Monday, 16 October 2017

Back to . . . .

. . . . . . a bit of this and a bit of that.

Still spending hours reading rather than writing or doing anything else creative. Still obsessed with the news, both here and across the world. How very foolish of me to search for items on Brexit, the humanitarian catastrophes currently unfolding in the Yemen and Somalia and Myanmar’s Buddhists' genocide of the Rohingya people in Asia. Who knew Buddhists are no less cruel than adherents of any other faiths can be, given half a chance and a great enough measure of hatred of ‘the other’? And then there’s the good old USofA and that magnificent example of how a democracy works.

So why do I feel this obsession? You tell me, I have no idea. As if life weren’t miserable enough already.

Book reading is different though, I am sticking with delightfully lightweight fare. I have just finished a tale by Amor Towles, a writer new to the bookshelves. 'A Gentleman in Moscow’ covers 32 years in the life of a Russian aristocrat who has been sentenced to house arrest in a small attic in a luxury hotel in Moscow. Should he risk leaving the hotel he’d be shot. In spite of these 32 years coinciding with the most harrowing period in Russia’s recent history the story is uplifting: how to make the most of a bum deal. I enjoyed it greatly. Grand literature in the Russian classic tradition it is not but tragedy is not what I’m after.

For much of the week I am ok but weekends are hard. There’s the poetry group, the German Conversation group, there’s a bit of shopping, a chat with a friendly soul while out with Millie, tradespeople and repairmen, hedge cutters, old gardener and Kelly the cleaner, the pleasure of a meal at the pub when family old and new come for a visit, or with other pensioners for the ‘seniors’ deal’. Only Kelly and old gardener come regularly once a week and I now spend quite a bit of time chatting with them rather than letting them get on with their jobs.

I remember the time after my Dad’s death when my own Mum must have been very lonely.  She used to ring me at least once a week, usually on Sunday morning. I remember feeling impatient with her, she’d ramble on and on about nothing much. Often she’d say “If only you had stayed in Germany”. Poor Mum. Even though I flew across and stayed with her every few months, particularly during her last couple of years - leaving Beloved, my relatively new husband,  alone - she had few friends and was unable to adjust to life on her own. Poor Mum indeed. I hope I will do better.

For quite some time I have been fretting over renewing my passport. I am still a German national and will forever be one. Now, after Brexit, I am even less inclined to apply for British citizenship. On the whole, people reassure me that after all these years living here, working here, paying my taxes and having British husbands throughout (one at a time) I will not be summarily deported. But if I were I’d simply sell up and move back to Germany, although I’d prefer not to. My life has been here for so long now I’d probably find settling in Germany difficult. So, I needed to renew my passport which cannot be done by post. After Beloved’s death and completion of the necessary paperwork following on, I finally had the space and time to go to Cardiff (or Liverpool) and apply with the Honorary German Consul in either of these cities. A train journey would get me there. That is until my leg and hip turned on me. I was in perfect agony for more than two weeks and the thought of travelling by train became a nightmare. In stepped my son. “Mum, I have a few days off in October, would you like me to come over and do whatever needs doing?”  Would I? Would I? He took me to Cardiff by car and we even had enough time to spend hours in my favourite department store where we had lunch, afternoon tea and a leisurely stroll around the ladies’ clothing floor. I came away with a very smart and rather expensive jumper. It’s so long since I bought myself anything at all in the clothing line that buying this jumper (sweater?) felt like a real treat. I  really am most grateful for my son’s kind deed. And what’s more, I should have a passport within six weeks, one of those European Union passports with fingerprints and eye recognition. As soon as I have sorted myself out I shall probably do some travelling again.

I have had no further news from my daughter other than a pleasant note in reply to my email, but I am still hopeful; she’s been on holiday and may be short of time. It would be nice to be on good terms with both my children. However, as I said in the previous post, I will expect nothing and appreciate everything.

As I sit here writing, Ophelia is roaring around the house. It’s a storm now, not a hurricane, but it is quite frightening enough. My main concern is about the beech tree holding on to it’s roots. Millie and I ventured out this afternoon but not for long and no further than the field. And keeping well away from trees. The forecast is for gusts of 80 - 90 mph to continue into the night. As I am (I didn’t say WE, there’s progress!) quite a way inland from the West Wales coast perhaps the strength of the wind will be less by and by. Should I go to bed or stay up? What do people in the hurricane prone regions do? I still have electricity.

I have enjoyed writing this post; I know it’s pretty anodyne and waffly, but yes, I enjoyed it. Perhaps blogging will become a pleasure again.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Afterwards - 4th and final part

I am settling into my new life, strange though that is. I rarely cry. I am often very sad, lonely and still lost, but the raw emotion is lessening. I don’t suppose I will ever stop missing Beloved. I still speak to him, still ask what he was thinking of when he decided to leave.  Old and lonely people supposedly speak to themselves; yes, I can confirm that. I pretend it’s Millie I’m talking to but really it’s me. My conversations with myself are by no means interesting, for the most part they are questions like ‘now where did I put that key,’ or 'what did I come in here for’. So far I haven’t fallen prey to doing that in public, like a mad old woman mumbling to herself, the kind that carries a huge, shabby bag around with her. Today there was a charity concert in the Church towards the installation of loos in the annexe which included the sale of raffle tickets as well as the modest entrance fee. I paid for entrance, bought my raffle ticket and promptly forgot where I’d put it. When the raffle was held at the 'tea and cakes included’  bit in the Church hall afterwards I frantically rummaged through every single pocket asking out loud where the ticket could have disappeared to in the space of a mere hour.  My table neighbours, being understanding and forgiving, simply found that funny.

I noticed that it was dark outside at 8 pm. I dread the coming winter evenings. I’ve never felt happy during the dark months, I fear that I shall feel even more unhappy on my own this winter. Books and TV are a great help but I must try and connect more with other people. If only I were a joiner. Valley’s End has endless societies, clubs and organisations, very few of them appeal to me. I suppose I could join the more interesting ones, the wildlife and local history groups? Rejoin the gardening club? And write about them and their members? If I could get back into my slightly acid mode of writing? Would that help?

It’s very difficult to change direction midstream. It is also very difficult to change attitude. One evening not long ago I had a special supper, opened a bottle of wine, and put my feet up in front of the TV. There was a programme on I had been looking forward to all day. I sat in Beloved’s very comfortable chair, leaned back and felt strangely happy. Here was an evening which was all mine, to do with as I pleased. All evenings have been free like that for months now, why should I feel particularly happy on this particular evening? Then it came to me. I was unencumbered, not answerable to anyone, with the house exactly as I wanted it.

On two separate occasions recently I had had family staying. My son had come to help out, drive me places, assist with various tasks around the house, none very arduous but necessary. He had brought his wife along. Those two tend to spread themselves and their belongings, leaving things out overnight and carrying on the next day where they left off the evening before. Their conversation is very limited. They are Seventh-day Adventists whose world revolves around their Church, almost to the exclusion of all else.

None of that is blame-worthy. True, I don’t share their beliefs, but we all have our own way of getting through life.

I have mentioned here before that my daughter and I have been estranged for many years. We exchange birthday and Christmas cards which has been the sum total of our contact. I felt I needed to send her an email asking whether she wanted to be involved in what is called my ‘end of life’ arrangements. I also wanted to ask her the Big Question, would she be willing to help me to achieve a dignified end if the need arose. One can ask these questions and make these arrangements when there is no immediate need, when one is fit mentally and physically. I am now on my own, without any close confidante or family, no friends I would wish to burden with undue responsibilities.

I had assumed that my daughter would reply yes or no, and that further contact would continue by email. But no, she wrote to say that she would come and we could discuss things in person. I was very pleased if a little apprehensive.

In the event the visit went reasonably well;  my daughter spent a lot of time recalling the many hurts she had received during her childhood as well as her marriage to her previous husband. I hope it helped, it is always good to clear the air and dispose of burdens and grievances one has carried around for years. I hope that future contact will gradually improve; we have actually exchanged very friendly and chatty emails.

But, and here I get back to my strangely happy evening: neither visit had been emotionally uplifting for me. There had been some stress involved, even if only because of my slight OCD tendency on the one hand and apprehension about possible points of friction on the other. Perhaps I was asking too much, perhaps I was wishing for genuine warmth, less of the dutiful attitude, more of the “you’re not such a bad old stick, we like doing things for you now that we’re the do-ers and you’re the being done-to”.

Howsoever that may be, I realise that my attitude all-round will have to change, from grumpiness at not getting what I had hoped for to expecting nothing, accepting gracefully what is given and otherwise enjoying my freedom, my independence and the years ahead.

Wise words, here’s hoping I will turn them into deeds. And that there will be more of those strangely happy evenings.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Afterwards Part 3

"Looking at it logically, there’s no doubt that I’ll go before you," he said whenever the conversation turned to old age and shuffling off the mortal coil. “All things being equal, of course.”

Not the kind of equality I was looking forward to. You look at these things from a distance using the same comfortable specs that will eventually take you through every difficult patch, when you can see an end to whatever problem happens to bar the road. Intellectually you know it has to happen sooner or later, but ‘nah, not to us’, ostrich-like. (I do believe that’s a myth, ostriches do not stick their heads into the sand).

I am still counting the weeks since it happened. Still thinking ‘I wonder if there was anything we/I didn’t do / could have done that would have put off the evil day?' The simple fact is that it was his time.

His time, not mine. Not mine, so now I feel guilty for having outlasted Beloved. I feel guilty for surviving, for surviving and not crashing, for surviving and not lying shattered in a heap, wailing and broken; surviving and functioning, quite well, on the face of it. How shallow does that make me? Why am I not destroyed? I have no idea if guilt is part of the grieving process, like anger and denial,  - I won’t be going back to the websites that would enlighten me. But guilt is a frequent yet vague visitor, unacknowledged, not dragged into the light of day to look at dispassionately. It’s almost as if I need to feel this guilt.

Could that be the reason why I now have habits that were Beloved’s habits, never mine? We have a small paring knife. It was his favourite and an absolute no-no for me. "The handle too small, the blade too short, I simply cannot get on with it”. Now it’s my favourite kitchen knife, I rummage in the drawer for it. Beloved and I both had muesli for breakfast, he with banana pennies, me without. He invariably offered me half his banana, I invariably turned it down. “You know I don’t like bananas”, I’d say, irritably. Guess what’s on my bowl of muesli now? Every morning? And who gets a large chunk of the banana? Beloved’s favourite chair was one of those large semi recliners. I always complained that it was bad for his posture, that he should at least keep it upright. Now this large, rather comfortable, dark green leather chair embraces me for TV watching and reading. Yes, I do make it lean back and often fall asleep in it for a spell. Oh yes, I also wear his summer anorak, although it’s rather baggy on me. And, no doubt, some of his better shirts left in the wardrobe will come in handy for me.

It’s a way of keeping him alive.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Afterwards Part 2

You walk into the sitting room and your husband is lying on the floor. He is conscious but unable to get himself up; the first thing you do is fetch a pillow to place under his head and a blanket to cover him, then you call an ambulance. The paramedics arrive, switch on their monitors, get him upright, check him over. “We have to take him in”, they say. The last you see of him is the scared and confused look on his face as the gurney is wheeled out of your sitting room. It’s an image which is as clear today as it was then.

It is also the last time he is in his own home. The last day of normal life. For both of you.
That evil day now lies eight months in the past. Afterwards is truly here.

In her book “The Year of Magical Thinking” (one of the best non-fiction books ever written) Joan Didion says ‘Until now I had been able only to grieve, not mourn’. I hadn’t thought of it before, but it’s perfectly true and eminently logical: the two processes are entirely different. Grief happens to you, mourning is something you do. ‘Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, requires attention.’

I have been doing my very best to avoid ‘giving attention’ to grief, and thus mourn, by reading obsessively, often rubbish and light weight stuff, watching hours of meaningless TV, staring into space without focus, sleeping and/or dozing, with or without artificial aids, buying and drinking wine - the latter in moderation, it doesn’t take a lot before I feel sick - and eating chocolate.

Reading still figures high on my to-do list - that is if I had a to-do list - but I have turned to more satisfactory nourishment. (see my new ‘books I have read and enjoyed’ in the right hand margin). I am more selective in my TV watching too, choosing movies over sitcoms. At present I am working my way through the Tolkien range; enjoying the splendid special effects, magnificent landscapes and epic battles. Sometimes I find myself grinning at the plot, what little there is of it, and the grandiose dialogue. I also search out romcoms, a genre Beloved  and I simply never considered before.

I have been told to pursue anything that gives me pleasure by a professional who deals with people in distress. Now I ask myself how long can I go on doing this before the whole edifice of avoidance crashes down on me? Can one avoid mourning altogether? Will it catch up with me sooner or later?

I went to see my heart specialist for my annual check-up; he found me in perfect good heart health - amazingly - so we spent my allotted time comparing notes. He is a Dutchman, working in the NHS temporarily and we wondered how long before the dread hand of the Brexiteers comes knocking on our doors, showing us the way out. In his opinion mourning intensifies with time; by the end of the first year it is at its most acute. In particular the first anniversaries of any special days, like birthdays and Christmas. Wouldn’t these days have to have been special throughout your time together? We were always very restrained when it comes to special celebrations.

There is, however, something to celebrate: I have finally had the cataract in my seeing eye removed. For the last two years of Beloved’s life, while my time was taken up with increasingly needing to be his carer, my eyesight gradually deteriorated until the ophthalmologist pointed out that my driving days were over. In fact, had I been caught during my daily visits to the Nursing Home, the DVLA (Driver and Licensing Vehicle Agency) would have taken my licence away and I might have faced prosecution. The eye is healing nicely, my sight is restored and I am looking forward to going under the knife with the other, little-or-non-seeing-eye. A bit more light could make a difference there too, I am told. The operation was the most expensive half hour of my life but, had I chosen NHS treatment, I would have had to wait for up to nine months. Living where I do, being unable to drive is just not an option.

Every time I go out to the shops I practice reading number plates from a distance of 20.5 m. When out walking Millie I put down my cane at a spot I imagine to be 20.5 m away from a stationary vehicle and pace towards it. I am always highly delighted when I find that I’ve covered more than the requisite distance. A great improvement !

Guess what was the first thing I did when I realised that my ability to read had improved also? I ordered three books, real paper, printed, hold in your hand and turn pages books! For more than two years I could only read digitally! I still need reading glasses, but so what? Kindles will still be part of my life, but so will books again from now on.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Afterwards - Part 1

After Beloved.

Everything is afterwards now.
There was an old lady's funeral in Valley’s End today; I had planned to go, was determined to go; she had been a friend of sorts and I thought I should pay my respects to her and her husband and family. Also, it would have meant joining a throng of villagers for the funeral tea afterwards, chatting, mingling, getting back into village life, rather than clinging for succour to the few friends I have. So, all things considered, surely a good plan?

I didn’t go. Sitting over my solitary lunch - the funeral was at 2.30 in the afternoon - I felt bad. I knew I wasn’t going to go, no matter how urgently I pressed myself to do so. When I finally hit upon the solution I felt great relief. 'I’ll say, I just couldn’t face it’, I told myself, ‘it’s too soon after Beloved’s death’. ‘I shall break down in tears’. That would do for an excuse I thought. ‘Nobody can expect me to attend.’ That’s what I came up with, and all that after I had promised myself that, from now on, I would never feel obliged to lie again for appearances’ sake. Without Beloved’s polite good manners to rein me in I can say what I feel. Not giving offence, hopefully, but not giving much of a damn either. As my good friend Andrew says: ‘It’s brilliant to mature beyond giving a damn’. "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go . . . .” Jenny Joseph’s ‘Warning' may only seem to concern itself with outward appearance but look a little deeper and she’s telling you to take yourself and your disapproval on a running jump from a short plank.

It’s frequently like that: I have every intention of coming out of my cave, blinking in the sudden light of day, joining others, accepting that life goes on. The other day I bought an expensive concert ticket. Some friends were going to take me and it would have been a pleasant evening. I let the ticket go using a dicky tummy for an excuse. True, I had had some rumblings and frequent loo visits during the day but I was feeling much better come evening. “Such a pity you had to miss the concert,” my friends said afterwards, “you missed a real treat.” Of course life goes on, I am here, am I not? At first I didn’t care to survive, alone, friendless, lacking family, lacking purpose. (There’s some self pity in there. ) Now I do. In fact I have made a decision: I want to survive for years yet, becoming a sharp-witted and sharp-tongued old woman. When I told a couple of friends on separate occasions, both said “Well, you shouldn’t find that difficult, you haven’t far to go to reach your goal.” How lucky I am to have friends who feel able to make that sort of comment, don’t you agree?

The wretched problem is that the recently bereaved become vulnerable, naked; being visible draws attention to that state of insecurity. It’s almost as if you have to take baby steps before you can walk out into the world again with any kind of self assurance. And the lack of focus on something other than grief, the lack of purpose that can fill the mostly empty days make survival questionable. I can’t even say that Beloved died too soon or unexpectedly, although the end did come rather suddenly. He was old and very ill and his mind had begun to wander. But grief does not depend on justification, it just sits there, like the elephant in the room, taking up all your breathing space.

Although Simone de Beauvoir was not speaking about grief when she wrote in her study on the ageing process: "the paradox of our time is that the aged enjoy better health than they used to and that they remain “young” longer. This makes their idleness all the harder to bear. Those who live on must be given some reason for living: mere survival is worse than death.” The survivor had better rediscover that life is for living.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Try Again - Now What?

In spite of good intentions, this blog, although much on my mind, hasn’t seen any activity since the beginning of June. I could say that ‘tempus fugit’ and suchlike - we’re all guilty of using hackneyed phrases occasionally - but the truth is that mundane stuff just doesn’t cut it at the moment. Equally true is that I feel I should come back here, otherwise there’ll be no point. And, like I said in the previous post, getting back into some form of regular activity can only do me good.

No two days are the same.  Tomorrow it’ll be twelve weeks since Beloved died and five months since that awful day when he fell and was carted off to hospital, never to return home (until now, more of that later). Actually, here’s that phrase again: I can’t believe it’s been that long, I really can’t.

In a way he is still here; we never did live in each other’s pocket and spent much time during the day doing different things in different parts of house and garden. On countless occasions during my solitary days now I have to remind myself that, no, I can’t tell him about this little thing or that one. And, no, he has not just left a room when I enter it. I don’t know if that kind of denial is conscious or sub-conscious, but it is like the clever clogs say, denial is a large part of the grieving process. Anger is one that seems to have passed me by. Although I’ve been very angry with Beloved for leaving me, have cursed him, blamed him, I am not angry at anyone else, don’t blame anyone else. For me it’s been denial followed by depression followed by denial. On some days during Millie's walking me I’ve stood and watched her sniff and snuffle while sniffling and snuffling myself, tears running down my face, using soggy tissues to wipe them away and constantly blowing my nose. It’s OK to do that in Valley’s End, people know the reason why.

Depression is the very devil. I sit and stare, have a drink of water, sit and stare some more. Watch rubbish TV, hardly taking it in, sit and stare some more. On a good day I read, voraciously, nothing very demanding, but losing myself in an easily absorbed story; book after book. I eat microwaveable meals or easily prepared fridge/freezer meals with ingredients collected from supermarkets, like burgers, sausages, rice and pasta. Lunch today was pasta with tomato sauce and a small bowl of strawberries for pudding. Not to forget a glass of Chardonnay. It’s rather hot today, not really eating weather.

After a particularly prolonged bout of sadness and weepiness a week or two ago I pulled myself up one morning and more or less forced myself to ‘do’ rather than ‘feel'. Inertia is deadly, it turns you into a useless blob and would be self destructive in the long run. Although I do not believe in the value of “looking on the bright side” or “staying positive” - both can make you feel guilty if you fail to follow up - a whole day’s worth of ‘doing’ felt so good that I repeated it the next day. I sat for hours doing paperwork, did laundry, gardened, cooked a proper meal with vegetables and ate it, walked Millie, and watched an intelligent documentary on TV in the evening. The next day I got the car out of the garage and drove to Ludlow for some shopping, the bank, the clothes collection bins and the Oxfam shop to deliver unwanted goods. I came home healthily tired and feeling alive again.

Neglecting paperwork during a time when there are heaps of it is not advisable. I found letters from official sources which should have been dealt with weeks ago, all shoved to the back of Beloved’s bureau. It’s actually quite amusing, all the stuff he would have dealt with got bundled into his desk, all the stuff which normally falls to me sat on my desk upstairs. Neither got done until I grabbed hold of myself by the scruff and simply started; no, I didn’t want to do it, no, I wanted to sit and stare, but for once I was determined! And nearly all of it got done.

Official letters to the recently bereaved all have the same flavour. They are ever so carefully worded and all start with the same phrase: “we were sorry to hear of - name - ’s death and send you our heartfelt condolences at this very difficult time”.  Then a passage about the matter in hand, giving you to understand that although perhaps you should give it your speedy consideration they understand if it should take you a little longer, although you, the bereaved, may wish to settle it as a matter of slight urgency. Then the final phrase :"we hope that this has clarified the situation for you but if you have any further questions we will be only too happy to assist you if you ring this number", which is an actual phone number, not a computer generated question and press button x service. Do you think there are half-day seminars where staff is taught how to conduct themselves vis-a-vis people who might burst into tears if you talk common sense to them?

Yesterday, on another visit to Ludlow, again to visit a bank and some shops and a photographer for passport photos, I also finally collected Beloved and brought him home. My stepson in Massachusetts tells me that he has heard of green funerals but that they don’t seem to have reached the US yet. I have Beloved’s Ashes, in a green (i.e. recyclable), tubular, surprisingly heavy container. One of these days I shall sprinkle his Ashes in a favourite outdoor, maybe isolated, place. Or now that I’ve decided to stay here in the house until I really can’t cope anymore, I’ll plant a tree and feed it with his Ashes. Old gardener is willing to help, he’s done it for a previous employer who has become part of a rose border. I think it’s a lovely idea, it’s a way of keeping him around, close to me, until I myself have to leave this soil.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Now What?

Half past three at night, soon the birds will begin their first drowsy chirping. Two lots of paracetamol, half a sleeping pill and two powerful tranquillisers later I am still wide awake. Peaceful, calm, but awake.

It’s been a busy day, even hectic and in parts quite stimulating. Old gardener and Kelly the cleaner came in the morning, and for me there was a visit to the surgery for a routine blood test while t hey were putting house and garden in order, (yes, I am still a lady of leisure - properly now, for the first time in my life am I in sole charge of all assets, such as they are, ) then a quick lunch at home and a very perfunctory Millie walk, then off to an invitation to afternoon tea. The proper sort. It started wth a large glass of bubbly,  followed by plates of dainty sandwiches, scones with butter, cream and jam, fruitcake and a sponge. The tea appeared to be an afterthought. The old fashioned kind of afternoon tea, with proper china and napkins.

An ancient couple, fellow guests, made decent inroads into the victuals and did the reminiscing that oldies go in for, often because they can’t remember how many times they have repeated the same story and also, because of poor hearing they tend to not hear the answers and just rabbit on.
My host and hostess were not exactly close friends but regular dog walkers  and pleasantly chatty acquaintances. We have been to meals to them before, lunches and dinners, First solo invitation, well meant and very kind.

Still, so now what? Wherever I go I go alone.

The evening was taken up with a meeting of the poetry group, the first since the 21st March, (Beloved died on the 26th, Mothering Sunday). The next meeting would have been on the evening of the funeral so we gave that a miss.

By the way, he had a wonderful send-off, with music, even a recording of Walton’s viola solo played by Beloved, quite beautifully, an excerpt from a full performance, directed by Walton himself. There were poems read by professional actors and various speeches, which all concerned themselves exclusively with Beloved and his many achievements. Even I didn’t know half the famous people with whom and for whom he had played. Ever modest, never putting himself forward, my  beloved.

Again, so now what? I am almost through with the paperwork, officialdom has been fed with endless forms and certification and statements and a "o woe is you if you are telling fibs’ has been understood and taken to heart. (I have to be extra careful, I’ll probably be deported in 2019 when Brexit does its foul deed. The only good thing about it is that the leavers will probably be suffering the most, they being mostly the uneducated and most dependent on State benefits, of which there’ll be a scarcity.

How to carry on? On my own? I am capable, practical and resourceful, I have few immediate money worries and am intelligent enough to find my way through official mazes. BUT I am TRULY ALONE. I literally have no help, not from family, not from friends. They say they will help and always there’s the “Tell us what we can do” or “You know where we are" was a favourite. Would they have had a heart attack if I really had approached them? Just a few people knew what to to do. They asked me to pop in for potluck and let me talk about Beloved and themselves said kind things about him. Which made me feel warm and mushy inside.

Would blogging help? Perhaps a diary style blogging, much the same as I did before Beloved’s death? I don’t know, I might try. Not necessarily to garner lots of replies and comments, ( that requires a commitment on my part which I find hard to dredge up right now ) more an outpouring of thoughts and feelings. You all tell me that I write honestly, straight from the heart, without tidying things up and without prettifying things. I couldn’t possibly do less at the moment, I simply don’t have it in me to spout platitudes. So whatever comes up is probably not pretty. You have been warned. Stay away if you need the ‘bright side of life’.

Ah yes, the eternal question “How Are You? Lovely to see you, how are you doing?” What should the answer be? The questioners look so earnest, so concerned, but at the same time willing me to tell them that I am fine, which makes it hard to look them in the eye. Don’t ask it, just don’t. How do you imagine I feel? If you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you you know anyway, If you are after a simply and untrue “very well thank you; getting there” get lost, don’t bother.And you, you people crossing the road when you see me coming, don’t be so stupid. If you have nothing to say, a common or garden ‘good morning`’ will do and a sentence about the weather when you really find noting comforting within you. A short hug works wonders too. But don’t ignore me, I don’t carry the bubonic plague and death is not contagious.