17th Jun2011

Ashes to ashes

by Dutchcloggie

At Warwick University today, a little bit of Jane was left behind

SJ scatters Jane's ashes at Warwick University

SJ scatters the first bit of Jane. Notice the M&S tea flask being used for this purpose.Unfortunately the ashes sank straight to the bottom of the lake so we decided on trying it again a little bit further out.

 

I transferred some of Jane’s ashes into a flask last night, ready to for today’s scattering. I created a rather large ash cloud of very fine bone ash. I think I may well have inhaled a substantial part of Jane in the process!

I scatter some of Jane's ashes

Graceful scattering of about half of Jane's ashes. We were interrupted by a guy who, even after we told him what we were doing, wanted to tell us about an orphaned goose that lives in the lake.

Walking across campus, I was suddenly struck by an immense sadness. This whole part of my life, Warwick University, is a part that only matters to me because of Jane. We had no shared ‘business’ there, although of course we have plenty of shared memories. I found it really difficult to explain to SJ that I really felt Warwick University would never again be part of making new memories with Jane. She said that I could talk about those memories with Jane’s friends so they would remain part of my life. But that is not what I meant.

I can not really explain it well but maybe it is something like this: In Leamington and Northampton, I was my own person, with my own things to do. And on top of that, we did things together. At Warwick University, I was always and ONLY Jane’s partner. I would only be there when Jane had some business at uni. When I picked her up. When I dropped her off. When I was meeting her for lunch. When I first met her there in 2003. When I came to see her friends.

So without Jane, there I felt completely lost. I felt rudderless. There was no reason for me to be there. And there will never again be a Jane-reason to be there, other than a reason related to her death (e.g. seeing her old friends, her old tutor, scattering her ashes etc). There will be no more new memories to make with Jane.

Even writing this now, I am crying. I don’t quite know why but it really upsets me that the thing that was such a massive part of Jane’s life, is somehow empty and meaningless to me without her there. It feels like another loss. Maybe because if I ever meet someone else, I might go camping with her. I might live together with her. I might do some of the things I used to do with Jane.
But I will never again walk along Warwick University campus with someone and feel that feeling of pride and belonging to someone who spent her entire academic life at a place she loved so deeply.

I guess it makes me feel incredibly sad that when I think about it, the thing that meant most to Jane in her life is something that now means precious little to me, since I have nothing to do with it anymore.

Jane Daniel's ashes in the lake at Warwick University

Jane's remains consist of very fine, dusty bone ash that floats on the water, and course, dense bone grit that sinks straight to the bottom. If you can find it, you'll find a little pile of Jane at the bottom of The Lake at Warwick University.

16th Jun2011

What is left

by Dutchcloggie

Jane's ashesWhat’s left in the end is a big green plastic jar with a lot of light grey ash in it. The ash is surprisingly heavy & dense. JD did always like her food but I doubt that is what makes her remains so heavy.

I picked them up yesterday afternoon from Leamington Spa. Ironically, the funeral director is only a few doors down from where we used to live. We used to walk past their shop when we walked in to town. I found that the hardest part. That we walked there every day but I never thought I would have to go inside to pick up her remains.

Don’t really know what to do with them. Her mother wants some. I want some in a lovely chain around my neck. I want to scatter some in various places that mattered to JD and me. Actually, that sounds like I know exactly what I want to do with them…

We lived in Leamington Spa for nearly 3 years. They were the happiest times. JD had surgery when we had lived together for only a few months but after the surgery, the tumour remained stable for a long time. So our time there was mainly a happy time, mostly free of worry.

Walking around town today, I felt really close to JD. Like it was her “spiritual  home”. Or better said, OUR spiritual home. We only left because I got a job elsewhere but I realised today I don’t like Northampton nearly as much as I like Leamington Spa. Maybe because I like walking around a place that has so many memories. 

So I am considering moving back. Nothing wrong with admitting I like to be close to whatever I have left of JD. The question is of course: where to apply to uni. If I live in Leam, it makes sense to go to Coventry University instead of Northampton. And what about the fact that I now have close friends in both places? The friends in Northampton are mainly my friends who also knew JD. The friends in Leam are Mostly Jane’s friends whom I got to know as well (apart from the rugby girls) So although I love them all, I do feel differently about both sets of friends.

Maybe my friends want to come and live in Leam too?

10th Jun2011

My way of mourning

by Dutchcloggie

It is 2 days after the funeral and quite a few people have been lovely and texted/messaged me to see how I am doing. Apparently the days after the funeral are the hardest.

Jane's t-shirt and BearToday I picked up the clothes Jane wore when she died. They have been at the funeral home for more than a week now. When I got them back, I smelled the t-shirt, hoping to get a little bit of Jane back. But they just smelled of morgue. I had planned not to wash them for a while. I wanted to sleep in them. But I won’t now.

It doesn’t make me cry when I sleep with her teddy bear. It doesn’t make me cry when I wear her clothes. It just makes me feel closer to her. I feel more comfortable with something of Jane around me. It doesn’t matter that it does not smell of her.

I was expecting to be much more teary than I am. But I am OK. Maybe it is because, being alone, you don’t actually talk about Jane. And talking about someone is a lot more emotional than just thinking about someone.  I notice I am more likely to cry or get upset when I am talking to someone about Jane. And being home alone means I don’t talk. So I don’t cry.

I am no better or worse today than I was before the funeral, or just after Jane’s death. I am confused by this as I am not really feeling upset. I just feel flat and bored of being without my lover to cuddle up to, even if she didn’t notice it anymore at the end.

But maybe I am just not too much about crying. Maybe that is not ‘my kind of mourning’.

Maybe that is what my mourning is: not a feeling of acute pain, but an underlying feeling of your world being incomplete in a way that is hard to explain….

09th Jun2011

When all is said and done

by Dutchcloggie
Old Leamingtonians Ladies

Old Leamingtonians Ladies

They came in rugby club colours. They came in fencing kit. They came in school colours. They came in anything but black. As the weather made up its mind about rain or shine, outside the chapel, nearly 100 people came to say goodbye to a friend who left too soon. A small hiccough when it turned out the crematorium had put bibles on all the seats. I ran inside to remove all of them before letting people in.

Northampton Fencing Club

Northampton Fencing Club

I was very happy that people were surprised by the awesomeness of JD’s coffin. I had moved heaven and earth to get that particular one. It was covered in a large image of a galaxy. In keeping with JD’s beliefs, I had also made sure the manufacturers of the coffin were as environmentally sound as they could be. In fact, they burn the wood off-cuts from making the coffins which generates enough energy to power the factory.

As they carried the coffin in to the chapel, JD’s fencing friends, who had come in full fencing whites, gave her a fencing salute. Kirsty MacColl sang “Thank you for the days”. I cried.On the top of the coffin was a short poem:

Jane was cremated in a Cosmos Coffin

"There are stars whose light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen apart. There are people whose remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow."

There were tributes from Uni friends, from school friends, from my sister and from JD’s mother. Along the back wall of the room stood a large semi-circle of blue and gold hoops from all the rugby girls. It looked beautiful. My sister spoke on my behalf. Looking back, I wish I had spoken myself. But I would not have known what to say, other than how much I loved her. How much I still love her. How much I will miss her guidance, her input in my decisions, her love, her smile, her kindness. How much I will be lost without her. How much I want to make her proud of me. How much I wished it was me with the tumour.

The service was too short. I wanted to spend more time with JD. I wanted it not to be happening. I wanted everyone to go away and leave me with her for a few more hours. I wanted to throw myself onto the coffin and tell her one more time how much I love her. I wanted to ask her if she could see how much her friends and family love her. I wanted this not to be real.

Instead, we went to the rugby club where JD and I spent happy years making friends. I had created a slide show with pictures of JD which was shown on the projector. I loved seeing everyone look at the pictures, pointing, laughing, remembering.

I ran around like a headless chicken, making sure I got to say hello to everyone. People had come from so far away and I wanted everyone to know how much I appreciated their efforts to say goodbye to JD. All the while, I was wondering when I would start the proper crying I was expecting.

Instead, I cried only very little. Surprisingly little. I have not cried much at all yet. Maybe because, unbeknownst to myself, I had already been saying goodbye for weeks before she died. Maybe, I keep telling myself, maybe it will come later. But how much later? Surely it does not mean I did not love her as much as I thought I did? Surely not. So why am I not crying more? I am alone. I was told by many people this would be the hardest day. But it is no harder, no more boring, no more lonely than the days that have gone before. Maybe it is still not feeling real. maybe it is because JD was already out of the house for a while before she died so it is not that much different. Maybe it is because I have not had real companionship with JD for the last 2 months of her life, so the difference is not that big? Is the amount of crying related to how much you love and miss someone?

05th Jun2011

I found a note

by Dutchcloggie

A note Jane scribbled

Jane's scribble

I know I said this blog would be dormant but so many people have said they think my current emotions should be part of this blog. I shall copy a few posts from my personal blog here as well as they deal with the aftermath of Jane’s death.

Going through Jane’s things, I found the little notebook we kept with her treatment diary. In this notebook, we wrote all her appointments, what the doctors said etc. That way, when the doctor would ask how long ago her last scan was for example, or what her last known symptom was, we just looked in the diary.

And in the middle of the notebook, I found this note that Jane scribbled in December 2010.
I can only guess what was happening in her head.

“Piri Piri sauce – mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm no – totally randommm. Totally random sauce thoughts. It was v. stupid to put your toenail and………….”

She wrote this, I assume, after we ate some fish from Sainsbury’s that was marinated in PiriPiri sauce. Not sure what the toenail refers to though. Perhaps I did something stupid? Or perhaps she did? Basically, is shows that Jane was really living in the present. She responded to things that were happening right there and then. If you asked her to write down what she did during the day, she would write something about what was going on around her at the moment she was writing.

It is both sweet and devastating to read it. To realise that for a long time, I had no idea what was really going on in her head. Or what made her tick. I just hope I did the right things most of the time.

05th Jun2011

Goodbye

by Dutchcloggie

After keeping a 6 year record of Jane’s brain tumour, this blog has come to an end. I will leave it up here for the future in the hope it can help others who are going through the same thing.

If you want to keep in touch with whatever else is going on in my life without Jane (starting with funeral etc), please visit my personal blog Bunnyfactor10 at http://www.bunnyfactor10.com.

When I moved to the UK in March 2004, we did not move in together until August. So in the end, Jane and I only had 4 months of worry-free living together. And then, in January 2005, our lives changed forever. I knew Jane and I would not get old together. I read all the statistics of an average 6-year survival. But 6 years feels just so far away. We married a year after Jane’s surgery. She died almost exactly 6 years after her surgery. If I could do it again, I would marry her again. Even with the brain tumour and the immense pain and emptiness I feel with her loss, I would still do it again. Because the time we had together was more beautiful than anything I ever imagined. My life has been filled with more meaning, with more love and more tenderness than I ever imagined to get in my life. I thought I loved Jane as much as I could. But when she trusted me to care for her in the last 9 months of her life, I learned about a whole new, deeper level of love. One that I can confidently say you can only reach by going through trauma together. I would have been happy with the love we had before. But it seems the price we have to pay for reaching that all-consuming, deep level of love, of dedication, of trust, of humility, the price for that is death.

03rd Jun2011

One last look

by Dutchcloggie
Jane flying a kite in Cornwall

Jane flying our kite in Cornwall in July 2007

I went to see Jane yesterday. She looks peaceful but I felt uncomfortable and stayed only 30 seconds. I saw her on Monday in the hospice of course but then she was Jane who is dead. Yesterday, she seemed to be a dead body that used to be Jane. Big, big difference.

I shuffled around the table but I could not bring myself to look at her face. I wanted to but I was afraid I would be unable to see her in any other way in my memory. And so my memories of her were more important than my immediate emotions. I decided that the memories will be with me forever so if they were somehow spoiled by the need to take once last look, I would forever regret it.

So I closed the door and left her for the very last time.

02nd Jun2011

In the end…

by Dutchcloggie

…it was peaceful. On Sunday morning, JD had trouble breathing and her skin turned a strange shade of blue, nearly purple. The nurses said this was a sign death was a mere hours away. JD’s mother came and went. And the waiting continued. Every once so often, JD’s breathing changed, became more shallow, more like snoring, then less like snoring. Her face returned to the normal pink colour, perhaps a little more grey than normal.

Our friends R&K arrived in the afternoon, all set up for the long wait. Ipads, beer, food, crisps. The hospice staff were fantastic in leaving us alone as much as possible whilst still checking JD was ok. As the day turned in to night, JD’s breathing changed a number of times. Looking back, I think she died a little every time that happened.

Around 10.30, I lifted JD’s left eyelid and saw her pupil had blown. And half an hour later, so did her right one. I knew she was no longer with us then. We held her hand, I crawled onto the bed and held her. And waited.

At 2am, R&K went home to sleep as JD’s breathing seemed very regular. I slept on the camping bed next to JD. The silence woke me up at 7. No sound of breathing. As I put my head on JD’s chest, I just caught her last few heartbeats. I got the nurses who confirmed JD was gone. Then they left me alone for a while and I cried. Relief. Pain. Anger. Sadness. Loss. Emptiness. Numbness. All of that.

They asked if I wanted to help wash JD but I felt unable to do that. I called JD’s mother, my parents and R&K came back to support me through the morning. It was all very calm & peaceful. I cried a bit more and we cleared out the room. After saying a final goodbye to JD, we went for a massive breakfast.

And so began my life as a widow.

Now what?