I guess I am not alone in looking backwards when it comes to memorable times. I know when Clive and I returned from our East Med cruise last September we spent the next couple of weeks reliving it at home with such comments as 'this time last week we were walking around Rhodes Old Town'. It made the holiday doubly pleasurable!
Today (Saturday) I could not but help relive last Saturday as it was the day Clive took his last breath. Again I felt I had a choice. After my ice cream on the kitchen floor episode last night and blog, at 7.30 am I could have happily slept. But I had decided to live the day as we had planned together. I could have decided to turn over and wallow. I am so glad I didn't.
Clive often used to say in response to the question 'how are you' with 'I am happy with my choices'. I have been today.
Firstly I felt proud of myself for getting through my first night alone. I showered, enjoyed a cup of Morning Detox (ok, as that's what he'd started to drink!) and a toasted hot cross bun. Dressed, hair and make-up and waited for our dear friend John Hotowka http://www.hotowka.co.uk/ to take me to the Professional Speaking Association http://www.professionalspeaking.biz/ meeting at Garforth. It is through the PSA that Clive and I met.
The president, Richard McCann http://www.richardmccann.co.uk/ started the 'celebration zone' off with a tribute to Clive and I gave a 10 minute 'off the cuff' talk about our 'story'. I can't remember what I said now!! I just know I could have spoken all day as it seems so many of Clive's messages and my own about mental health are being given 'evidence' through current days and why I feel so optimistic that I can carry on our work. I held it together as I spoke but felt sorry for Lee Jackson http://leejackson.org/ who followed me as almost every slide or concept he said reminded me of Clive - passion, success, relationships! Poor Lee, every word he spoke triggered a tear, but so what? There is no use in bottling it up. By coffee break I had renewed strength and we listened to the wonderful stories of Gervase Phinn. http://www.gervase-phinn.com/.
Yet again I was greeted by a wave of support and admiration for us both and was very pleased I had made the effort to go. I have my first 'presentation' now under my belt so it can only get better from here!
I could have stayed at home and reread again and again our texts from last Saturday (we finally had a 'list free' day and we were struggling after being so busy). I had been snoozing in bed when he'd sent me a text message from downstairs:-
C 'Just tell me when you want something baby'.
C 'Ya got me. Want any fink else?'
E ' That's enough'.
C 'Phew ... it's all I got xxxx'
We'd then decided to go to Sainsbury's and B and Q. He completely ignored my suggestions that he should be taking it easy, 5 days after a knee replacement. As the day progressed he complained of heart burn and a tingle in his left elbow. I said we'd go to A and E but he was adamant 'I want to be at home'. He had relaxed on the sofa most of the afternoon.
So this week I kept busy at the equivalent time by whizzing into home, quick look at more stunning cards and letters and walked into Tadcaster to have my hair cut. As the pretty Saturday girl sat me in the chair to wash my hair I asked her if it was okay if we didn't speak as I just wanted to 'enjoy the moment'! I also warned her that if I cried it wasn't her fault! Wow! This 'moment' theory works! It was like I'd had my battery recharged! Then my lovely friend and hairdresser Paula set to. http://www.genesishair.co.uk/ 45 Minutes later I felt so much better - another of my Hanzak principles - find a 'feel good' factor to promote positive mental health. I walked into the town and called in at the cycle shop, where Clive has done many joint events with the family who own it, and we spoke about how they want to be in the guard of honour on Wednesday. http://www.cyclesense.co.uk/ In recent weeks Clive and I had begun to cycle in earnest. He had taught me the principles of gears and I also have some cycling shorts. I am looking forward to getting back out there again as it will remind me of yet another 'happy time' with him. We had treated Dominic to a new bike at Christmas and we had only been speaking last week about our holiday for the first time altogether in July on the coast .....
I then went onto Clive's great niece Emily's 6th birthday party! Really good to see his sister Lynn relaxing and all of the family. Also his nephew Nick was there with his partner Sharon with their new baby Teegan who was born earlier this week - what a roller coaster ride of emotions! Talk about the circle of life. I bounced in and felt good again; cuddled and fed the new baby and was holding it together until the DJ played 'Firework'. I crumbled as that seems now to be a conference/awards event track and Clive loved it. More tears. Yet holding a new born baby was therapeutic. I looked at her and wondered what her life will bring. Then I glowed in the warmth of all the things that my Clive has achieved and the effects he has had on others.
Me with a new life - in more ways than one!
Nick, his baby daughter Teagan and brother Paul.
From there I came home with the fiancee of Clive's other nephew who had brought me a hanging basket with seeds for sweet peas! Clive loved his sweet peas each summer to create an abundance of colour. By the way, I now have 13 vases of flowers in the house! I have spread them everywhere and they are beautiful. I am so pleased I had this idea! I also discovered someone had heeded my request for a spring hanging basket as one had appeared! Just shows - if you want, ask!
Then we were joined by my best friend Sue from Runcorn. Those who have read my book will know how special she was when I was so ill after having Dominic. Almost 15 years later she remains my most loyal and long standing friend. She wanted to be with me tonight. We had fish, chips and mushy peas and had a wonderful evening with several close girl friends of mine and Clive's dropping in. I had begun to relive 'this time last week' as at 8.30 pm Clive had got off the settee, apologised for being a misery and that he was going up to bed. He told me not to come up as it was too early. However, I followed him and he flopped into bed saying he'd feel better tomorrow. I tucked him up, kissed him and told him to shout if he needed me. I then made a drink, got my knitting out and settled to tv. At 8.50 pm I heard a 'shout', ran up and I could see he had gone. I tried for 15 minutes to bring him back, then the paramedics took over for 25 minutes. All to no avail. The police came; I asked his sister to come; and finally Clive was taken away. I am haunted by the images in my mind of 'this time last week'.
So what did I do instead of wishing I could turn back the clock (can't do)? I surrounded myself with people I love and who also cared deeply for Clive. I opened the chocolates sent by the postnatal charity I am patron of http://www.pni.org.uk/ for me to 'celebrate the life of Clive'. At 8.50 pm at the same time that I'd heard Clive's last breath I popped the cork of the champagne and we made a toast to him. Amid our tears it was a very cathartic moment for me and I feel I have replaced a horrific memory with a much happier one to associate 'this time last week'. Thank you so much girls. A few people also sent me a text around the same time. Little things make a huge difference! We all spoke about Clive and it was great for me to introduce Sue to some of my special friends here. She commented that in the last few years I have been with Clive I have been the happiest she has ever seen me in the 25 years we have been friends. She also noticed that I have made more and deeper friendships here in Tadcaster in just under three years than all my years in Cheshire. Very true.
So I have written all this tucked up in bed finishing off the champagne. Some may judge this as being disrespectful, but if they do, that is none of my business, as Clive would say. I know it has helped me, Sue, Paula, Lindsay and Michelle so that is what matters. He had been suggesting for ages that I organised a girlie night so I know he would have been pleased. I am also pleased that I have kept to my promise of making this a 'weekend' by staying out of the office, leaving emails, etc. I need this time and space to recharge and step out of the hamster wheel!
I am getting increasing messages to say how my blog is helping others out there. We are all still in shock and disbelief. If by sharing how I am handling (coping is a word I dislike) the loss of my soul mate it helps someone else, then yet again it perhaps gives a tad of purpose to what is so painful.
I just still hope he will walk in through the front door; hear the squeak of his office chair; hear him singing in the shower; feel him stroke my cheek with the back of his hand as he says for the umpteenth time in a day 'I adore you'. I don't want to believe I won't.
As I sip the last bit of champagne I shall snuggle down and think of happy times. Tomorrow is a day I will maybe not get out of bed! All I want is to do is relax and look forward to hearing about Dominic's skiing holiday he has just returned from with his school.
By the way, the coroner told me that even if I had got Clive into hospital last Saturday, even with all the technology and staff around he could not have been saved. He knew where he wanted to be - at home.
Love to you all,