Island Blog – As Am I

As I wander through this grieving process, I know that a deal of that grieving is for myself. That might sound weird. I don’t consciously grieve for himself. Our life together was never on a clear wide road where we could see the views and the way ahead. It was more a stumble through the tangle woods, where sky is visible only through a knit of branches, the views, although yearned for, scarcely wide enough to be thus named. One of us always seemed to be trying to lose the other one, and, yet, afraid of exactly that.

This is the time of year to find snail shells. I think about the life that curled within those shells once, before even snails began to move more slowly, too slowly to avoid the hungry and vigilant thrush. I wonder if this snail was a happy snail, blissfully slithering across the ground, a living creature with eyes at the end of its tentacles, with a liver, a kidney, lungs and a heart. I know it has a memory, of sorts, one that will tell it where it has been and whether or not it would be wise to go there again. Such a tiny creature to be so well assembled. I found one, once, on the shore. It was almost bright pink, or, certainly, pinker than the ones I might find in my garden. Perhaps, I thought, it has eaten something down here, and, over an extended period of time that has elevated it from the other run of the mill snails, become a hybrid or royalty. It was certainly something to take back home and to put on display.

Each day wanders along as it will and I consider my feelings, notice them. The one that most surprises me is anger. I am angry for my past. This, I tell myself, and roundly, is surely the road to madness, for who can do a thing to change their past? But, I say, turning my head to look back, all that stumbling through the tangle woods seems like such a lunatic way to live a marriage. Who would ever choose this when just up there lies the clear wide road with views and visibility and service stations every 50 miles or less? I’m not sure we choose it. What we do is choose each other and then find ourselves in a Somewhere we would not have chosen, had we been availed of consequence. Too late, mate.

The anger I feel is busy with criticisms, mostly of me. I am almost word perfect in criticising me, as my friends tell me. This anger is like a catherine wheel that shoots off a post and spirals dangerously close to whoever stands too near. Children for example. Why did I not do this for this one when………Why did I not take action for this one then……Why did I accept this, or that, or this again and again and again? Oh, I know that this sort of self-flagellation will only ever hurt myself but it keeps a-coming, like Christmas and Fridays and lunchtime. At a sensible and logical level, it makes sense to dispel with such…..what….self-indulgence? Put like that I am right with you, but feelings will arise no matter how much logic and sensibility I bring to the table and this anger keeps on arising until I want to bash it over the head with a mallet just to silence it. I know there are others, unlike me, who can address life in general in a way most perfunctory. Their logic is king over their feelings. They can decide to deal with things in a way that never, ever, allows them to indulge in any collapse into confusion. Why would they? It would be (and I agree) a complete waste of time and just might mean they miss the start of Countdown. But I cannot seem to be that way. I am the one who scrambles and scrapes over sharp rocks and who slips down every crevasse, who flounders in the power of an incoming tide and who cannot sleep as the gibbous moon fills to her fullness, lighting up the sky like a super trooper on steroids.

As I walk today, the ground is icy. One degree the whole day long and the temperature will drop this clear wide night. Frost will sparkle on the ground, diamonds, twinkling. The woods are silent. No birds. The branches of the trees hold ice particles at the very tips of their fingers, droplets of water halted and frozen, natural jewels, catching the slow pinking of the sunset and making tiny rainbows. Deeper in, the silence is all around me. I hear only the scrunch of my boots and the rush of an incoming tide. The woods are mysterious, elegiac and waiting.

As am I.

Island Blog – Someday Blues

It amazeballs me how anyone so practical and unsentimental can swing from joyous to dark subterranea overnight. But it sure happens to me. Perhaps, and this will bring on an eye roll from those in the know, it is a lot to do with bereavement and grieving. Grieving……an interesting word and not one I thought I related to, for I am not grieving, or I thought I wisnae. The thing is that words are semantical. They mean different things to different folk. Grieving, to me, feels like endless tears and slippers on all day long; it means I don’t eat or wash or bother with anything much or anyone much at all, and all of that is not me. I bother a lot about caring for myself. It is all a matter of pride and performance to me, whether or not I meet another soul for a whole week. I am not awash with tears. In fact, I have barely managed a baker’s dozen since he died. It isn’t that I am a cold fish, not at all, but after being right beside him for over 10 years as he slowly fell to ruin, I suspect I have gone through most of the stages of grief whilst he yet lived.

Today I awoke with it. Subterranea. I knew it the minute I attempted to open my eyes, knew they were slits in my pale face and that they would barely widen no matter what the day held for me. I lay back and considered the fact that I was not really in charge of myself at all; that something else was playing out its own drama on my inner stage, something I could not name but did not like one bit, as I did not like one bit certain girls at school, and for no obvious reason. Certainly not something I could explain nor would it be a discourse I might enter into, should someone ask me what or why. So what is this flip and doodle of days? Why, when I believe, or tell myself, that my craft is finally harbouring safely in a dock of my own choosing, does my ship ready about and head back to sea where chaos reigns and the weather is lord of all?

I sigh. I have no answer to any of it. This is why I walk out in the fairy woods, wander (slip and skid) across the rocks on the shore and spend hours watching the sky change, change and change again. It seems to me that all I can do for now until this painful rollercoaster finally runs out of juice, until the music stops and the fairground moves on to somewhere else, is to move like an observer and not a player. In the morass of legal requirements and paperwork, of photocopies and of rifling through filing cabinets in the (vain) hope that himself kept at least some semblance of a paper trail, I will eventually find completion; not of me, but of his dissembled estate. Some order from his chaos. I hope so, and, if I don’t, then this will meander on for years and incur great costs, enough for lawyers to choose a 3 month winter holiday with wide smiles and a loud wahoo.

I am lucky, nonetheless. Our children are right beside me. They understand legalise as I do not. They gently guide and sort and support through this process of ‘enveloping’ up a life, a long life of decisions made; of carelessness and devil-may-care; of the wildness of just living and blow the consequences, consequences that now fall to me, to our children. A part of me gets it. A part of me remembers that man, the man I chose and the man who spent the next 42 years infuriating me as I grew up as he decided not to. In a long life shared, and with hindsight, it is easy to look back and to be wise, but I cannot. I remember not paying attention to things that required exactly that. I remember enjoying the crazy. And here is where I find contradiction. Had I been more engaged, braver, more determined to be the grown-up I purported to be, would the memories have changed? Would I have been able and willing to join in the wildness of his life, if I had been the schoolmarm in the relationship? Probably not.

So, as the days flip and doodle, I must keep on searching for a paper trail; keep on searching for the answers the probate lawyer seeks; keep on calling on our children for their support. I must, also keep walking in the wilds, watching the sky light change and change and change again, until the time comes when this is done, as tidy as it can be whilst accepting that I was concomitant to his way of living, and then to celebrate the chaos of those shared years.

I must engage with the sunshine and with the someday blues, both.

Island Blog – Words and Thoughts

Today awoke at 2.30 am. I won’t add ‘in the morning’ because as everyone knows ‘am’ means the morning, even if folk on the radio say it twice. My dad would have had a fit, rolled his eyes and stated loudly that this country had gone to the dogs.

Immediately and unbidden the negative thoughts pour in, the dreads, the fears, the remembering of death and dying. I used to be able to cut all of them off at the pass but not these days. Is this grieving, I wonder? Folk who know things tell me it could take a year for this to ease back into my natural thankfulness, my curiosity about life about living it, about the day ahead. A whole flipping year? Are you serious? Well, yes, they are.

All day I dragged myself through simple chores with no interest in a single one of them. I went back to bed; read a whole novel; got up when the guilt of such indulgence whooped my ass out from under the duvet. I never do this. I never did this. Not never. This is me, I state clearly and succinctly, the me who got the hell on with absolutely everything no matter how much she didn’t want to, but nobody is listening. And that is what I miss the most. The somebody that has now become nobody. That somebodys existence required me, needed me, expected me to show up and now he is gone. I had been expecting him to leave the programme for over 10 years and yet, now, it feels deeply unfair. How dare you leave me like this, purposeless and empty? Where are the little spurts of chat about the sparrow hawk taking a blackbird and all that terrible screaming that accompanied the process? Where are those shared moments of what’s for supper, where are my snippers for pruning the geraniums or what’s this puddle on the floor?

Silenced. For ever. I did eat something today, at some point. I did walk the dog although it was a trudge and a short one despite the beautiful sunshine day inviting us to stay, stay, stay. I didn’t. We didn’t. And, now, there comes more lockdown threats. But you are so lucky, I tell myself. Just look at where you live, at that fantabulous view! And, so I am, but I am not going to berate myself for yet another crime. I know I am lucky. I know there are others who face a brick wall, who have noisy neighbours, who are squished into a toosmall place, who feel real and justified fear. Mine is imaginary, after all, even if I don’t minimise the power of it inside a faulty mind. And my mind is faulty. Only for a year, so they say. Or thereabouts.

I think often of dying in general. I thought I was fine with it but we are all fine with a concept as long as it doesn’t invade our peripheries. However, there is something about age in here. When we get older we seem to widen our fractal understanding of many things. We are less tolerant of fools and more understanding of foolishness. We are more confident in who we are and less confident of making simple decisions. We walk with more confidence and yet are less confident of our footing. We are a walking dichotomy. Younger folk admire us and find us weird. We are simultuous.

So, in my simple Alice world, it is ok to feel the fear of death and dying whilst still being curious about life. I guess I need to work on that.