love!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brian's memory quilt

Within 2 weeks afer Brian died I felt I needed to sort his clothing, I knew I needed to do it when the pain was so new and so raw otherwise it would never get done. I needed to do it before I had time to think about it otherwise it would have hung in his cupboard forever. I also know that he would have wanted someone who was less fortunate than us to get value from his clothes.

A very special cyber friend suggested that I keep some of his favourite shirts and have a quilt made. I will be forever grateful to her because this is the end result of a labour of love.

I contacted my local quilters guild looking for someone to do this for me, the lady that undertook the project wanted no money or reward, a lady I have never met in my life before, undertook this task as a labour of love. There are good people in the world.

Brian's Memory Quilt really bring me huge amounts of comfort and love.

I am really glad that I did sort his clothes when I did, I have kept some shirts that i wear myself, a few nice warm tops, socks and a few other items that I hold dear and wear often. I now realise, even more so, how difficult it would have been to do it later. I am unable to sort through any of Brian's other things, his bedside table remains untouched, his CD's (and there are a lot of them) I open the drawer and touch his CD's but I can't bring myself to listen to them. His desk drawers also remain untouched, though I do open them and stare at them for what seems like hours on end.


This last week has been a tough one, I am finishing my work contract on Monday, so I am busy shutting down office (I had a home office) and packing boxes to be sent to Head Office for archiving. Brian was such a big part of me setting up a home office, he helped me with all my IT needs, so as I dismantle the wiring and all the bits and bobs I remember him setting it all up for me, just because he loved me and wanted to make things smoother for me.

Also, as much as I have wanted this contract to come to an end, it has been a very stressful project and I have really given it lots of blood, sweat and tears, as the end comes, I am starting to panic about the change that is about to happen. I am going to have time on my hands that I am going to need to fill. I am planning to do some travelling, but will do short trips at first (baby steps) but in one year I would have lost my husband and my job and a whole lot of other stuff.

I remember when Brian finished up at his previous job in September last year, he had been there for 11 years, he came home on his last day and said he started at the company as a single person with a girlfriend and not much else; and when he left he was married, owned his own property sold it and bought new property, had two dogs and so much more to live for. That was 11 months ago, how little did we know how much would change.

This is not what I ordered!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That feeling in the pit of my stomach and other ramblings

Over the last few days I have realised that I have been constantly nauseous since the 11th of March. I could not even swallow food in the first 3 or 4 weeks, but eventually started forcing myself to eat. Then I got a craving for smoked salmon and avocado and I ate more food in one day than I had eaten in the past 3 months. No matter what I do, starve it, feed it, the sick feeling remains.

Last week was a tough week as I reached the 5 month milestone, but I have entered a numb stage again, but the sick feeling continues. I wonder if this is something I will just have to get used to, or when it will go away.

I have booked my airticket for my first trip away since Brian died, I have mixed feelings, I am looking forward to seeing my friend, I am looking forward to a long walk on the beach and maybe even some peace from the sea, but I am also slightly freaked out about leaving home, about travelling without Brian. The weird thing is, I travelled a fair amount without Brian, both before we met and after we met, but this is so different and such a big step for me.

Brian had been meaning to take Luc, our troubled Brittany Spaniel for training (we had tried previously with little success) at a new trainer, he never got around to it, so I decided to take the dog by the lead and do it. So, Luc and I started training last night. I know he picks up on my emotions and feelings so it is going ot be good for me to establish myself as "top dog" in the house, a position previously held by Brian.

I miss Brian so much, there are so many things I want to tell him, so many things that only he would get. I am finishing work at the end of August and I need to either buy my work laptop or buy myself a new one, this was Brian's department, not mine, I don't even know where to start with making this decision.

I don't want to carry on, I just have to.
(hmm, this seems to be all over the place, I guess that is me at the moment, all over the place!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I miss Brian. I miss his laugh, I miss his smile, I miss his voice, I miss him cheering me on, I miss his hugs, I miss his farts and burps, I miss the way he grounded me, I miss the sense of security and certainty he gave my world, I miss his hair, I miss him snoring, I miss the little grains of sugar that were always on the counter where he made tea, I miss him bringing me tea in bed. I could make a long long list.

But added to that I miss us,

I miss who I am with him, I miss the emotional intimacy that we had, I miss the half of me that made me smile when I didn't feel like it, I miss planning holidays that we would like, I miss having someone to make decisions with.

But I really really miss that emotional intimacy, that person that knew me better than I knew myself, that knew without asking when things were not going well and could see if my smile was real or fake. I miss private jokes, I miss candelit baths discussing the world and how we would fix it. Without him I feel empty, invisible, irrelevant.

I have never felt so alone in this world as I do now, even in a room full of people that care.

I miss me, when I look in the mirror, I don't recognise the person looking back, I miss having a smile that carries to my eyes, I miss having eyes without rings and that are not puffy, I miss being able to go out without sunglasses on. I miss the fact that the things that used to make laugh have no effect and the same with the things that made me angry, they just don't matter anymore.

I miss Brian, I miss us and I miss me.