28th May2013

Coming up to two years

by Dutchcloggie

I have been moody for the past few weeks. Nothing in particular seems to bother me but I am just moody. And it seems that even though I can not point a direct finger at Jane, it is because it is That Week, That Month. In 2 days, it will be two years since Jane died.  And like last year, I am struck with a general moodiness. Low-level depression perhaps?

It is annoying to say the least. Because this is of course the time when I should be studying for my exams. But the past 3 weeks have been basically a waste of time with my concentration hitting a level I never knew I could sink to. And for someone with ADHD, that is saying something.

It is not that I am distracted by thoughts of Jane all the time. Just that everything seems gray at the moment. I moved in with Girlfriend last month and it is lovely, but I am constantly finding fault with the place we live in. Mostly it feels too small for us. Or rather, for me. So this irritates me. The fact that there is not a lot of day light in the flat irritates me. The fact that we have to dry the laundry in the living room irritates me. The fact that the street is messy irritates me. The fact that the sun comes up in the morning irritates me.

Two years.

Jane in her fencing gear in 2008.

Sometimes I still can not grasp the idea that Jane is really never coming back. Of course I know this, I am not delusional. But perhaps this thought has been popping up more recently because my life is kind of back on track. I am living with a lovely, lovely lady with whom I hope to stay for years to come. I am working towards my degree. I have nice friends. And when I complete official forms, I no longer know for sure if I should be ticking the box for Widow when I am completing official documents (for the record, I do tick Widow because the other option is Single which I am most certainly not and apparently the law says you are a widow until you remarry).

Basically, after years of being a carer and then being a widow, I am now Me again: a totally unremarkable person with a totally unremarkable life. And yet I have had so much happen to me that nobody knows unless I specifically bring it up. None of the people I meet in this new life will know how it felt. How I felt. Who Jane was. She is just a story to many people in my ‘new’ life.

Until recently, when I thought about Jane, I would mostly think about the time she was ill and needed my care. I thought of the sadness of her illness, the heart-breaking times when she soiled herself in public and needed her wife to clean her up, both with tears in our eyes. Or the sadness I feel about not being able to ask her what she wanted in her last few days. The jealousy at other brain tumour patients who are more or less lucid until very shortly before their death. Basically, I have been dealing with the trauma of Jane’s illness and her death.

Jane showing off her dry-land swimming skills in 2010.

I am not sure I have dealt with the loss of the Jane I married back in 2006. Not that it is a case of me missing Jane all the time with everything I do. But there is now space for missing the Jane she was, not the Jane she became. It is just that I have time to think about Jane and the things we did and that I will never hear her voice again. Or see her smile. Or laugh at her jokes. Or meet her university friends. Or berate her for procrastinating at university. Or ask her for help with my homework. I guess I am now sad about the loss of my best friend; the funny, witty, promising, sporty, deadpan, smart friend. The idea of Never Again is taking hold.

Never is a long time.

Jane with Bear asleep in the hospice.

This week, on the anniversary of her death, I will scatter Jane’s ashes. I am keeping some of them, tucked away inside Bear, the teddy that was with Jane since she first went in to hospital in 2005. Unobtrusive, Bear will sit on a shelf somewhere. And I will set the rest of Jane free in a place that meant most to her. The place she credits with making her who she was. It will be only me and a couple of friends.

And when I come back home, Girlfriend will be waiting for me. We probably won’t say much but she will hold me and I will cry. Cry for Jane, cry for my loss and cry because I am so lucky to have someone who understands that none of this in any way diminishes what she is to me: Friend, Partner… Future.

01st May2013

Nearly two years

by Dutchcloggie

May is here. The month JD died. By the end of this month, it will be two years. I have heard many times that the second year is harder than the first one. That in the second year, you are no longer numb and that the real emptiness strikes, the real loss, the realisation that whatever you had planned for the future with your partner is really not going to happen.

My second year was not like that at all. I started (and struggled) through my university course, I worked, I loved, I reminisced, I cried, I missed and I celebrated. I keep waiting for the Real Grief to knock me out with a sledgehammer. I am not saying life has been easy but in some ways I expected this to be different. Harder perhaps? maybe it feels easier because at no point in the first year did I stop myself from crying. Anywhere. If I felt tears, I cried them. No matter where I was at the time. In Tesco, on the street, in the delicatessen down the road, on the train, in my car. There has never been any bottling up of emotions.

Sleepy JD on ski trip in 2006

Maybe that is why I did not have the Second Year Hit. I have however lately noticed a general low-level sadness creeping back in about things. Where I have been listening to Matchbox 20 and Crowded House, JD’s favourite music. Not sure why or what it is supposed to make me feel. maybe it is one of those things that helps me feel that my past is still part of the present. Because nothing is the same. Girlfriend is a fair bit younger than me and likes different music than JD used to. So not much 90s music around my house. Mostly 80s (strangely enough). This is not a problem but it is….I don’t know. I am just used to having 90s music around, even if I don’t care much for it. I don’t know how to explain it. MB20 played in Manchester last month and 2 of JD’s friends went. I had wanted to go too but in reality, I only wanted to go because it would have reminded me of doing something I might have done with JD and her friends. I mean, I like MB20 enough but it would not normally be something I would pay lots of money for. I would have spent the entire time crying for JD, rather than actually listening to the music. So why did I want to go?

Maybe it is searching for something familiar around me. Because everything has changed.

Girlfriend and I have moved in together this week. That feels a bit weird. I am utterly sure about my feelings for Girlfriend and it is wonderful to live together; she makes me very happy indeed. But it feels weird to do things like that with someone who is not JD. I had to get used to that feeling. Settling down with someone who is not JD.

I wish there was a script that widows follow so I know that I am within the ‘normal range’. Is it normal to want to keep some things that belonged to JD? or photos? I mean, everyone has pictures from their past, right? Or letters from friends they keep. Or souvenirs. So why does it feel weird to want to keep those things from my time with JD? Maybe the music is important to me because, due to having moved house a few times since JD’s death, I have not go many physical things left. No ornaments in the house, no photos on the wall, no clothes. And nobody really to share memories with.

Last year I organised a fundraising gig for the hospice where JD died. This year, I have decided I am going to scatter the rest of her ashes on the day she died (some were scattered at Warwick University already).  I will scatter them in a place that was meaningful to her (and therefore to me).

At home a month before her death

One last thing… I wish that I could feel more sad when thinking of JD as she was before she was ill. Whenever I see pictures of healthy JD, I feel as if I am looking at my best friend who died, as opposed to someone I loved. I mean, I think of how sad it is that she is dead but I do not generally feel tears welling up. But when I think of JD when she was ill, I cry. Without fail. The thought of someone so young having gone through all that. Remembering how she was helpless. How that made her feel…It makes me incredibly sad, still. Physically sad. With tears and the lot. Does that mean I am over the actual loss of my wife and friend and am now just crying about the sadness of the illness process? Somehow I feel that that sadness will never diminish.

Anyway, this is yet another directionless post. Which shows that I just don’t know how this works. I guess I am just having a whole bunch of unguided thoughts about JD tumbling around my head at random moments.

Should I tell my university tutor? I struggle to concentrate at the moment and I know this is partly to blame but it feels like an excuse to use…

In her soft wind I will whisper
In her warm sun I will glisten
’till we see her once again
In a world without end

In her soft wind I will whisper
In her warm sun I will glisten
And I always will remember
In a world without end
She goes on