Widow Exhaustion

Busy….busy……must keep busy.  Have a weekend to spare, must fill it.  Have a day to spare, what can I do? Have an hour to spare, there’s a job to be done.  It’s safe to say that since being in this new life, I’ve kept busy.  So busy, I crawl into bed at night so exhausted that even my toe nails ache.  I sleep well, every single night.  I wake feeling refreshed but quickly remembering that he’s dead….and then stomach punch.  So I get up and do it all over again.  Busy…..busy…….must keep busy.

Why I wonder?  Why this obsession with being so god damn busy?  It’s not like I don’t like my own company because that never really bothered me.  Is it because I am now so aware that life can change in a nano-second? Cramming in everything humanly possible before I too kick the bucket.  Is it because I’m a control freak? If I just get everything in order and perfect and just so…… my problems won’t be as big and I’ll be in control of at least something.  Is it because I’m scared that if I stop and do nothing, my life will be meaningless?  Is it because I am scared that if I stop and do nothing the empty space around me, remains empty, since he’s no longer next to me, shifting atoms and particles with his manly stance?

Positive…..positive…..must keep positive.  Busy and positive, it’s a recipe for widow burn out.  But at the time of writing I’m still going.  I’ve not burnt out yet and I’m slowly realising how exhausting it is being positive. I’ve always been terrified that if I’m miserable it will be too exhausting and I won’t be able to cope if I give in to that demon, knocking at my door.  Starting to realise that actually, perhaps it’s the other way round.  Perhaps it’s the misery demon I need to let in and the positive monster I needs to go on vacation.

Alas, I’m still sat here, positive is home.  Misery still parked up, just outside.

The Fragility of Tomorrow

Had a little slip up last night, a Saturday night on my own and desperately missing Him. He, who should have been sat next to me, bare foot with beer in hand.  Tears were not shed…..grief doesn’t always soak my face.  Instead, an empty feeling where the silence deafens.  Many friends just a phone call away, yet feeling so alone.  It’s just me, me and my wine and a silent room where his voice once filled like pleasant interludes.

This morning I woke up to the news of another terror attack in London.  Our capital city in pain.  More lives taken and more families broken.  I know my tragedy is not comparable to terror attacks, but my point here is….. we never know when tragedy will strike.  How arrogant to assume tomorrow is ours, that we own ourselves and the light that follows.  We are oh so fragile yet oh so strong.  And we carry on, making memories which will last forever.  Because we know that where life is short, a memory is long.  And it’s all we can do is make them.

Speech-face ready

I was recently asked to give a speech at a Marie Curie corporate fundraising event.  I was completely shocked to be asked to be honest, but also honoured in equal measures.  So the panic began of trying to compose a suitable speech.  I’m not by any means short of words, written or spoken but to compose something to read out aloud whilst standing in front of actual living and breathing humans, would be enough to send my hair curly, if it wasn’t already. Anyway, on with it I must and that is what I did.

Last night was the event, held at a posh restaurant I wouldn’t usually go to for fear of looking out of place.  Instantly I was warmly welcomed by the city suits.  The evening started with a speech from Mr Mayor himself, who gave his talk whilst holding his very modest glass of wine and nothing written down. What a pro!  The wine indeed flowed but I restrained myself after the one glass….no one would want to hear from a slurring widow.  I was already told that my speech was to be between the main and dessert, so you can imagine the feeling of dread I felt, whilst tucking into my canon of lamb….it was enough to wretch it back up.

Finally, the time arrived.  I was called to the lectern by the hospice manager who gave some words before me.  Straight away I was hit with a problem.  I had printed my speech off on small cards which I thought would look neater so you can imagine my horror when I faced a microphone that you have to hold.  Oh no! What I am I going to do now? I was only blessed with two hands and both of those are going to be busy…one holding the cards and the other, the mic.  How will I turn the cards? No time to think…..I’ve got to start…they’re all looking at me.

The second problem I encountered was realising and regretting that I wore a black dress.  Nothing wrong with a black dress, but I’m not doing much good for the widow stereotype am I? Again, no time to worry, just get on with it.

So on with it I did.  I surprised myself at how well it was going actually.  I paced, I paused, I made eye contact, I managed to turn the cards whilst holding the mic, I managed not to cry.  At the end, I could see members of the audience dabbing their eyes and a sense of achievement came over me.  Not because I wish to make people cry with my story, but the whole point of this evening was to raise money for this wonderful charity and the only way to encourage people to dig deep is to connect with them emotionally.  Wet eyes told me that I had made a connection and that was all I could ask for.  I even got a standing ovation.

I bashfully returned to my table, grateful of the refill of wine and the smiling faces on my table.  A feeling of relief and pride washed over me, as I tucked into my cheesecake.  Next time, I think I’ll wear a yellow dress.

Smacked in the face with another event

The grief train is as punctual as ever, chugging along with its repetitive rasp.  Why can’t it pause at the last stop or take a wrong turn?  After all, the driver is a learner.

But no, it has a timetable and at the moment, it’s sticking to it.  Today is Easter Sunday and as I sit here contemplatively shouving chocolates into my mouth, I wonder why you haven’t risen again? If it was possible to rise again based on love alone, you’d be here.  You’d be here, tenfold.

C’mon Sweetheart.  There’s chocolate to be eaten.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  There’s wine to be drunk.

How Am I Coping?

I’ve had many people tell me, since becoming a widow “I don’t know what I would do if I lost my husband”.  I have a problem with that statement. Is it supposed to make me feel better? Is it supposed to make me feel bad, that I am standing there…in an upright position, wearing make up, with a coffee in my hand. Because, what you’re suggesting is if you were in my position you probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, in that moment.  How could I possibly be standing there, exchanging words with another human being when my man is dead?

Truth is, I probably would have said the same thing before cancer came and took a massive shit all over my perfect life.

I usually respond with “what’s the alternative?”  This question torments me a lot and I often ask myself “how am I okay?”  This inspired me to pen the following.  Call it a poem if you want.

How am I breathing, and fast
when I’ve seen you draw your last?
How am I standing tall,
when it’s all I can do, to not fall?
How are these cheeks dry
and breast and thigh, when heavy eyes just want to cry?
How am I not bruised and burned
as I’m disgraced that the world has turned?
How can I speak instead of ball
when it’s no longer your name I can call?
How can I hear
when I still hear your voice just like it’s near?
How do I not scream
when now I only get to see you in a dream? 

I hope this answers the question to those wondering, how I cope.  I have no choice.