Forgetful but never forgetting

Today in 1968 my mum and dad got married in County Cavan, Ireland. A rakish Scottish boy who had pretensions to look like Buddy Holly and an Irish clergyman’s daughter tied the knot with many top notch churchman, including the bishop, involved in the nuptials. Dad had organised a ‘poor-oot’ which the local kids didn’t get in the least. Mum’s slightly crazy actress aunt took herself off during the reception to dress up as a tramp and came back in and bothered mainly the Scottish guests for money. The Grand National meant that under the table betting was high on the agenda.

Over the years, against the norm, mum was always the one to forget anniversaries. So when my sisters and I spoke on Sunday to wonder what to do about mum and dad’s first wedding anniversary without him here we thought the best thing would be to remind her she’d forgotten again and make her smile through the tears.
We sent flowers. We said in the card we didn’t want the day to pass without marking the occasion and that dad wouldn’t want the day to pass without us reminding her that once again she had forgotten. We wanted to make her laugh but also know that he was still here.
So here’s the thing. Mum never remembered anniversaries but she adored dad and adored everyday with him. She didn’t need to mark a day in the calendar to make that clear. None of us do. It’s nice to put a date in the calendar to remind us to be grateful for what we have. But truly we should probably try every day to say our thanks for the love we have in our lives. Our flowers and our card made mum sad but they also made her laugh at herself. She never remembered their anniversary but she will never forget how much their love meant to each other. Love was their everything. That’s something you don’t need to say only one day of the year. Happy anniversary mum and dad. Love you both.

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Catching Wishes

These last few weeks of summer the girls have been catching wishes. You know those floaty, spindly spheres that dance away from you as soon as you reach out to grab one. Yes, those. If my five and three-year-old can’t catch them I run, jump and grab upwards or stamp down upon them like a slightly geriatric child just so my girls can have those eyes-tight-shut-with-hopeful-whisperings kind of moments that I remember doing too. Where I wished for hair as long as Claire Jenkins, my girls wishes are much more poignant but are just as likely to not happen.

*****

Evie: “Mummy, if we wish really, really hard can we get daddy to come back.”

Me: “No, darling. A wish can’t ever bring daddy back. Remember I told you his body was broken and we said goodbye to it and daddy’s energy and spirit is all around us…”

Evie: “Yes I know but can Santa not even fix it so daddy can come back.”

Me: “I am so sorry honey. He can’t come back.”

Evie: “Well then can I wish for a new daddy.”

Me: “Well yes but you know Cameron is here not to be your daddy but he can be a bit like a daddy.”

Evie: “Yes that’s OK but can Isla and I have a daddy that doesn’t have any other children. A daddy just for us.”

*****

Isla: “I miss daddy. I want him back.”

Me: “I know honey. I wish you could have him back but I’m here.”

Isla: “But I want his cuddles.”

Me: “I know me too. But you’re lucky. You’re daddy is special because other daddies only get to see their little girls after school or nursery or after work. Your daddy watches over you all the time. And while he was here your daddy gave me so many cuddles that I can pass some of them to you.”

Isla: “And his kisses?”

Me: “Yes darling. Kisses too.”

Our sweet girls, Col. If only those spindly floaty wish things could make wishes come true…I wish that these were not the types of conversations I shared with my little girls at bedtime and that you could kiss and cuddle them in the flesh. I just wish.

 

The Two Faces of Evie

I thought it was just me that had a face for the world and then one with the cracks that I tend to keep for behind the closed doors of our home. I am discovering this week that although Evie may look the spit of Colin she is most definitely like me in this ability to create a happy exterior when inside you have a chasm of sadness that dissipates but never will go away completely.

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Tell Me Why

Why is it that I can still have ‘bad’ days (and nights)? Why do I still feel overwhelmed by grief? Have I not shown bereavement my full mettle? What is that sets these times off? Is it worrying over Evie (aged four)? Why is it that she’s now crying in her sleep AGAIN? And then when she wakes she cries more and says “I’m just sad”? Why is it that she has started the whole OCD ‘I need to put my clothes outside for the right temperature’ thing? Why is it that I feel a huge wave of sad when Isla asks for photos of her and daddy because…well because there are only a handful because he died when she was only nine weeks old? Why oh why oh why?

Why does Evie have no memories for her Memory Jar at Richmond’s Hope? Why does she throw photos of daddy across the room instead of carefully choose some for her Memory Box? Why have I got about 25 empty photo frames up on my walls because I am too sad to go through all the pictures of times before that knock at the door? Why does Isla have to say goodnight to daddy through the window while looking into the sky? Why can’t she simply kiss him and snuggle him as she goes off to sleep? Why isn’t he here to call us silly names and annoy us with his teasing? Why oh why why why?

Not looking for answers…just venting

 

 

Happy Birthday Dear Darling

Stumble, trip. Stumble, trip. Every time an anniversary hits I stumble and trip my way into it, no prep, and I find myself amazed to feel myself bereft once more. It has been cols birthday today. I had thought I was on top of it. So many many calendar dates down the line and I believed I was a pro at handling the grief monster. Ha. Last thought I had before sleep last night was this was cols third birthday since his death. Forever 38. Sad but ok. First thing this morning Evie and I had a discussion about what she’d have done for daddy if he’d been here for his birthday. She’d have let him play with her toys. Heartbreaking but still ok. Kids and I in a supermarket challenged by a self checkout… Uncontrollable weeping out of the blue. Odd just odd.
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Loss Of Control

Sometimes I wish life were like a school biology experiment. Instead of ten woodlice in one ‘control’ petri dish residing on a soggy bit of kitchen roll in their little world all constant and unchanged compared to their 10 friends on very similar petri dish who’d have had all sorts of changeables thrown at them, there would be two sets of me, Evie and Isla going through two similar but two very different lives. In one petri dish of a life the three of us would be all constant and unchanged and living in London and Colin would be there. On the other petri dish we’d have had all the spanners life has thrown at us since the death of Col. Hopefully on this second petri dish we’d be surviving and rebuilding as we are here and now but it would make it easier to pinpoint how we’ve been altered because we could look at the other Evie, Isla and Nicola and see what might have been and compare and contrast. The conclusion would be so simple. Any differences between those two petri dishes could be put down to his loss and the whole fallout from that terrible fact.

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Remembering Him

It’s two years today that Col left us all behind. The last few days have been about remembering him. That said I don’t think there is a day that passes that all those that knew him do not in some small way or another remember the man or boy they once knew because that to me seems to be how losing someone works. Birthdays, anniversaries loom on the calendar and you get your way through them and tick them off and perhaps on those days you do conjure them up as they were more than you do on a run-of-the-mill day. Ultimately though you remember them and how you miss them everyday in all sorts of small ways. A place passed, a street once walked, a song heard, a photo found, an item in your wardrobe worn again, a phrase repeated on different lips…the triggers are everywhere and always. That to me is what happens to us when we are gone. Who we once were is nothing if we do not leave people behind with a thought of us, a smile Continue reading “Remembering Him”

Merry Christmas Vs Bah Humbug

I really don’t know where to begin here. My thoughts are in a swirl. I thought I had Christmas sorted. All those ghosts of Christmases past were consigned to their memory boxes or loaded into my memory banks, safely, only to be visited when needed, when sanity was reigning supreme and the monster of grief was sleeping soundly somewhere other than in my head or in my heart. But. And it’s a big old BUT. In the last week Christmas has felt like the ‘quickening’ and all my efforts of tree decorating and party hosting are merely superficial because the doomsday that is the 25th is before me and it’s looming like a big, old scary marker of a day. Another day without him, another day the girls should have had with their daddy. And it is so, so hard not to compare those Christmases past with where I am now. It’s not bad where I am. It’s good. Really good, in fact, if I would stop bloody crying and comparing backwards. Backwards to London. Back to being pregnant with Isla. Pacing the hospital with Col waiting for Isla. Her arrival on Christmas Eve. Our first Christmas in our home with Evie, all excited. Isla’s wearing the same clothes Evie was around this time. Squint my eyes a bit and Isla could be our Little Doctor Evil. Let my imagination run away with myself and I can conjure up his voice on the end of the line telling me what gift I should be getting her. Bah Humbug.
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Not So Silent Screaming

I have been counting dates again. Isla is the same age Evie was when Col died. She is 22 months. And she’s still just a baby. Yes she talks and she understands stuff but how, at this same age did Evie cope with loss and understand that daddy just disappeared from her life? How did I think she understood? She didn’t but she did. She stopped asking for him, she refused her much-loved milks and she point blank refused baths. His death did seem to have an affect on her. So she did suffer the loss but it’s only now at three and a half that she is beginning to grasp it. When will 22-month-old Isla get it? Will she feel jealous that she had such a short time feeling his love all around her? Arghhhh.
Seeing Isla at this same stage also makes me think, once again, about how short a time Col had with both his girls. At the time I thought at 22 months Evie was almost a fully fledged child. But she was a baby. Then I start thinking about the fact that if she was a baby then Isla at nine weeks was practically an embryo. Tiny. They shared such a tiny amount of time in this world with their wonderful daddy. It’s heartbreaking (well of course it is, the whole bloody thing is).
Those who know and follow this blog will also know that I have come under fire from certain Dail Mail idiots. I have moved on and met someone so that of course means I am callous and unfeeling. Well if those people could walk in these grief boots for just one moment they would, they would, well, they’d eat their sanctimonious hats. I am moving on. But every step forward is also filled with sadness. My children have lost their daddy and I lost the future I thought I had ahead of me. I am only now able to start emptying some of the boxes I packed up in the weeks following Col’s death for our big move north. My new house is not so new anymore, after over a year in it, but with the piles of random objects and boxes sitting in the shadowy corners of most rooms it looks undone and very unhomely. Meeting Cameron has spurred me on to make the house look happy and lived in and so yesterday I started to tackle the last few boxes. Almost immediately I was in pieces. First the cufflinks I bought Col for our wedding day had me in silent tears and then…well I peeled the bubble wrap off our wedding photos and found myself wracked by those animalistic sobs that those who have suffered this type of loss will know. The ones where your mouth freezes open, like in Munch’s Scream, and you get that awful pain in your chest. The one that feels like a deep, dark, unfillable hole.
It’s been a long time since I felt that pain. As well as the despair that the life I had was gone in amongst this latest bout of weepage I was thinking…God, will this ever, ever, ever get any easier? Of course it will, it is (this time I had Cameron holding me up and hugging me while I collapsed inwards and that definitely felt better than being alone and falling apart) but I think I would be a fool to think that grief will ever leave my life completely. One day when these girls of ours get bigger this pain will hit them too and I so wish I could keep it from them but they can’t stay three and a bit and 22 months forever. Soon I will be counting the date that Evie has been alive longer without her dad than with…great

Aaaaaarghhhhhhhhh
Aaaaaarghhhhhhhhh