Waves

How do you like my pool?

I’m soaking in the last of July’s heat in the pool. It was a good investment, considering. My children, sisters, niece and nephew have barely been out of it. Today, however, I have it to myself.

As I was floating about in the heart shaped doughnut, my next post was milling about in my mind. But when I logged on, I realised that it had actually been six days since my last post! Where did the time go?

A quick recap of my last post and I think I know where we are up to.

In summary, Wildcard indicated that he had not expected or was not ready for me to come back so soon. After me initially being quite assertive and strong over this, we’d had another heated talk and I began to understand a little more. Others around me, not so much. But then, it is nothing to do with them.

We have had a relatively good week, Wildcard and I.

I had an early morning meeting with my union and I’d informed Wildcard that he would have to get up early if he wanted to speak to me. We’d laughed because he struggles to get up for work nevermind just to say good morning to me. And yet he did – he called nearly an hour earlier than normal. Although he claimed he had woken to go to the toilet, I don’t believe him.

Yesterday I told him that I had to change my flights by the end of the day. He suggested September or October! A month earlier than planned so I seized that opportunity. I’m booked for mid September. He was very thoughtful when I told him of the booked date today but I know that the rapidly increasing Covid in his country is concerning him. He thinks his country may well shut again.

My friendship with my London friend is coming on. We have just clicked and have lots of similarities. Tomorrow she flies out to see her boyfriend and I’ve been with her every step of the way. I’m very, very excited for her and can’t pretend that I’m not tempted by her repeated offers for me to join her.

I was riding on a wave of excitement this morning when I spoke to her. I had changed my flights last night and was feeling positive. We shared stories of first kisses and the overwhelming feelings of traveling to see someone you love and miss so much.

I got swept away. Last night I had remembered the feel of our first kiss and I told her about it. As usual, my emotions and love and need for him just swelled like the pull of a great wave.

This is often the way with me. I get overwhelmed by a feeling and in that moment, I just need some relief or release. If he was here, I would have hugged and squeezed him and kissed him on the lips. When I feel like that with my children, that is what I do – I hug them and shower them with kisses all over their cute faces. But Wildcard is not here.

So I messaged him. Before long he called me. I was bright and cheerful. I felt good. He was sleepy and quiet.

Right there and then, threatened by this overwhelming love for him, I needed something. I couldn’t have that physical touch and so I needed his affection, his words.

Unfortunately, he is not one for words. He jokes and he teases and my love comes from that. He gives me his time. When I’m with him, his loves comes from playful slaps on the bottom or tickles more often than the tender, gentle kisses he surprises me with. (Which of course makes those kisses all the more special, darn him.)

And it is no good asking him to tell me. He has admitted himself in the past, he doesn’t like being forced to say or do something . He will do it when he wants and when he is ready. So in those moments then, he won’t give me want I want in the way I want it. He does it his own way.

(I’m out of the pool by the way. Apparently floating on a giant doughnut gives me motion sickness.)

So his answers to my questions were ‘no’ in that jokey way I find so cute when I’m not being hormonal, needy and emotional. It is his way of saying yes without saying it. I know that, he knows that. My emotions however refused to accept that.

Floating around the pool getting increasingly more nauseous, I realised that my tears are my release then. When I am not soothed by the physical or by his words, I cry. And slowly and surely, my emotion and need is released in each mini wave of tears. I am self regulating by crying. Hmmmm.

I also know I comfort eat for the same reason. When doing something stressful, I will ‘wake up’ from my stress obsessed thoughts and find myself in the kitchen cramming something in my mouth. Honestly, I catch myself doing it.

These waves of emotion are more common around my period. There is no surprise there. Wildcard knows it too – he said that I just need to get it out and I will be ok tomorrow. Hmph.

Before you think him callous and unfeeling, know that on these occasions whilst not giving into my repeated and needy demands for verbal affection, he will not end a call until I am tear free. He will attempt to make me laugh, change the subject but will not go until he is sure I am OK.

And that, with tears in my eyes as I write this, is how he shows me love.

Tears and fears and talking part one

It is hard not to feel like I am in the eye of the storm somehow. It has been a tumultuous 24 hours.

I know Wildcard, probably as much as he knows me. Perhaps a little less- his understanding of me sometimes is uncanny.

I said that I thought his anger came from me having travelled with my ex from the airport but also that I hadn’t told him soon enough. I knew this. But my desire to get home did override the common sense of discussing it with him before. I had tried to broach it in a call before I left the hotel and he didn’t take me on. And then, because it wasn’t certain, I didn’t mention it in the airport. I found out it was definite just before I boarded and it wasn’t the right time to mention it then.

When I landed, as requested, I messaged to say I was safe and he responded. I attempted to call him and he didn’t answer. Knowing him, he was too tired/half asleep but I know full well he could have answered. I was going to tell him then. I was anxious that he hadn’t answered. I was anxious about how my ex would be with me. I was tired and nervous and fraught. So I didn’t message to tell him how I was getting home. There may even have been a little stubbornness in there too – you don’t want to answer because you’re tired but I’m tired too, so why should I have to tell you this? The complexities of my mind.

He has continued to be ‘off’, ‘cold’ the last few days. I know him enough to know the stages of his annoyance:

  • ❄❄❄❄ Ends our calls with ‘talk later.’ Snappy and cold. Will ignore messages by reading and not responding. Doesn’t answer calls but will call me.
  • ❄❄❄ Calls perhaps a little less than normal. Calls are shorter. Frosty reception but periods of normalcy. No kisses, no I love yous, no take cares, no joking comments. Will not let me off the phone if I am upset to make sure I am OK but no real warmth as such. If I question him about the state of our relationship he is non-commital. May seem OK when he is talking to his family.
  • ❄❄ Calls are as frequent as normal. More normal conversation – asks if I am OK, talks about everyday things. Will tell me to take care, and sleep well. Sporadically will send kisses. Some calls start OK, some start with moods. Definite thawing. Still no ‘I love you’. Responds with ‘I know’ or ‘thank you’ if I say it to him. Will pass the phone to his family for me to say hello.
  • ❄ Some joking. Some kisses at the end of calls. Tells me not to be sad and checks I am OK but may seem annoyed whilst on calls. Often interchangeable with ❄❄ until there is a sudden return to normal, lovable and loving Wildcard.

You also need to remember that I’ve seen this from the other side – weeks of him barely speaking to his mum when they have rowed. I think I get off lightly in comparison though it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

So, yesterday we were moving between❄❄❄ and ❄❄. There was a five hour stint of no contact which is unusual but he seemed a little more himself. After an afternoon call I couldn’t take it any longer and had to ask him what was going on.

We started with messaging and then I just called. We were on the phone over an hour. What is clear is that he was as unhappy with me being in the car with my ex as the fact that I was late in telling him. For example, I told him how important he was to me, and he replied that he was ‘not that important if you get in the car with your ex’. He feels I should have asked him his opinion when the option came up.

Jealous, yes. Controlling? Maybe a little. This is very much a cultural thing. But part of me is thinking, if we are that serious that I need to confirm that with you, where is the engagement ring and the commitment from you? There is also a part of me that realises the depth of his feeling from his reaction. He loves me enough to keep calling and to be jealous but is angry all the same.

Anyway, there were a lot of tears on my part. I asked him straight out if he still loved me and wanted me (a stupid question if you consider my previous paragraph but at the time…) and I got ‘not important’ which is his stock phrase when he is being awkward.

I cried and he stayed on the phone. If I disappeared to blow my nose he would call me in panic until I returned. He asked why I was crying as he should be the one crying as I had done the bad thing. ??!!

At the end of the call, once I had stopped crying sufficiently, he told me to take care, sleep well and even gave me a kiss. Moments later he even messaged to say goodnight and tell me not to be sad which was a temporary move to ❄.

Today, he called me a number of times this morning as he was getting ready to go to a family wedding. He warned me he would be busy today and so would speak to me later. Probably a ❄❄ overall. Who knows, maybe being busy will help him miss me.

Day 12/13 – in the night

For me, thinking of any kind leads only to more thinking. I sometimes wish I could just switch my brain off.

Yesterday, after questioning me, I opened up to Wildcard and asked about what’s next. I explained that I had flights I needed to move and asked how I should proceed. He looked genuinely surprised that I needed to ask. He repeated that I can come when I want etc etc. I said no, does he want me to come? He replied, “I want you to come.” Despite some gentle probing/suggesting, there was little more said.

Yes, he was unwell, but he spent most of the afternoon on the sofa. I sat with him a while but started to feel in the way. I asked him, and he said I was crazy and that I didn’t need to go anywhere.

Hours passed though. I suggested we watched a film together ‘or something’ and he half agreed. But when I came back from the kitchen he had started to watch his TV series.

I once read something that said there is a part of your brain that wants you to be happy. So when you get a thought in your head, this part of your brain actively searched for evidence, manipulates evidence, to make that thought true.

And so it was with me. He doesn’t want to watch anything with me. He’s bored. I’m invading his space. He didn’t want me to come. He’s not even touching me now. Should I try to go home earlier?

And so on.

Eventually, I went into the bedroom and got my laptop out. That way, I was giving him the space he may have wanted or, if he chose, he could come to find me and we could watch something. It beat just sitting there.

After a few moments his mother called as she had made fresh orange juice. We sat together, but once finished he lay back down to watch his series. I stayed there for five or ten minutes then went back into the bedroom.

Not long after I heard his mum speaking to Wildcard and he shouted me. I came out and his mum disappeared. It appears she had questioned him on why we were not sitting together. He asked if I was angry at him and I said no, but I just wanted to do something with him. He reminded me he was ill and asked,what? What did I want to do? He didn’t feel like watching a film.

His mum returned with tea and cake and there was a heated conversation between them. I drank tea but there was an atmosphere. We talked a little and then it was time for bed.

He kissed me tenderly, repeatedly, and asked if I was angry or sad. I said no, and so he said goodnight.

But I was. I was now convinced that whilst he has feelings for me, they’re not of the depth or intensity of mine. He probably didn’t want to say anything whilst I was there but that it would probably come when I went home.

I was being childish and sulky but I felt genuinely sorry for myself. I reflected that I didn’t think I was a challenging girlfriend (you may beg to differ) as what I wanted was simple. I don’t need expensive gifts or fancy restaurants. All I want is to feel loved, every day. I want to feel, that in his eyes at least, I am beautiful and wanted. That I am his. That’s all.

Whilst my brain could find some evidence of that, at that moment it wasn’t enough. So I cried. And I felt sorry for myself. And I accepted that once again, I felt more for someone than they did for me. I felt my cloud nine dreams come crashing down around me and my heart ached. Maybe my friend was right – I’d put him on a pedestal. My attraction to him was making me feel like I was punching above my weight and that was making me feel insecure. She told me he was lucky to have me and that I should be patient and have faith. I was feeling none of this.

During this time he had messaged asking if I was OK, and I had said yes. There was no point going over everything again.

Not having washed my make up off and crying had led to stinging eyes and, sniffling a little, I went to the bathroom to wash my face. He heard me and shouted and I said I was OK, just washing my face. He continued to call me. I dried my eyes and feeling I’d hidden my tears the best I could, went to him.

He knew, as well as I did that I had been upset. But I didn’t see the point in trying to talk anymore. I had come, we’d had fun, but I wasn’t who he wanted in his future. That was what I had decided.

You know, I hate writing about this. I hate describing my flaws in all their depressing glory. My childishness. My weakness. But I have to, to learn and to purge.

We had the usual to-ing and fro-ing. Him trying to get me to speak, me refusing. He lay on the put-up bed on the floor and I stood at the foot of it, my arms crossed protectively around my body. I must have looked pathetic.

Eventually, too tired to fight any longer, I sat on the sofa. He stood and sat next to me. Now, the following day, I realise how close he sat to me but at the time I was oblivious, so wrapped up in my own woe.

Gently, gently, he questioned me.

I told him that I was sad because I had accepted the truth. That he didn’t feel the same as I did. I told him I knew he loved me and cared for me but that it wasn’t same.

He asked how I felt then. I told him I was completely in love with him and I accepted that his love was not the same as mine.

He asked how did I know that? Who had told me that? I said he had. I had asked him how he felt and he couldn’t tell me. I wanted to know about our future, if he wanted to be with me, if he was happy with me. If he was glad I had come. If we were serious. And he couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me. In my eyes, that only meant something bad.

He told me I was crazy – “you are here now, with my family”. How did I know he didn’t love me the same? I told him I tried to be a good girlfriend but I couldn’t make him love me more. He replied that I was a good girlfriend and I knew he loved me.

In an anxious state, I can’t look at the person I’m upset with. I was staring ahead, or at my hands that were wringing. He kept pulling my hands apart and placing them down away from each other. If I started to claw at my pyjamas, he would put a hand on top to stop me. He told me to look at him, that I must look at him when we are talking. But when I looked at him, I just felt overwhelming love. I wanted to drown in him, and kiss him, and float away on my dreams of our life together.

His eyes were kind, smiling almost. He held me, and whispered in my ear that he loved me and he wanted to be with me.

He genuinely couldn’t understand why I felt this way. I tried to explain. I told him that I didn’t trust my own judgement of how he felt and that I needed to be told. I told him that I knew his ex-girlfriends had loved him and that he had been happy with them for a while but I was scared he wouldn’t want a future with me like he didn’t with them. I said I wanted to be different.

He told me I was different – I was here now, they weren’t. I was here with him and his family- they weren’t. He said how he had driven three hours to take me to the beach, just to make me happy. He told me again and again, “you know I love you”.

Eventually, we parted. He took me to my room and kissed me again and again. And laughed and called me crazy. He made me promise I wasn’t going to cry again. I promised, and I didn’t.

This morning he came to me and we made love. And that is how it feels now – our bodies now familiar, the adrenalin of time apart ebbing away – now is just love and pleasure.

I have two and a half days left. I’m determined to be bright and cheerful and to try to not worry. This morning I hate myself for my errant thoughts, my fears and my doubts and my crying. I can’t do anything else now. I have told him and showed him how I feel. I can do no more. So I must enjoy my last days with him and pray that what is meant to be, will be and hope that actually what is happening is this…

I hope that in typical male/female fashion, he loves me but can’t tell me. And that I love him and I can’t stop telling him and that is the only problem between us.

The justification of tears

I need to step away. Not because I love him any less, but because I can’t love him more.

Another call which ends in tears.

Tonight we laughed, and I mean laughed, at a stupid present I bought him. And it was stupid, there is no doubt about that.

So why did I cry?

Because he asked me why I wanted to send it. It was a rhetorical question – part of our shared joke. But the truth slammed into me.

I wanted to send it because I love him. Because I want to show him how much I love him. Because I want him to be happy.

How can my tears be making him happy? They can’t and they don’t.

Here is the simple truth behind every tear…

I’m nothing special. His previous girlfriends sent him presents. His previous girlfiends loved him passionately, just like me, and still do.

I’m no different than the others. Except…

I’m far, far away. I can’t kiss him gently to show my love. I can’t make him breakfast or go on long hand-held walks, sharing life. I can’t plan for our future because I don’t know how long that future will be. I can’t be there for him, physically, when things get tough.

I cry when I miss him. I cry when I’m disappointed I can’t see him. I cry when I think he can never love me like I love him. I cry when I think that one day, he is going to see I’m nothing special. I cry when each one of those girls try to get him back.

My philosophy in life has always been: if you work hard you can achieve. I am where I am through sheer hard work.

I can’t work any harder to show him my love, to show him that I am worth loving. Hard work can’t make me special.

I’m powerless. And so I cry.

Should I walk away? Give up now?

Are my tears, however justified, acid that is eroding his love and respect for me? The respect for myself?

I want him to be happy, more than anything. I want him to have a life filled with love and happiness. And no matter how hard I try, I don’t think I am enough. Because I can’t stand out. I can’t be any better than anyone else, because I am not.

An average girl, loving in an above average way. Love is not enough.

He told me that I am better than him because I try. All the gestures I make. He knows I love him. And he is happy.

I’m tired of Facebook and its LDRs. I’m tired of the success stories. I’m tired of the weddings. And now, as the months roll on, I’m scared of the failures and the break ups that appear daily.

But I’m scared of walking away. Giving up is not in my DNA, not without hard work. Not without an 100% conviction that I cannot do any more.

And so I cry because I don’t know what else to do.

But then, I think it is only fair to add that this is not the first time I have cried today or even nearly cried.

I nearly cried when my sister asked to borrow money again. Is that all I am good for?

I cried when my ex husband asked to borrow money again. He pays me nothing for the children. I will be, for the fourth year, buying all the Christmas and birthday presents again. And now he needs to borrow money.

I nearly cried when my boyfriend told me that the girl who keeps messaging him, despite him often ignoring said texts, told him that she loves him. He told her she was just a friend to him. He didn’t tell her about me. Yes, I know it is not his culture to have girlfriends. Yes, I know he is a very private person and doesn’t want a relative stranger to know his business. But it still hurt.

I nearly cried when I found out that my mum has visited my sister (in her bubble) and not me. Mum will drop presents off for all at my sister’s house this Christmas but won’t come to me.

I cried when my daughter stopped talking to me and only started again when she thought I was buying McDonald’s. I cried when my autistic son refused to eat his because they put cheese on even though we asked for it not to be on. I cried because apparently it was my fault when all I have done today is try to make him happy.

I cried as I walked home. I cried because I’m tired. I cried because I just want to be loved. I want to feel appreciated. I want my best to be good enough. And you know what? I want someone to do their best for me because I am worth that. I want to be important to someone and I feel important to no-one.

Oh, and I miss my dad.

Cry in the night

I want to call him but I can’t. It is nearly midnight there. He will probably be asleep.

Tears threaten again.

I’ve spent the last couple of hours in a bizarre state that I can’t quite name. Anxious but numb. Grieved but angry. Disappointed but relieved.

Unhappy probably sums it up reasonably well and yet not quite.

What am I doing?

To feel this insecure after a year… to still be affected when I should be able to shrug it all off, confident in the knowledge that all is OK. But I don’t. Something takes over. The quiet voice in my head is unheard or ignored and I allow myself to free fall in to pain and doubt and tears.

Tonight though, I got angry. He’s not seen angry too often. He tries to laugh it off, to joke. Not this time.

This time, I got really angry. I swore and I put the phone down. I haven’t done that before.

Of course he called me back. And I hesitated, just a little, but I wasn’t strong enough to not answer. He was shocked.

We talked about it. He made me smile a few times. I cried. He said he didn’t understand. Like I should be confident in all this. So why am I not?

He wouldn’t let me go until I was calm. He asked me again and again…did I hate him? Was I angry? Was I sad? By the end of the call I wasn’t anything. This unnamed emotion. He had fear in his eyes.

I don’t know who’s to blame.

I don’t know if I can carry on like this. I never thought I would write these words.

The insecurity is killing me. It doesn’t matter how much he calls. How much I am part of his life. How often he tells me he loves me. His care and his time…I still worry. I still get anxious.

At times he doesn’t help. It is his nature to tease and joke. Sensible me, that little voice, knows it. But my heart is uncontrollable where he is concerned and I fall for it. Is it his insecurity that makes him act so?

But when will I be secure?

I’ve asked in my LDR group. I’ve told them of my happiness and my love and all the ways in which he is right for me. And then the doubts and fears. They tell me this is normal. This in LDR. You have to talk it through, explain your feelings.

And I do. And he listens. And he tells me I am crazy and he can’t understand how I think that way. Like I should be confident in all this. ‘I give you all my time’ he says, and he does. So why can’t I feel secure?

So tonight, I consider giving up. Maybe he isn’t right for me. I’ve been wrong before. Maybe I expect too much. Maybe he deserves better. Maybe covid has destroyed what could have been.

But just the thought of saying goodbye…my world threatens to implode. My chest tightens and my heart pounds. How would I ever live without him? I never want to be without him. I’m crying now, just thinking about it.

Is it my need to control? My mum thinks it is. He’s the only one who doesn’t need that from me. I don’t need to mother or fix. So I have no control. To give up gives me the control. But I don’t want to.

I want to be with him.

I want to be with him.

So why am I so scared?

Irony

The irony of this blog has not been lost on me. I started it when I separated from my husband in an attempt to see this as a positive chance to start my life again.

The irony of course, comes from what happened afterwards. Seems like Life wanted to change anyway, regardless of my marital status.

In November last year I had a ‘breakdown’, although I much prefer the Teaching Unions’ labelling of ‘burnout’. I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. Once the tiredness had finally ebbed, I was left with a numbing darkness: a malevolent emptiness which reeked on my own self-dissatisfaction and sense of failure. In those burned out eyes of mine, I had failed at my marriage, failed to keep my Dad well, failed at my job because I wasn’t strong enough, and failed as a mother because I was weak and a mess.

Months later, sedated by antidepressants and the memories of counselling, I returned to work. The phased return helped and soon I was feeling like the old me again. Not the new me my blog had promised to recount, but the old me.

And then, only a couple of months later, Dad deteriorated further. We thought we were losing him in April but he survived somehow and we were told that he was at the end of his life and we should prepare that he would have about twelve months with us. I believed we would be lucky to have another Christmas with him, but I hoped. He was a strong man despite his illness.

He returned home frail and didn’t seem to recover the way we had hoped. There were more tests, doctor’s appointments, carers… And then the ambulance calls in the middle of the night, only for him to be sent home days later with more medication.

Then in May he was admitted again with severe anaemia. Within days, a chest infection started. Then a little heart attack. And still we had hope. We had til Christmas, didn’t we? We had a year! He’d pulled through before.

After a week we started to doubt. He was not getting better. The hospital were not giving up, but our hope was fading. Our handsome, strong Dad was pale and weak and sleepy. He was black and blue from blood tests and transfusions.

And then, on June 6th, after discussion with the doctors, we made the decision to withdraw treatment – Dad’s non-invasive ventilator – the thing that was keeping him alive. He wasn’t getting better and we couldn’t see him suffer any longer.

Dad died less than twelve hours later with me and my two sisters by his side. And my life as I knew it ended.

I’m not the same person without my Dad. I’ve lost what little strength I had recovered after my ‘burnout’. A colleague has described me as a ‘broken woman’ and its stark accuracy startled me. I feel broken.

The clichés – a ‘part of me is missing’, ‘something has died inside me’ – how I wish they were metaphorical! I always thought they were but then I had never experienced grief like this before.

I write about my grief to cope with it. To remember it. Because it, in a slightly strange way, is also a part of Dad and I don’t want to forget this part either. And I hope these honest reflections can help someone too. Help them realise that they are not going mad, that these tumultuous feelings are a normal part of grief. Grief is not just crippling sadness – something I didn’t know until now. Grief is a very lonely place.

Change was a positive aspiration two years ago. It’s now a source of anxiety and pain.

My counsellor tells me that my grief is ‘healthy’. I’m told that it’s ‘selfless’ which is a good thing apparently. These are just words to me. I’m glad I’m not dipping back into depression again but these words mean nothing. I’m still grieving.

For six months I have tried to do what is expected of me. Carry on with my life. Keep being a mum and a teacher, a sister and a homeowner. As each month has passed, I’ve tried to hide the grief which is still as strong as it has ever been. (Maybe that’s it – you never get over it, you just learn to hide it better? ) Apparently, I’m not doing very well at this.

Last Sunday, after some Christmas shopping, I returned home and cried and cried and cried. I went into work Monday morning, frog-eyed and raw, to speak to HR in the hope they’d let me hide myself away in my office and work. Carry on, the way I’m supposed to.

An hour later, I’d let out my grief again. I’d discussed my pain, my fear about Christmas. My fear that people saw through my very carefully constructed facade of being OK.

My fears were well founded. My colleagues say that I am not the same, that I don’t have the same ‘gumption’ I once had.

How hard I have tried to hide this! I know I don’t have the same strength, but I didn’t want everyone else to see this. It was OK in the beginning, people expect you to be that way. But after a time, I believed that I should be back to myself, externally at least.

Although I feel like a failure, I’ve been told that I’m not and people don’t see me as one. I’m not sure I agree on either count.

Day to day, most days, my grief is a burning ember inside me. It’s a gossamer veil that covers me. Change is a catalyst though. It stokes the embers and the grief burns in my chest. Like today – simply preparing for Christmas with final shopping and cleaning and tidying has caused anxiety all day. Such a strange emotion as I’m not sure why it’s anxiety, but that is what I have felt and what I always feel when I experience change since Dad has died.

I know Christmas will be hard. Its a change. I’ve never had a Christmas before without my Dad: now I will never have one again with him. My anxiety is a symptom of this knowledge.

But somehow, this week’s grief and work revelations have created something new in me. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want people to see me as weak. How can I find myself again? I haven’t created these changes but I need to embrace them somehow. Use them as a catalyst for positivity if that is at all possible. That determination, the strength that has been bred in me, encouraged in me, from my Dad, is wanting to fight back. It was fine for me to pretend to be OK if I thought no one realised. Now I know that I have failed to hide it, I’m even more determined.

I can’t change my grief. I can’t erase it or end it. It’s there because I loved my Dad and will always love my Dad so it will always be there too.

I have no answers to this. It’s another irony. I share my grief in this blog because I believe that grief is personal but should not be private. And yet, I’m determined to find a way to hide it.

I’m shaking my head at myself as I write this.

So, to all of you that are missing someone this Christmas, I know how hard this is. I’m with you. We are not alone. I will be sending a prayer to you all, as I pray to my Dad, asking him to send a little bit more of his strength my way.

Merry Christmas xx

A month

Thirty days of sadness.

Thirty days of pain.

Thirty days of knowing things will never be the same.

Thirty days of crying.

Thirty days of numb.

Thirty days of waiting for someone who’ll never come.

Over thirty years of tenderness,

Over thirty years of care,

Over thirty years of knowing that you always have been there.

Over thirty years of laughter

How I wish there were thirty more!

Over thirty years I’ll keep hoping you could walk back through my door.

Thirty days of missing you

each and every day

Thirty days of wishing..

you were here

to hear me say:

How much I truly love you, and how I always will,

You are so irreplaceable Dad and you’re my hero still.

From the heart

And so I continue on, heavy hearted. At the moment all I want to do is sleep but that’s difficult with three children and a funeral to arrange.

The funeral is tomorrow. It still doesn’t seem real at the moment. When I knew that there was a chance Dad would die this time, I spoke to my sisters about his home. I asked that we didn’t move or change anything, not for a while.

As I have written before, I have found this a comfort. All three of us have sat thoughtfully in his chair. We can contemplate the gift of his life whilst looking at the many photos we have laid out.

Unfortunately, I’m beginning to wonder if this has something to do with my lack of acceptance. I don’t feel like he’s gone.

Added to that is visiting him in the Chapel of Rest. I feel like I’m visiting him in hospital again and he’s asleep. He looks so peaceful. Yes, all of this is a comfort to me but it feels like a big stopper that is holding in my grief and at some point it’s going to explode.

Last night, my eleven year old son came down stairs crying. He was pretty inconsolable for about an hour. He sat on my knee and I soothed him but I didn’t shed one tear. This is not me! I have a very high emotional awareness and empathy and struggle to hold back tears when I see others upset (which can be particularly tricky when I’m at school) and yet there was nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not right. The exhaustion, the malaise, the physical heartache, the fear of loneliness swinging into irritation of company; I recognise that these are all symptoms of a grieving person. Part of me just wants to run away. The last time I felt like that was when I was depressed earlier in the year but this feels different because it is different. My heart is heavy and my world is dull but my head seems clear unlike my breakdown. But I also know that my head is doing a great job of protecting me from the truth and the memory of the truth as it happened.

One of my regrets is that I didn’t complete Dad’s cross stitch while he was alive. He was so impressed with my Jane Austen cross stitch and asked that I did one with little birds. I kept putting it off, and putting it off. I wanted to do it: I thought I’d do it for Father’s Day. But I just didn’t.

Last night I stayed awake until I finished a little design. I had no plan or pattern to follow, and just made it myself. At first, my plan was to put the cross stitch in his coffin but I’ve now decided to keep it. Instead, I replicated one of the little birds I had stitched on to another part of the same fabric which ties them together. He asked for a little bird and I have finally made him one. The rest of the design is the first line of an E. E Cummings poem that I read to him in the hour after he died when we were alone. I’ve then stitched hearts and a robin and a blackbird. Robins are Dad’s favourite garden bird but we all noticed the cheeky blackbird that appeared when Dad died. Blackbirds seem to be everywhere at the moment. Dad gave me a handmade blackbird for Christmas and months ago my sister engraved one onto a wooden heart he had made. The last part of the cross stitch are forget-me – not flowers.

It’s far from perfect, I know that. But I also know my Dad would have loved it. I’ve poured love and energy into that wobbly little design. I hope it will be of comfort to me when my mind finally allows me to accept the truth.