Last night seemed long. I still only sleep for about 4 or 5 hours no matter how I try. From 5 a.m. I just lay there feeling numb. I also felt like I had been whacked with a sledge hammer! My head felt so heavy. Finally just after 8 o'clock I heard Dominic get up and thought I should too. My body just didn't want to move. I then could imagine what Clive would have said - 'get up and see how you feel. Put one foot in front of the other'. So I did. And it worked!
The sunshine streaming through the window also cheered me a little. Clive used to stand and look out at the front of the house some mornings and just check on the growth of plants, the colours of the leaves, etc. He'd then turn round, kiss me and our day would commence. This day was hard to do so. Part of me just wanted to stay under the duvet and not come out. Then, as if he'd pulled off the covers and said 'up' in a cheeky way, I realised that it was 'one more day' ... before his Celebration.
Once downstairs my head just sunk into a cushion on the sofa and yet again my body seemed to be saying 'no more' but I fought on. Dom made me a drink just as I heard the recycling van at the top of the street. Poor Dom had to quickly run out with the paper bin; I grabbed the cans/bottles from the back garden and trickled a stream of rain water all through the house! Somehow it made me smile because sometimes we'd forget, oops sorry, Clive would forget to put the bins out and he'd 'do the hop' around the bedroom trying to get trousers on in a hurry to do the bin dash! The guys from the van laughed at us - Dom in his PJ bottoms and T-shirt and me in my dressing gown. I know, a mundane event yet almost cathartic. It also meant a breath of fresh air and prompted me to get dressed as it was so warm. Not before a long chat with a close friend. Clive and I had begun to build a marvellous network of friends and had really started to enjoy a varied social life. Gone were Clive's days of just the pub. This last year especially we had entertained at home several times with Clive keen to show his culinary skills - steak being is favourite. His latest creation was a strawberry and rhubarb turnover served with ice cream. He loved to watch 'Come Dine with Me' and had applied to be on the programme! I bet he would have been great, don't you?
Our friend and hairdresser Paula called to sort out flowers for tomorrow and also gave me some pork scratchings to give to Clive! He loved a packet with his Foster's and was most particular about how big the pieces were. what a thoughtful gesture by Paula.
Main task today was to confirm a few details about tomorrow. A few phone calls, emails and I was buzzing. I thrive on being busy and today was no exception. Sara, Clive's ex-wife, came and we confirmed a few remaining tasks and Dom helped us by sorting out the music.
I then went to see Clive for the last time. It was easier today but I still cried from my toes. I didn't know I had any tears left but I did. I left him with the pork scratchings and a few things from me (not telling you what!). All I say is that he would have smiled. I ached for him to open his eyes. I yearned for him to cradle me as he used to. I even longed for him to say 'yuck' when I kissed him with a drippy nose! Most of all I felt like Simba in the Lion King, when he finds the body of his father and he tries to make his big, powerful paw sooth and protect him again. Clive always said that he would protect me - and he did. Until now.
I focused on savouring and being in the moment. I held his icey cold hand; placed my other hand on the side of his face and put my head on his chest. For the last time. All the negative thoughts left me and all I could do was thank him for the most amazing few years of my life. With every message I get it seems most of his talks since we met have featured me. I guess it was true - he did adore me and I him. With one last sweep of his lips with mine I said farewell to my truly amazing soulmate and after a warm hug from Tony, the undertaker, walked out into the spring sunshine.
Back at home Dom had made us some pancakes - his speciality. Then we set to, with Michelle from next door to tidy up the front garden, sweep away the leaves of winter and put some bright spring flowers in the beds. Just in case it freezes tonight Michelle, bless her, will put the pots in the garage overnight. He then cleared the bigger guest bedroom for my parents coming tonight. It is their 51st wedding Anniversary today and also my brother-in-laws birthday so they are going out tonight but coming here later. Dom also took some photographs for me of the flowers and cards around the house.
As people have asked if Clive's books and CD's will be available tomorrow I printed off some small posters. I also spent a while looking through some of our photographs for a display tomorrow. So many people have told me how 'sparkly' and young I look in the photos with him. By best friend Sue tells me that she has never seen me glow, inside or out, since I had Clive in my life. It was true. He made me shine.
In trying to find an email for someone I did a search in Outlook and some of the thousands of email we'd had between us appeared. I read a couple. A huge wave of tears engulfed me again. No longer will my heart skip a beat to see 'Clive Gott' in the sender box. No longer will I get the 'N nite' text we did when apart. No more.
Then I have begun to feel very scared about tomorrow. It's not about seeing people. It's about scared of the reality. Many of us have heard Clive's comments about 'getting back to normal'. What will that be now? My 'normal' has been snatched away from me. I seem to be reminded all the time of things that we'd spoke of doing but won't now, at least not together. Dom will also say something and it breaks my heart because I know how well he and Clive had begun to get on. Tonight it was a mutual love of the film 'Top Gun'.
I really wasn't hungry - my cold has taken away what little appetite I had but Dom tempted me with a bacon sandwich, which became a BLT. Television was boring but then the evening lifted with the arrival of my brother Kevin, sister-in-law Annie and nephew Brendan. I am so pleased they have come to support me too. After a drink they have gone out for some food and I suggested Dom went too. He doesn't see his cousin often so I am always pleased when they do.
So here I am, on my own with my cough because I chose to be. I needed a little quiet time. I wish I could shake away this feeling of being scared. Then I received the most beautiful email from a lady who said Clive had helped her make the most important and best decision in her life. Also because of us and Clive sharing our stories, her husband now washes her hair for her ... in the dark. Wow. I continue to be so moved by how it seems that our relationship and the actions we created together have inspired others to make them closer.
Soon the house will be full again. I am going to paint my nails after this and attempt sleep. Yet part of me doesn't want tonight to come because that means it will soon be morning. The morning of the day I will have to say goodbye to my man. To a man who appears to be classed as outstanding; amazing; funny; caring; inspirational. Yes he was all that (and an awkward so and so at times) but to me he was my Clive. My Clive that would stroke my feet when we were on the settee; my Clive that would leave me notes in unexpected places; my Clive that knew I could cry one minute and be smiling the next; my Clive that brought out a cheeky side I didn't know was there; my Clive that made my world so alive.
Tomorrow I am happy to share him with you all! I am fully aware he had 49 years without me so I'd better leave some room! I just would have liked more with him too.
So what do we do tomorrow? We are open and honest for a start. We laugh as we reminisce; we cry as we reminisce. We have no reason to apologise for any of our emotions. Let's just be there. For Clive and each other.
I haven't rehearsed or written a speech. Whatever I say will come from my heart even though it's broken.
Yet the warmth, love and affection which continues to surround me is keeping me strong.
Thank you everyone - and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow if you can make it.
I had a vision of an event to celebrate an amazing man - let's do it!