Monday, 28 March 2011

A few minutes can make all the difference ...

I have just had a comment (nicely put!) that yesterday's blog was 'short and sweet'! My reply - 'I was living my life and appreciating the moment!'

I feel that when I have my son with me, especially, I want to spend the time 'just being' with him. I am not so addicted to writing reams when there is pleasure to be had and let's face it, I made a complete mess of Wednesday by not switching off. I like to think I learn from things that did not have a positive outcome!

Last night it was a treat to make our meal, have a few glasses of wine and watch 'Quantum of Solace'. I also did something that I know was a BIG step. I love knitting. Over the years I have spent many an hour 'relaxing' this way. Clive used to tease me for it but when he saw little Emily so pleased with Barbie clothes I made, and new Mums swoon over cute cardies, he was with me! He even tolerated the clicking of the needles. During the X-factor it was amazing how much I churned out! The last time I had my knitting needles in my hands was the day Clive died. That evening he had been laying on the settee watching rugby and I sat in the armchair worrying into every stitch because I knew he wasn't feeling well. We had both put it down to his Superman antics after his knee replacement operation six days before. He was in that 'I'm not going to admit 'she was right' mode', and I was equally in an 'I'm not going to say 'told you so' mode'.

At 8.30 when the match ended, he had rolled off the settee, bent over me with apologies for being a misery and said he'd go to bed. After tucking him in and kissing him on the forehead, I had come down to continue knitting. At 8.50 on the dot I heard a shout and as they say, the rest is history.

I relived every minute last night. It is the first Saturday for a few weeks I have been here. Boy did it hurt! At 8.30 I followed us upstairs in my mind. Why, oh why did I not get in bed with him? Why didn't I do my 'dropping the dressing gown' routine which he adored? Only the week before he'd died he had said that if that was the last sight he saw, he'd die a happy man. I could see his appreciative smile and eyes. I loved they way he made me feel. Why was more knitting more important that night? Why did he not let me lay with him with his arms around me? Why could I not have been there to hold him for his last breath? Why was he so blue so quickly?

I have to say it was because he told me to go downstairs. He told me that maybe if he slept he would feel better in the morning. He told me it was too early for me. Clive chose to be alone. I had done as he had asked. No more. No less. I just wish I hadn't.

Anyway, last night I actually picked up my knitting again!  It was hard to do initially but I suppose I cannot go through the rest of my life avoiding situations and experiences just because they remind me of Clive! If I apply that rule I will not even breathe! My mind is immersed in 'Clive' memories.

So it was a relaxed and tear free evening and I settled to sleep delighting in Dominic being in the next room.
I know I went to sleep smiling which felt good.

Why then did I wake at 3 a.m. feeling in a total panic? My heart was pounding, my mind in a whirlwind and a sense of fear and anxiety gripped me. It was as if I was drowning in a deep pool of 'should do'. I almost got up and put flip chart sheets up on the bedroom wall to write lists! I was in a panic about EVERYTHING! Top of the list was not sleeping and that if I was tired it would spoil Sunday with Dom! I was worried about the the emails and texts I haven't responded to - will people think I am rude? Things that normally I would pride myself on my efficiency for. I tossed and turned for ages. I should have got up and made myself a drink or done something instead of mental torture! Just before 5 a.m. I decided I could hack it no more, reached into my sock drawer and had a sleeping pill.

So when I did emerge at 10 (or was it 9 due to clocks going forward?) I felt drunk! Dom took one look at me and sent me back to bed. I didn't argue but after 15 minutes gave up because I was wasting time that could be spent with him.

I felt better getting physical by having a sort of Clive's stuff in the garage. There were boxes he had placed on high shelves last summer so Dom helped me get them down. It was memorabilia souvenirs and albums from his Firefighter triathlon days. Wow! What a physique he had on him! It would be great to have the time to scan lots of the press cuttings and photographs to share with others. I found his collection of 7 inch records. I found certificates for some of the extraordinary things he had achieved. When I was at school I regularly won prizes for my 'project work'. I loved to research and put together albums, reports, etc. I would love to have the time to compile all of this properly and save it for us all.

After a snack lunch Dom and I decided we would go for a bike ride. The sun was shining and it seemed a shame not to appreciate it. I proudly showed Dom how I too, as a nearing 50 year old Mum can ride a bike without sitting on the saddle at harder sections! With the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and my son with me I honestly felt happy!

Dom noticed a wood and wanted to explore it for a potential film set for his project 'Gone'.  (Like mother like son?). This happened to be the wood that Clive, Peeka and I had walked around and through in each season over the last few years. As Dom disappeared into the trees I stood on the perimeter. I let myself be in the moment. I could hear the birds; the warmth of the sun; the gentle breeze on my face. And I could hear Clive telling me again that he'd reassured me that one day Dom would be with us on this walk. I could feel him cuddling me from behind like he loved to. I could feel him nuzzling into my neck. I wrapped my arms around myself and let myself sway. It was beautiful. So beautiful that the tears flowed. Silent and strong. By the time Dom appeared saying it was a fab setting he just took one look at me, put his arms out, smiled at me and gave me a hug. I had teased him yesterday that the way he so wonderfully handles my emotions will set him in good stead for girlfriends in the future!

I wiped my eyes and we rode on, through small country lanes; passed stunning Yorkshire stone cottages and with an impressed son! We cycled passed the house that Clive grew up in and I showed Dom the cottage we had wanted to retire to. We stopped for a drink at a recently refurbished pub, The White Swan at Wighill, and had a shandy outside. Bliss! The route back home involved a few pushes up tiny hills but a couple of sections downhill. I even managed a childlike 'Whoo hoo!' down one of them. I always suggest that exercise is one of my Hanzak principles. This is why!

However, the next few hours were STRESS! I hadn't realised that it was almost 5 o'clock by the time we got home. It didn't seem that late! I had got all the ingredients out for a Sunday roast, yet really we needed to leave by 5.50 to get Dom to Leeds station for his train back to Cheshire. Instead of choosing a different and quicker menu I proceeded to attempt to cook the roast and prepare all the trimmings too! I hadn't printed off the train times and they seemed hard to find as it was within the next couple of hours! By 5.50 we were guzzling the roast dinner down!

We bundled into the car and headed for Leeds. Why do you always get every light on red? Behind every slow driver when you are hurrying? Add that to my 'I will not speed because I went on the speed awareness course instead of paying the fine' righteousness that NOTHING is worth taking a life for, especially as I now know how much pain it causes ... and you have a stressed driver. Also Dom's Dad is a perfectionist when it comes to time keeping and I could hear him saying 'typical - late again'! Aaargh! I was counting the minutes down on the Sat Nav wishing it to be wrong. At 6.38 we were at the ticket machine inside Leeds station to collect the pre-purchased tickets but I knew the platform was the far side of the station and even Dom could not sprint that in 2 minutes!

There was another one an hour later but that would mean that he would only get home at around 10 o'clock which I wasn't happy about. So heart still racing I chose to drive him to Manchester. At the services I needed petrol and stalled the car as I drove onto the forecourt - for a moment I felt I was in Clive's Saab which is automatic. Oops! My car has gears! Poor Dom! What a Mother to have! We laughed as we realised the guys at the till had seen what I'd done. Oh well - as long as I amuse someone!

As we left the motorway for the city centre I was confident we had plenty of time still. I'd reassured Dom that at least it had meant I had managed an extra hour with him as he was looking worried. He suggested I took him all the way home and stayed at my parents tonight when maybe I would not be as tired to drive back. But stubborn me said we'd be fine - I then lost my bearings In Manchester! I have been to Piccadilly station many times but somehow just got in a muddle tonight; then diversion signs for a road that was closed! Finally we were in the queue with taxis and other cars for 'drop-off' and Dom had to grab his bags from the boot and run! Within a few minutes I had parked and ran after him to check he was on time. I could see his checked shirt in the distance but 'legged it'. I just got to touch his arm as he boarded the train in the nick of time! Phew!

I got in the lift to go down to the car park. It went up!

I got back in my car and chose the way out on the M602 towards Liverpool because I am more familiar with that way to escape the city centre. I could not handle an alternative route tonight. I cried all the way back to Tadcaster.

  • I felt stupid that I could not even get my son to a train on time.
  • I felt even more stupid for almost getting him to miss the next connection - once is allowable but twice is lunacy.
  • I felt daft for being so upset after what had been a really good day - Dom and I had even congratulated me on it, especially when I had had to sort through more of Clive's things. 
  • I felt like an irresponsible driver, with lights blurred through my tears.

I put music on to soothe myself and this came on ....

Honestly!! I thought of the empty home I was driving back to.

No Clive
No Peeka wagging her tail
No warm welcome
No rejoicing in what a brilliant weekend we had shared with Dom
No warm body to snuggle up to ......

But then I noticed a crash on the other side of the motorway which had only just happened. I could see people on the carriageway and traffic was building up. I suddenly thought of the potential upset that a crash had caused. Here was I in such a state that I could be the cause of another. 'Buck up' I told myself.

I turned the music off, wiped my face and did the equivalent of 'sobering up'. You know, when you arrive home and try to be cool that you are not tipsy? Only I did it with my mood.
My positive self-talk then cut in.  I cannot spend every hour of every day with Dominic. He is 15 next month. He has his own life and he has to be at school and spend time with his friends. We have plans for next weekend so have something to look forward to.
I am upset but it is selfish not to concentrate on driving. What pathetic excuses of being late for a train, getting cross and upset mean to someone if I caused an accident and injury or worse to others? Nothing.

I didn't come straight home. I called in to see Lynn and Rod. My comments of being 'stupid' were not received well! 6 year old Emily considers it to be a very, very naughty word! They reminded me that people miss trains, lose their way in city centres every day! My only 'crime' had been to enjoy time with my son.

Perhaps I could have been more aware of the time? Perhaps if we hadn't had the drink in the pub those minutes would have made all the difference? Perhaps if I had put the pork back in the fridge for another time and we'd have had beans on toast we would have been on time? Etc. Etc. 

As Lynn had taken herself to bed to watch tv I snuggled up beside her and Rod sat at the bottom of the bed. Clive might not be here physically but he has surrounded me with guardian angels. Amongst some of the family bits and pieces I had found was a card Clive had written for his Mum on the day of his Dad's funeral. The sentiments are breathtaking. 
The card says 'New beginnings' - "In life what sometimes appears to be the end is really the beginning".

So perhaps that is where I am now? We are all on a journey. Sometimes like today for me, what should have been straight forward turned into a stressful one because I chose some less than easy choices! Both Clive and I had thought that our journey for many years was to be together. Sadly his physical heart decided differently.

Yes I am still overwhelmed by the way my journey of life has changed again. I am still in clinical shock perhaps? I want to turn back time. I want to replay the last minutes of my soul mate's life again. I would like to have left the house just 10 minutes earlier tonight, seen Dom safely on the train and returned to relax to watch Dancing on Ice. Yet the reality is that we CANNOT turn back time. The clocks in the UK sprang forward an hour today and perhaps we are all a little out of sync for the next few days because of it. How many things have you done that you wish you had done differently?

Sometimes we are in a position to learn from these situations. I now know that in future I shall allow more time to get to Leeds station; that I will print off the train times when I buy a tickets; that just maybe Dom's Dad would have met me halfway if I had asked?

Another of my Hanzak principles to making life easier is Education. I have learnt today!! 

I am home all of this week. Maybe little by little this week I will allow myself some more time for me? Maybe I need some more bike rides to clear my head and make me shout 'Whoo hoo!'?   Maybe by being kinder to myself I will feel less in a panic and an irrational need for 'everything' to be sorted as soon as possible. I need more time to heal. And although I can appreciate the huge support around me, just as our roast dinner today, some things are simply not meant to be rushed?

So what or who will you make a little more time for today?
What will you do differently and better today based on a similar situation in the past WHICH CANNOT BE REPLAYED?

By the way, who won Dancing on Ice ... I missed it!!!

N nite,

Elaine x

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