In the months after Colin’s death I could easily recount in minute detail by minute detail the few dreams I had of Col. The one where I was in our house, it was full of people, but I couldn’t find him. I desperately needed to speak to him. I hunted and hunted for my phone to see if I could track him on the phone. But no one had seen my phone. Eventually I found it. And it was blank. There was no key pad. I couldn’t dial his number to call him. I was devastated. I woke just missing his voice.
Grief. Such a small word for such a bloody big never-ending process. It might rhyme with brief – it is anything but. I wish it were.
Time heals…One of many stock phrases that get trotted out after a death. A simple combination of just two words that can make people like me, people who were just like everyone else in life until they suddenly aren’t because of death, feel like they are being given a mean old poke in the eye with a spiky spoke and a full-on extra nasty twist at the end of it. I can verify time does not heal you to the point of the fully restored ‘just how you were’ you. I am living proof of it. Time provides a distance between the trauma of a death to wherever you are in present time. In the immediate moment after death you are pretty much in the eye of the storm. Everything after is the process of grief. Time for me provides me time to numb, time to learn to cope a little better between triggers and as this process goes along I sense that the time between those godawful triggers, that have me sinking back into the darkness of grief once again, can lengthen. Time also gives me time to work my way through the emotional chaos created in the aftermath of each trigger and this time seems to get shorter each time. The bummer, a word I am borrowing from my six-year-old’s banned vocabulary list, actually let’s go further, the ‘total bummer’ is that it is my personal experience that time is yet to give me a heads up on where the triggers might lurk and sometimes time hoodwinks me into thinking I am properly healed (doh) and as strong as everyone told me I was along the way (another well-used stock phrase that people trot out to the bereaved when they seem to be less screaming banshee than they once were).
Continue reading “Taking My Own Time”
Dear Darling Col,
It’s unbelievable to think it is four years today that I last looked at you and saw those twinkly eyes of yours. Four years since you raced out the door, with a quick and happy goodbye over your shoulder, to never come back. Never. I still find that so unreal. So full of life and so full of love. So much to live for. So completely unaware that your heart was a ticking time bomb. It’s just bloody unfair, on everyone.
Why do you not to have all the great times you should be having right now with our little girls? They are so funny and sharp and much fun to spend time with. I laugh out loud so often but every time I do I wish you were there right beside me so I could catch your eye Continue reading “It’s Been Four Years…Darling”
When Col spoke of his dad he always spoke with such admiration and pride. He described him as ‘nails’ or ‘afraid of nothing’. He told me one story many times of when, growing up in Nairobi, he and his sister nicola had been petrified by the appearance of a huge spider the size of a fully grown man’s hand (col was always one for exaggeration but he insisted this wasn’t one) near the house or in the garage (I wish I could ask him which, but I can’t). Col described his dad as calmly coming to the rescue and scooping up the giant arachnid on a postcard, Continue reading “In Memory of Poppa”
I had a large bag of notes, cards, letters and photos, 100s of them, that I have not looked at or opened since the weeks after Col died. I have tried. Numerous times. But failed to even go beyond the first few lines of the first letter opened. I bought a beautiful book to place the memorial cards people picked up at the service for him and were to fill in with their favourite memory of Col for myself, Evie and Isla to read in years to come. These have a smiley Col beaming out from them on one side and are blank for his friends, family and colleagues to conjure up a moment in time with the man we all adored. I have read only half of them today. Through tears. So many tears. My head hurts, my eyes are but a memory and pure puffiness has replaced where they once were and I keep seeing him everywhere and weeping more.
This week a radio show asked me to voice my opinion on the subject of young children and how we should deal with them dealing with death. I am not sure how relevant I really was to an argument that had arisen from writer Carol Sarler’s feature in the Daily Mail, where she puts forward that there is a certain element of grief pornography going on on the streets of Edinburgh that has seen the parents of young children in the Drylaw community allowing their kids to take along memorial teddies, flowers and notes for tragic Mikaeel Kular, the little Edinburgh boy who was found dead last week, and place them at a makeshift but growing shrine to the three-year-old. I actually agree with her on that fact. I wouldn’t take my child along to such a gathering but then they didn’t know him and it would more than likely frighten them to know even a fraction of what seems to be the story behind his awful death. However, there are those children that did know him and those that went to nursery with him and they need to find something to help explain the inexplicible or somewhere to hang the feelings that they are now feeling about a boy they knew but ‘bam’ is no longer here. So this is where I disagree with Carol. The discussion on the radio didn’t get particuarly heated on the parts that I heard. We all agreed it would be wrong to take a child along that didn’t know Mikaeel, especially a very young one, because why bring death and the emotions it brings with it into their lives unless they did.
But death did rear its ugly head in my girls little world a long time before anyone would want their kids exposed to it . I would love to wrap my children in the warmth and ignorance and love and cocoa that she suggests but I can’t. So I suppose I did get a bit riled when Bereavement expert Ann (I think) suggested waiting Continue reading “Discussions, Death and, er, Disney”
My last post on playing the Glad Game within the process of grief and gaining the perspective on life that those not suffering a traumatic loss cannot hope to have drew many comments and personal emails and texts. It seemed to touch a few hearts. One comment really rang true for me:
“Hi there, I also lost my husband suddenly at age 34 he was 36 my boy and girl were 7 and 3 years old …
I just wanted to agree with your comment about realising what we have and we we should realise what is important, the down side to this gift and it is a gift, you won’t tolerate people moaning about the little bugles in life etc however I have been better at this with time xxx”
Thank you Eileen. Yup there is the rub. The downside of the widow’s new view of the world is that we really don’t have time for those who have no idea how bloody lucky they are. Oh well we’ll just have to keep on holding our tongues until people ‘get it’ and to be honest I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
I finally bought new socks this week. Since Col died I have been wearing his. I haven’t bought socks for myself in about five years. I have been wearing his in all that time. And that’s grim because this was a man with fungal infections. I was only shamed into buying socks now because the holes in the heels and the toes have been too apparent in soft play centres where socks are an essential piece of kit. I feel close to Col by wearing his socks. Odd? Yes I know. I also wear his jumpers to bed still when I feel the need and I have only just thrown out his toothbrush. It took me ages to get rid of his razors and the old blades with his bristles on. Throwing stuff that is so personal, with the last mark of the person you loved on them, is the hardest bit. Well one of the hardest bits. I can decide whether to get rid of his pants, his shirts, his suits but something like a razor with his actual remnants on? Hmmm. Hard. Socks with the worn bits where his feet made the holes? Difficult. His toothbrush which once brushed his gappy teeth within the mouth that told me it loved me? Almost impossible.
Getting to the anniversary of Colin’s death was like travelling toward the little flag on my Sat Nav that marks the end of a journey except this flag waved D for D Day, day of death as well as destination. The 25th of February was something to travel towards but when I reached that place on Monday I wasn’t quite sure where next. I certainly don’t want to go back to origin like my Sat Nav usually asks when I get to where I want to go as that would take me right back to the first day of this journey of grief. And that would be quite rubbish. However, I don’t know what we are aiming for now that I am over my year of firsts, all those anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas that have now all been done once without Col. Now he feels even further away because every day that gets lived now now adds up to a year and another day without him. Hmmm. I can no longer say it’s less than a year since he died and I don’t quite know how that makes me feel. Yes it means we have managed and got through the 12 month mark but what destination should I be typing in the Sat Nav now? I have no idea.
I do know that there is absolutely no way I would have got to that one year mark without the amazing people I spent Sunday and Monday with. The mix of kids and adults there all had one thing in common – missing Colin. We all had our moments of sadness and the Colin shaped hole did loom over all the fun and conversations but all the gatherings proved to me that the girls and I have a solid support network of friends and that each of them will be part of our journey, wherever it takes us.
This time last year I was preparing for a new future with two children and my husband. I had Christmas all booked up via M&S and Amazon, practically by the end of November. Our due date was December 28th so I wanted all preparations sorted by first week of December, just in case. Colin was irking me with his last minute contributions of what we should have bought Evie and his many Godchildren. I was easily irked at this point in pregnancy so this was no surprise. Whenever it was slow at work Col was quite google-tastic so everyday there was another thing he thought I should have bought or sorted pinging its way as a link on email. It made me mad. I would give my whole left arm and a part of my leg to be feeling that this year.
It is impossible not to draw comparisons this year as I go through the motions of Christmas prep. Everyday I sink lower into the depths of this weird despair. Everyone looks so happy. I am getting Christmas cards for ‘The Campbell girls’ or ‘The Campbell family’. I don’t feel like a family. I feel like Evie, Isla and I are broken and not worthy of the label ‘family’ because we have one major family member missing.
I keep weeping and Evie is seeing me sadder than I have been. But you know what she has begun to have it sorted in her head. Yesterday, she asked me: “Are you sad?”. I replied: “Yes my sweet, I am a little today. I am really missing Daddy.” I was flabbergasted when I asked her if she missed him too. “No,” she replied with a matter of fact shake of the head while sticking pieces of paper together. I was all set to be even more griefstricken thinking that she had forgotten him or had been able to move on. But no, she simply said: “I’m with him everyday.” Astounding. I need to take a leaf out of her book as I head for some horrific milestone dates: Isla’s first birthday, Christmas, New Year and beyond to the anniversary of his death.