The rat, the dog and the Honeysuckle

Oh sweet, sweet coincidences!

I will learn your lessons.

The scent of the honeysuckle is bordering on overpowering for some, but not for me. My garden, overgrown as it is, doesn’t have many flowers. There’s quite a few buttercups. Some determined forget-me-nots made an appearance weeks ago. If you look hard enough, you can see a cheeky aquilegia, popping up here and there. My daughter bought me a couple of plants which I potted and they look nice. And in the overgrown ivy, the weight of which is pulling down the decorative fence my dad and uncle built, there is the almost luminescent glow of the red-pink climbing roses that my dad loved, the ones we put in his coffin and a fact that I had forgotten about until this moment. (It’s the anniversary of his death, and it’s my uncle’s funeral this week. Another coincidence.) And then, blending in with it all visually are the honeysuckle.

I can’t remember when I planted them. I would guess around 7 years ago or a little less. If I remember rightly, it was definitely before dad died, when I went throught that gardening phase again. I had subscribed to a garden magazine and bought them on offer. I think there was a clematis too, but I guess that one got smothered by the ivy.

Cheeky aquilegia and my birthday pots.
Dad’s roses
Can you spot the honeysuckle?

When I was stood outside at 5am this morning, dressed only in a vest top and knickers and an air of despair, the scent of honeysuckle was one of the three things that hit me. The scent was stunning and brought me to a halt. The second thing, was how beautiful the morning is at 5am. I breathed it in through every sense and cell of my body: the green, the smells and the sound of garden birds. A sense of wellbeing like no other enveloped me in a warm embrace. The last thing was that I knew, there and then, in that second, that Everything was OK, and I know now that Everything will be OK.

**************************************

The past few days have been hell. I can say that now I’m on the other side. I’ve been tortured by my own mind.

My children left on Wednesday evening. As always, it comes with a sense of relief that I get a break and a sharp pang of loneliness that they are gone and I will never get used to that oxymoron of feelings.

Thursday I was overwhelmed with loneliness. It was a beautiful day and I was determined to do something but with a heart-wrenching acknowledgement that I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. A museum? An art gallery? I knew that being outside made me feel better and I considered a National Trust property. But the desire to be with someone stabbed at me every turn. My sisters and daughter are on holiday. Wildcard is in his country, where I should be if I had got on that booked plane a few days ago. My friends? Ha! What friends?

As I tried to decide where to go, past friends haunted me. Why have they all disappeared? Am I such a bad person? Do I walk away or do they?

That loneliness just compounded everything I was feeling already. Dark, dark thoughts. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Despair.

At some point over the past few days, I’ve prayed for help. I’ve prayed for my dad or my grandad or any of my family to help me. To guide me where I feel lacking.

The first coincidence is that I opened up WordPress in an attempt to write out my feelings, but couldn’t. Instead, I went to my notifications and saw that a previous post had been liked: 5am. Not remembering what it was, I read it. It was from December last year, and recounted the exact feelings and situations that are now plaguing me. Six months later, I’m back in the same situation.

Now is not the time to go into detail on this point, but the summary is this… I have, yet again, to make a career decision. I’ve a number of opportunities in front of me and I need to decide between money, time and career prospects. I’m stumped.

The coincidence of opening that post and reading word for word that I am in a similar situation (but with a lot more positives, I hasten to add) was not lost on me. I didn’t see the positives yesterday, I saw that I hadn’t moved or changed. The acknowledgement that I was still stuck, lost, undecided…wasting my life…added another layer of self hatred and despair on to me.

I’ve contemplated everything the last few days. The thoughts have been fleeting but there. Maybe I’m better off not here. What good am I to anyone? I’ve failed in everything. I’ve lost everything. I’m alone and no one cares. I’ve dwelled on my time at my last school. The end of that time has destroyed me and my confidence, even now a year later. (That I know now, sitting in my garden breathing in honeysuckle.)

I’ve considered my relationship with Wildcard. Is it worth it? Am I waiting round like a fool again, only to be left at some point? How can this ever work? Will he ever, truly and officially, commit? Today, of course, Honeysuckle Day, I see how consistent he has been, unlike others. Whilst he has not yet committed to me in the way I want, we have discussed it and he has been consistent in every other way, more than anyone else. My fear of losing him, my everything outside my children and sisters, terrifies me. I know I will never love again when I lose him, whichever way and whenever that may be.

I went to bed last night broken and dejected. A failure. I couldn’t sleep at first, not because of my thoughts, unusually, but because of the rodent.

I could hear it gnawing.

I suspected a rat. The noise was too loud. Plus, a few days ago, I noticed that there was a lot of carpet fluff that had been chewed off upstairs near a closed door. I’d shut all the doors and blocked a previous hole I had stupidly left open from a previous year. The coincidence here is that I had stupidly said, not a week ago, to my neighbours, that I’d had no mice in the house since I had my cat Arlo.

Yep, I invited them in with that comment.

I banged about, and let my dog out of my bedroom to see if he would scare it off. Sure, one of the cars would have been better but they do nothing on command so the dog would have to do. The rodant was scared off luckily, enough so we could fall asleep. On my visit to my mum yesterday, we’d talked about the menagerie of pets and how tying they were – part of the reason I hadn’t pushed to use my plane ticket to see Wildcard and why I left mum early to get home to check on them. In answering her question, no I would never get rid of my dog because he makes me feel safe: I bought him when Dad died and I felt so alone in the house. He makes me feel safe.

So we slept. Until 4.30am and the sound of the gnawing woke me again.

It was loud. I wandered out and turned lights on. It was coming from my son’s room, next door to mine, and I walked in to find the noise. I felt the reverberations of the gnawing on the bare floorboards under my feet and I jumped in fear. I stamped on the ground and the noise stopped enough that I went back to bed. It of course started again as soon as I lay down. Somehow I knew that blocking the hole had trapped it.

I went to the bathroom. As I bleakly considered what the hell I was to do as i washed my hands, wishing again I wasn’t alone, I heard a bang and a squeak and shrieked as I saw the rat, being chased by my dog up the stairs and on to the landing. My dog stopped- either by my shriek or as I now suspect, by the scratch he received on his nose the moment he nearly caught it. The rat, now confirmed, hid under the large antique dresser on my landing, close to the previous crime scene of chewed carpets.

This, this was the point that I went downstairs and outside, noting it was 5am as I strode through the kitchen . This was the moment that I stood on my lawn in my knickers, wondering what the hell I was to do, when the smell of honeysuckle, the vibrancy of the morning green, the symphony of birdsong all overpowered me. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t wed the borders or even cut the grass. It was beautiful and peaceful and perfect. This was the moment that all the coincidences came together…when I knew that I had received my messages, my answers, my support, one way or another.

Be it a message from my family, from God, or my own mind…I’ve heard it.

Everything will be ok.

************

If you are wondering, I took my older cat – the only one around – upstairs, after locking my dog in the kitchen. The cat wasn’t interested and ran back downstairs. I went back outside and found a spade, let my dog back upstairs, and attempted to singlehandedly move the antique dresser whilst hoping I would be quick enough to grab the spade and whack it. Realising my optimistic stupidity, I was moving the dresser back when I saw a flash, heard a sound of something ‘falling’ down the stairs and realised the rat had made a dash for it and had no doubt escaped down and out the open doors to outside. My dog made no move to stop it and had simply watched it go and then looked at me. With a small scratch on his nose and the fact it had ran straight past him with little fear, I could hardly blame him for not attempting to get it again. He’d done his job. And seemingly, coincidences have now done there’s.

Finding happiness

I’ve been in bed for a day and a half.

My yearly – is it hay-fever, is it a cold and now, is it covid – started a few days after I returned. Admittedly, antihistamines did seem to take the edge off but I know if I had started them in February, it probably wouldn’t have hit me so bad. As it is, I have ended up with a mild chest infection and coldsores all over my nose. I was out of condition before I left- no wonder now that I am run down.

So when my children finally went to their Dad’s on Sunday, I succumbed to it and basically stayed in bed until about an hour ago.

Am I unwell? Yes. Could I have have got up and motivated myself? Theoretically, yes. But I was heart-weary and head-weary and body-weary so I didn’t.

I’ve read, and read and read. This is what I used to do, long ago before the responsibilities of being a single mother kicked in. I guess now, it’s only like binge-watching Netflix. So I don’t feel guilty at all. Every cough and snuffle has given me permission. In those books, everything else disappears. And for someone whose head constantly feels like it’s at war with fighting thoughts and emotions and ideas, it feels like bliss to just read.

I still can’t find my happiness.

I’m not stupid, WordPress. One of my biggest fears is being seen as foolish. I’ve heard myself enough times to know that. My hard won intelligence is all I have. I’m not beautiful. I’m not sexy. I’m not socially skilled and surrounded by countless friends. No. I’m average. I’m overweight. I’m alone.

I had a very honest conversation with my mum last week. I’d been writing a post for here, sorting through my thoughts about the future – before I’d allowed realisation to fully take over. I’d considered what my mum had done all those years ago: her new life now, and how we were all bitter about it.

I’m not bitter anymore. Who are we to dictate the life she wants? We have our own lives. Her relationship with her partner is what matters. We will always be here, waiting for her, if she needs us. But finally, I understood, and I wanted her to know.

We talked about the house too and how it feels like a noose around my neck. I’ve never, truly, been able to enjoy this house. For years, my half-family’s jealousy has tainted it, as they have then tainted any relationship I now have with my Dad’s family. I am well and truly the black sheep. And then are all the memories of my Dad. They’re everywhere. And for so long, I couldn’t even stand being out in the garden because of them.

What I’ve realised, lying in my bed in between devouring pages of my book, is why I’ve felt lost for (at least) the past 4 years. Why I still feel lost now.

I made a decision as a child which carried me for 30 years. I decided that I was going to work hard and I was going to care for my parents. I promised myself that I would look after them as they got old and that they wouldn’t have to worry any more. I’d seen their struggles after my Dad’s heart attack. I’d seen their struggles as arthritis crippled my mum. No more.

And you know what? I did it. I worked hard throughout school and college and university. I chose a career that financially made sense, not because it was where my passions lay. A career which would pay off all my student loans and that would give me a lump sum of money after a few years. At every stage of my teaching career, I have said that this would not be my job for the rest of my life. Regardless, I proved myself time and time again. I advanced in my career. I relished in the praise and pride of my family, for the only thing I could do to be noticed positively – advance in my career. Because its the only thing that I was ever noticed for. 

And so, I bought my parents’ house and saved them from debt. I cared for my father until the second he died. I relished in the pride of my family at ‘how well I had done’ and pushed and pushed myself to prove how good I was. I wasn’t accepted by my dad’s family, so I would fight for their respect in a different way.

I did what I thought I should. I got married. I pushed for that marriage too, for acceptance, even though I knew he wasn’t right for me. For a small moment, I had it all. I felt success. I’d bought my parent’s home and was supporting them financially. I had a husband and a career. I had my babies. But that feeling of success was fleeting. I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I wasn’t happy in my work. And whilst I pushed and strived in an attempt to find that happiness, to work for it, I never truly got there as such.

When I had my breakdown, my burnout, seven months before my Dad died, I think I knew. Everything I had worked for was coming to an end. My Dad was dying and no amount of hard work would save him. I’d reached the pinnacle of my career, as far as I wanted to go. And as much as I was succeeding, I was failing too. Because it didn’t matter any more. I had felt my dad’s pride, I’d achieved it. But it couldn’t save him or me.

I’d achieved everything I had set out to do. And when my dad died, I was lost. Nothing has mattered since. Not the house, not my job. I know my evil half-family expected me to pull out this treasure trove of money that I had hidden and renovate the house to unknown splendour when Dad died. There was no money. My money was spent on my family. And once Dad died, this house became just that. A house. A house of memories.

When Dad died, my purpose died. My fight died. I’d had his pride. I’d cared for him. I’d proved myself to him, time and time again. I was a good daughter. I won. Finally, after years of being hated, after years of being the outsider, after years of watching my dad choose my warped and tragic half sister, every time, I’d proved my love to my dad. I was there, every step of the way. I wasn’t a bad person. I didn’t deserve to be so hated and despised. Hated for being born. Hated for being another wedge between his first family and him: the first born. In those final years of his life, I was there for him. I cared for him. I kept my promise.

When he died, nothing mattered any more. My job, the money, my house. For a while, supporting my sisters and my children was my focus. I’ve done that. And they’ve supported me. I no longer feel the need to support them as I once did – we’ve become more equal now as their lives have fallen into place and as mine has come crashing down.

Wildcard said to me, only a month ago, that he couldn’t understand why I tried to be so perfect all the time. I just needed to be myself.

It’s hard to be yourself when you feel like no-one likes you.

It’s hard to be yourself when you’ve strived for so long to be something else, just to gain the love and respect you crave.

It’s hard to be yourself when you don’t know who that is any more.

I’m following the same pattern. I’m fighting for his love and his respect and him. I’m trying to be the best I can be, all the time, so that I don’t have to live with rejection from yet another source.

I want someone to see the good in me. Not because I’ve fought for it. Not because of what it will do for them. But because they can see the person I truly am.

I’m fighting for his love. I’m pushing for his acceptance and commitment because I don’t want to be alone. He is my life.

But I want someone to fight for me. Not too late, like so many have done before. But now.

I can’t plan my life going forward, because I don’t know if he is going to be in it.

Maybe he has his own promises to keep, that’s is why he won’t talk of the future.

All I know, is that I clung to that ring, my ring, in the hope that he was fighting for me. He’s since told me that it ‘was a game’, not serious. That he would propose to me, not with my own ring, but that he will do it properly with the one that he buys. And whilst I love that sentiment, can wish for nothing better, I don’t hold the hope that it will ever happen.

I don’t know when I’m going back. I don’t know if he will ever propose or if he will continue to make excuses. I know that he is still hiding me, his little secret. I know that I am the one pushing the engagement, again. Pushing for acceptance. Pushing to belong. When I’m there, I feel like I belong but the fear that I’m fooling myself overrides any real enjoyment I have.

Problem this time, is I don’t know what else I can do. I can’t make myself younger or more beautiful. I’ve lost weight and gained weight and neither have made a difference because I know I can’t have the body he probably wants me to have. I have no idea what to fight for or strive for to make him want me because I think deep down, I know I can never be that.

And that is why I can’t find my happiness.

Erm….no.

Have you read my last post? Please do. You will hear me tell you that my antidepressants have really helped me stay calm today, on the third anniversary of my dad’s death.

I’ve spent the afternoon crying and anxious. So, no it hasn’t numbed me.

Then just to top it off, work called me before. They have received the Occupational Health report – I haven’t- and the big academy boss wants a meeting on Thursday. Instantly, I felt sick.

I’ve called the union guy but no response as yet. I’ve been anxious and nervous ever since.

And no, Wildcard has still not discussed his borders opening and his desperation to see me as soon as possible.

Ok, then.

Underwhelmed

You never thought that I would write that, eh?

My state of being seems to be constantly overwhelmed although I do an amazing job of ploughing through it 90% of the time.

So why the title? Allow me to explain.

Today is the three year anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s a weird one, because I actually count yesterday too. On the 6th June 2018 we made the decision to end my dad’s suffering and take him off the respirator which was prolonging his life. He was tired, bruised and had suffered for two weeks in attempt to pull through. He was staying alive for us. Fighting, but ultimately losing.

That day we said our goodbyes. And then my sisters and I stayed with him all night, watching him fall unconscious, singing to him, talking to him, loving him the best we could at his bedside. So although he died at 1am on 7th June, we lost him on the 6th.

My eyes are stinging as I write this, but there are no real tears. Maxed out antidepressants will do that to a girl. If you remember, a month ago when all the crap with work started I was reluctant to up my dose – defiantly not wanting work to be the thing that put me on max dose. Honestly, I’m still not sure I should have agreed – I’m not the walking zombie I was four years ago. But I have taken them and today I am coping.

The fact is, for the first few years, every significant date seemed like a massive hurdle, a tsunami of emotion. Today, I realise it doesn’t matter what day it is. I miss him every single day. I wish he was here every single day. So the date is irrelevant.

Except of course it isn’t. And I probably will cry at some point. But, I’m not the mess I was last year, or the year before.

And I’m convinced dad sent me a little gift last night. Late at night I received a message from a friend telling my that Wildcard’s borders are finally opening and that at present, the UK are on the list for entry.

You know I believe in the power of coincidences. And for me, at this time, being told that is a gift, a message….

Life changes. It has its ups and its downs. It ebbs and it flows. And you just have to ride the waves, keep your head above water and keep swimming.

Being honest though, the underwhelmed title is less about me and more about Wildcard.

Last night, whilst morosely but stoically remembering the pain of my dad’s passing, I was also filled with an excitement and happiness about the news. (As someone with anxiety and depression, I am a pro at feeling conflicting emotions at once.) I went on to Ryanair to see the flights and allowed myself to reach in to the now no so distant future to when I can fly to Wildcard.

So this morning, I was even more looking forward to speaking to Wildcard. I sat, drinking coffee and attempted to complete a painting I had started of me and my dad. Up until this week, I haven’t had the strength to finish it (thank you antidepressants).

So when he called and we had got the daily ‘good mornings’ and ‘how are yous’ and ‘did you sleep well?’, I waited for the moment…

‘So, do you have any news?’ At this point he is in the car driving to work. He is a little late, as always, and 19 months in, I know the exact moments of his drive to speak and when to wait whilst he manoeuvres out of a junction etc.

He hasn’t mentioned the borders. Maybe he doesn’t know yet?

So I tell him.

“Ah yes, around the 15th I think.”

So he did know. And that was that. No hasty discussion about when I was coming, not even excitement that it won’t be long until we are together.

I was stunned. There was a few moments of silence.

“What baby?” He glanced at me as he drove.

Maybe this isn’t the time. He’s driving, he is late for work. It is my Dad’s anniversary. His friend died yesterday. We are still on amber.

“Nothing, I’m ok.”

And so, today, that is what I will settle for. An underwhelming ‘ok’.

Birthday breakfast

I’m 41! Yay! Please feel all the sarcasm in that because believe me it is there.

I am in a good mood though. Last night’s bath, face mask and moisturise has made me feel fabulous this morning.

Of course, my morning hasn’t gone to plan but I am OK with that.

My ex said that he would come early for our youngest to allow me a sleep in. Although we have been divorced a year now and I have been with Wildcard for 17 months, I still get nervous when there is a chance Wildcard could call whilst my ex is in the house. But, as my ex was coming early to leave by 8.30, and Wildcard normally calls at 9.15, there was no issue.

Except Wildcard called at 8.10am. He had taken my ‘I want you’ as physically, which is not inaccurate, and had called for some sexy talk. We haven’t had any of this type of intimacy since Valentine’s Day, I think because of his Grandmother’s death. So I was happy with this. Until I heard my ex come up the stairs and go in to my son’s room which is next to mine.

Our conversation had just started so I buried my head under the duvet and whispered which works in this context. I couldn’t relax of course, fearful that someone would walk in at any point. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy hearing all the ways he wanted to love me physically, how he missed me and wanted to kiss and hug me. And that he was mine. So whilst I was unable to be physical in any way, mentally and in my heart I was happy.

Very shortly after the end of that call, my daughter shouted me. Today she has a trial shift as a kitchen porter in a Michelin started restaurant and hotel. She was nervous, unprepared and needed me. I got a belated happy birthday once she was sorted.

I got dressed and drove her to the beautiful Hall. She was in tears with nerves and I felt for her. A simple job but the first she had gone for. I’ve not stopped thinking about her since and she has only been there an hour.

Ironically, I came home and cleaned my own kitchen. Ironic because she had messed it up making my birthday cake and was too tired to clean up before bed. So, housework has been part of my birthday whether I wanted it to or not. So is life.

I have just had a delicious coffee and my Warburton’s Gluten Free sourdough loaf toasted, with egg and avocado. This is a treat as, at £3.40 a loaf, I refuse to buy it regularly. It is delicious though. I can’t remember the taste of real bread any more, but this is as close as I can remember.

What now?

Well, my house still needs a tidy and I need to make a fire as it is cold. I want to watch something but can’t relax as I keep thinking about my daughter.

I miss my mum and dad. Mum text this morning but hasn’t called. I’m half glad because I think I would cry.

And, whilst the phone intimacy was desired and appreciated, I want more from Wildcard. I need more. Not a gift or present. Him. I want him. I want to feel like I am his, and he is mine and that finally, I can have some security. I’m waiting for it. Not a proposal – now is not the time – but something. A declaration. I don’t know. We will see.

Birthday

In 55 minutes from this very moment, I turn 41. I feel old. Maybe 41 isn’t old to you. Maybe I am old enough to be your mother or big sister. Either way, my 41st birthday has hung around my neck all week.

I realised whilst lounging in the bath that I haven’t actually celebrated my birthday properly since my Dad died.

On April 2018, my Dad was in hospital. After an evening of pizza, cake and WWE (my son’s request as it was some big event), my sister and I drove to the hospital. Dad was drowsy but woke when we arrived and quickly reached into his hospital bedside to pass me a present and a card. I remember he apologised it wasn’t something more but I was just happy he was still with me.

The card, the last he ever wrote, is forever imprinted in my heart: it forms part of the tattoo that I had about a year after his death. There are photos of us too, me holding the joke moustache pencil topper (like dad’s real tash) to my lips as he kisses my cheek. Daddy. ❤

2019 I purposefully booked a week away in France with my children for my birthday. There were no presents or cards, no other family. I bought us a cake each from the patisserie and we did go out for dinner but it felt like a normal day and that is how I wanted it.

Last year, my 40th, I also chose to have alone. I had originally wanted a garden party in the summer but Covid ruined that. I had also planned to see Wildcard and not let on it was my birthday but covid ruined that too. My dad wasn’t there, mum wasn’t there and I couldn’t see Wildcard. So I spent the day pretty hard to myself with visits from my kids and ex and my sisters. I made my own dinner and my own cake.

This year, I am not ashamed to say that I also want some time alone.

I don’t feel like celebrating. I don’t want another year of me cooking for everyone (although someone usually makes my cake.) We can’t go out for a meal, I can’t see my mum, dad or Wildcard again. No-one can afford gifts and I certainly don’t want them to buy me anything, plus I don’t need or want anything anyway.

I lie.

I want my Dad again. I want my mum to visit. I want Wildcard to be here with my family. I want all the people I love to be around me. And I can’t have it. So because I can’t have it, for the third year running, I don’t want any of it.

Yes I am childish. Yes, I am sulking. But I am very much an all or nothing girl.

However.

I want nothing until tea time. Up until then, I am going to do whatever I want. No housework. No cleaning. No cooking for everyone else ( I love cooking, but noone really cooks for me. My dad did.) I going to eat what I want:

Fresh berries and yoghurt with a side of buttery sourdough toast. I may even have an egg.

A turkey salad sandwich and some crisps.

Ricotta and spinach cannelloni with a side salad.

Birthday carrot cake. Yes, that is a lot but I don’t care. I very rarely eat that much.

At tea time, I have invited my sisters and children and ex round and I am buying pizza for them. The above will be gluten free but the pizza won’t be. I feel like I have fulfilled my obligations to them.

Wildcard has asked me a couple of times what I want for my birthday. I told him the truth: I want him. That’s it.

“It is impossible.” He says.

I tell him he is an intelligent man and he can work it out. Let’s see what he comes up with.

Helpless

Despite everything that has happened in the last 15 months, I can safely say this day has been the hardest in our relationship.

Not the time when he wouldn’t answer my calls as he was angry. Not the one and only time I ‘lied’ and got caught out. Not even when the myriad of exes have filed in, looking to rekindle their relationship with him.

Today has been the worse. Is the worse, still.

I feel utterly HELPLESS. I have sent texts periodically throughout the day but I have ruminated about every single one of them. How often should I message? Should I leave him to it to give him and his family space? I want him to have the strength to get through the day but feel he can let go with me. How do I word that? How can I show support from thousands of miles away when all I want is to be there with him?

Seeing his pain is torture. Feeling so far away and helpless is torture. Waiting for him to contact me, just so I know he is OK- as ok as you can be – is nearly killing me.

He has always been sensitivity supportive over my grief. His words have comforted. But at the same time, I knew they came from someone who has not experienced the extent of that grief. I wouldn’t wish that grief on anyone.

Yesterday, I saw in his face that he knew it was coming. She was sick, yes, the first round of tests showed that, but her decline had come swiftly before the scans and treatment could be organised.

When he showed me her frail body, she was sat up, and for a moment I had hope that he was just panicking. She would get through this. But I could see it in his eyes.

Later in the evening I messaged to check he was ok and he replied he was. I reminded him that he could call me whenever.

At 3.45am I awoke. I reached for my phone to check the time and could see he has messaged me 2 hours earlier. I took a risk and messaged back. Within minutes he was telling me she was dying.

This morning, grief straining his face, he showed me her sleeping peacefully whilst they waited for the end to come. He looked so lonely. He said how helpless he felt and I just wanted to hug him. I told him I understood.

His calls since have been fleeting. Minutes. He called when she had died and again when she had been buried. He has read each of my texts, eventually, but has rarely responded. I don’t know how to help, don’t know what support I can give. I don’t know if my words are comforting or annoying.

It has been four hours since our last call and two since he read my last message. I know he is not ok, how can he be, but I just need to see him, speak with him. Be there, even though I am not.

I know little about his customs and traditions but I do know that there will be prayers and family at the wake. I know from a previous time that it will go on late. As time passes on, it gets harder and harder to gauge what to do. The man I love more than anything is feeling a pain beyond compare and I am not there. I can’t help.

Stressed to self-satisfaction

It snowed last night. Not excessively, but enough to cover the ground and add an extra chill to the house.

Problem is, I have ran out of wood.

My house is heated by a multi-fuel stove which is attached to the central heating system. Dad always maintained the heating. You’d hear the familiar sound of him making a fire every morning and the sound of him cutting wood in the afternoon. It was a source of pride for him to do that until he became too ill to.

From that moment until now, I have bought wood. It is not cheap and a bone of contention as there is wood stored in my Dad’s shed but most is too big for the fire. The log splitter broke recently, as did the mitre saw.

I have replaced the mitre saw. But it is still in its box since I discovered there would be some assembly needed and I have no idea what I am doing and am scared of cutting my hand off.

This last week or so, I’ve been going out and breaking up wood with a rather blunt axe. Obviously, this has limitations. Up until yesterday, there was enough narrow wood for me to use.

Today, I woke up to the beauty of the snow and the sinking feeling that I have no wood.

Why have I not bought wood, I hear you ask?

I tried to. I ordered some over a week ago. It still hasn’t arrived and I have no idea why. The man is now ignoring my texts. It is Bank Holiday Monday and I refuse to pay £6 for a small bag of logs at the garage that won’t last half a day when I have a shed full of wood outside.

So, I glumly stayed in bed this morning, stressed and wondering what I was to do. I felt sorry for myself. I felt alone. I missed my Dad and the knowledge that he was always there to help me and I have no one to ask for help.

Eventually, I got up, put on my warm coat, walking boots and bobble hat and made myself go outside. Maybe, maybe, I would find some if I looked hard enough.

The brightness of the day, the crunch of the snow underfoot and probably the pride in myself for getting up and trying, put a little bounce in my step.

I searched, I put some effort in and managed to fill a large bag with wood. I also managed to find a bag of coal which I also thought I had ran out of.

I could have stayed in bed sulking and feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I made myself get up and get motivated and this time it paid off.

I’m stronger than I think.

Stressed to self-satisfaction

It snowed last night. Not excessively, but enough to cover the ground and add an extra chill to the house.

Problem is, I have ran out of wood.

My house is heated by a multi-fuel stove which is attached to the central heating system. Dad always maintained the heating. You’d hear the familiar sound of him making a fire every morning and the sound of him cutting wood in the afternoon. It was a source of pride for him to do that until he became too ill to.

From that moment until now, I have bought wood. It is not cheap and a bone of contention as there is wood stored in my Dad’s shed but most is too big for the fire. The log splitter broke recently, as did the mitre saw.

I have replaced the mitre saw. But it is still in its box since I discovered there would be some assembly needed and I have no idea what I am doing and am scared of cutting my hand off.

This last week or so, I’ve been going out and breaking up wood with a rather blunt axe. Obviously, this has limitations. Up until yesterday, there was enough narrow wood for me to use.

Today, I woke up to the beauty of the snow and the sinking feeling that I have no wood.

Why have I not bought wood, I hear you ask?

I tried to. I ordered some over a week ago. It still hasn’t arrived and I have no idea why. The man is now ignoring my texts. It is Bank Holiday Monday and I refuse to pay £6 for a small bag of logs at the garage that won’t last half a day when I have a shed full of wood outside.

So, I glumly stayed in bed this morning, stressed and wondering what I was to do. I felt sorry for myself. I felt alone. I missed my Dad and the knowledge that he was always there to help me and I have no one to ask for help.

Eventually, I got up, put on my warm coat, walking boots and bobble hat and made myself go outside. Maybe, maybe, I would find some if I looked hard enough.

The brightness of the day, the crunch of the snow underfoot and probably the pride in myself for getting up and trying, put a little bounce in my step.

I searched, I put some effort in and managed to fill a large bag with wood. I also managed to find a bag of coal which I also thought I had ran out of.

I could have stayed in bed sulking and feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I made myself get up and get motivated and this time it paid off.

I’m stronger than I think.

My heart

Needless to say if you read last nights post, I was feeling low this morning and fearful of how Wildcard may have reacted to my very late night text (which I didn’t think he would see or respond to until the morning) and our subsequent tear filled phone call.

As always though, he called, he was fine and I remonstrated with myself for doubting him. I’m not sure what he needs to do to stop me thinking like that -and that is the answer. It’s me that needs to change.

Somewhat happier but still overcast with the gloom of cancelled flights and the unknown future, I went into my Dad’s shed to cut some wood for the fire. Apart from the addition of more wood, it is exactly how he left it when he died. I go in there only when I have to and that tends to be when I have ran out of bought wood so need to cut some. Dad wouldn’t be happy with either of those facts. In this large shed, I have memories of packing potatoes, Halloween parties, Dad’s flatbed truck and in later years, Dad’s beautiful wood carvings.

So, in I go. I balance a long, thin strip of wood so that I can hit it and split it with the axe. (Don’t try this at home). I managed to split a few before one stubborn piece leaves me panting and frustrated. I smack it a few times whilst it is on the ground, spraying soil and wood shavings around. And then, something springs up from the ground, uncovered by my frustration and ineffectual use of the axe.

I recognise its shape immediately. It’s a large wooden heart.

Dad made heart shaped necklaces (which I wear whenever I need him near me). He made me a beautiful wooden heart plaque made from 3 hearts from different stained wood.

This is bigger though. It’s covered in mud and I don’t know what state it is in underneath. It is now sat on my woodburner, drying out, before I can brush off the mud and see what is underneath.

Regardless, the sight of that heart appearing from the dark soil…hidden for so long, made me smile. Dad is watching me and he is telling me that love can survive the dark times – it is still there, even when it seems hidden or far away.

Thank you Daddy xxx