I woke for the first time on Clive's Celebration day around 4 a.m and decided to have a sleeping pill to help me have more rest. I also admit that I want to curb my increasing worries for the future and had asked Clive to help me through today.
Mum woke me with a cup of tea which I could have sworn was ordinary yet I noticed later it was 'morning detox'. Maybe I am not quite 'with it'? She sat on the bed and explained she hadn't slept well due to coffin.
Coffin? Why is that a problem? I thought. I asked her why was she worrying about the coffin to which she replied ' No! I meant my coughing! I didn't want to disturb anyone!'
I could hear Clive laughing!
Dominic appeared to find out why we were laughing and it seemed appropriate then to start the day with one of Clive's habits - pressing the paw of the Rasta Lion that sings 'Don't worry, be happy'! He'd once had a class of 6 year olds all dancing and singing to this. He'd bought it last year when he'd been on a cruise ship with Richmond Events to speak to HR directors and other professionals.
So the day began!
Mum and I went to Genesis hair salon http://www.genesishair.co.uk/ where Paula had offered to blow-dry mine and Mum's hair as a treat. It was beginning to feel like a Celebration as having your hair done like this is often part of getting ready for a party! Whilst there the florist, that Paula had arranged, came in with a card for me to write for the flowers to go on the top of the coffin. I made a mess of the first one writing 'To Clive, with love from us all. You have made the world better by leaving it'. Luckily we had a spare one as I hadn't got that quite right had I?!!! I meant to sat that he'd succeeded in leaving the world a better place, which was one of his main purposes.
Paula pampered us both and we left feeling so much better. I know she felt she had contributed to our day positively too. She had also sorted that all her customers received a rose from Clive yesterday. Thank you so much.
When we got back I noticed that the neighbours at the end of the cul-de-sac had put fresh spring plants in the garden, so had Michelle. They had only just got back from a holiday the previous night; had asked Michelle if there was anything I needed and she suggested the plants. I was so pleased .. so I got out of the car whilst Mum manoeuvred and knocked to thank them. Always show appreciation was one of Clive's and mine's mottos. 'Little things' mean so much, especially at a time like this.
Back at home bacon sandwiches and hot cross buns were order of the day. We all realised that food was important - part of my 'Hanzak' self help principles and sensory needs (see earlier post). It still tasted like cardboard but I ate.
Then it was time to get ready. I had decided last week that I was going to wear the red leather jacket he'd got me the Christmas before last. He knew my belief if using the senses as a 'feel good' factor so he'd used that as a basis for my gifts. He'd been so excited about me opening them all. For weeks before he'd have a cheeky grin if he came back from the shops, having found something else for me. He loved to give and I so do I. But we also thoroughly appreciated the effort we put into getting gifts for each other. It wasn't the money value, but the thought. I'll tell you another time, if you like, what the other gifts were.
A white T-shirt was also worn, as he liked me in white. Black jeans as he loved my bottom in them (even if I thought it was big!); and my little red boots because I feel good in them. Sorted. Or was I?
Clive is the only man ever to have bought me underwear. He believed that women should especially wear matching, pretty lingerie because even if no-one else saw it, it gave them a confident basis on which to build their self-esteem and day. Like many women I used to have a drawer of beige, black and white (and grey!) oddments in my lingerie drawer. The comfy stuff. The 'time of the month' stuff. The 'no-one will see it so why bother' stuff. Maybe one 'best set'. Clive revolutionised my lingerie!
He would often surprise me with a gorgeous matching set of pretty bra and knickers. He took great delight in knowing what I was wearing underneath. Mainly though he knew that it made me feel special and attractive which added to the 'glow' he gave me which made him love me more. One thing he bought me around 18 months ago was a stunning cream basque set. Lace. Satin. Diamonte droplets on it. All beautifully packaged in tissue paper and a box. I loved it but I had been keeping it for a 'special occasion' and also had used a multitude of excuses why I was delaying wearing it. I wanted to be slimmer. I wanted to be suntanned. I struggled to fasten it as I have a dodgy shoulder. I wanted to wear it for a memorable occasion. There always seemed to be an excuse. Only a couple of weeks ago he'd noticed the box it was in and and teased me saying 'you either wear it or it goes on Ebay!'
So you guessed it! I wore it yesterday!!! I could almost hear him saying 'About flippin' time'! I felt it all day! I could have saved it as 'Brand New In Box' for Ebay and sold it with regret in my heart that I never wore it for him. That I never got round to it. That I judged my self harshly and questioned my self-image. Instead I chose to do what he'd wished. And it made ME feel good. So ladies, I suggest that you have a sort out of your lingerie drawer - today! Ditch those yucky, washed-up baggy knickers and go and treat yourself to some pretty, matching sets. Get properly fitted too. You will get a twinkle in your eye and a spring in your step. Someone once described my smile as one that 'looks like you know something nice that no-one else knows'. That is part of my secret! Matching bra and knickers. Simple.
Gents - do you actually know what size bra your wife/partner is? If in doubt either ask or look at the label in her existing ones. There is no need to go for the possibly perceived 'tarty' black and red combination. This isn't about dressing her sexually and expecting anything back other than making her feel special. It is about making her feel special and loved - regardless of the cellulite, the lumps, bumps, stretch marks that she worries about! And don't give me the excuses of 'she might not like what I choose' - why not just try? Or 'I'd be embarassed' - staff in lingerie shops love to help - just ask!
Music always helps too. So as I got ready I played Matt Cardle singing 'Just the way you are' which Clive used to sing to me. The whole day those lyrics were running through my head.
That helped my strength yesterday too. So did being surrounded by many people who loved Clive and love me.
My sensory list continued with asking Dom and the three nephews and his brother-in-law to wear Clive's aftershaves for the day so I could be reminded of his fragrances. CK Summer, Obsession, Euphoria, Eternity and Forever.
The house suddenly began to fill with people. Dominic was getting restless as my brother Kevin was supposed to collect him earlier to take him to the stadium where he was going to set up to film the Celebration. Although he is 14, Dom is already a talented photographer and film-maker and wanted to contribute to the day in this way as many people had asked if it would be filmed if they could not attend.
Meanwhile, Clive arrived. It didn't upset me as I had seen the coffin twice and could picture him inside. I gave Tony the lovely spray of flowers I had asked for - I didn't want the traditional 'arrangement' but had a simple hand-tied bouquet using some lilies someone had given me and cream roses. They were just right.
I gave Clive's niece Anna the cream rose Paula had given me and asked her to place it on Clive's seat at the stadium for me.
There was still no sign of my brother - he has a history of being late for funerals. He'll be late for his own! To ease Dom's growing stress I asked a young, gorgeous, blonde friend of ours, Lindsay, if she would take him. She did so and was a better choice!
I was aware the gathering close friends and family were very subdued. I seemed to flit around like a butterfly between hugs and kisses. I did wonder if people thought I was being insensitive by seeming so 'happy'. Did it look like I didn't care? But I quickly dismissed these ideas because I knew if I crumbled, so would many others. Clive had left both written and verbal instructions to Celebrate today. That was what he wanted. I wanted to please him. So dressed in clothes that felt good; wearing perfume he'd got me on our cruise; with a full tummy of bacon and butterflies; 'You're Amazing' singing in my head and the sight of my loved ones around me, my survival sensory tool kit for the day was in place.
I sat in the car behind the hearse with Clive's sister Lynn, Niece Sue, nephews Nick and Paul and his brother-in-law Rod.
Clive was ready in our spring flower filled cul-de-sac, inspired by him, to make his final journey. And I was right behind him .....