Archive for July, 2013

Never the same again

Never the same again

…. and i’m not talking about “widowed life” in the way you might think.

Before Greg died, I was that odd, nerdy, walking factorioum that could remember every appointment I had, every phone number I needed, every card number that I may be asked to use, every birthday, every task, every thing.

In. My. Head.

The events of That Day will never be forgotten, but I have large gaps in memory for weeks and weeks afterwards.

I walked around in a fog for months.  Like I was separated from the world by a hazy curtain that never lifted.  Like I was staring in my own movie.
Clouded. Fuzzy. Detached.

But since That Day, my head has never bean the same again.

I forget meetings and details.  I forget birthdays.  I forget to return phonecalls and e-mails.  I forget what I went to the shop to buy.  I forget my own phone number.  I forget parties.  I forget family events.  I forget so many things.

….and because I only ever wrote things into a diary or calendar so other people would have a copy of events, I never really got into the habit of using one.  So I forget to write things into my diary.

It sucks.
I feel so embarrassed when even my fail-safe phone alert for meetings fails and I miss something important.
I hate it when I manage to remember something important for days in advance then forget it at the last minute.  The crucial minute.
I hate it when I have to be reminded of something that seems such a basic thing to remember … and yet I have forgotten its very existence until that point in time.

People say its “old age” or “it happens to us all” or “you seem fine” or “what are you complaining about – I’ve always had to write everything down or I forget”.

But its not “just” any of those things.  This happened virtually overnight.  …and over a particular night where my brain was required to process information that it will never be able to make sense of.

My brain changed the way it stores information That Day, and it hasn’t recovered.

….and I wonder if I am the only person who has found this to be true…..




….and the sole parent.

I always said that when I was pregnant, it would make evolutionary sense that I also grew an extra set of arms …. I know I could have used an extra pair of hands when my children were small.

….and then this week, I haven’t needed more arms, I really need a clone. So many places that my children and I need to be, so few minutes during which to be there.

…and its times like this that I feel overwhelmed by this sole parenting gig*.

I never planned to do this parenting thing alone.
I never realised how oriented our society is to families with two parents (and apparently, endless other willing aunts, uncles, grandparents who are all fit and healthy and ready to help).
Between school excursions I can’t get my child to and am almost begging for someone who can drop them at the meeting point,  to music camps that I have absolutely no hope of ever being on time to collect a child from, I get the tut-tuts of those who say that they are sad that my children are “missing out”. (Like I have a choice?  Like they aren’t already missing out on having a father? Like I haven’t asked for help already?)

When I explain that it Just Me doing everything, nobody gets it.  I’ve tried variations of the following to try to explain….

Feeling seedy yourself and a child starts vomiting? Guess what, you’re up on vomit duty.  All night if needed.
Fighting through a mountain of work and a child is not dealing well with their grief? Guess what, you’re up for endless hugs, backrubs, hours of listening and calming and worrying about just how messed up they are.  Your work can just sit there and wait.
Fancying a bit of “me” time with a glass of wine and a good book? Someone is bound to require you to drive them somewhere and you forgot that you promised to drive them.
Too tired to make dinner?  Tough luck, it’s you cooking or the kids eat toast for dinner for the third night in the week.
Child needs surgery in hospital and you are falling apart at the thought of it?  Suck it up and be strong, this isn’t about you right now.

They nod, look concerned, then offer me no help whatsoever.

So now I think that since I never grew that spare set of arms and I can’t convince the local scientific institute to clone me, I guess I am going to have to learn how to juggle.

* – I am not looking for anyone to offer me “solutions” on what I “should” do, I am just sharing in the hope that someone else says “yeah, I get what you are saying.  Sole parenting IS hard”.

A grief of my own

A grief of my own….

For my friend, and first class shenanigator, H.  Love you.

In terms of my own personal journey of widowhood, I’m what you’d call a sudden death widow.  Greg was killed instantly in that car crash (as I’ve been reliably told by all and sundry who were there).
The fact that I didn’t get to say goodbye (I was repeatedly told NOT to view the body and I listened – I kinda wish I hadn’t)  – this fact has caused major suckage.
The fact that I was unaware for over 5 hours is also a source of major suckage.
The fact that the shock of his death has permanently affected my ability to remember things is another PITA.  I could go on but you get the idea….

I’ve never compared my pain to that of widows who had to watch the life force of their beloved ebb away through the cruel twists of disease or chronic injury.
I’ve never seen the point of a comparison.
To me, its just different rooms in hell.
That and we can only know so much of another’s pain; even though we may have suffered the loss of a spouse, because we are not privy to the innermost feelings of others.  I only know how *I* feel about the loss of my husband.  I know much of what I feel is similar to many others here, but every person’s grief is different.

Which brings me to long, slow, painful, drawn out deaths.

I’ve watched both my husband’s parents go through agonising deaths from cancer … but on some level, it fit the order of things in that we expect our elders to die.
We don’t however, expect young, fit, vibrant, healthy people to die while they are in the midst of living.

On Saturday, I received the news that my oldest friend’s little sister was diagnosed with incurable cancer just hours earlier: she began chemo yesterday morning.  She should have started it on Sunday morning, but her blood pressure was too low.

She is the same age I was when Greg died.

I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that this girl who I’ve known for most of my life…. this funny, ridiculous, shenanigator ….is fighting the battle of her life.  The battle for her life.  The battle which she has been told she has no chance of winning.  The battle which has stolen her hope, but not her spirit, nor her insanely filthy sense of humour which we, her friends and family,  all know and love.

….and I am devastated.  I am devastated for her, for my friend, for their other sister and their mother.  I am devastated for her nieces, for her uncles and aunties, for her cousins and for her friends.

As much as I know grief and how it feels, I only really know my own and I am lost as to how to tell this family how much love I have for them (I’ve said it, but it doesn’t seem enough).

But I know I can be there.
I know I can pump out the stupidly upbeat, funny, crazy e-mails that lift my friend’s spirits and make her laugh.
I know I can offer family portraits (because I know how important each and every photo becomes when you can no longer take any more).

I might not know their exact grief, but I know how to abide with them while it unfolds.

Home Maintenance

…and the widowed woman.

I’ll say it: we had traditional gender roles for some things in our family: I did most of the cooking and grocery shopping; Greg did most of the home maintenance and yard work.

….and while I can change a tap washer and hammer a nail, there are some jobs which will always be beyond my capabilities.

Greg trimmed the large trees in our yard several years ago.  He pruned branches and mulched leaves.  Any fallen trees disappeared amongst machinery noise, but not much fuss.
Greg was a farm boy.  I remember him using chainsaw to clean up logs for a pole-shed he was building on one of my first visits to the farm.  The chainsaw had a blade that was about 4ft long…. it was massive.  He handled it like a butter knife.

…and so you can understand the monumental effort I have been through to find someone handy enough with a chainsaw that I could trust to fall a an old bauhinia tree without either hurting themselves or the neighbours house which was overhung with branches.

But finally, another farm-boy has come to my rescue this week. …. in the form of Greg’s sister’s husband.
I mentioned my tree problem on one of the recent visits to Brisbane and then they were here with chainsaw and a spare and he had the tree down and chopped up into manageable pieces in half a day.

But unlike with Greg, I was his lackey – moving branches out of the way and pruning the thin branches for mulching from the thick branches for stacking.
It really made me stop and appreciate just what a dynamo Greg really was …. he made light of the heaviest labour.

Just another way he was completely amazing, and just another way I completely miss him.

No coincindence

No coincidence


I am having one of those days where the very idea that he is dead and never coming back is unbearable.
I want to crawl out of my own skin.

I can neither comprehend or entertain the thought that  I will never again look across a room to be met with blue eyes and a smile that said “I see you, I love you …. and I know what you are thinking”.

Maybe it is because  the weather is miserable and I spent a great deal of the early hours of today worrying about the rainwater seeping in to my garage again and dreading the monumental task of sweeping it out time and again.

Maybe it is because I am on holidays and I am sick and feel like my own grandmother.

Maybe its because I tried looking at an online dating site again and came to the conclusion that the particular combination of brains and sense of humour I am looking for does not exist.

Maybe its the after effects of last Friday’s meeting where a monetary value was placed on his life.  On his worth.

…. I just really miss him tonight.

…and then just like that.
Right this second.
Just as I wrote the above words, an e-mail came through….

My best girlfriend, bridesmaid and almost-sister sent through some photos taken in 2006 of my beautiful boy playing with the kids at a party for her son.
I have four new (old)  photos of my love with my loves.

I feel like I’ve just looked across the room and got that nod that says “I see you, I love you …. and I know what you need right now”.

…and I know that this is no coincidence.