Saturday, 19 March 2011

A seed of hope

Blimey - this bereavement 'status' is one almighty roller coaster ride! It's like the graph stats for the blog - up, then down, then up, then down!
I went to sleep last night feeling so positive yet when I woke this morning - CRASH! Down again. No logical thoughts, no change of plans or mind. Just wallop!

I was due to spend today at Oulton Hall hotel again.
This time it was for an 'away day' with my charity that I am a trustee for The Joe (Joanne) Bingley Memorial Foundation. Joe sadly took her own life last April 10 weeks after having her daughter Emily Jane.

There are six of us on the Board who have all formed a close bond since we began meeting from last August.
Today we were discussing the visions and values behind the Foundation. It was lovely to see the rest of the group. I had seen Chris, Joe's husband, since Clive's death but not the rest although their support via text and phone calls has been very strong. Thank you!

I felt very tired and washed-out. This time walking into Oulton Hall was nowhere near as big a hurdle as last Saturday. I was pleased at how I handled it. Across the corridor from our meeting room was an event run by the Learning Curve and I knew the rep from Cow and Gate. We passed over our Joe Bingley newsletters and information cards.

Once settled in our room I began to munch on biscuits and chocolates - haven't done that for months! I was still feeling fragile when one of our trustees Dinah brought warmth and laughter to the room. She had taken my advice for matching underwear, had been fitted at La Senza and was sporting a new set of bra and pants! She had been measured as two cups sizes larger than she thought she was and the uplift wasn't just physical! She was positively glowing! Dinah said she could not believe how a new bra and pants had given her so much sparkle! Thank you Clive! He loved going in La Senza and getting me a surprise set, always beautifully packaged.

There was more laughter a few minutes later when another trustee, Martin, joined us fresh from a conference call with the Department of Health on his phone. The conversation continued around bra sizes, matching knickers, etc. for several minutes - then Martin realised he hadn't ended his call! Oops!

To kick start the day Ann Girling introduced the group to True Colors™ - a model for understanding yourself and others based on your personality temperament.

Ann had done this assessment with me over 18 months ago. Today my dominant personality came out as 'True Blue' - 'being authentic, sincere and making genuine connections are important to you. Honesty and harmony are highly valued in you relationships. You are a natural peacemaker and bridge builder. You remember special dates and occasions that others tend to overlook. You enjoy relationships and being connected to others. You are a natural romantic in life, idealizing the perfect moments and gestures of love. A facilitator of human potential, you are most satisfied when nurturing the potential in others and bringing out the best in them, You are symbolized by the dove of peace, the romantic ballad, the drama of life, and the importance of a simple touch or handshake'!

Wow! But the descriptions that really blew me away were,  'I have a strong desire to influence others so they may lead more significant lives. I need to contribute, to encourage and to care'.

Perhaps this is why I keep doing this blog? Either way the tears began to flow! Last time we did this my dominant colour was gold which is more about being organised and thorough. But then the tears flowed even more as I read the description of an 'Orange' personality -

'Witty, charming, spontaneous. I need fun, variety, stimulation and excitement. I am a natural performer and a competitor.'

All I could think was about Clive and how I miss him. I am still doing things which were in our diaries but boy, does it hurt. Almost everything Ann said my eyes filled up!

Chris mentioned the achievements of the charity so far including the launch night in January which Clive had been a terrific MC for.
More tears!

However, once we began 'business' I began to concentrate and contribute. It was refreshing to actually think about something other than my grief. Our plans for a postnatal depression 'Summit' next year bringing all the similar charities together sounds brilliant. We also want to deliver workshops on awareness and support for health professionals and other relevant staff, e.g. in Children's Centres. Little by little my passion and focus improved. Perhaps going back gently to work is good for bereavement?

We had a late lunch. I was aware that the racing was on the television from Cheltenham. I had never been to the races until Clive took me. We had several trips and I enjoyed it. I am not from a sporting background either spectator or player so he introduced me to a whole new side of life! There was a little tug about those days. We also had a brilliant day with his sister Lynn and husband Rod at Doncaster races then watched Status Quo. Happy times. Also Cheltenham racecourse was where Clive had presented his new 'Don't Envy- Aspire' workshop for Forever Living Products in January. He was fantastic and had buzzed for days! I have had so many comments from all his FLP fans via Facebook and personal emails - I really appreciate your support.

We decided after lunch that we had done enough work and Martin, Chris and I went into the Leisure Club and Spa. Oh dear! First upset was walking past the bedroom Clive and I had stayed in only five weeks ago. Then into the Leisure Club. I could see him everywhere. I held it together until I sat in the steam room. It was the first one Clive had been in and he had loved it! Only weeks earlier we had relaxed in here making plans for the future. We had felt so very, very happy. Through the soft light in there and the mist I sobbed and sobbed. My eyes, heart and soul yearned to see him walk through the door. Why oh why did he have to go? How could life so quickly and cruelly change? Why am I now on my own without his smile? His touch? His laughter? His singing at every opportunity? It hurts so much.

Chris came in and found me. Bless him - he held my hand and we talked about the pain and hurt. The anger. The unfairness. The hole. Time.

When we came out I stood under the shower. It was one of those with a huge head that the flow soaks you. It reminded me of the idyllic night we had shared at The Salthouse Harbour hotel in Ipswich last December.

Once again I found comfort in the water from a shower and let myself just 'be'. I realised that I was doing something that Ann and Martin had mentioned earlier - I was being mindful:-

Mindfulness or being mindful is being aware of your present moment. You are not judging, reflecting or thinking. You are simply observing the moment in which you find yourself. Moments are like a breath. Each breath is replaced by the next breath. You’re there with no other purpose than being awake and aware of that moment. As Jon Kabat Zinn says reflecting on a Japanese mindfulness puzzle: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

We then swam for a while. With each length of the pool I could physically feel my mood begin to rise. Exercise does help! Oh yes, isn't that one of my Hanzak principles?

I then went for a proper shower and got myself dry. I have a confession - I had taken a special set of matching underwear to change into as I was going onto a concert. Normally in such a changing room I would struggle under a towel and get dressed before I was properly dry. Today I put my pretty set on and wore only that whilst I dried my hair and put make-up on. I glanced at other women putting on drab underwear and smiled to myself! I knew I had the pretty set on but I was also wearing the smile and sparkle I had seen in Dinah earlier! I have lost over a stone in weight since Christmas too so maybe I am at last feeling confident in myself. Time after time Clive would tell me that I had a figure so many admired. I just didn't believe him. Why do we as women doubt ourselves and reject complements?

Red leather jacket on. Red boots on and I was ready! I emerged from the spa a new woman! Chris commented that I looked completely different! Almost as if Clive had sent someone to endorse it a man in the car park said 'My! You can tell YOU go to the gym!'

If only he knew ......

A happier Elaine then drove into Manchester and I met up with my Mum. We were off to see Shayne Ward - yes, again! Tonight had been the original plan - Tuesday was the extra one. After the excitement of that night Mum admitted that tonight might be an anti-climax. Tonight we had seats in the front stalls so we could stand up and dance.

Shayne seemed even more relaxed than in Wolverhampton. The audience seemed younger and more raucous. The atmosphere was electric! Tonight I thoroughly enjoyed every song. Mum and I sang, danced or swayed to every track. I rang Lisa from Devon a couple of times so she could hear him. I was almost on the verge of tears at 'Breathless' again with images in my mind of Clive in his coffin, when Shayne stopped the band and singing! Spontaneously he invited three little girls on the stage with him:-

It was magical! My vision turned to one of smiles and joy! Fabulous Shayne!

From there the only way was up. I found myself dancing and smiling. This time instead of reading meanings into every lyric I just went with the flow. The contrast to my emotional night on Tuesday was huge. I felt I was dancing with Clive for several songs. I closed my eyes and remembered how we danced together. Always some part of us touching, even if just a finger tip. The world disappeared when I danced with Clive. Tonight I found comfort, pleasure and a seed of hope for my future without him.

I just wish the pain would ease but I have learnt today that:-
  1. I can still laugh
  2. I have an increased confidence in myself
  3. Going back to places I was with Clive are easier the second return visit
  4. I can put petrol in his car without crying
  5. I can dance
And here we are on the verge of four weeks.....

Elaine x

1 comment:

Sammy Blindell said...

This is fantastic Elaine. We are off to Oulton Hall today to stay with two sets of our closest friends, so I'm going to swap the comfy underwear & PJs for a gorgeous matching set and sexy nighty! I've already got a sparkle in my eye just thinking about it!

Thank you xx