A kiss from a rose

Wow, how is it over 2 months since I posted? Life has been hectic without a doubt and its been a mixture of pleasure and saying more goodbyes.

When I lost Dave, everything about the future changed. That is what gave me the idea for the name of my blog as sometimes getting through every hour was difficult. Over time, I  established a sort of routine which was incredibly important to me to help me get through those early days especially. Going from sharing everything to doing it alone, there HAD to be a routine. There were aspects of life however, where the responsibility I had taken on was far too much and at the New Year, as you know, I recognised it was time to start making some decisions that were difficult but were becoming important for my own wellbeing. Be kind to myself, which as I have blogged about before is something people say to me all of the time and I needed to be. I let go of that responsibility around 6 weeks ago and although it was difficult, I know it was the right thing to do, not just for me but for everyone else concerned.

I cant believe the difference it has made. Any plans that had been made changed forever in March 2017 but now, for the first time, I feel that I have the space, the time and the ability to plan and look forward to the new future that has to be made. I have a lot to look forward to and a lot of wonderful, loving, amazing people to do it with. People who have been in my life forever, people that have come into my life because of Dave, people who I’ve met because of the journey I’m on, people I have recently met and people I’ll meet in the future. Dave was adamant that I should live life and carry on, not a conversation you ever want to have but we did have it several times and its only really in the last few weeks that I feel it is something I can actually do. Its going to be difficult at times, I know that, but as ever, I wont be doing it alone, and I will just be doing it differently.

Sometimes, its pretty ironic how the way you feel can be interpreted into things you see. I went out into the garden tonight. In March, my wonderful school friends bought me a rosebush to mark Dave’s anniversary. Now for those of you who know me well, I am no gardener. However, tonight I saw a lovely red rose had bloomed and there are several new buds on it too.   A kiss from Dave’s rose? Let’s hope so and that he is smiling down and watching me grow into a new future.

“And now that your rose is in bloom
A light hits the gloom on the gray” – Seal

 Rose2

 

No more firsts

So here we are. There are no more firsts left. The last of them was on 20 April which was the anniversary of the funeral. The second most painful day I have ever experienced. I had him brought home the night before so I could spend as much time as possible with him and so he could leave from the house we made our home in, to make his final journey. I had decided that night that I wanted to carry him into the Church the following morning and although it was incredibly hard to do, I am so pleased I did because its one of the things I take comfort in when I am having a bad day. I also know he would have been laughing at me almost walking on tip toes to try and keep him straight.

Everything about the service was beautiful. Chris, Paul and Gill stood brave and proud to deliver the most moving eulogy I have ever heard. The church was packed to the rafters and when we said the final goodbye at the crematorium, Dave’s request to me to make sure “Burning Down the House” was played as his Liverpool red coffin disappeared, left everyone in no doubt that Dave would always have the last laugh. That was so typical of him. His final song was “You’ll never walk alone” which of course, was synonymous with his beloved Liverpool FC. No-one could stay seated and we had our very own “Kop” moment in memory of Dave.

So where am I now? For a few days last week, I felt like I was in limbo and a little bit lost again. There has always been the next “first” to get to and although I always dreaded them,  now there aren’t any, its just something else that is different and I have to find other things to focus on. I suppose this all goes hand in hand with “moving forward”. I do feel like I am moving forward too. I smile a little more when I go through my pictures of Dave and remember the good times we had. There is obviously the stab of sadness when I think of the memories we cant ever make, but that wont ever change and I know that.

I started to go through his things yesterday. Most of them hadn’t been touched since he last put his clothes away but rather than feeling a desperate need to hold onto everything now, I find it more painful to see them there every single time I open the wardrobe. I have over the last 12 months taken most of his favourite shirts and had them made into teddy bears for me and his family. They are beautiful and can be kept forever. His other things, well most of it will go to cancer research. He didn’t buy clothes very often but when he did, he always dressed well and he would want someone else to have use out of them and. I only managed one part of the wardrobe as every time I picked something up I’d recall where and when he wore it or bought it and did I have any pictures of him wearing. I put things in different piles and realised the “keep” pile was just as big as the donate pile so I went through them again and was a bit more sensible about what I should keep. By the time I was finished, I was completely red faced and snotty and felt emotionally drained. It had done me good though. Sometimes, finding the time to have these moments where I can just remember “us” can be really difficult but they are something that I really need now and then. I think I would just explode if I didn’t.

I feel that it helped me move forward a little and I know these are things that need to be done. No one said it would be easy, and it bloody isn’t but now the firsts are all gone, it seemed like the right time to start. I have learned that grief doesn’t get smaller, your new life just grows around it to help make it more bearable and being able to smile and laugh at the memories does actually come a little easier.

 

How is it a year?

Last Saturday, when most people were getting their last minute Easter Eggs and the meat and veg for their Easter Sunday lunch, I was coming to terms with the fact that it was now a WHOLE year since my Dave left. Ironically, Easter weekend where us Catholics believe Jesus died and rose again 3 days later. I know he isn’t going to come back to me, I accepted that  a good few months ago because its really the only way I could start to deal with the pain of losing him.

So how was it? How was the BIG DATE?. To be honest, I found the 2 weeks leading up to the anniversary much harder to deal with. The anniversary of when he was taken to hospital on 21st March last year and we were told nothing more could be done was harder on me. I suppose that’s because during the time he was fighting this bastard disease, we had always, always had hope and that kept us both going. On the 21st March 2017, that hope was utterly gone and it broke me and all I wanted was to get him home. He came home the day after and was thankfully, pretty unaware of what was going on most of the time. He still managed to make us smile when he whispered “sssshhhhhhh” when Father Paul was here with him and everyone was chit chatting and when he puckered up for a kiss when asked for one. Those 9 days he was home were precious. Both families were here all the time and he wasn’t on his own for a second. He was so loved. He will always be loved……and missed……and talked about……..and so remembered.

When he took his last breath, he was surrounded by love and as heartbreaking as it was, I am so thankful it wasn’t prolonged, he didn’t suffer for months and months as so many do and he had his family with him. For me, I think that is why the anniversary itself wasn’t as difficult to get through because the memories of the build up to his death were far harder to deal than the day itself. The anniversary was spent with mine and Dave’s family just as the day itself last year was. It was nice to talk about him and remember him and share a few tears together. We let off some (biodegradeable!) balloons on the golf course and ended up laughing when a balloon got caught around his sister Gill’s neck and wouldn’t fly off and his brother Paul’s balloon went floppy. That would be something that would have made Dave crack up laughing so it made us laugh too.

It is still hard to believe that a whole year has gone by though. I look back on the last year and can see how far I’ve come. Most of the “firsts” are over (just his funeral anniversary now) and I’ve got through them,  I’m making decisions I didn’t think I’d ever have to make, some of them really tough ones, I have become more assertive and I have also accepted that I have to plan a different future than the one I want, because I can’t have it anymore. My fairytale is over. It’s been the most difficult year I’ve ever had and I’m still learning who the me without Dave is because it wasn’t supposed to be that way. As ever, with all the wonderful support I have, I am able to get through the tough days and my family and friends do everything they can for me. My schoolmates brought me a red rosebush in a planter to mark his anniversary and its these thoughtful things that make me realise that I am so very lucky to have them all. Dave the Rosebush now sits next to the bench in the garden so I can spend time in the garden in the summer months.

To you  my darling, Rest in peace. I will love and miss you always xx

 

The WAY way

The thing about Mondays and Tuesdays when you get back to work after the weekend is, the inevitable question from people “so what have you been up to this weekend?”. Its been interesting to see the different reactions from people when I’ve told them that I have spent the weekend in Newcastle, with over 100 widows. Some looked at me awkwardly and didn’t know how to respond, some laughed (the ones who know me well did anyway!) and some just asked why?

I’ll tell you why. The weekend was the AGM, 21st birthday party and annual get together  organised by a charity support group called WAY which stands for Widowed and Young. Every single member of it is a widow or widower, under the age of 50 when their partner died and this AGM was my first one. I have been on local events before with perhaps 10-15 from our local WAY group, but this was definitely the BIG ONE.

Myself and my widow partner in crime, Lisa, were late because of the weather and when we arrived after our slalom in the snow journey,  we sneaked in just after a coffee break in the hope that no-one noticed. So what was the first thing I felt when I  arrived for a weekend with 100 other widows? I felt incredibly safe. That’s the first thing I noticed.  We took our seats at the far end of the room and I looked around and felt safe. There was huge comfort in knowing that every single person in that room had at least one thing in common – we had all lost that very person we had chosen to grow old with, to spend the rest of our lives with, our best friend, our other half, our everything. The glances and smiles from people weren’t of sympathy, they were of empathy and understanding. A whole room of people who just knew, they just knew exactly how I felt. Like any other group of people you come into contact with, some you gravitate to, some you are happy to chat to, some you avoid and some you become lifelong friends with, BUT for all of us there, our future lives had been changed for ever. There was a powerful unspoken understanding, no barriers no elephants in the room, no awkwardness whatsoever.

To be able to sit down to a 3 course dinner with so many people you have never met before and just throw yourself into painful, personal and emotional conversation and then end up laughing about something else in the next breath is quite surreal. You could be busting the dance moves on the dance floor one minute and then a song comes on to catapult you backwards to a heart breaking memory that leaves you sobbing in a heap on the floor, and someone to pull you to your feet and give you the biggest hug ever. That is what I witnessed. There was no judgment, no one thought it was weird and its was perfectly OK to join in with the tears.

When you can walk into a hotel dining room wearing a t-shirt saying Widows on Tour 2018 and know your dark humour will be appreciated by those 100 other people, When the ones who don’t get it (like the hen party that was also there (!) look confused and bewildered,  it was strangely empowering. I didn’t feel like I had to hide away to avoid any awkwardness or uncomfortable conversations.

What I have learned from this group that, let’s face it, no-one would ever want to join, is that over the last 10 months I actually feel lucky. I feel lucky that I got to say goodbye to my Dave and be with him and hold him until the end. I feel lucky that I have a loving and supportive family, wonderful in-laws and fantastic friends. I feel lucky that I had Dave in my life with the happiness he brought me.  Some people aren’t that lucky. Some never got to say goodbye because their partner went to work and never came back, some went to a party and a freak accident claimed the life of their partner and some still to this day don’t know what exactly what did happen to cause their loved one’s death. Some have the most awful in-laws who cause nothing but heartache and some, like my lovely friend Lisa, had to give her husband end of life care whilst pregnant and then give birth to their child without him being there. The circumstances and impact of a partner’s death varies massively and everyone’s stories are different. To me, these people are inspirational in the way that they deal with what has been thrown at them.

It helps to be able to talk about your fears for the future, talk about to people about how difficult those long lonely hours are when you should be going to bed and waking up with the person you love the most, financial struggles, decisions that have to be made and how to cope as a lone parent. I know many people have lots of support from friends and family but being alone isn’t their every day life and they get to walk away and carry on.  It’s reassuring to speak to people who are further down the line of widowhood and know that you will learn to move forward and find ways to cope. What you talk about about are not platitudes or cliches, its experience. It makes such a difference when you are trying to find your way.

My dad jokingly calls WAY the doom and gloom club, it really makes him laugh. The doom and gloom bit is the reason we are all in the group in the first place. However, my family and friends know how much this group means to me. They make me smile, they  give me strength, friendship and fun and the positives this group provides are immeasurable.

So what I want to say is, thank you to this amazing charity, to the people who make it what it is and to the close friends I have made through it. You make this shit journey more bearable. You are all fantastic and I cant wait for #widowsontour2019!

To those people who know someone who has lost their partner, tell them about WAY. DONT wait to tell them about it in case you think it’s too soon, or they may get upset, let them make the choice of when and whether they want to join. Knowing that there is this kind of support out there is half the battle, thriving on that support can help win the war.

me and lisa1

 

Mish Mash March

March has conjured up so many feelings and thoughts that are a proper mish mash. The things people say, the approaching anniversary and dates that are coming in March like Mother’s Day so I thought I would write them down.

As the dreaded year mark approaches, some people give me the impression that once it is here that everything will be ok. Like its the point that I will “move on”. I have heard that quite a few times from people in recent weeks. The truth is, I will never move on because to me, that sounds like I have left something at a particular point and left it behind as I carry on. I am moving FORWARD. I know that might seem like a very subtle difference, but its not. I have been moving forward since the day I lost him because I bring him with me in every second of every day and he is in every memory I hold on to since I met him in 2011. He is in every tear I cry, every sleepless night and every lonely morning when I wake up and he isn’t there. He defined who I am as a person, enriched my life beyond anything I could ever have wished for and left me with amazing memories. They will move forward with me and I certainly wont move on from them. I don’t want to leave them anywhere and I certainly cant move backwards.

The countdown to the year mark isn’t what I thought it would be. As well as thinking about what we were doing “this time last year”, I am also consumed with thoughts like “little did we know we only had 20 days left with him” or “did he know it would be so soon?”. Rather than saying its “been 3, 6, 10 months etc”, I am now saying things like “in 3 weeks, it will be a year since he left”. The time thing again, only its the other way round now. Its strange what thoughts go round your head and the way in which you can interpret things. Too much thinking probably.

More firsts to come again this month and it will probably be the hardest one for a lot of people. Tomorrow, its Mother’s Day. Last year it was much later in the month and Dave and I had bought the cards for mother’s day a couple of weeks before when we were on the market. He always took a lot of time reading verses of cards and would move on to the next shop until he found “the one”. He had found a lovely one for his mum, so much so that I bought the same one for mine!  Dave was still here last Mother’s Day although he was very ill and his mum was staying at the house. I know how important that card and Mother’s Day was to her and tomorrow, I will be thinking of her more than ever because I know its going to be difficult. As far as mother-in-law’s go, she is most definitely the best and I love her very much. All my love to you Ann xx

 

 

 

 

It’s almost here

The first anniversary of when my world came crashing down is almost here. I can’ quite believe it  to be honest. There’s almost a panicky feeling as it approaches because as daft as it sounds, I feel like I’m running out of time. With that, I mean the ability to say ‘this time last year we were……’ . After the anniversary arrives, I will only ever be able to say ‘This time last year I….’.  I suppose that doesn’t seem like much to some people but to me, it just compounds the fact that I my wonderful man isn’t here to make any new memories with and it’s totally shit.

This time last year (because I can still say that for another few weeks), I took Dave over to Liverpool for a weekend of surprises, working through his bucket list as best as I could. I took him to a VIP game to watch his beloved Liverpool. It started with a mystery drive to a hotel in New Brighton and he didn’t have a clue what we were doing for the rest of the day. I gave him a present and filmed him whilst he opened it. Some of my friends at work had managed to get me a signed Liverpool shirt and Dave’s face lit up when he saw it. Looking back on that video, I can see the early signs of what was to come as he struggled to read the card that was with the shirt.

On to the Hilton Hotel where we had a 3 course meal and listened to one of his heros, John Aldridge speaking about his days at Liverpool. A bit later, I nipped out to the loo and saw John sitting in a reception area reading a paper. Not one to miss an opportunity, I asked him if I could bring Dave to meet him which he was more than happy to do. Dave was so pleased and it really made his day.

On to Anfield to watch the game although I couldn’t take my eyes off Dave. I loved watching him smile but I had also noticed him closing his left eye quite a lot. He said that his eyes felt blurry but closing his left eye helped him see a bit better.

We went back to the hotel after the game and then went to eat but I could tell he was struggling so we went back to the hotel. I had another little surprise for him in the morning which was breakfast with some of his lovely friends he used to go to the gym with.

However, when we woke that morning, he was struggling with his balance and I noticed his left eye was drifting. I told him that the gang were meeting us for breakfast but that I would cancel because I wanted to take him to the hospital. He said that he had to eat whilst he took his medication and that he wanted to see them so we went for breakfast. My heart was breaking as he struggled to walk in a straight line and couldn’t see where to put his fork for his food. There was something really wrong so I insisted we went to the hospital.

We were told that he had swelling on his brain which was affecting his eyes and balance so his steroids were increased. From that day, he wore an eye patch which helped control his vision. From that day, it became frightenly real that my brave, strong, wonderful man was losing his fight. But this time last year, I still had him.

I’m scared of not being able to say that anymore and wish time would stand still……just until I’m ready.

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It’s a New Year

This time last year, we had only just found out that Dave’s cancer had spread to his brain so last new year’s eve wasn’t one to celebrate much as we knew we had another big fight to take on. BUT we had hope and I had him here with me. This year I feel hopeless and empty because he’s gone and it’s a horrible feeling.

Now when people ask about him, I have to say he died last year. To people who don’t get it, that just means time is passing and I should be getting back to normal. To me and those who do unerstand, it just means that the last time I held him or talked to him or kissed him is getting further away and it gets harder to hold onto those memories, the old normal doesn’t exist anymore and the new normal is shit and incredibly lonely.

I do know that this year is when I need to pick myself up properly and start making decisions that I have been holding off on, try not to be so angry at the world and try and rebuild this new shit life without him and find a new normal where I can smile properly again. It’s so difficult because I feel so lost sometimes and don’t know where to start. We were supposed to grow old together so how do you plan what to do with what could amount to another lifetime, without the person you were supposed to do it with? You dont. You just get from one day to the next as best as you can in the way that you need to. I will make the decisions I need to make and I will learn to live with this new life because quite simply, there isn’t a choice. We didn’t get a choice.

So as 2017 f***s right off, I will say this. It has without a doubt been the most difficult year ever. I have never cried or hurt so much,  been as scared before or felt so helpless or wanted to curl up and wither away as I have this year but I have also learned a lot about people and compassion and love. To those people who have helped me through it, I am eternally grateful. You know who you are and I know you will be there for me for this coming year so thank you.

Let’s hope 2018 is less shit for everyone and to my family, friends and wonderful in-laws (I fell in love with you when I fell in love with Dave), Happy New Year xx

To my angel in Heaven, look after us all and I will love and miss you always. #DavMac xx ❤

 

One day like this

Today should be our 3rd wedding anniversary. Instead, its my first wedding anniversary without my husband. This is definitely the worst day I have had since he died because quite simply, it should be OUR special day and instead I keep bursting into tears and I don’t really know what to do with myself. I went to the cemetery and put some roses there, chatted to a couple of ladies who felt they needed to console the sobbing mess sat looking lonely on the bench and then went to see my mum for a much needed hug.

One Day Like This was the song I walked down the aisle to, to greet my gorgeous soon to be husband and it was OUR song. That was one of the best days of my life and the song always meant so much to us both. It still means a lot to me and I play it often, but now it always makes me cry with sadness.

Our wedding day was amazing. It was so laid back and so casual and so easy. There was no stress and it was just about what we wanted it to be about. Me and Dave promising our lives to each other in front of those people who were most important to us. I have never ever been prouder than I was the day I became his wife. I have never loved anyone the way I love him and never will again but I am thankful every single day that I had that love and know what it like to feel it. I am one of the lucky ones to be able to say I had that.

I was Dave’s wife for 864 days and have been his widow for 234 days. Widow. What a bloody awful word. What a bloody awful marital status to have. Everything about it is bloody awful. Its like some sort of limbo to be honest. I don’t feel like I am single but I don’t feel like I am married either because the love of my life isn’t here. I am widowed. Its a proper conversation killer let me tell you but I don’t feel like I should avoid it just to make other people feel better. This is my life, my reality and it is shit so when people ask about my other half and I have gathered myself together (because it ALWAYS throws me off my stride) and I say “he passed away in March” or “I’m widowed”, that’s it, that’s the truth and then…………awkwardsilence.com. Its so uncomfortable and so hard because people just don’t know what to say.

I have got through most of the day now so I am going to take myself off to my room, flick through pictures, listen to his voice and get as snotty and red-eyed as humanly possible. From the high I was on 3 years ago today, to the low I am feeling now is poles apart and sometimes, snot and tears are what is needed.

Anniversary love my darling up in Heaven xx

This is for you

 

 

 

 

All about Time and Dates

I haven’t posted for a while and I wish I could say its because things have settled down and time is doing its “job” of healing……but it isn’t. The life I am left with is hectic, full of ups and downs and seems to be feeling sadder as time goes on.

Time and dates. That is all I feel I think about. When you lose someone, there is loads of focus on the “firsts” of everything and I have a coca cola sized truck load of those coming up. Its my birthday on bonfire night and as I sit here, I can hear the bangs, thuds, whistles and see the lightening flashes of the fireworks at the various bonfires around the area and its creasing me. I have always LOVED fireworks. I always dragged Dave along to a display or made sure we had some to let off in the garden and he used to take the mickey out of me and call me a big kid. For the first time ever, I cant be arsed, really cant be arsed because without him, its crap. I will be 47, the same age as he was when he died. God, its no age at all.

Later on this month, its our wedding anniversary. It would have been our 3rd and I already know its going to be a killer day to get through. We had an amazing wedding, planned within 3 weeks with the people we love most in the world around us. It meant everything just being able to get married with no fuss and it be just about those promises we made and our hopes for the future.

Next month, it would have been Dave’s birthday and then in quick succession, its Christmas, then a year to the day we found out the cancer had spread to his brain and then New Year. Well, on December 31st, all I will be celebrating is that this year is over because it can kiss my arse. I cant wait to see the back of it because it has been the worst one ever.

However, its not only the firsts of everything that are at the forefront.  I have lost count of the number of times I have said “this time last yea we were……” because if someone mentions a date, I automatically think about what we were doing at that point last year. Memories that make me smile for a split second and then clouds over just as quick. This time last year, we were in London watching Thriller Live, fulfilling one of Dave’s bucket list items of seeing a West End Show. We travelled back on my birthday and he upgraded us to First Class and it was just typical of my thoughtful, loving, wonderful Dave.

EVERYTHING seems to revolve around the time and dates 17th to 31st March which was when Dave started to deteriorate. If someone asks me about something regarding work, like “when did we upgrade this?” or “when did we train that person?” etc, I automatically know…….because that period of time is so ingrained in my memory. It has become the timeline I use to gauge things. I will say “oh that was in February, because Dave was still here” or that was definitely in March because Dave went into hospital the week after” or “I was off work then because it was the week of the funeral”. Dates and times seem to rule my world more than they ever have before.

There is still a way to go until Dave’s first “sadaversary” as its called in my Widowed support group and its always being said that we should take each day as it comes. I do try to do that most of the time and although all the “firsts” are dreaded, already I feel anxious and sad about not being able to say “this time last year me and Dave were……….” anymore. Its another loss in a way because memories that you made together are getting older and its scary. There are no more firsts after that and it means that the “lasts” of everything are getting further and further away. You just cant win.

This time last year, my wonderful man was with me…………I need to say it whilst I still can. Love you always xx

26 weeks/21 years

26 weeks. 182 days. 6 months. Half a year. Whichever way you say it, it feels like a lifetime on one hand but then like yesterday on another.

26 weeks ago tonight was mine and Dave’s last night on this earth together. 26 weeks ago tomorrow was our last day. I remember that night so clearly. I was lying next to him on my makeshift bed of 3 chairs put together with a few pillows on top and clinging onto him so I didn’t slip in between them. A sight I knew he would laugh about if he was able to and something that I joked about when I was talking away to him. It was important to talk to him. I didn’t want to him to ever feel alone and I wanted him to hear, feel and see how much I loved him to the very last second. I played our favourite playlist to him which included our wedding song, his trademark James song and others that had meant something to us at one time or another during our all too short years together. I talked to him about strong he had been and how proud I was of how he had dealt with everything and lastly about how tired he now was. I whispered to him that if he was ready, he should let go. 26 weeks ago tomorrow, he did let go, with all his family around to surround him with love whilst we said goodbye.

21 years ago tomorrow, my beautiful daughter was born. Again it feels like a lifetime ago but it isn’t. She has grown into an amazing young woman and I am very proud of who she is, what she has achieved and what she will become. Tomorrow we are having a party o celebrate this wonderful milestone, surrounded by the most amazing family and friends,

It’s another bittersweet day because when me and Dave started booking rooms and DJs in January, we didn’t contemplate that he wouldn’t be here. He will be so missed.

26 weeks / 21 years. Yin and Yang. Sad and Happy. What a rollercoaster.