Monday, 19 November 2012

What's the matter princess?

Diarmuid spent 6 nights in the hospice and, while he was there, we slept in the hospice with him. Just 24 hours before he was moved there from the hospital, we thought he was coming home and would start chemotherapy a couple of weeks later but instead he was moved to a hospice to die.

My two boys (15 and 17 at the time) knew everything that was going on. But we hadn't told our youngest yet that her Dad had cancer. His prognosis was two years so why would we tell her how serious his illness was at such an early stage? So when we got to the hospice one of the most pressing issues was the fact that Aisling didn't know how ill he truly was. The boys and I had only found out that morning that his time left was very short.

While they would normally break the news of cancer to young children over a period of weeks, Aisling would need to be told urgently.

A team consisting of a counsellor, two doctors, a nurse, a chaplain, myself, my sons and my brother Chris sat in a room to explain to Aisling what was happening. In retrospect this was the perfect combination of people. My children because, tragically, they needed to know the truth. The counsellor because she gets it. The medical experts to answer the questions and, sadly, transmit that this is science, it's about cancer cells, not some imaginary or half-arsed 'syndrome' but a real medical disease killing a real physical body. My brother because we are very close and he gets it too. He cares about me and the children, he's not hysterical or dramatic. He's there because he cares.

The head doctor and the counsellor asked Aisling to describe what had happened to her Dad. She told them how a few weeks ago he wasn't feeling well and he had seen a doctor and was vomiting and sore. They listened and validated every word. Then they told her about cancer - how there are bad cancer cells and that even though it's often fixable, Diarmuid's particular type of cancer was very bad. They said (in such a kind and loving way) that they had done all they could but, at this point, there was no more could be done except to ease his pain.

Aisling just stared from them to me, to her brothers, to her uncle. She was mute. I could see the realisation slowly dawning. Her little face was full of desperation - she so badly wanted someone to say "BUT..." as in "but of course he'll be okay" or "but he'll go home soon"...... There was total silence in the room. Then she looked at me for an answer. I caught her hand and put my arm around her and I said "I think my love that even though the doctors have tried everything and even though Daddy got the best medicine there is..... well I think this means that Daddy is going to heaven". She went white and her innocent little face went to pieces and the tears poured out of her. Everybody cried - the nurse, doctors, counsellor, me, my ubrother, my sons, Aisling. The tears flowed freely. Everyone hugged her in turn including her big brothers. She urgently wanted to leave the room. She said: "We must tell my Nanas, we must tell everyone, they should know".

Across the hall there was a day room where my family and friends waited that whole week, taking turns to support us and to visit Diarmuid. At that moment Aisling ran into the day room with tears pouring down her face - she threw herself into the arms of her auntie and her grandmothers and said "my Daddy's going to heaven, my Daddy has to go to heaven" and then she sobbed and sobbed and we tried to catch her before she ran but she ran down the corridor to her Dad's room shouting "I have to see Daddy". Then she threw her arms around him and cried her heart out. Diarmuid gave her a big smile and said "hey, what's the matter princess?". She looked at me and looked back at him and instinctively knew that he didn't know he was dying. She didn't mention heaven. She just said "Daddy you have cancer". He said "yes but I'm fighting it princess". He still thought that chemotherapy would be happening. She hugged him tightly and let the tears flow. He looked at her and looked at me and I think in that moment he knew his life was ending.

Four days later Diarmuid passed away with Emmet holding his right hand and Daniel holding his left hand and me rushing into the room as he took his last breath. Within minutes of his dying Aisling came into the room (she had been out for a walk with her auntie, Diarmuid's sister) and I knelt down and told her "Daddy has gone to heaven my love". She cried and held him and, along with her brothers, myself, our family, our closest friends, we stayed with him all day, saying our goodbyes.

She sleeps in my bed and I look at her sweet innocent face as she sleeps and I'll tell you something - there's no pain worse than the pain of watching your children's hearts break. My boys too. My handsome wonderful boys. Sobbing over their Dad's body as he passed from this world. It was just so awful. It IS just so awful. This pain... the agony of watching your children yearn for their beloved Dad... it's indescribable.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Focussing on what I DO have...

"Focus on what you have in life, not on what you don't have."

I read that line today and although at first the cynical part of me (i.e. 98%) wanted to shoo it away as more self-help clich├ęd nonsense, I quickly realised there could be some sense in it and perhaps it will help. Is there anything at all to be said for focussing on our loss? Will some good or some reward come from imagining if I still had my life with my friend, the father of my children, the man I was with for 23 years? It's good, of course, to always remember him and to honour him but at the end of the day what good can come from focussing on what we are missing out on?

So, I'll attempt to focus on what I have. My two sons and my daughter are at the top of this list. I also have friends, some a bit fair-weatherish! But some are really wonderful. I have my two brothers, my mother. My brother is one of my closest friends. I'm grateful to have friends who care without conditions; they care without pity. And it's not just their caring that I appreciate, it's the laughter I share with them. Although I don't have work, I do have plenty of work skills and those skills will help me to find new work and a better financial future. I have a certain amount of sanity remaining. It's not all gone down the toilet. I have a love of books and a love of music, both of which are slowly coming back. I have a lovely city within 15 minutes of me with theatres, restaurants, cafes, bars and live music venues. I have a home (for now at least).

My heart is confused and my stomach is tight with stress; I'm struggling to keep that black cloud away; but already just writing that paragraph above, focussing on what I DO have has made my load feel much lighter. This could be the way forward.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Rain... Misery...

This is just shit. It's pouring rain here. I slept through the alarm. Damn, damn, damn. This seems to be getting harder. I'm getting angrier. Money's getting tighter. My plan to possibly escape for the summer with the kids to a nice holiday home by the sea is definitely well and truly gone to pot. I can't afford it. So it looks like we're stuck here for the summer, with the usual mess, housework, demands, rain etc. etc.

Yesterday was Father's Day. Like we needed another reminder of what we've lost. I went to the grave with my 15 year old and 8 year old. We stood in the rain and put a plant and flowers on the grave. Our hearts broke. What did my children do to deserve this? They've always been good. They've always loved their Dad and been loved by him. Their lives are just starting and all they're left with is me to guide them and reassure them. Honestly, that realisation is enough to push me to the final stages of insanity.

Fuck off life. You suck.

EDITED TO ADD: A strange thing just happened. The day that D passed away I took his wedding ring off his finger to save it. Later I attached it to a gold chain and wore it to the funeral services. But the day after the funeral I had a red raw rash running right around my neck. Turns out the gold chain was more like tin and rust (thanks Mam!). So I took it off, put it down and later that day I saw the chain on the floor with no ring. Oh god! I really thought the dog had swallowed it or somehow manhandled it enough to bury it. I was just washing up some plates and cups and I have a little container next to the sink to hold sponges and cloths. There was the ring sitting right there. Well I know I've cleaned that container plenty of times in the last few months. How did it get there? I am very relieved.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Life is Ending - Part 2

Continuing on from A Life is Ending - Part 1

I don't know if reliving the events of late 2011/early 2012 will bring some solace or if dredging it all up again will push me into the depths of despair. I do know that I must get it out of my head. Everything happened so fast and the weeks from early December to mid-January were a rollercoaster ride – we didn't have time to stop and take a breath or make a plan. So, for my sanity's sake (what's left of it), I think I do need to continue to document it.

Having been to the doctor on Monday 21st November, D continued to feel bad throughout the week with stomach pains and nausea. We waited on news of his blood tests.

Friday 25th November
D phoned me that afternoon to say the doctor had got back to him and said he was almost sure that the problem was gallstones. The blood tests showed elevated liver enzymes and the most likely issue was gallbladder-related. An appointment had been made at the hospital for an ultrasound scan which would take some time to come through. Hurray though! Gallstones we could definitely deal with!

Relieved after that phone call, I went back to whatever I was doing on the computer but, out of the blue, I was overcome by a feeling of total and utter panic as I suddenly recollected something: 16 years previously D's father, after months of feeling unwell, was diagnosed with gallstones but when the surgeon opened him up to remove his gallbladder he discovered that he had, in fact, advanced pancreatic cancer. He was dead four months later. Hearing 'gallstones' again and knowing that they got it wrong the first time (and also keeping in mind that cancer runs in his family)... my blood ran cold. I was alone when I had this panicked episode thankfully. I will always remember that moment because it was the very first time that cancer (or at least, at that point, the possibility of cancer) entered our home. What if he has cancer? What if he dies? I haven't been a good wife. I haven't always been there. We had drifted apart. Jesus. What about the kids. Oh fuck. Calm down. It's gallstones.

D returned that evening, still nauseous with no appetite and feeling exhausted. I didn't want to terrify him with talk of cancer but I knew it needed to be addressed. I told him that I was doing some thinking and that while the doctor is probably right about gallstones, I wondered could it be something else. To my surprise he didn't disagree. I said "I've been thinking about the gallstones diagnosis and suddenly it hit me about a time we'd heard it before..." and he immediately knew what I was leading up to and said "yeah, my Dad...". I suggested we go back together and speak to the doctor and tell him our concerns and he agreed. I did acknowledge that I was probably being over-dramatic about the whole thing! I pictured myself talking to the doctor about my fully-grown, more than capable, 47 year old husband, mentioning life-threatening illnesses and tumours and tests and then the doctor returning some weeks later, rolling his eyes and showing us an ultrasound picture of a teeny little gallstone!

Saturday passed with him feeling pretty rough but he still managed to play a gig, drive the boys where they needed to go and do lots of other things. He was tough, was our D!

Sunday I brought Aisling to see the Christmas lights and decorations that had been put up in the Woollen Mills in our village.

The place always looks so beautiful for Christmas and it's my favourite shop with a truly magical atmosphere, twinkling lights and lovely music, unlike the tacky places you usually see at Christmas. We were browsing through a few things when D rang me and said that he was finally feeling much better! He had decided that morning to reduce his dosage of Metformin (diabetes medication) because he suspected they were the cause of the nausea. His blood sugar levels were always perfect so a temporary reduction in medication wouldn't harm him. He felt we no longer needed to talk to the doctor and he would just wait for the scan appointment to come through. More relief!

The following few days saw him unwell again with the return of the nausea. His loss of appetite was back in full force so, although I was still feeling a little bit foolish, I went ahead and made the appointment to speak with the doctor. What had we got to lose?

Edited some time later to add:
I've decided there is not need to continue with this slow journal of his diagnosis. Essentially following our visit to the GP on Thursday 1st December, Diarmuid was admitted to hospital for a CT scan. Gallstones were confirmed and we were elated that it was nothing more serious. But they did decide to do a biopsy. Hmmmm. We had to wait a gruelling 12 days for the results of the biopsy, bringing us up to Wednesday 14th December. We got a call to come and see the general consultant at the hospital. We knew it couldn't be good news as they wanted us there that day.

He diagnosed Diarmuid with primary liver cancer. We were told that the following Tuesday (20th) a multi-disciplinary team would meet and decide on the prognosis and the treatment. We went home and told our sons. The shock and despair was so painful.

What a horrible week we had waiting for their decision. On Wednesday December 21st, we drove to the hospital, this time to meet the oncologist for the first time. The news was bad. There would be no surgery. The cancer had spread to the lining of the bowel. All he could offer was chemotherapy. He told us that Diarmuid would live for 18 months to 2 years but that as he was so strong, a non-smoker and a non-drinker, with a wonderful attitude that prognosis could well be overly conservative.

We went home and Diarmuid called the Cancer helpline looking for as much information as he could digest. He was determined and positive.

The next 2 days he vomited, felt dizzy, was exhausted and just felt so bad. On Christmas Eve he had to spend the whole day in bed bar one hour. When he was sitting with us, he was happy and determined to fight it.

Christmas morning Aisling woke at 6am excited and enthusiastic, waiting to see what Santa brought. All 5 of us went into the living room and the kids opened their gifts. Diarmuid was smiling and happy to be there with us. As it turned out that would be the last time we all sat together as a family. He had to go back to bed after an hour and never really got up again.

The following day I phoned the oncologist and told him that Diarmuid was miserable, he was in tremendous pain and I asked what I should do. Surely, given a prognosis of 2 years, he should not be feeling so bad? He prescribed morphine and after much hassle (it was a bank holiday remember) we got our hands on it and he started his new meds.

The next two days passed with Diarmuid in bed, in pain, uncomfortable, nauseous and scared. Again, I phoned the oncologist but he said give the medication time. By December 29th I brought him to hospital where the oncologist met us. He said the bile duct was blocked and a simple stent would sort it out.

That stent never happened. There was no blockage. On January 5th we were told it was bile duct cancer, not liver cancer. His chances of getting chemotherapy were fading. On January 9th he was much improved and the oncologist (ever stupidly optimistic) said he would be coming home in 2 days. But the very next day the hospice team visited and suggested hospice care. On January 11th he was moved to a hospice where he passed away 6 days later - 3 days before his first chemotherapy appointment.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Grasping even the most brittle of straws...

The bereaved learn a great deal about human nature. Of course it's a harsh and cruel way to gain this indepth understanding of the human psyche but there's no doubt about it, those who have lost loved ones do gain that unique insight which is: human beings, by their very nature, cannot deal with mortality. It's not just that they're afraid of dying, it's not just that they're afraid of losing their loved ones, it's that they simply are not programmed to accept, accommodate and process the fact that they are mortal. A bereaved person wears their grief on their sleeve. It cannot be hidden. It's in their eyes. It emits a signal... a warning that death was here, death is near. This signal repels others. Those who come near it feel that it must be crushed.

What I am learning is that because I'm the spouse of a recently deceased man, that makes me the closest thing to death that exists for those around me. So, in short, I represent death. I carry it with me. When I wish to talk about our loss - my husband, the hospice, the funeral, the loneliness, the crippling grief - I serve only to increase the 'death' emissions. The only hope for those around me is that I move on quickly, suppress the grief, smile and look on the bright side. People will always look for 'the bright side' regardless of how fucked up things are. The process goes something like this:

THE BEREAVED: Love... grief... heartache... sad eyes. Death emission overload.
THE FRIEND: Refuse to listen/observe. Offers platitudes.
THE BEREAVED: Grief... heartache... sad eyes. Death emission overload.
THE FRIEND: Refuse to listen. More platitudes. Push against death emissions. Suppress.
THE BEREAVED: Reacts to grief suppression. Anger... rage... irritation...
THE FRIEND: Push push push... keep pushing until she smiles.
Ignore... ignore... ignore... keep ignoring until she smiles.
Distract distract distract... keep distracting until she smiles.
THE BEREAVED: Smiles with sad eyes.
THE FRIEND: Observes 'smile'. Relief!
Halle-fucking-lujah, she's healed.
Long live [the pretence of] immortality. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Life is Ending - Part 1

Monday November 21st, 2011, was the second anniversary of my brother's death. His name was Ray and he died suddenly, much to the shock and horror of my family, D included. Those two years (November '09 to November '11) were pretty much dominated by Ray's sudden death - the pain, regrets, loneliness, guilt... the memories. I felt such pain in those early weeks and months and right on up to his second anniversary. Heart-wrenching, soul-crushing pain. My lovely brother. My friend.

It's only now as I sit here, remembering the events of the last 6 months, that I realise how strange and eerie it is that this nightmare, the one we're in now, the one that came on top of Ray's death, started on Ray's anniversary. Co-incidence? If so, it's the first of two that day.

For a few weeks in late October and early November D had a persistent cough. He was also tired but considering the stress of the previous year (money worries etc.), his tiredness seemed quite normal.

Back to November 21st. To Mark Ray's anniversary we planned to drop the kids to school and then collect my mother and visit Ray's and my Dad's graves and go for lunch afterwards. But our youngest child had been sick over the weekend so D offered to take my mother to the grave so I could stay home with her. That morning, while D and my mother were at the cemetery, I made a doctor's appointment for A for later that afternoon.

After their visit to the graveyard, my mother came back home with D. I was chatting to her and A in the living room when suddenly I heard D call out my name. It sounded urgent with slightly panicky overtones. I hurried to the kitchen. He was clammy, sweating and pale and was bent over holding on to the table. He said he had felt dizzy and very tired and nauseous and said he just needed a short nap.

As was his way, when it came to school collection time for the boys, he got up out of bed and insisted that he felt a lot better and felt up to collecting them as normal. D always did the school run and hated not to do it. He took his responsibilities as a father very seriously and was always there for all of us. He would drive anyone anywhere if it saved them time or trouble. Looking back now, he was too strong for his own good. I wish he'd have given in just how bad he was feeling that day because he really must have felt awful. It's not that he pretended... it's that his strength kept him from acknowledging it.

Back to that day... by now A was vastly improved, so much so that she no longer needed to see the doctor. Instead I suggested that D take the appointment and go for a check up. He was feeling pretty bad still so agreed that that was a good idea. Co-incidence number two: what are the chances of us having a doctor's appointment already in place that we no longer needed so that D could get the help he did need? No way would he have got an appointment by mid-afternoon ordinarily.

I waited for D to come home from the doctor. I was worried but not overly so. Eventually he got home (after also waiting for our son to finish his music lesson and give him a lift home). The doctor told him not to worry, it was most likely a virus. There were plenty of them going around. Just to be safe he took some bloods and said he'd be in touch in a few days with the results.

And so Day 1 of this 'new normal' came to an end with us thinking D had a virus or, worse case scenario, an infection of some sort.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Drawing a line through her old life

No words can sum up our loss as much as this. My beautiful 8 year old daughter opened her school homework journal a few nights ago and stared at it for a while. I didn't take a lot of notice as I assumed she was checking her homework list. Later when I went to tidy away her school stuff I saw that she had drawn a line through one particular part of it that had been filled out last September long before her daddy's illness and death. "Father's name and phone number". There's got to be a word bigger than 'heartache' to describe how this makes me feel. :(

Sunday, 27 May 2012

How the nightmare started...

I have a hundred million words stored in my head bursting to get out. Details of how D and I got to where we are today and how my life and my children's lives have changed dramatically in the last few months.

From the very beginning of this nightmare, I felt the need to write it all down because, frankly, my mind isn't big enough or strong enough to keep it all locked inside. So much detail, so many occurrences, too much information, all flying at us too fast, too soon, too stressful.

Initially, back in December, I started to keep notes: information that the first consultant gave us about the diagnosis, appointment times, specialists' names, advice on diet for cancer patients such as juicing, sprouting etc. In the blink of an eye all the appointments, information and advice became irrelevant and D was fast-tracked to a hospice to live out his final days. So my notes and my plans became irrelevant overnight.

However, I still have a need (an overwhelming need) to write it all down - not so much the minute detail of helpful diets and potential treatments but the actual events themselves and how it all came about. I'll devote the next few postings to that topic: how it started and how we got to where we are today.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

He's here... it's real... don't tell me it's not...

The sun is shining in the bedroom window. It's such a beautiful perfect day. Clear blue sky with a soft warm breeze. I woke up earlier and walked to the kitchen. Everything was so quiet. The two boys and A were still sleeping. Suddenly I felt Diarmuid's presence. It was so real and such a strong image and such a warm feeling of happiness and friendship.

I could picture him with his big smile and warm greeting as he saw me come into the room "hey Deb!!!!". Big big smile. Then he offers me a coffee and says "you go back to bed, I've got it covered here". Because that's exactly what he would have said on a Saturday morning. He loved me so much. We were best friends. We understood each other. He'd even bring me coffee and toast in bed on a regular basis. It wasn't always like that. We had rough times too. We drifted apart and barely connected for a while. But whatever we had in the beginning re-surfaced a couple of years ago. It was hidden. So hidden it was invisible, but it came back.

I can feel his presence in the house. It's real. It's lovely. He's wearing a grey t-shirt and black jeans and he's singing at the top of his voice. The boys are lying in bed, just waking up and rolling their eyes as they hear their Dad sing a Led Zeppelin or Queen song at the top of his lungs, thinking he sounds just like Robert Plant or, even more optimistic, Freddie Mercury, but in reality sounding way out of tune and flat as a pancake! He was musically gifted when it came to bass guitar but singing? I shudder at the memory! 

He's washing last night's cups and plates and he's talking to the dog like the dog is understanding everything. "Well Doug, it's just you and me boy. Any plans for today Doug? Got a hole to dig? A neighbour to terrorise? Birds to chase? I know I know, it's all pressure pressure pressure Doug. Go on out and see if you can find some bitches." Then he opens the back door and Doug runs out, oblivious to the 'conversation' but feeling happy that D is there for him. 

Diarmuid then comes into the bedroom where I am and where Aisling has joined me. He gives her the biggest smile in the world as only he could do and says "hey princess!! Look at you, the sweetest girl in the world, give me a hug. You're just too cute altogether." She smiles and runs to him and they hug as if they're squishing the life out of each other. He then resumes 'Whole Lotta Love' or perhaps he's moved on to Robert Palmer and is 'singing' the chorus of 'Addicted to Love' and Aisling, just like her brothers, rolls her eyes, shakes her head and smiles.

This is all so real. He can't be gone. Don't tell me he's gone. Shut the fuck up. We want him back now and if I have to pretend he's here in order to make it seem real then so be it. I prefer the pretence of him being here than the reality of many others. I can't bear the children's pain.

I haven't moved on, not even a teeny bit. In fact, I haven't caught up yet to the moment he died. Yes, I know in my head that he's dead but in my heart I haven't processed it. Not at all. He's not dead, not today. He's real.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The pretence of the grieving angry widow...


When discussing grief on a widow's message board yesterday, I ranted and raved about how I am so tired having to pretend that the children and I are fine. Why do we pretend? We do it to make other people feel less awkward and uncomfortable. Silly? Perhaps. Necessary? Yes. I asked on that message board: "Is this how it is now? We put on a brave face and pretend everything is okay?". Everyone who replied related to what I said and had experienced the same thing. 

We already knew (and expected) that people would disappear back to their old lives after a short time but what I didn't know was that even when I did see them again I would have to put my grief aside and laugh and joke and put on a fake smile. 

One of the women who responded to (and related to) my musings asked something that stuck out in my mind: 
"Is time just a teacher? At 10 months [bereaved] it certainly isn't a healer."

She really hit the nail on the head. That is what I was trying to say. It's what I fear and sadly I think it to be true. So from here on in we must learn how to 'act' differently around others to make them feel less uncomfortable. Time gives us the chance to learn those skills of pretence.

I'll admit some people in my life have been great but hardly anybody gets it. The anger and loneliness inside is so personal, so devastating, so inexplicable. No, I don't want to socialise. No, I don't want to smile and laugh. No, I don't want my old routine back minus my husband. No, things will NEVER be normal again. NEVER. Sorry if that upsets your life but it is what it is.

Don't get me wrong. I know that it's perfectly okay to say that I'm not doing great or that the children are not doing great but it seems to me it's not okay for us to ACT it. 

It sounds so self-pitying but I know that my grief and my children's grief are not wanted. I guess when you think about it how could it be wanted? How could I sit in somebody else's house and stare at the wall or cry or reminisce about old times? They don't want to hear that do they? So I try to get through the time, counting the minutes til I can go back home to my cocoon. Even my wonderful, jovial, smiley eight year old daughter looks very sad sometimes because she's thinking of her Dad but the majority of people don't acknowledge that or ask how she's feeling because it would take great maturity and wisdom to do that. Much easier to pretend that all is well and ignore the child's sad face or my sad face. She already senses that there is no point in telling them that she's sad. She knows they don't get it. She's more emotionally mature than them. So many people are assholes. Sheep. I always knew that. It didn't take this to make me see it.

So, to sum it up, it seems the majority of people insist on living in a bubbly happy shiny world and my grief is seriously cramping their style.

How I wish I could sit in a room with beer and food and comfy seats surrounded by others who have been through this life-shattering grief (or those rare people who haven't been through it but can empathise). We could cry, scream, hug and just relax, knowing exactly what all the others are going through. I can be a grieving angry widow without prejuduce. Bliss. 

As it is, yes yes yes, people mean well. If I hear that again I'll scream. Interestingly, people say "you mustn't pretend that you're okay, it's fine to be sad" and yet if there is even one spark of positivity in my day they will leap for joy, so relieved. For example I cut my hair today and my mother acted like I had brought about world peace. She felt, I suppose, that if I care enough to cut my hair then I must be healing. No, not really, it's just that my fringe was in my fucking eyes.

The same woman on that message board said that she read the following: 
"Let the grief take you where you need to go. Your grief is wiser than you."
Now THAT's the best line I've read since Diarmuid passed away.

I really like it. Maybe we're too scared to let the grief take us where we need to go? Are we overly conscious of what others think? Or are we just craving some love and attention from those we would have expected it from? And, if so, isn't that perfectly natural? I think I might just let it take me where I need to go from now on. If that means running away with the kids somewhere else (if I have the money) for a month or two then maybe that's what I should do. To hell with what others think. Let that make them uncomfortable. Hey at least they'll be off the hook then as we'll no longer be the sad people upsetting their routines.

Perhaps grief is its own entity, separate to our individual selves. So maybe we should let it take us along for the ride and be whatever it's telling us to be? That way perhaps we wouldn't feel so pressurised to fit in to what others want because after all we're not in control, the grief is? Perhaps. It does feel nice to think of not trying to force ourselves to be or do or act a certain way and just let grief lead us. Maybe in another few years this grieving angry widow will be a happy carefree... er, widow.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I'm the mother of an adult!

My son turned 18 yesterday. I couldn't be more proud of him. A day of such mixed emotions. My handsome, talented boy turning into a man and his Dad not here to see it.

I made a Mars Bar cheesecake. It turned out great, if I do say so myself!

I am grateful that my children are healthy and here with me.

I am trying not to let the grief consume me now.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Overwhelmed by grief, acid burn (!), housework and life...

Today was tough. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a fantastic day of happiness and success (yeah, not too familiar with those) and 1 being a day whereby I've reached the depths of despair, today was about a 2. It started with me sleeping out and so the boys missed their lift to school. I got Dan a cab and he made it in time. E stayed in bed as he was a bit fluey, as was I. I went back to sleep and slept deeply, waking two hours later in a bog of sweat and irritation. The room was spinning, my head hurt, my heart raced and I just felt crappy.

So I decided to keep A home. She should have been in school of course but I messed up.

The morning went on in similar fashion. In quick succession Doug managed to break a fencing panel and escaped numerous times, I found the housework overwhelming, I had no cigarettes which I craved more than ever and then to top it off I got my toe stuck in the back door. That's what finally did it. I broke down crying and it was a flood. I just couldn't stop. It's such a rare thing for me to cry and especially to cry continuously. Poor A was very concerned. I really felt it was life in general getting me down with grief, of course, lurking somewhere sub-consciously but not at the forefront. My tears were of frustration and of disappointment in myself. I know I'm doing okay in general, considering our devastating loss but as a person, overall, at 43, well I'm fucking up often. At least that's the way I feel. I worry that I am all the kids have. What a scary thought.

My mother rang and I broke down on the phone. She called out. She really is always there for me which is wonderful. We might not always 'click' but she certainly does do a lot for us. She cleaned up a lot and gave me a rare hug; she brought me cigarettes and groceries. It was great. Hugs I can live without but cigarettes? Perish the thought.

As the afternoon wore on, things picked up slightly. I made a lovely chicken stir fry. Wow! All cheap Aldi ingredients. Very tasty, if I might say so myself.

Then I took myself up to the supermarket for a walk and, en route, acid burn (reflux) kicked in big time. Jesus, what a day. By the time I got to the shop I was perspiring dizzy, sweating and nauseous.

I see now that I am overwhelmed. My fantastic son turns 18 tomorrow. What a milestone. To acknowledge that D is not here to see his eldest son become a man... that is just too much sorrow for one person to take. He was so very proud of E, right from the moment he laid eyes on him in the labour ward all those years ago and that pride and love never wavered for a second. My beautiful boy becomes an adult. Wow! It seems particularly cruel that D left us the same year our first-born reaches adulthood.

Overall, awful day. I'll be glad to sleep tonight. Tomorrow will, I hope, be better. I'll try to make it special for E.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Hitting rock bottom (emotionally) and climbing back up...

So the last two weeks were a rage-fest. It was hard to eat, sleep, breathe, move.. with this anger inside. It seems I might have hit the peak of the anger (for now, at least).

Saturday was a rough day. Aisling was to perform in a show with her drama group. They had been rehearsing since January and she was really looking forward to it, in her usual clever humble way. We got to the theatre and into the room where she was to get changed and she broke down. She couldn't stop crying. It was uncontrollable grief. My heart broke for her. My baby. Such a great girl, who cruelly lost her father.

Surprisingly everything continued around her as if there wasn't a grief-stricken, heartbroken child crying uncontrollably in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Of course the show must go on but a few kind words or a pat on the back would have been nice. Strange. People are sheep but sheep are cuter.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Seething... terrified...

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” 
 - C.S. Lewis, 'A Grief Observed'

Here I am, almost 3 months on, and I still feel unfocused and bogged down by a myriad of different emotions, swirling around in my head and heart, making it hard to move forward.

The anger is consuming me at times. It could be just a word or an expression or one simple action that sets me off, leaving me seething with rage. I don't know if the rage is justified (unlikely?) or if it's grief playing tricks on me, distracting me perhaps from my loss. I don't want to leave a trail of people in my wake only to discover down the road that I should have just taken a step back and a deep breath or ten. This anger is real but is it really real?

The loneliness is hard to take. And the positivity is impossible to take. I noticed that some people believe that if they're positive and happy all the time, it will rub off on me and I'll ease up on being depressed. It's insane though. I am what I am and I feel what I feel. Our whole lives have changed forever and no amount of sunshine or smiles is going to impact that.

I'm terrified, petrified, immobilised. I'm supposed to move forward as a single parent now. A SINGLE PARENT. Me? Jesus.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The sun is shining and I don't give a shit

It's 10 weeks today. 10 weird, confusing, frustrating, angst-ridden weeks.

I still can't believe he's gone. I can't believe I'll never see him again. How can that be? How can we go through life spending 95% of our time thinking about trivia when one day, in the blink of an eye, it's all over. Forever.

I think (certainly, I get the vibe) that some people wish I was okay by now. I've even been asked "what's wrong?" a couple of times. Hmmmm. My life, my children's lives, have been turned upside down. The man I met when I was 19 and stayed with for 23 years is gone. My children's father... funny, witty, intelligent, kind... is gone, never to guide them or joke with them or cheer them on again.

I feel myself slipping... deeper... that brain-shift you feel when depression is taking hold. And, although you know it's taking hold, you are powerless to do anything about it.

I have friends... I have family... but nothing, right now, can impact this exhaustion, this grief.