Saturday, 30 April 2011

What's your life story?

I feel quite mellow tonight and no I haven't had any alcohol! I have had a day with friends.

This morning I was with one of my longest-standing friends Sue Woodward. She has recently started a new job and it was good to hear how she is getting along. We went into a Starbucks, which was a chain of coffee shop Clive and I regularly went into. Today I was okay with it. We chatted about various changes and choices in life and it is so lovely to know others care about me.

One 'idea' I have thrown into the pot of where do I go from here is to consider another partner! Maybe I should just put myself on a dating website asking for a sugar-Daddy to whisk me away and take all my troubles away? Sue asked me what I would look for - tall, confident, fun-loving, caring, affectionate, generous, broad-shoulders, strong arms ..... the more I described the more my request was summed up in one word - Clive. Let's leave that idea for now as no-one else would come close.

Next I went to see another friend who also is a speaker, Chris Davidson. It was a pleasure to catch up with him. He actually introduced Clive to me at the PSA convention back in 2007! See the pictures here.

Then onto Molly Harvey for more talking about Clive, my future, etc. We went for a drink into a new cafe in Hoylake called The Spotty Blue Teapot - what a gorgeous place.

Clive told me on several walks that if ever he 'went' I would find him in the wind. He was certainly around Molly and I today!

My friends today have rebuilt my strength and optimism. It was also good to see Dom and his Dad although not good that Thomas cat doesn't seem well. We got Thomas the year before Dom was born and he was a beautiful kitten and is a lovely animal. At 16 he is very much an OAP.

I have just watched Ann Widecombe on Piers Morgan Life Stories. It made me smile as last autumn Clive watched 'Strictly Come Dancing' with me and began to look forward to Ann! He always loved a 'trier' and people who spoke their mind.  Talking to Molly today I realise that I fit into that category now - I am far more assertive than I used to be and I know I am being open about my bereavement and situation. Talking to other people certainly is helping me, rather then bottling it all up.

Is it just me or does the guy on this right of this ad on Piers Morgan, look familiar?

I was thinking about the concept of 'Life Story'. Clive had said numerous times that his best book was still in him. He said the chapters with me 'completed' him. How ironic that is now.

What is your life story? What is worthy of telling others? Have you documented it anywhere? My Grandma filled in a keepsake book that I bought for her many years ago. I found it recently and it was very special to read the basics about her 'life'. I now regret not fully knowing more about my Grandpa. What are you leaving behind? What would you want your children and grandchildren to say about you? Last night my Mum served us bananas and ice-cream, with the comment 'it's a Grandma dessert!'

Another of Clive's sayings was that you 'never truly die until the last person that remembers you dies'. So what will your legacy be? There has been talk of this in the last days about Princess Diana.

In recent years Clive had talked to many people about their purpose in life. My conversations today re-emphasised that mine is through my speaking and writing, to help others through rocky times in life by sharing how I have got through mine. That is where I get my 'buzz'. That is where the fire in my belly is. That is where my light shines the brightest. Clive's untimely death has given me something that he often spoke about  - life's experiences are 'just another seminar story' - the more challenging they are, the bigger the impact. Thanks matey!!!

I have been given renewed enthusiasm for my future today by surrounding myself with people who care about me. Hence I want to continue to care about others in turn. I am hungry for more audiences and I ask the 'Universe' for help in getting them for me! Who do you know in the NHS who needs an inspiring patient for their staff? Who do you know in a Children's Centre? Who do you know that is putting on an event where they need a speaker who will shine through stories of pulling through deep challenges with messages to help others through theirs?

I also feel tonight that Clive continues to surround me with love and support and I am open to both. I have been reminded of several things:-
  • Clive was at his happiest and most content in life when he died
  • That our relationship was truly special
  • That he would want me to be happy
  • He would want me to be assertive and strong
  • He would want me to maintain 'fun' and hard work. 
I don't intend to disappoint him.

I intend to!
And as Molly said as I left ....

N nite,

Elaine xx

P.S. My Mum tucked me up in bed last night to kiss me good night and said how much she wants to take my pain away. Simple actions - MASSIVE impact. I love you so much Mum xx

Friday, 29 April 2011

When the floor falls away ..

Well what a lazy but relaxed day! Mum and I have sat all day watching the Royal Wedding and soaked up every second!

I was quite happy watching as I know Clive had planned to play golf and 'wasn't fussed' about it.
Mum and I enjoyed the outfits; the pomp and ceremony and London at its best.

Catherine's dress and her stunning sister reminded me of the wedding in a 'Sound of Music' - this is why ..

I now feel rather anti-climatic. I suppose this is the first time I have allowed myself to 'stop' and just sit. It has dawned on me how tired I am. I also feel increasingly lost. I don't know where I want to be.

I had invites to be out in Tadcaster tonight and most probably if Clive had still been alive, we would be there now. Instead I have had to speak to two people today that didn't know he had died. I know that will happen for a while.

The romance of today has hit me in several ways. I am really happy for the newly-weds today - they do appear to be very much in love and have an exciting life ahead of them. Yet seeing their glances and obvious affection makes me realise again what I have lost.

I just had a look at a BBC guide of losing your partner. They claim that it can take up to two years to begin to get over the initial grief and up to five years to feel you get back to a normal life again. So perhaps I am expecting too much of myself after 10 weeks?

Clive often disregarded quoted 'recovery times' as being for people who would use any excuse to prolong challenges! When he had his first knee replaced in November he was given a six week post-op recovery. He wanted to drive within four weeks but I was adamant that he must not and endanger his knee and insurance! At his six week physio session, after which he was discharged, there was another lady in the room who had also had her knee replaced - 12 weeks earlier. She was still asking for a 'sick note'. The physio asked what she did - PE teacher? Nurse?  no - she apparently worked in an office and 'occasionally had to get up to use the photocopier'!!! 

So for his second operation on the 14th February he was even more determined to prove how quickly he could be back out on his bike. I can't help wonder did all this add to pressure on his heart? I know that we all can be tempted to prolong 'recovery' but on the other hand doesn't rest and recuperation aid it in the long run?

Like depression, bereavement has no easy time line, like a physical operation does. There are no tangible scars to see. No improvement in range of movement, etc. All the advice tells you there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Perhaps that is what makes it harder. A friend of mine who also has suffered the loss of a partner explained the times when 'the floor falls away'. It's like that sometimes - you are in free fall, not knowing where to go or what to hang onto.

So for the rest of today I shall continue just to 'sit', and as Clive would say 'stop should-ing all over myself' - i.e. be kind to myself and stop bombarding my brain with things I feel I should be doing.

I am going to spend tomorrow with friends and Dominic, then arrange to see others over the weekend before I have to 'get on' with work related matters next week.

Elaine x

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Reach out and touch ..

Today I have felt a bit weepy again. A bit angry with Clive too for going. Dom is revising but it's just good to have him around. My concentration has plummeted today again so I guess it's time for a bit of kindness to myself and I will ride this wave. Don't worry! This gets better from now on!

I was putting on hand cream this morning and it reminded me of Clive's huge hands. I loved them! Holding them. Watching him 'use' them as he presented on stage. The way he would cradle new babies in one of them. Clapping loudly on the dashboard with them to happy songs. Stroking my cheek. Expressing every emotion with them watching rugby. They were huge but could be so gentle. Clive was a great 'toucher' - he rarely greeted anyone without physically touching them in someway. It added to his warmth. Boy, do I miss that touch.

Holding Ruby at Sue and Scott's wedding last year.
I have always known that hands can be powerful in many ways. When I was working as a consultant for Virgin Vie cosmetics, to back up my early speaking career, I used to go into residential homes for the elderly and do demonstrations. At one home I had 'entertained' some of the residents in the dining area and I asked if there was anyone else who might like a little pamper. A rather brusque member of staff told me, 'There's Gladys, in the lounge, but you won't get anything out of her.  She doesn't do anything'.

Undeterred I asked if I could at least say hello. Gladys was drooped in a large chair, plonked in front of the television. Her thin legs curled beneath her, hands and arms tightly clenched under her chin, her mouth gaping and dribbling, her eyes barely open. She was wearing a pretty floral dress, thick tights and pink slippers that fastened with velcro. I knew it was Gladys because I could see her name written in the back of her yellow cardigan as she was slumped forward.

She reminded me of my beloved great-auntie Annie who had been fully independent, living in her own home well into her 90's until a stroke left her striped of her dignity and 'life'. She took had ended her days in a similar position to the one I now found Gladys in. Before my Grandma had died I used to do her nails for her too. My elderly relatives are gone but here was someone else's before me. I merely treated her like I hoped people would have done my relatives, with respect and kindness.

I wondered what her youth had been like. Did she have family? What had she done with her life? Yet what counted at that moment, as it often does, was exactly that moment. I wanted to make it count.

I had taught children with profound and multiple disabilities so the drool and gnarled hands did not bother me. I knelt in front of her and after saying who I was I asked if it would be alright if I just rubbed hand cream on her hands. I said that I would not hurt her and I would stop if she wanted me to. First I let her smell the cream and her chin lifted up. Gently and carefully I massaged her palm, fingers, back of her hand, talking to her and saying what a beautiful ring she was wearing. The more I massaged, the more her body seemed to uncurl. I finished one hand and asked if she wanted me to do the other. She moved it towards my outstretched hands. I repeated the process.

By the time I was close to finishing the second one, the member of staff waddled through to the lounge. She was just in time to see me gently pat Gladys's hand and thank her for allowing me to spend time with her; that she had reminded me of my Grandma and great-auntie whom I had loved and missed. Gladys lifted her head up as high as she could, she fixed her bright blue stunning eyes on me and her crooked face broke into an amazing smile, directed straight at me.

'Bloody hell!' said the carer, 'She's been in here months and I've never seen her do that!'

I hope I inspired them to make Gladys smile again.

One night I told Clive this story. It was when his Mum was close to death and he was spending hours just sitting with her. She no longer communicated with anyone. He told me he was 'lost'. He didn't know what to do or say. He queried if she even knew he was there. The next time he went to see her he took my hand cream with him. When he came home later he had tears in his eyes. I suspected she had gone.

'No,' he explained. 'It was beautiful. Like you said, I just chatted to her and as I did so I massaged her hand. Her eyes were closed. Her breathing shallow. I didn't think she knew what or who I was. I did one hand and gently placed it down at her side. I was about to give up when she lifted her other hand up! I did that one too. It showed me that she was still 'there' and I am so glad. Thank you for sharing that idea'.

The following night we had just drifted off to sleep when the phone call came to say his Mum had passed away. Clive always said that he felt his last time with her was very special and that he felt he had done something that made her feel nice.

I know this is cheesy but couldn't resist it ..

Just telling those stories have made me feel better!

What can you do to make someone feel good? 

Elaine x


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Born to make you happy

Clive once told me that he loved to make me happy and he certainly did. He did upset me sometimes too and could irritate at times, such as trying to speak at the same time as yawning!
But mostly it was a happiness at a level I had never known before and the feeling was mutual.
One day this Britney song was on the radio and I remember him saying we should dedicate it to each other.

Today has been a happy day. Both Dom and I were tucked up in bed just after ten last night. I decided to take his lead for an early night but struggled with it! I am used to the small hours. I must have slept though. I woke feeling a bit disappointed that I was having to take Dom home or at least to the station. That changed though when he said he'd like to stay longer! Hooray!
We decided to have a day in and do a few tasks along with office time for him to do some revision on the Internet and for me to do some admin.

He washed my car for me, we cleaned and tidied the shed and Dom cut the back lawn for me. It was good just to be 'in'.

I received an order for one of Clive's books 'When the flag drops the bull**** stops' which describes his race across the desert in the 'Marathon des Sables'. This book is listed on their website and there mustn't be a note to say Clive has died. There is no need though as he can and would like still to inspire even in death.

I know he would have sent the book with an encouraging note as the guy is wanting to do the race himself. So I did so on his behalf. It's all about putting one foot in front of the other.

Late afternoon I was delighted when fellow speaker Richard McCann popped in for a chat. His mother was the first of the Yorkshire Rippers murder victims and his sister took her own life so he has had to deal with bereavement too. It was good to compare feelings. Richard also quoted some of Clive's words from his last book 'It's not your time, it's the time you have'. He said in reading it he could almost feel that Clive suspected his life would be shorter than he hoped, hence the messages are even more powerful and relevant now.

Dom and I had my favourite meal - egg and chips, then he was drink host again when Clive's niece Sue, husband Scott and our goddaughter Ruby popped round. I think Dom can see that I get plenty of visitors!

We have made a pact that at 9 p.m. we shall watch something together, so I shall leave you with this comment I found that Clive had written in the early days of defining his purpose:-

''I will live with gusto and enthusiasm. I will no doubt upset some and inspire others. My commitment is to live with authenticity and to be true to myself. I will value any moment I am given''.

I just had a look through our memory box. No tears. Happy memories. Clive was born to make us happy.

I am trying hard to make that still the case.

(If you want to order any of his books, print off the form here and post onto me.)

I ask you this - do you value any moment you have been given?

N nite,

Elaine x

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Happy 15th Birthday Dom!

Well after my early morning 'ramble' of course I was tired this morning! So too was the birthday boy as he'd also been up late on Facebook! So we didn't exactly rush out!!
I had got him a sound gadget for his camera a few weeks ago for his birthday so just had a T-shirt for him to open today. He had birthday money to spend so we had breakfast and headed out to the York designer outlet village - seen of my misery on Saturday!

I am pleased to say that the return trip today was a pleasure. Even though every shop, corner, escalator reminded me of Clive I focused on today and NOW being about Dom.
Next we headed off to Xscape at Castleford and mooched round more shops for him. I am delighted he has an interest in clothes. He knows what suits him and likes bright colours generally. He got some bargains and we wandered around very compatibly. We even found a CD of Top Gun!

In Xscape itself I had to take a deep breath as many, many times Clive and I had been here and it was top of Clive's list to take him there. He was right - he loved it. He got information about the snow/ski slope there, got a cover for his Blackberry and said he'd like to bring his cousin here.

We decided to save the cinema for another day but he did got on the 'sky walk' on ropes, etc. in the very high beams! I felt sick just watching him!

Outside he had a go at 'zorbing' - rolling around in a an inflated ball! He was thrilled to bits with it and so was I to have such a happy birthday boy with me.

Last request of the day was for his favourite food so I then drove us into Leeds and we ate in 'Yo! Sushi.'

It has been a really good day together - just the two of us. It is so very, very sad that Clive is no longer here but I can and am introducing Dom to the things he had wanted to. So far so good. In that way at least Clive lives on with Dom and I.

Now excuse me but I have a young man to enjoy the rest of the evening with!

N nite,

Elaine xx

A bit of a ramble

I have just watched ‘Top Gun’ with Dom and had a couple of glasses of wine. I am now in bed and have a head full of ‘stuff’ which I may or may not share.

Not long before Clive died, the film ‘Top Gun’ was mentioned and he was aghast when I said that I didn’t think I had seen it. I got the exact reaction from Dom tonight when we saw that it was on and I’d suggested we watched something.

So after I’d brought washing in and he’d watered the front garden for me we settled to watch the film with wine for me; Bud for him and chocolate and nachos to share. Very cosy. I used to love watching television with him when he was younger, before he preferred to be in his room on his own I.T. We have come full circle and it’s lovely.

We got cosy and the film began – very predictable but fun. Apart from the hairstyles, it is timeless. I was stunned to hear the line ‘take me to bed or lose me forever’. So many nights Clive had said that to me and I never realised where it was from! He often used lines from films but I hadn’t recognised this one until now! No wonder he’d wanted me to watch it. Clive was so ‘smooth’ at times and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

Initially it made me smile as I thought of our cosy nights on the settee when eventually he’d say that line. Sunday nights were our favourite. Especially watching ‘Larkrise to Candleford’ or ‘Downton Abbey’. He used to say I’d converted him into costume dramas. I just loved being with him. What we watched was immaterial. I loved the way he would just fiddle with my toes or stroke my legs. Why has he gone?

As Dom and I appreciated the humour in ‘Top Gun’ again it broke my heart to know how much he and Clive would have shared things. Dom’s Dad is great with him and Clive never intended to replace him. Yet he would have shown and shared with him different aspects and interests in life. Why has that been stolen away?

I was doing okay until a character was killed in the film. The tears flowed; Dom hugged me as I said I’d never realised what loss meant until I have lost Clive and it hurts so much.

I now have so much spinning round my head.

14 years ago tonight I was heavily pregnant and finally began to go into labour. See my book ‘Eyes without Sparkle’ for the full account!

I was so very, very excited as all my dreams and wishes to be a mother were about to come true. They did but several months later I was a psychotic wreck in a psychiatric hospital. Following that in 2005 I was an author and appeared on BBC Breakfast telling my story of recovery from extreme postnatal depression. Three years later my marriage and family was in tatters and I met and fell head over heels in love with fellow speaker Clive Gott. For a while my beloved son would not see or speak to me and I rode a massive rollercoaster for a couple of years between my ‘love nest’ in Yorkshire and my worried family in Cheshire. By late 2010 all was falling into place with the acceptance of my Yorkshire life, my son and partner getting on well and my life in a very, very happy place. Then on 19th February my Clive’s heart suddenly stopped beating and my life, as I knew it, stopped with it.

9 weeks later where am I?

I am still alive. One choice I could take was to have joined Clive. I can understand why some people decide to also die. The pain is indescribable. The empty space next to you in bed; in the car; as you take a walk; as you shop, is like an black, endless void. Nothing is there. Zilch. Diddly squat. No matter how your mind conjures up and remembers what they looked like. Smelled like. Felt like. Tasted like. Heard like. They are not there. Gone. The pain is so sharp that alcohol, morphine, compassion, empathy, money .... nothing will alleviate it. You hope, pray, wish for all those senses to be stimulated by that person but you know you have to accept that they are gone. No more will they stroke your cheek. Call your name. Look at you so your very core melts to be in their presence. Yet what would be the point in joining them?

Clive once said that because of the love we shared, if ever we lost the other, we could not join them as it would make a farce of every single thing we had spoke or written about to others. About being strong in the face of adversity. Of keeping going. Of putting one foot in front of the other. Of difficult times passing and making us stronger. There are two main reasons why I will not intentionally join him – he would be so cross with me on the ‘other side’ and I could not put anyone through the pain of grief like I am feeling. I do also have many special people in my life who I want to share it with.

As we drove to the rugby match Dom read me his school report. I know it is a mother’s prerogative to be proud, but I swelled with it. His grades are brilliant but the comments by his form tutor that he is a happy and friendly young man mean a great deal to me. I was so proud of him at the meal before the match as he chatted to new people at our table and many topics.

I am so pleased that he has chosen to spend his birthday with me here in Tadcaster. We plan to shop, eat and go to Xplore at Castleford. They are all places that I went to with Clive and we’d said we would take Dom. It will be hard for me but I shall do it.

I could pack up and go back to my parents in Cheshire but I don’t want to leave what had become mine and Clive’s home. In order to stay here I shall have to work hard. I want to be in front of many audiences to inspire others. But then I get scared with the negative self-talk of doubt which quickly gets binned by the positive!

I then wonder why so many of you tell me that I am inspiring you with what seem to me like even worse scenarios. Am I not getting boring with my ramblings? Up one minute? Down the next? I have lost an amazing man and the most stunning of romances and rosy future. So what? It happens all the time, across the world. What’s so special about me and Clive?

I have looked back in my journal for this time last year. Clive was speaking in Ipswich, I was also due to drive to the same area after having seen Dom briefly for his birthday. Little did we know the differences that would have taken place 12 months on.

I still love my son more than anyone (Clive knew he would always play second fiddle), but he has gone. I am in what was his home but now in a freshly decorated room in the soft furnishings and decor we chose together. I have gifts in the room from people I had never heard of 12 months ago (Dinah and Hannah) who I now would consider good friends. I cannot help but speculate what my life will look l like in 12 months time again.

I would like it to be

· Still with a wonderful relationship with Dominic

· Affording comfortably to still be in this house

· For my speaking career to be firmly established to inspire others through difficulties

· To have other income streams – writing, my PND advice telephone line, a lodger, supply teaching, mini-speakers agency, Forever Living Products retail sales.

In my sensible moments it is crystal clear then I suddenly panic and all I want is Clive back. I yearn for him. I ache for him. I am cross with him for leaving me with a mess. I adore him even more for all the enrichment he gave me. I wonder if he left me this situation as a challenge to overcome knowing one day I shall feel so proud of myself, especially when on my 50th birthday on 4th August 2013 I can have my red Audi A3 convertible because I have earned it.

I get all strong and assertive with a goal like that then I panic and want an easy option. There isn’t one.

I have learnt that in life there are possibilities and potential. I want to explore both. I need help though as I cannot do it alone.

So what do I have?

1. A tremendous family – both my own and Clive’s

2. Amazing friends

3. A pride and determination in myself but also to demonstrate that Clive put me on his best workshop ever in teaching ‘just keep putting one foot in front of the other’

4. My health and a trimmer body than I have had in years

5. Several financial opportunities to investigate

6. A wealth of memories and experience from sharing almost the last three years with an incredible man, who told me that I completed him. Maybe I was the final piece in his jigsaw puzzle of life?

The pain which has followed the pleasure of that is worse than anything I have experienced in my almost 48 years of life.

Somehow I have to carry on. I know I shall but it is a tough ride.

What has changed in your life in the last 12 months? What do you hope will happen in the next? And what are you doing, no matter how small, on a regular basis, to get you there?

For me for now, I guess it is as Winston Churchill said, ‘when you are going through hell just keep going’.

It is also about acknowledging the many positives around me – the main one for the next 24 hours is to ensure Dominic has a wonderful 15th birthday with his Mum. And that alone is a brilliant, happy thought on which I shall go to sleep.

Life is about making new memories and that is what I intend to do.

Elaine xx

Monday, 25 April 2011

Ups and downs

Tonight I will be quick because Dom is with me and that's where my focus should be!

It has been a good Easter Monday. I took my time getting ready for rugby and bid farewell to Scott's lovely parents who had stayed with me a few nights.

Dom was pleased as he has taken over Clive's Blackberry - I would rather that than send it off in a recycling envelope. I know Clive would be pleased for him to have it. That got me a little tearful as we got ready for the match too as he had been looking forward to us enjoying many things like rugby together. I had a blub sitting in the chair in my new bedroom and realised that this was the point we should have been at with the decorating as Clive would have been focused on it being done prior to the Leeds game. It would have been a perfect end to a fun and productive few days. It still is.

Dom had never been to a live sporting event before so I was thrilled to be taking him and even explained the rules of the game. We dined in the Premier Suite with Pete Evans and his family and listened to Ben Cross and Jamie Peacock speak about the game, two feet away from us. Dom was impressed that at his first match he got so close to some top players.

The match was great against Crusaders. In the first half we saw many of the exciting bits I had hoped for - Robbie Burrows darting in and out; our friend Jamie Jones-Buchanan on top form and Keith Senior getting a try. I'm not sure what Dom thought as I joined in with the chant 'we love you Senior, though you've got no hair'!!

We won 34-16 and returned back for cheese and biscuits to the Premier Suite before along to the Long Bar where all the players were signing autographs. I was thrilled to share it with Dom and as he asked to go again whenever he can, I reckon a new fan has been born. It makes up a little for the times I sat there in the early days of mine and Clive's relationship feeling so guilty I wasn't with Dom.

Tonight I feel proud I have introduced him to a new and enjoyable pastime. Thank you so much Leeds Rhinos - again! It really is a family event and there aren't that many things a teenage son and Mum can do together - we have found something new.

It is just tinged with my disappointment at Clive not being here to see his pleasure - and mine.

We called to see Lynn and Rod on the way home and all the family appeared too. We are now home and after Dom had some food we are ready for a tv night.

It is the eve of Dom's 15th birthday and I am giddy because he is with me. Yippee!

N nite,

Elaine x

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A better day!

Well wasn't I a misery yesterday?!!

Today has been so much better! I slept well and debated the best way to get Dom over here. A look at the train timetables made the decision for me - due to work on the lines he'd be having to change a stupid number of times on and off buses and trains. So I chose to go and get him.

I took a detour into Totties, near Holmfirth to call and see my friend Dinah and her family. What a beautiful spot and a stunning home! Even though I was tired the drive was really pleasant and I enjoyed it. Dinah had got me some lovely things for my new bedroom too - bless her.

I collected Dom and we went to my parents home and soaked up the sun for a while.

Next was a short trip to see our friend Paul McGee and his family - the SUMO guy.

Easter Sunday meal was back at Mum and Dad's with Claire, Martin and Sophie. We ate in the back garden and fun was had by all.

Mmmmm chocolate
He is taller than me!
Oooooh! I like Easter!

Dom and I are now back in Tadcaster where he is the first guest to sleep in my new office. I just hope he isn't on Facebook until the early hours!!!

When we were leaving my parents we all commented on the masses of vapour trails in the sky - there were kisses galore. My guess is that Clive would be much happier with me today than yesterday. I know I am and thank you again to you all for your love, concern and support. I appreciate it so much.

N nite,

Elaine xx

Saturday, 23 April 2011


Today is proving to be a challenging one. Don't read any further if you want cheering up!!!!
  • It's Saturday - 9 weeks since he died. I still can't help but relive 'this time that Saturday'
  • I am exhausted - mentally and physically after all the decorating and room shifting.
  • My body is telling me 'enough' as for the first time in months my hysterectomy scar is aching and so is my shoulder.
  • I have got so giddy this week in order to do my bedroom and my new office.
  • It's supposed to be a 'Happy' Easter - no comment.
  • Perhaps because I have made no plans I am in limbo and that isn't good for me.
So you will have sussed by now that I am in upset mode today! I am even too tired to talk to anyone. I have a case of 'can't be bothered itis' too!!!

So what have I done?

After chatting to my house guests this morning when they left I decided I would go to the Outlet Village and get Dom a few things for his 15th birthday on Tuesday. Rod asked me yesterday if I had used Clive's car for a while because it's not good to leave it standing for weeks. It was a local run, hot and sunny - good idea.

I put in the Chris Isaak CD in my bag to play but once in the car realised I hadn't! It had slipped down the side. That annoyed me. I called in at the petrol station as fuel was flashing empty. I couldn't get the petrol cap off - it must have expanded and tightened in all the heat. I asked a man to help, which he did followed by the comment 'make sure you put the right petrol in'! Damn cheek!

In the queue to pay I was behind him and when he turned back with a 'it's the pathetic female' look I gave him what for! Poor guy! I explained I wasn't normally so pathetic but it was my late partner's car and I was taking it out because I didn't want it to die on me like he had done!
Shame on me! I know it wasn't his fault but for once I reversed 'pay-it-forward' and slapped it back.
The next guy in the queue did that 'male thing' of not looking at me, but at my cleavage. What is it with guys and cleavages? I wanted to slap him too!!!

I got back on the A64 and couldn't find a radio station that didn't bug me and was cross with myself about leaving the CD. Today I hated driving his car. I resented the fact he wasn't in it. All the talk on the radio about people getting together just irritated me more and more. By the time I got to the Outlet Village I was beside myself in tears. I wrestled with the idea I should just turn back but that would have been pointless. Instead I had the most miserable shopping trip. Every shop I looked in reminded me of Clive and happy memories but today I am just angry and so upset that he isn't here.

I admit that financially I am very worried so I wasn't even enjoying getting Easter bunnies! And why is it that you see lovely things for yourself when you feel you cannot spend? I was going to at least have a coffee in Pret a Manger but the queue was huge - I would probably have just cried into it!

I did get a few things including four picture frames for my office which are in the same light wood as my desk - using a credit note I had. The assistant was absolutely lovely, chatting whilst she carefully wrapped them. She just managed to get a weak smile from me (and no, she didn't get my story!)

I drove home with the roof down and let my hair just waft in the breeze but I drove slowly and annoyed a few lorry drivers.  Tough.

I came home and opened the post - a cheque for some travel expenses and a card from a college friend who has sent her soon to be 50 husband to the doctors for a check-up as a result of Clive's passing. Also there was a copy of  'Speak Out against Stigma' newspaper which I had been interviewed about. There is a huge two page article on me. Even that didn't cheer me up.

There were more brochures from companies I have rung and told to remove us from their mailing lists. Why do their 'systems' take so long to catch up with requests? The waste must be huge.

I went and had a sob to Mark and Michelle who had just got a new BBQ and was invited to join them later. Great.
I decided to make the most of the sun and actually allow myself to relax in it. Lynn called and I moaned at her too. I really can't be bothered to talk today even.

I asked Lynn to put sun cream on my back as that was something else I had wept about - no-one to do that for me!

I then settled to listen to Lionel on my iPod and began to relax. Bliss. I began to think of the last time I sunbathed - on deck of our cruise last September. I remembered a photo of the night I got very merry and was a heap of giggles. Clive kept telling me how adorable I was. I was so very, very happy. We had so much to look forward to. Once I flopped into bed, still giggling, he took this:-

He had written 'Always' on it and put it on our vision board. I have just put it in a new frame. He told me he wanted me to be as happy and as fun as I was that night - always.

Dear, oh dear. What would he say about me today?

The sun has gone in and the rain clouds are gathering. Too true.

I feel like I am in the middle of a most turbulent storm. I know that one day I will look back on this and reflect how tough it was but 'it too passed and made me stronger'.

I don't want to be strong. I just want Clive.

I try and try to be positive. I know he wouldn't want me to be unhappy. I know I probably should go to my parents - a cuddle with baby Sophie would be good. I am just sooo tired though. I haven't the energy.

I know that is the problem today. So what can I do about it?

Well for starters once I finish this I should ban myself from my Blackberry, Facebook, texts, etc for the rest of today.
I should smarten myself up and go and enjoy the BBQ next door, providing the rain stays off. I will have a few glasses of rose wine and watch some rubbish television later and go to bed early.

Tomorrow is another day and I shall probably go west to my family. Time for some serious rest I reckon and time with my son.

Elaine x

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Good Friday

It must have been after 2.30 a.m. when I finally got to sleep last night and I was awake by 8 - I kept my eyes closed for a while but to no avail!

I was up, dressed, breakfasted and ready for my next task pretty soon after that - clear the 'Ebay ' room to become my new office.

First I chatted to Dom to check on his plans and as he was busy filming 'Gone' I got busy. It was surprisingly quick moving things into our current office and bit by bit Clive's desk became buried under luggage, pictures, ornaments and other such things. I didn't feel upset as he had been saying for ages we should do this.

Rod came to sort out the television in the main bedroom which wouldn't tune in - apparently cable tv doesn't like carpet gripper rods - they pinch the signal!!

Whilst we waited for Mark next door to be ready to lift the new furniture in Rod and I had a good chat and I actually sat down for a change!!

Rod and Mark worked really well to get my new, big, curved desk into place, with drawers underneath it. I love it! For now a wardrobe will have to stay in here until I can face clearing out Clives clothes - not a chance yet.

Michelle and Jemma popped in to look at it too. From a houseful everyone left and I put Magic FM on just in time for one of our songs ...

That prompted tears from my toes upwards and a massive sense of loss. WHY ISN'T HE HERE TO ENJOY ALL THIS WITH ME???????? It just is so unfair. I closed my eyes. Hugged myself and let the music just take me with it. I wish so much that I could have a smooch with my Clive again. We were SO in love. We relished breathing the same air. Stolen. Robbed. Bereft.

The song ended and I could hear him say 'It's happened. Deal with it'.  So I did!

I was back and to across the landing and within a couple of hours my new Empire was born. I even have a lamp on the window ledge so there is a wonderful sense of calmness in here. It feels a little odd too but at least I haven't got the 'empty desk' notion next to me. I have surrounded myself with pictures of Dom, Clive, myself, Sophie, Ruby and Emily, etc. I have also brought our chart for 'Our home' of plans for the future. I have been able to cross some things off it - or rather in highlighter pen so you can still see what you have achieved rather then scrub it out. Sadly some of the joint things and Clive's aim for his golf handicap by his 55th birthday have been put in an envelope. I have to be realistic.

It is a step closer to my new life. A new beginning. It is still very, very painful but I have to carry on, don't I? Clive's life is a loss but it would be doubly pointless if I gave up.

I have Ruby and Emily's grandparents staying with me over Easter. It was good to see them and I did stop to have a drink in the sunshine with them. They had stayed with us last Easter too.

Finally my new office is well on it's way. The new 'spare room' is a disaster area but I can close the door on it and bit by bit sort through it. I do have a very conducive room now to work in.

So how have my new rooms fitted into my HANZAK principles of coping?

Hope - I hoped that they would make me feel better and give me a 'new' start. Done.
Attitude - I could have chosen the 'what's the point' attitude, instead I decided to try - so glad I did.
Needs - I wanted and needed to change some of the past images I had, especially of the night Clive died. That has worked.
       Nurtured - I do feel special
       Education - I have learnt to wallpaper!
       Exercise - I ache in places I didn't know existed!
       Diet - I have really got my appetite back
       Sleep - not brilliant but at least I enjoy going o bed which is a massive step forward
Zest - It has been fun to do. I have also given myself some new sensory changes in the sight, feel, smell and touch of my new rooms.
Altogether - I cannot thank all my 'team' enough. It began as Clive and I and extended to my parents, Lynn and Rod, Mark and Michelle.
Kindness - I have been to myself, even if I have pushed myself and worked physically hard, ultimately it should help me mentally to feel more organised and preparing for my future as opposed to mourning the lost one. And of course, the ultimate kindness of those who have supported me.

The rest of the Easter weekend as yet remains unplanned. Just maybe I deserve a little time to 'chill out'?

I admit that I am feeling very proud and pleased tonight - and Clive would be saying 'Get you, baby', before wrapping me up in those strong, powerful arms and kissing me so tenderly, the rest of the world evaporated.

N nite,

Elaine xx

And next on the list .....

I should recognise the pattern by now shouldn't I? 

The high of the new bedroom is still there (as I suspect it will be for a long while). It was lovely snuggling into the new bedding last night - by 11 which is early for me. I slept well with no tears but had a restless hour or so before it was light. By 8 I was up and raring to go again! The morning whizzed by getting the house spick and span for my visitors over Easter. Every now I then I shed a tear over Clive as I know how excited he would have been now about our life. 

As I cleaned the dining room I smiled as I remembered our dinner parties in there. He loved to play host and delighted in 'running the show' with his menus and cooking. His fillet steak was a marvel! And his rhubarb and strawberry turnovers, mouth watering. He would also create a floral centrepiece using a square vase with pebbles in and a single rose bud secured within the water. He'd seen it on one of his international speaking trips and always wanted to use it.

As I am an organised person I decided that rather than simply shove the decorating things in the garage I would clear a shelf in there and combine what was in the shed. It was empowering knowing that I now could place my hands on such things! Little by little I am HAVING to take control of different aspects of the house.

I even cut the back lawn for the first time! My neighbours have done a sterling job at the front. I asked Simon yesterday to cut the heart shape where the crocus had been planted by Clive for me as a surprise. I just want to be here next year to see them again. I shall have to work hard. 

Darren, the window cleaner, knocked to say he was sorry for my loss. He has known Clive through the fire service. People say such nice things about him. He said it was good to see my positive attitude. 

I did a few things at my desk but the next mission arrived! My new office furniture! Mark next door had surplus from his business. Clive and I had planned to move our office into the smallest bedroom which is currently a Ebay 'waiting' room!

My new desk is huge! So now I have a new task - to clear that room!

I had a few hours to begin then finally I have had to wash my hair and put make-up and proper clothes on! It was a pleasure to get ready in my new room.

I have now driven to Derby feeling very tired and weepy. Is it surprising? The rest of the country seems to be in wind down mode and I am going at 300 miles per hour! Not literally in the car!

I know I am my own worst enemy for doing too much. Clive used to be the same and one of the many reasons we were good for each other was to say 'enough'. The trouble would be if we were both fired up for the same thing! But we would have a rest and reward at the end.

I want to see Dom next week so I am wanting these things done so I can spend time with him.

I have had calls and emails the last couple of hours telling me I am strong, brave and courageous.   I appreciate this but I don't want or intend to be.

I want to be being spoilt and treated like a Princess by my Clive. I pictured him bringing me breakfast in bed this morning, like he often did. No more.

I have come to Derby to find out more about Forever Living Products. Clive has spoken at their events for several years and loved the company values, products and people. It was to be another avenue we explored together. And here I am on my own.

I know I will be greeted by warmth by those here. I really just feel tonight I want to curl up and cry.

But no, - time to put on a smile and be amongst people who had a huge respect for Clive. 


And here I am back at my desk in 'our' office. Perhaps this will be the last time? If I am as busy as I intend tomorrow I may be moving across the landing. 

It was an evening of mixed emotions sitting in the FLP workshop. I could hear Clive saying about possibilities and potential - if you know someone has achieved something, then with help and hard work, it can be possible for you. The opportunities are amazing and inspirational.

Tonight though I was rather pre-occupied with missing Clive. I stared at the 'Forever' banner and all the products that Clive had used. I put his Forever aftershave on him in his coffin. Listening to the managers tonight I could see again why Clive inspired them so much. It was mutual. When he believed in a company he would be loyal and dedicated to them. If they honoured and shared his values, especially integrity and authenticity, he would be as faithful as Peeka, his dog, was to him.

On my drive back home I got tearful again. I know I have said before about how much I loved driving back in the dark with him. Tonight I reached out to feel his leg - nothing there but an empty space. We had a 'car ritual' too - if he was driving I would always have my hand on his thigh, or vice versa
'That would make a great blog!' he'd enthusiastically say. And it would. 
 At night we would talk about many things. Usually our plans together. Often what we hoped might arise from the event we'd just been to. Sometimes we'd play games such as 'favourites', e.g. food, place, smell. I wished tonight that we had recorded some of those conversations. I am scared I am forgetting things about him. 

His favourite late night driving album was Chris Isaak's 'Heart shaped world '.  He loved this track - I wonder if he'd seen this video?!!!

He wouldn't have been impressed with her chipped nails!!

I ache again tonight for him. I want to hear his voice. I want to touch his face. I want to hear him laughing. I want to hear him singing in the car and banging on the dashboard to a drumming bit of a song. I want to see that adoring look in his eyes as he glances at me and strokes my cheek in the darkness of the car. 

Then I have to try to think of the positive things and what I have learnt today:-
  • I am ahead of schedule for the new bedroom and it is amazing.
  • Tins of paint perish in the shed in a harsh winter
  • That I can  take over 'his' roles in our home, bit by bit
  • Friends old and new continue to support me in every direction
  • That I don't regret a single day with Clive - to have experienced love like that was breath taking and there are so many memories for me to cherish
  • Life is made of many opportunities - it's a question of deciding if to recognise and choose them that counts.
I just needed a Clive 'fix' so read through some emails ...
is it surprising that I miss someone who would tell me this ..

Just to remind you in case you have forgotten baby, you complete me.  You are everything I ever wanted in a friend, a lover and a partner.  I will be honest and say I did something silly and perhaps a little shallow tonight.
I took your white jeans out of the washer, shook them, held them up and said out loud "I have a lady who fits into these."  I truly truly adore you my beautiful princess.  That's all I wanted to say baby.

He once text me when he was boiling potatoes ... just to say that he was using my pan because it was mine.

I would leave him little notes all over the place when I was going back to my parents. I found them all stuck on a card last week.

What do you do to show someone you love that you care?

I am going to bed now okay again - and loads to do tomorrow!

N nite,

Elaine  xx

P.S. It's now 9 a.m. I am up, dressed and ready to get busy! So take me off the worry list!!! 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

My new bedroom

Well after three days of decorating I can now unveil the 'new' bedroom and ensuite.

Clive had fallen in love with the painting now above the bed and over time we had collected the rest of the soft furnishings, wallpaper, etc.

Our plan was to spend Easter weekend doing it .. well it is now finished ahead of schedule! Should I have a sign saying so, like they do when a new road is done earlier than expected?!

I am absolutely chuffed to bits with it all.  Gone is the drab yellow and beige below. Taking the long single wardrobe out (to the right of picture) was a great idea (thanks Paul for your help!).  Can anyone give it a new home?

I have been 'haunted' by the images of the paramedics in that room but I think I can vouch for it looking different now ...

My parents have been AMAZING. They have worked for hours with me on it. Dad has taught me to wallpaper and Mum has kept busy looking after us! Thank you sometimes just isn't enough.

More photos are here.

At one stage this morning I was at the kitchen sink - Dad was getting the next bit of wallpaper ready, Mum was hanging washing on the line. I was feeling proud and content at what we were achieving and so grateful for their support. From out of nowhere it seemed I got a huge sense of Clive hugging me in approval. The feeling was overwhelming and I shed tears but they were of pleasure. I know how pleased he would be that I had 'got on' and done the bedroom and en-suite anyway. I would like a new ceiling light and chunky curtain pole but other than that I am happy - very.

Even the hanging basket sweet peas are starting to emerge.

I was so pleased when Lynn popped round to see my room too - perhaps I should have a bedroom party with pink drinks?!! Anyone fancy one?

I am looking forward to a soak in the bath followed by snuggling down into all new bedding.

Tomorrow I have post and emails to attend to. Sunshine? What's that?

So what have I learnt today?
  • that even when you loose your soulmate, carrying on with joint plans can be HUGELY rewarding.
  • that my parents are the most incredible people who I love beyond compare
  • that wallpapering is fun and requires skill and patience (I might redo the ensuite in the spare, white roll all by myself)
  • that a new look in a room can make your heart sing and spirit soar - even if the person you intended to share it with is no longer here in body
N nite,

Elaine xx

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

And another has gone ..

on decorating!

I have received complaints (in the nicest possible way!!) that last nights blog was very short.

Well this one could well be shorter.

Today began at 8 a.m. with my taking Mum and Dad tea in bed and we haven't really sat down until now.

I am LOVING the new look in the bedroom. Yes, the pictures will follow but not until it is to my liking and we are not quite there- yet.

One picture you will not be getting is me covered in paint, wearing Clive's decorating T-shirt and shorts! Even my Mum says the standard has slipped - but WHAT a bedroom I will soon unveil.

I have coped very well - just one outburst of tears as the first wall was completed in the wallpaper Clive and I had chosen together. It's beautiful. It's so sad he isn't here to see it.

Time for a shower and bed now!

N nite,

Elaine xx

Monday, 18 April 2011


Today has been the most active I have had since we lost Clive!

I think I was awake with the birds but finally got up around 7.30 a.m, put on a painting T-shirt and shorts of Clive's and set to!

First was the en-suite - by close of play tonight it has pink walls, a freshly painted ceiling, cleaned totally spic and span and even has pictures back on the wall and all done!

In the bedroom the yellow has almost gone. Pink and white abound!

Mum and Dad joined me around lunchtime and all three of us have been non-stop until bad light stopped play.

We are now all going to bed aching!!!

So that's it for today.

I am really pleased that I have done all this with only a few little tears as I did the en-suite. It is so unfair that it isn't Clive and I doing it, as we had planned. I do feel good that I am doing so anyway.

N nite,

Elaine x

Sunday, 17 April 2011


It was good to wake up this morning with a house guest! Angela and I had our tea and hot cross buns sitting in dressing gowns in the sunny back garden.

Over the next couple of hours we chatted about our lives and I quite was taken aback when I heard 'Clive's words' being spoken. They were coming from my mouth though!!! It was as if he were literally joining in the conversations and choices with us. I heard myself posing questions, just as he did. Stepping back to really listen and work our ways through things. So many of his words of wisdom through experience are so relevant and true. I felt like I was witnessing Clive and Angela talking.

Before she left we had a mutual support plan. Both of us are sorting out our bedrooms because we both have a problem with them in different ways. We both feel that this is a start to getting the rest of our lives in order because it is affecting our sleep which HAS to be sorted out. We have planned a treat the first weekend in June and by the end of this week we are going to exchange our plans/achievements which we shall have in place by then. We have agreed to mutual reminders and encouragement.

When Angela left I got busy cleaning my bedroom and en suite ready for decorating tomorrow. I am sooo excited about it. Mark and Jordan carried the wardrobe into the garage for me and it just needs a big clean before Mum, Dad and I will set to!

Next I drove into Leeds to visit our friends Jamie and Emma, plus their adorable 3 boys all under 5! We had a good chat in the sunshine and I got more eggs from their chickens. This is a growing trend. Emma was telling me how she often thinks of Clive's messages especially when the boys are being, well boys under 5 - his notion of just putting one foot in front of the other keeps her sane and focused! She has put her own version to this as 'Keep swimming' which is the same idea but presented by a fish character in the film 'Finding Nemo'.

What's yours?

I was only just back home when my friend Dinah arrived! She brought a home-made lasagna, salad, wine and cup cakes! That's what I call a welcome visitor. Dinah had 'found me' via the Internet last year when her friend Joe had taken her own life. Dinah was desperate to start something in the Huddersfield area to help other woman affected by postnatal illness. From that 'search' and the dedication of all the trustees and supporters, we now officially have the charity launched.

And another special friendship. We dined in the garden and even Mark joined in from over the fence! In my absence this afternoon he had mowed the front lawns for me and put stripes on them - Clive would be impressed. Much appreciated.

Dinah helped me make final decisions on which walls will be pink or white in the bedroom (confirmed by Mark!) and a plan is forged. Clive and I had already chosen and got the wallpaper and pink was it!

I realised that I haven't checked my Blackberry all day. I explained to Dinah that Sunday nights were very special for Clive and I as we would regularly choose to 'switch off' the outside world and focus just on us. I said that I had done that this weekend. I have thoroughly enjoyed wall-to-wall friends yesterday and today. Some of whom we have been waiting to catch up for weeks. I therefore feel it is only fair and appropriate to be with them when I am with them. So if you have text or emailed this weekend I am not ignoring you - just 'being in the moment'' with whom I have been with.

How often do you do that? How much of a conversation do you miss with the person sitting with you because you are reading a text?

Clive was snatched away. I have no regrets about our relationship (except its physical end) and I am so pleased that we DID ensure times when we concentrated on each other.  We also did that on holiday - our phones were in the safe and twice a day we agreed a quick check on them, dealt with anything vital, then away they went.

I guess it's about this ...



I now have a confession .... the wall behind the bed is already pink!! Well I am sure I heard the paint pot shouting 'try me! try me!'

So plenty of 'stuff' for you tonight:-

  • Who is in your support team?
  • What do you say to yourself to keep you going through tough bits?
  • Are you REALLY with someone who you are with?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two days. Yet again I feel blessed with a network of delightful friends whom I have shared my vision for my future, shared wonderful memories of amazing Clive, spent time with them and bathed not just in sunshine but true warmth and love of others.

And most beautiful of all is the spirit of Clive glowing brightly amongst us. Thank you for being part of it.

Now, do I do the ceiling before I go to sleep.....????

N nite,

Elaine x




I will survive!!!

After a very positive blog last night I came to bed but foolishly left the radio on for plenty of late night slushy records. The wave of missing Clive-itis swept over me and the only comfort I got was cuddling my soft toys, crying and rocking myself to the rhythm of the music. I thought of how tonight 'should have gone'; how much he adored going to watch the Rhinos and how we would have been enjoying these days together. Yet it was not to be.

I must have fallen asleep at some point and when I got up I looked frightful - tired, pale and washed out. I could see how sunny it was so made my breakfast and sat in the back garden to have it. That's when optimism began to creep in again.

My Mum and Dad are coming over on Monday for a few days to help me decorate the main bedroom. Time to get stuff ready! In one corner there is a tall, single wardrobe which has been hanging off the wall for ages. It hides the house alarm box at the top but it looks very messy from the side. It had to go! First job was to move the contents - some of Clive's many clothes. I got hot wearing my thick, cosy dressing gown so changed it for one of his bright orange cycling t-shirts. I had music on and bit by bit I emptied the drawers and moved the shirts. Over the bed are more cupboards and I put some of his underwear up there by standing on the bed. As I filled a big bag with his socks and stood on the bed again, Gloria Gaynor's 'I will survive' came on the radio. Next minute I was literally jumping on the bed, wearing only his T-shirt, singing my heart out to the words!!!  I then dissolved in fits of giggles at myself. Oh WHAT a roller coaster!

I put my shorts on and had to use a scarf for a belt to stop them from falling down! I have to admit that maybe I do need to get some smaller ones.
I then headed off to the Post Office sorting office to collect a 'signed for' delivery. Oooh! What could it be? Shucks - a returned copy of my change of name  document being returned.

Next was a BIG test. Two days after Clive died we had been due to have the downstairs toilet and basin replaced. Of course it was cancelled. However, literally hours before he died on the Saturday we had been to B and Q for new taps. It was there that he had complained badly of the pain in his chest but refused emphatically for me to take him to A and E. I decided to exchange the taps today for paint for the bedroom. I was very apprehensive but I managed to do so without a tear! I felt strangely independent choosing the best offer and the additional items I needed. As I left I felt very proud of myself for not breaking down in there.

The store is near our friends Nip and Ellie so I called to see them. Another friend Dave was there. We sat in the glorious sunshine and had a good chat. Clive's golf 'chums' are arranging a Golf Day for the Clive Gott Foundation on August 10th (the day before he would have been 53). Dave was telling me that he'd like more teams to enter. Mainly we just want a reason to have a get-together and remember him. Even if you can't play golf we can be sociable! Details are here. Can you bring a team?

I came home briefly and then met another friend for lunch at the Coach and Horses, which we ate outside. I now have what Clive would have called an idiot tan on my neck and arms! Once back home with me he helped on several tasks! Including the dismantling of the wardrobe! Beware if you visit me - you may get roped in for more than coffee!! Very much appreciated  xxxxx

I am very pleased with the space now in the corner and am keen tomorrow to try my hand at filling the holes.

Within minutes of him leaving, my friend Angela arrived! We have been trying for weeks to get together. We came up with various plans on how to spend the evening and settled for a quick trip to Sainsbury's for some supper and returned for a wonderfully relaxed evening on the sofa watching television, drinking wine, and generally putting the world to rights. Bliss.

I was doing well until on Britain's Got Talent (yes we did watch it) there was a married couple who played hand bells to Celine Dion's track 'My heart will go on and on', theme tune from the Titanic. That did it! I was back on deck of the cruise ship last September. Most nights we would go up there after dinner or a show.
I know it's corny and probably many couples  do it but .....

Last summer I had tried to lose weight prior to the holiday and to inspire me I had cut out pictures from the brochure and put them in front of the running machine and cross trainer. One night on the ship we walked up to the deserted bow. Clive cradled me in his arms and we stood by the rails listening to the sound of the waves. Looking at the blanket of stars. Feeling the warm, gentle breeze on our tanned skin. It was a magical 'this is it' moment. My 'picture' had come true. After a while we sat on a bench there and just soaked up the memory in the making. We spent many an hour on this holiday just 'being'. We were so in love. I stretched out on the seat and lay my head on his lap and looked up to the heavens. Clive stroked my cheek, caressed my hair and told me again how much he adored me. That I completed him.

Our intimacy was interrupted by three American passengers who apologised for disturbing our Kate Winslet and Leonardo moment. We joked that we weren't about to jump over the side though. One of the ladies asked what the name of the character was played by Kate. We all speculated for a few moments and gave up. The American guy was also trying to work out where the lights were twinkling on the horizon.
'Rhodes?' he asked.
'That's it! ' I exclaimed, 'Rose'!
It seemed funny at the time!

Tonight, eight weeks to the night Clive died, I was back on that deck and the tears did flow a little. Yet now as I type I am filled with the same depth of love we both felt throughout that 'honeymoon without the wedding'. Even better is the account of each day in my journal.

It has been a busy and sociable day today and I have another one tomorrow. I have the paint and requirements ready to turn this boring, yellow and brown bedroom into the fresh, bright and colourful haven we had planned and chosen together. I have been in wonderful company and feel very loved.

Thank you everyone.

Elaine xx

Saturday, 16 April 2011

One foot in front of the other ...

Clive always used to speak about breaking down targets, goals, etc. into small steps - that way it is achievable.
When asked how did he run 26 miles for a marathon, his reply was that he didn't - he ran a mile 26 times.

Currently one of our friends, Andy McMenemy, is running 66 marathons in 66 days for The Soldiers Charity.
That is one heck of a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Mentally and emotionally I am facing the toughest challenge I have ever done, in losing Clive. Each day I think of Andy putting one foot in front of the other. Some days for him are harder and more painful than others. But he just keeps going.

So that is how I taking his bereavement when I am thinking rationally - like today.

I woke at 5.30 and could not sleep so have been up since 6.30 a.m. (thought of you Molly). My energy levels seemed much better and I tackled some of the emails and admin piled up - well a dent! That made up for the last two days.

I had been invited out for lunch and part of me wanted to decline because of my 'list' but after two miserable days completely on my own I decided that company would be good. First I met the lovely Terry Anne Scholes who had heard Clive speak several times and linked with me via Clive's Facebook page. I was delighted to and we agreed to meet. I am so pleased we did! After our coffee she invited me to a lunch with some other local ladies. They were all new to me and at one point I began to feel a bit overwhelmed. I somehow just wanted a hug. Incredibly at that moment a lady walked in who I did know from trips I had been on to Europe with Forward LadiesSandra Corcoran provided that hug!
I felt fine then. I was glad that I had followed my Mum's mantra of 'life is more fun if you smile and say yes'!

Another strange timing incident happened too. Just before I left home Zoe Ball on Radio 2 was asking people to contact the programme with messages about the London Marathon on Sunday so I sent in an email about Andy - why do 1 marathon when you can do 66! Incredibly I was in the car less than two minutes whilst we moved from one car park to another. Just as I was maneuvering Zoe mentioned Andy but I think she quoted 'Ann' who had written in. No matter - he got the mention he deserved.

I was barely home before I had to get ready to drive into Leeds to watch Rhinos. En route 'The Summer of 69' was on the radio - the song that had been played as Clive was carried onto the pitch. Choice time - tears or turn it up loudly, bang on the dashboard and sing like Clive would have done? I chose the latter! He was like an excited toddler driving to Rhinos games. I loved it.

I had invited Chris Bingley tonight as we were playing Huddersfield Giants, where he lives. The welcome I get from the staff at Headingley continues to be so warm. I am a total convert to being a spectator and 'fan'. Tonight I was invited to be guest in a different suite. It is a brilliant way for corporate entertaining and Chris and I had a very good evening - thank you Lawrence. We sat in different seats which seemed odd. I coped well until the teams had a minutes silence for some ex-players who had died. It is only to be expected that all I see on the pitch is Clive's coffin ... and balloons.

When they sing 'We are Leeds Rhinos' that is another potential 'wobble' but tonight I was okay, flanked by Chris and Lawrence. Unfortunately the Leeds boys tonight were not at their best. Huddersfield wiped the board! Clive would have had his head in his hands! But I still enjoyed it.

I have been introduced to some new people today. It has been a far better day than the last couple. As I have written this I have been listening to music. Clive once phoned me from his beloved 'Coach and Horses' because someone played this on the Juke Box and wanted me to listen. It was another of our anthems.
I still don't like going to bed ...

But I will.

N nite,

Elaine x
N.B. Clive's products can be ordered via here. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Are you happy?

 I noticed in the news that there was a 'new' initiative launched yesterday at

They basically want us all to spread happiness. I had a brief look at it all and it almost smacks of the 'goody two shoes' approach. I think the key difference between their message and the 'Pay-it-Forward' one that Clive loved so much, was that their approach is forced. 

Clive's version was far more spontaneous. For example, his brother Malcolm shared this with me,
'When I was out in York with him, many years ago, (doing the pubs) he went into a baked potato shop and came out with the biggest portion of spud and chips that I'D ever seen. He walked back up the street about 10 yards and gave it to a homeless guy that I hadn't even noticed. The gratitude in this guys face was magic. A lesson was silently taught and duly learned that night.' 

I also recall a couple of years ago we had been to one of his speaking events in the North East. En route home in the pouring rain we were held up getting onto the slip road of the A1. Drivers were getting irate with someone who had broken down - they were hooting and driving up the grass verge to get passed. As we maneuvered passed Clive noticed the driver was an elderly lady. He immediately stopped. In his shirt sleeves got out, getting soaked through (ooh, a Mr Darcy moment!) and pushed her car into a safer place. he invited her to join us in ours whilst he sorted out a breakdown service and we waited until they had arrived. That's what you call kindness. All Clive said was that he hoped if that ever happened to one of his relatives that someone would do the same. 

Clive was full of acts like that. It made me love him even more.  

I know it's corny but ...

Yes I am feeling better tonight.  I had my egg and chips. I put a couple of my too big bras on Ebay with a smile - Clive had told me under no circumstances had my boobs to shrink if I lost weight. Well I'm sorry, you can't put in an order!

I have just thoroughly enjoyed the B and B programme 'Three in a Bed'. Fab television.

I worked out how to use the scanner earlier, that prompted me to scan this photo which was taken at a charity night in Bradford a few years ago, not long after we got together.

I just love the sparkle in my eyes. He made me sparkle. And being hugged from behind was one of his favourite things.

And look what I found in the back of the frame from the table that evening ....

I shall go to bed now and hope that tomorrow is less painful - both tummy and grief wise.

N Nite,

Elaine x

I know I am being daft ....

I fully expect being shot down like a ton of bricks ...

I know all the facts about today ..
  • still suffering from stomach cramps but have stayed out of the bathroom
  • no proper food for almost 48 hours
  • feeling overwhelmed about everything
  • tired, rundown
  • 54 days since my soul mate went
  • worries of my future
  • concern over finances
I could go on  but I won't.

I did at least sleep last night, eventually, and had a couple of chats with Dom and John Hotowka.

I went to sleep feeling sore and comforted by my microwave pets but proud I hadn't shed a tear all day - first time I think.
This morning I chatted to Molly Harvey and was still feeling positive.

Trouble was that my body wasn't! It felt like a lead weight so I stayed in bed. I watched television and again thought of my 'list' in the office. It just feels like too much. I dozed off for a while then spoke to my parents, still upbeat. Lying in the bedroom in the day isn't good as it shows up how much it wants decorating! We had chosen and have got all the wallpaper, bedding, curtains, etc. and the plan was to do it over Easter weekend. I still want to. All I can see when I look at the side of our bed is Clive on the floor being attended to by paramedics. I also know he would want me to brighten up the bedroom with what we had chosen. Mum and Dad will help me next week with it. But in my head I want it done NOW!

On 'Loose Women' today then spoke briefly about grief. Cilla Black was on and she said she had whole days in bed after her Bobby died. Paul O'Grady had taken her to The Maldives to cheer her up. Any takers??!!!

It isn't me to say in bed though. I could hear Clive again saying 'Motion creates Emotion'. I went into the office and turned on the computer. The emails continue to pile up. No sooner have I answered one another six come in. I looked at a couple but my head wasn't working.

Physical stuff?  So I ironed the bedding for the spare room ready for my friend on Saturday. I miss Clive SO MUCH. I miss him cuddling me. I miss his voice. I miss his singing.

Then this came on the radio ..

We would have been making wedding plans, instead where am I going? What will I do? The uncertainties dance in my mind along with fear, loneliness for Clive, money, etc. etc.

I don't want to see anyone in case this bug is contagious but I am also not used to being completely on my own.

I had a few letters to post so again I thought 'exercise' and have just walked to the postbox and back. It felt like miles and miles! As I walked back I looked at the daffodils we had planted - they are brilliant this year. I stroked his car as I walked up the drive. The ache is unbearable for him. I walked in and just sat on the floor by the door and sobbed and sobbed.

My Mum keeps rightly telling me not to torture myself. I guess I am not right anywhere. If I am here Clive is all around me. Our home. Our memories. If I am not here my heart and mind is.

Then I get texts and emails from lovely friends asking how I am.

Sad is the answer.

But I do feel a bit better so am going to have egg and chips for tea. I have a new frying pan (thanks Dom) to try. It's my comfort food. I might not get any further than a mouthful but I will give it a go. I have a weekend planned with friends and then my parents next week to get rid of those yellow walls!

So yes I have cried today, I have rested .... I just have to remember to be kind to myself. I am not good at that.

Now to that frying pan ....

Elaine xx

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Poorly girl

Okay I admit defeat today!

I had a long list of 'admin' to look at today and sort out. What wasn't on my list was a tummy bug and to spend most of the day in the bathroom!

I haven't even got dressed. My friend has been postponed. The world will have to wait.

No tears though even though I am on my own - quite frankly I'd say I am better that way today!

Physically feeling as I do today EVEN Clive would be better keeping his distance so perhaps that is why I am okay.

Tomorrow is another day ...

I know it's early, but

N nite,

Elaine x

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A house is not a home ...

This morning I left my parents home for the train for Manchester with a positive spring in my step. The three of us had shared a chat and coffee in the conservatory before I left. My parents really are fab! Love you two loads. If I can be half as good parents to Dom as you are to me, then I won't be doing badly.

On the train I looked at some paperwork and added to my list for working on tomorrow. I had my red leather jacket on and my red 'brief case', both of which were presents from Clive. I am proud to wear and use both.

I had lunch with a vibrant researcher from Manchester University who is looking for new Mums in the Manchester area with regards to a parenting programme. More details will follow. As we walked to our next venue she said she was a bit apprehensive being introduced to other people because she is 'just' an assistant researcher! I gave her a 'Clive' pep talk!! On page 73 of his book 'How to take life by the throat and say I'm not done yet', he writes about speaking to yourself with respect and upgrading your 'self-talk' and how you portray yourself to others. He used to pick me up if I ever rang him and said 'It's only me' - his sharp reply was that there was no 'only' about me! He'd say the same to others. Why are we so keen to put ourselves down?

We went into an afternoon held by NHS NW to launch the document 'Improving Outcomes and Ensuring Quality - a guide for commissioners and providers of perinatal and infant mental health services'. I will say more about this in a 'stand alone' blog for the purpose of information sharing. From a personal perspective it was good to be amongst some of the passionate people in the NW who I have had the pleasure of working alongside for many years now. They remain as passionate as me in a culture of cuts, uncertainty and job insecurity. I received a great deal support and shock from those who did not know my personal news but all were amazed to see me there. Again mine and Clive's value of integrity came into force - I had said I would be there and I was glad I was.

I had another impromptu coffee after the meeting and buzzed in my efficient and passionate role as postnatal mental health champion! Back on the train amid the blank-faced commuters and foul mouthed teenage shoppers a wave of tiredness came over me. I really did not sleep well last night. I just kept waking up simply missing Clive. As the train trundled its way west I checked my Blackberry for messages. Wallop! The tidal wave of grief engulfed me and I fought the tears back so hard. I suddenly realised that Clive is no longer around to text or email and tell him how my day has gone. No messages from him to say how golf had gone - it is Tuesday and he would now have been back on the course after his knee operation on 14th February. He would have been sooo excited! I felt myself falling into that deep, black pit and wanted to howl. On the 17:53 from Manchester to Runcorn East it's not a good move. Instead I sent a couple of texts to friends. I distracted myself with Suduko on my phone. But every attempt I made was like swimming against the tide.

For almost three years Clive and I had been in constant contact. If we weren't physically together we would be in touch in some way. No more. All stopped. All gone. I was supposed to be driving home later - what's the point? He isn't there.

In the safety of my car the tears flowed. I put the radio on.

Oh no! That was all I needed. I simply could not face driving back. I filled up with petrol.
More forecourt tears as my new 'Ms Hanzak-Gott' was declined for some unknown reason!

I went got back to the loving arms of my Mum. I so wanted to return with the same positivity I had left earlier.
It must be so hard for her and Dad. They so want to take my pain away but no-one can. On the news was the court case over a 16 year old girl killed in by a random 'gang land' shooting. Seeing her distraught mother made me think Clive had been 'lucky' to have got to 52. His life wasn't taken callously. I have no-one to blame for Clive's death.

I ate my meal and slowly began to feel better. I had hoped to see Dom tonight but he was filming again. Bit by bit I rationalised my earlier upset - tired, hungry, disappointment on top of grief. Then the weather forecast changed my plan! It looks like a washout tomorrow and the M62 is awful, so I decided I would go home tonight.

Before I left I had almost an hours chat with one of our speaker friends about what I am doing and my plans. I was laying on the spare room bed as we spoke looking at this picture.

There are so many pictures of us like this. He really did like this protective pose! As Paul and I spoke he said he felt 'a sense of Clive - like he is pleased we are talking'. I felt it too.

I nipped to see Dom and he had arms out-stretched to me immediately and a beaming smile.

To complete my upbeat mood instead of soppy music I listened to the first CD from Stephen Edwards ' Face the Fear and feel the Power'.
I drove home feeling quite content and motivated ready to face my list tomorrow!

So what have I learnt today?

  • NHS as regards postnatal illness
  • That Clive's lessons are part of me now
  • To be kind to myself and recognise that 'normally' I am not at my best if hungry, tired and disappointed so to try to avoid those circumstances!
  • To reach out to others when I am getting low and despondent
  • To remember that I am surrounded by so much love and support that will carry me through this

I arrived home to Michelle's thoughtful touches and a beautiful card from a friend. Thank you both of you xx

I am happy to be here.

N nite,

Elaine x 
N.B. Clive's products can be ordered via here.