Last weekend I stood looking out at a beautiful view from Culzean Castle being hugged. That hug turned into a marriage proposal. I never imagined I would be in that happy place. But oh my god it felt and feels rather wonderful. It’s funny how when you’re not looking for something or someone, life can throw something your way that’s wonderful. I’ve got used to spanners being thrown into my life not big fat positive love stories.
To recap. When Colin died I spent a year only alone. It wasn’t long enough. I met someone and I thought yippee I’ve solved that hole in our lives. I was wrong. I got it quite wrong but it was no one’s fault and actually it was all part of our journey, perhaps I needed it to see what I had been so wrong about to get to where we are. At the end, after lots of heartache, I felt quite happy that it was going to be just me and the girls. Just us. I actually felt triumphant. I was also very much not looking for someone. I was still sad that me and the girls were in the position we were in without Colin but the pain of his loss was no longer unbearable. A future of just me and them was very appealing after so much turmoil. My feminist side was jubilant. So when one of my best friends texted with a potential date almost eight months ago I was very much anti it. More than that actually. But she’s a persuasive woman. So I passed on my number and almost immediately in came this message that was funny, interesting and warranted an answer.
It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been a learning curve. We both have had dark times and we both have kids we are very mindful of who’ve been through an awful lot in their short lives. But it’s been one of the best times of my life and I’ve never seen my kids this happy. And I know it’s only the beginning. And… well that’s it. Our new chapter begins. Colin is still with us in our hearts. The girls are so in love with their daddy they don’t remember but they are also pleased to be part of one big crazy modern blended family that gets more crazy by the day right now. People may judge. People may not. I don’t actually worry. I can’t change how I’ve handled things up to now but going forward I think everyone that matters is pretty ecstatic that this whirlwind has occurred. Bring it on.
I loved the silliness of us. I loved the lovingness of us. I loved being in our team. I do not always love flying solo in parentdom. I wish our team had had longer to do all the things I now do alone but with two kids. From bike riding to sofa slobbing, from breakfast to bedtime, there always seems to be those nanoseconds within the daily rollercoaster ride of happiness highs and parenting lows where I just feel super alone and that Colin-shaped hole looms over us. It’s not even a ‘poor me’ moment or nostalgia for our time back, in our past, its just me acknowledging that deep nag that sits within me that grieves in glimpses, in tiny moments in time, for what he’s missing now and in the years to come as well as feeling sad for what the three of us have also lost in our present and future. In those tiny moments I wish there could be a glimpse in that Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter but I fear I would get lost in it. And it would only make me sad again and I don’t have time.
Continue reading “Flying Solo”
My friend “who happens to be a widow too” and I have just done a second holiday a deux. When we did it last year we were quite conscious of what people around the pool would be wondering about our little set up. Would they be trying to work out, as we lathered each others backs in factor and answered to four children under five indescrimitorily of which ‘Muuuuuuuummy’ was being summoned, if we were in a ‘my-two-moms’ set up? Or perhaps we were golf ‘widows’ (La Manga has a few of these women who describe themselves as such without realising the weight of the W word) whose husbands had such scant care for holidaying with offspring that they didn’t make it to the pool once to throw a child up in the air? One couple we met assumed we were military wives. A rather obtuse conclusion but then when you people watch on holiday you do concoct quite elaborate and full interpretations of people from that tiny slice of life that poolside observation offers.
Continue reading “Poolside People Watching”
I tell my tale to Elaine C Smith on Radio Scotland this week. You can listen online here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0419c3p
The sun is shining. I’ve just done a lovely run. And my head was making me giggle internally as I trotted around a glorious Edinburgh. It’s the girls. Everyday I see little things that make it quite clear these are the offspring of myself and Col. There is no mistaking it. So as I ran I was making a list of what these lucky (hmmmm) little girls have inherited from their parents. The people in the cars doing their morning commute may have been wondering what was making me grin so inanely as I ran. Ach well. Here are the lists.
- Fungal infections (Evie has a rampaging case of ringworm on her back just like Col used to get on his hairy torso)
- Open mouthed guffawing (Isla has her dad’s smile and laugh)
- Nonchalent pant rummaging (Evie loves to stand with her hand down the back of her trousers while holding a conversation)
- Teasing (Isla has her daddy’s wicked sense of fun)
- Big brown eyes (both girls have Col’s gorgeous, soulful eyes – I love it)
- Singing (Evie is an enthusiastic if a little tuneless in her efforts, just like Col was, but what I adore most is that when not sure of the words in a song she makes them up. Ah I remember so well car journeys while Col belted out random lyrics to MOR classics from Phil Collins and the like )
- Reading (Isla is a voracious reader. Five books before bedtime is a record. Her dad used to have a similar appetite for reading and could get through five or six dense novels on a week’s holiday)
- Tantrums (both girls can throw a fabulous strop just like their mum)
- Dramatic tendencies (Evie doesn’t get a graze or a bruise without demanding a trip to the hospital. Col used to joke that I had a hotline to my own personal advisor at NHS Direct – he called her Maggie for some reason)
- Love of shoes (Isla can’t get enough of them)
- Competitive spirit (Evie has to be the winner. This actually comes from both Col and I but Col was a better loser than I was and unfortunatley Evie has taken after me. She’s not in the least gracious when it comes to losing. Where did she get that foot stamping, door slamming behaviour from??????)
These are just a few of the elements I see in Evie and Isla that prove the girls are mix of Col and I. They’ve got the best and the worst of us both. And it makes me laugh except perhaps when I am faced with all my worst traits coming back at me in a perfect storm of pre-schooler naughtiness. Now what’s lovely though is there are a few Cameron-isms coming through amongst the Colin-isms and Nicola-isms. It’s early days but I love that Isla makes kissy kissy sounds when she sees a doggy just like Cameron does. And Evie has a smiliar way of answering a simple question in a confusing way like Cameron. It’s difficult to explain but suffice to say ‘Yes I don’t’ as a response is annoying yet endearing…Hmmm. No doubt more Cameron characteristics will creep in amongst mine and Col’s within Evie and Isla giving another edge to their personalities. Sweet.
A happy little shot of me and the girls to say to the world…we’re ok….I would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of support, kind messages and love, really. Life went slightly crazy yesterday when the Daily Mail published extracts from my blog. It’s been amazing and so wonderful to hear from others that have either suffered the loss of a partner or parent, friend, brother, son…the list goes on. There are messages wishing me strength and stories of suffering that would make your toes curl. There have been generous strangers donating to my half marathon in Col’s memory. It’s all so overwhelming but in a really, good and positive way. So thank you all. I will reply individually as soon as I can.
On the comments on the actual Daily Mail site there are many most upset with me though. It’s haunted me a little. I would like to point out to those people angry with me for removing my wedding rings…I have not. I moved them to my other hand and wear them there alongside Colin’s wedding ring. This was my choice because I hated people assuming as I am going through my daily life with the girls that I was happily married to an alive husband. I am not and this way people get a little heads up when they meet me that things are not quite as tickety boo as I would like them to be. I remain in love with Col and I remain ‘married’ to him in that he will always be part of me, the girls and our lives. I hope that makes a little more sense to the incensed.
I woke this morning with this song in my head. Yes. It’s an old favourite but in the last week it keeps coming into my internal dukebox. So then Evie and I danced three times to it pre nursery. And it felt good. Then I found her shoe in the gutter (it had been there since the night before) and I locked myself out of the house. Both of those things a couple of weeks ago would have floored me but today I just thought ‘bring it on’. Yes, I might feel better this week. I might not next. But all in all I can’t keep looking backwards. I have to dust myself off and think about keeping on keeping on. And so I have played this song again and again today. Its sentiments are not quite right but they capture the spirit of me. Yes, I do feel better, shingles and all.
The new year started with a bump. Or quite a few if you take into account that it began with a bout of the shingles. But I have made a decision to embrace a new future. That started with moving my wedding rings off my wedding finger, partly because it was itchy but partly because I am married to a memory. Colin has gone and I have to forge ahead whatever that means. I need to create a new future for myself and the girls. So I have to make my way forward. Like so many at this time of year that means a spring clean and sort, which is underway, but it also means for me working out what I am going to do. So I need to stop talking about setting up shop here in Edinburgh and create my workspace and start seriously earning a living again.
Watch this space.
Today was our niece Natalie Buggy’s christening. I was honoured to be Colin’s stand-in as Godfather. My sister and her husband had discussed several options but realised that if Col were still with us today he would have been the one standing at the front of the church with them. He would have been so honoured to have been asked to be playing such an important role in his little ginger niece’s life.
My sister Jo and her husband Eddie had been wanting a baby for a long while and Col always used to say to me how happy he would be for them if their dream came true. Natalie is our family’s little miracle baby because she was long awaited and there was a wee worry before she was born that there may have been complications with her health. Col asked me throughout Jo’s pregnancy what the news was. He was really worried.
Colin was a man that was not a big fan of kids before he had them. He liked them but just not enough to give up his way of life and his way of holidaying. But then he became a dad and he was the biggest advocate of having children. Once Evie was born he wanted the world to know how wrong he had been. Yes they were a pain, yes they changed the way you lived life and they meant you took different types of holidays but he realised just how much having children gave direction and meaning to your life. He wanted to share that with the world and for the world to go forth and multiply. He was devastated for Jo and Eddie when those complications arose but he was full of admiration that they battled on willing to meet with whatever the future held for them and their little baby-to-be.
When I phoned him one morning in January to tell him that his new niece was born his immediate reaction was to ask if she was OK. I reassured him that she was absolutely fine and totally healthy. He asked again, ‘really, absolutely fine, nothing at all wrong?’. When I said yes, yes she is totally healthy, a little small but beautiful and redhaired he was obviously relieved enough to joke: “Oh dear she’s a ginger.” Bless him.
We all missed him today. He would have been so proud and although I have to say it still feels like I have one limb missing when I attend events like this it was so lovely to gather and feel like he was with us. He was wearing one of his pinstriped suits and looked a little crumpled as always. I wore the dress I wore to his memorial and the earrings he bought me as a wedding gift so it felt like he was right there. Thank you for the feather my love.
Colin And Evie Saying Goodnight from Widows Don’t Wear Black on Vimeo.
Evie and I have played this little tinny iphone video the last two nights before she goes to sleep. She has to watch it over and over until I tell her it is time to lie down and shut her eyes. He would be mortified that I am sharing his baby voice with the world but it really is so wonderful to hear him baby chat or not. She loves it almost as much as me. When it ends she makes the statement: “My daddy in the sky.’ I am not sure if this is now her name for him or if she is just giving me the facts as she knows them.