On Saturday I did my first long drive since Clive died. I felt that I had had enough sleep to enable me to do so safely and I arranged to rendezvous with my parents at Birch Services on the M62 so they could take Dominic home. He has spent the last week with me and it is time for him to resume his own life - and school! I had spoken to his Head of Year last week to explain the situation. Dom had packed up and before we left home we had a hug and I reassured him that I would be okay. He confessed that he was worried about no-one being here when I had my tears. My reply was that it was part of the healing process and at least they are short-lived.
We chatted about how Clive had been happy and content with life when he died and I felt Dom, although concerned about me, agrees that I will manage to come through this. I am stronger and more assertive in many ways thanks to the 'Clive Gott Rules of Life'. I don't know how it will happen, but it will.
After bidding my parents and my darling son goodbye I turned my car to head home for the first time on my own knowing Clive would not be there waiting for me. I had decided to help this feeling I would call and see my friend Chris Bingley in Huddersfield. His wife Joanne sadly took her own life last year due to severe postnatal depression. I am a trustee for the charity set up in her name. Today there is an article in the Sunday Times about the Joe (Joanne) Bingley Memorial Foundation, in the Health section, entitled 'NHS fails suicidal mothers'. http://www.joebingleymemorialfoundation.org.uk/
We chatted about 'coping' with the death of our soulmates and confirmed there is no right or wrong way to do so! It was then good to talk and think about the progress of the charity which I have missed out on the last two weeks.
I left feeling okay and confident to return home to be on my own. I have fully appreciated all the company I have had the last two weeks but I felt ready to actually just have some relaxing time to myself. I have to start somewhere.
Once back on the M62 I decided to have a detour to buy a new baby gift for Clive's nephew's daughter. A pleasurable task I thought!
As I pulled into the retail park I gulped as I saw the sign for Frankie and Benny's. We would often dine in there. I parked outside 'Homesense' which used to be Borders where we'd had many a trip and a coffee. Only a few weeks ago we'd been in this shop looking for a piece of wall art for the lounge. Clive hadn't liked the shop! I was enjoying a mooch so he'd left me to it. Every now and then he'd appear at my side or sneak up and kiss the back of my neck. At one point I'd looked up to see him leaning against the upstairs balustrade, arms folded, with a smile on his face - he was just watching me. I had walked over to him, hugged him and he'd simply said 'You are stunning'.
I walked in the same shop on my own and began to mooch. After all I had the time, didn't I? No need to rush. I looked at garden pots - new in for spring. I looked at photo frames for some of the prints my brother had done for me of Clive. I looked at a light fitting for the bedroom. It slowly dawned on me now that these decisions are now to be made JUST by me. No-one to consult. Someone had given me some money with the request 'treat yourself'. I just could not do it.
I walked up the stairs and imagined my hand in Clive's like the last time we were in here. With each step the pain of loss grew. As I reached the top a man smiled at me. I wanted to smack him!!!! WHY COULDN'T HE BE MY CLIVE?! I don't want anyone looking at me if it can't be him.
I continued to look for a baby gift but it appeared they had stopped running that line in here. So I had put myself through this for nothing! Everywhere I looked there seemed to be couples.
'Don't they know?' I asked myself, 'that this could be the last time they will be in here together? Why are they arguing and moaning at each other? Tutting, eyes rolling, impatient. APPRECIATE one another'.
For the first time in a few days I got a huge wave of grief. I virtually ran down the stairs and out of the shop and sobbed my heart out in the car. I didn't care that someone was wanting my car parking space. I didn't care if the whole retail park heard me. I just hurt. So much.
Again, faced with this situation, I had a choice. Go back west on the M62 to my parents? But that would just delay the inevitable - and worry them. The pull back to what is now my home was still strong so I dried my tears, put The Eagles on the CD player and drove. I was doing okay until I passed 'Carcraft'. I used to start to get excited at that landmark as it meant I was only 20 minutes away; next was the M1 junction - getting nearer to Clive. By the Garforth turn off my heart would normally begin to race; the A64 Leeds/York road made me smile and by the time I turned off to Tadcaster I would be as excited as a child on Christmas morning. I would burst in through the front door and Clive would be sitting at the bottom of the stairs for me, smiling with the glint in his eyes that made me tingle. We'd wait whilst I fussed Peeka dog first, whose tail would be wagging like crazy, then I'd drop my keys and bag and be swept into Clive's arms and kissed so the world melted away.
Today I was going home to an empty house. This time each landmark turned the notch up on the pain score. By the time I was at a traffic light junction in Tadcaster I was a mess! As fate would have it, just crossing the road was a young friend of ours who spotted me and waved. I wound the window out and shouted 'I need a hug'! I pulled into the next side road and he came running up. I just sobbed and sobbed and mumbled something about shopping on my own. After a couple of minutes my tears turned to laughter - why? Focus!!
Clive often talked about this in his presentations. He used to say that if you aren't focused on your target, you get distracted and generally miss your target. He used a true story of how for months I'd come home empty handed from the shops when I wanted a dress. I would always have an excuse of nothing fits; didn't see anything, etc. Eventually he suggested he went with me. Within an hour we had four dresses with one on order! Honestly! His theory was that 'women' have peripheral vision and get distracted. Men have something to get and they go for just that. I would go shopping for a dress but en route looked at sofas, jeans, something for my niece. It dawned on me that I'd just proved his point AGAIN!
What had I gone for? A new baby gift.
So what the flip was I doing looking at frames, plant pots and towels?!
I laughed at myself and the memory of how brilliantly he recalled that story on stage. I often was asked 'Is that one of the dresses'?
At Clive's Celebration I was given a coaster by someone who had heard that story with a cartoon and verse on it about dresses!
With that happy thought I thanked Lee for the hug and assured him I would be okay. I drove the short distance home and smiled as I looked at the house with flowers on each windowsill. A pretty hanging basket and crocus in the lawn. I opened the door and smiled and stroked the picture of Clive I have put by the front door. 'Honey I'm home', I said.
Meanwhile I set to on my 'how to feel better' list. Quickly vacuumed the lounge; put Magic FM on loudly; started to make myself an omelette with leftovers in the fridge and began to look forward to my first evening alone.
Just as my omelette was finishing off there was a knock at the door - the cavalry had arrived! Sorry Clive, but sometimes it does!
Lee had immediately phoned his Mum and she and his sister and nephew had dropped everything to come and see I was alright! That's friendship!
Maggie made us tea whilst I ate and then she washed up. Meanwhile Lucy told me how they were loving my blog.
That gave me the inspiration to spend my time this evening writing and reflecting. In doing so I have missed reliving the awful'this time two weeks ago' relevant minutes. Perhaps that's progress?