Saturday, 2 April 2011

A thicker outline

I am now back from the rugby match and will reflect upon today. I know it's late and I have an early start in the morning but I may as well let my mind unwind now rather than when I turn off the light!

Generally I feel the best today I have felt so far since Clive died. Possibly my Mum's request that I cheered up helped? Perhaps it was because I wrote a list of what I needed to do and achieved it? Perhaps it's the cliche 'time heals'?

No matter - life feels a little easier today. I admit I have gone flat now so maybe if I revisit the day it may help.

I slept well again, no drugs, no bird in the loft and no tears. As I have a friend coming to stay on Monday I decided to strip and wash the guest bedding. I also booked tickets for Paolo Nutini in York in June. If Clive had still been here I know we would have gone - anyone want to come with me? Standing tickets only?

Next on the list was the dentist. I gave the receptionist my change of name to which she proclaimed 'Oh, you must be poor Clive's partner?'
She and her colleague then chatted with me about how shocked and saddened they had all been there. Yet another place he had made an impact! Did this guy ever go anywhere and not be remembered?! I have to admit I swell with pride at the affection and respect he received and I just love any opportunity to talk about him and listen to what others have to say.

I did another couple of jobs in Tad and headed home to resume the list. The wind and warm air had dried all the washing which was then ironed and put back on the bed. Such efficiency!

I tackled paying my bills. Then I had a very pleasing surprise. I had finally sorted the transfer of Clive's mobile number transferred to a pay-as-you-go phone of mine. Yesterday I had been so upset I had 'lost' his answerphone message. When the transfer was complete this morning there were some texts messages waiting for me on the SIM card from months ago when I had last used this phone as a spare. Just a few more memories to smile at.

My most important task today was to put together a talk for next week for a NHS Patient Safety Conference. This needs to be more generic than my usual postnatal depression aspects. I really got a buzz back planning out how I could refer to my different roles as a patient and carer. My title is 'What makes me feel safe?'
I don't do 'death by Powerpoint' presentations with text bouncing across the screen. I use personal photographs. I bring reality to conferences. I bring real people and lives rather than statistics and policies - the objective is to bring them to life! On my final slide I put a picture of Clive and I. In a flash I answered my question 'What makes me feel safe?'

Clive did.

His favourite book was a dictionary and he used it as a basis for many of his talks.
So what does safe mean?

Free from harm, injury, or risk; untouched or unthreatened by danger or injury; unharmed; unhurt; secure; whole; as, safe from disease; safe from storms; safe from foes.

He made me feel all of these - especially secure and whole.

He was fiercely protective of me and would be 'my knight' to keep me from harm. After I had my hysterectomy in October 2009 he was so caring. When I had my first faltering trips out he was like a bouncer around me! We went to a big bonfire gathering in Tadcaster a few days after I was discharged. Woe betide anyone who walked or stood within 2 feet of me! That was the first time I had come across pie and peas smothered in mint sauce! What a delicacy!

I felt safe with his arms around me.
I felt safe with my head on his chest.
I felt safe walking holding his hand.
I felt safe knowing he was waiting at home for me.
I felt safe that we were working together and as individuals but as a team.
I felt safe with the future we had planned.

I suspect that as this safety net has been literally whipped away, that is another side of grief.
I have to find other means of safety.

I know I am surrounded by it - I just have to look, find and appreciate it.

Once again today I have been helped by my neighbours, through friends old and new via texts and emails and of course, my two families.

Then onto rugby at Leeds Rhinos . Sadly my friend could not make it with me at the last minute and Pete (our friend and database organiser!) also failed to get someone else to come along as I did at short notice. I still went by myself. I had the choice to decline but I value going so much and knew I would rather sit on my own there than not go. The meal before the match in the corporate area is very good and I joined Pete, his partner Mandy and children Sam and Emma. The children miss Clive too as he always made a fuss of them too.

Once at our seats to watch Leeds play Wigan Warriors I was hugged by the family who sit on the row behind. So many people smile at me and ask me how I am doing. It is so comforting. I was a little apprehensive about sitting on my own but Pete and Mandy loaned me Emma! What a delightful companion! 
WIGAN!!! What? It turns out that Pete is actually a Wigan fan, as that is where he comes from. The rest of the season he supports Leeds but for this match his alliance changes! It just added to the pleasure tonight.

The game was brilliant! Leeds were leading 22 to 4 at half time. Both teams provided loads of action. I smiled as I reflected back 3 years ago when the thought of watching such a match would have been such an alien experience for me. And here I was shouting and singing with the rest. The second half was incredible with Wigan getting try after try and then a final kick in the last seconds to draw 22 all! Clive would have held his head in his hands at that! It was a pure delight watching it with Emma - thank you sweetheart for a wonderful evening! And I managed the whole match without a cry. That was progress.

Back in the corporate suite for cheese and biscuits and post-match discussions I thought again how much I had enjoyed tonight. Rugby League certainly is a family spectator sport. I suggest you give it a go!

As we walked back to the car park I commented to Pete that today has been my 'best' day so far. The gingerbread man' cut-out that I have been feeling I resemble feels tonight like it has been given a thicker outline with a chunky felt-pen instead of a pale, thin pencil. I know I have smiled more today although I have had a trembling lip a few times. Perhaps I am all cried out?

So what have a learnt today?
  1. To listen and accept advice to 'cheer up'
  2. To make a small list and take pride in crossing things off it
  3. That a good surprise may follow a disappointment
  4. To attend events even if on my own
  5. That children are delightful and great 'therapy'.
I also have to go to bed as I have two days with Dominic to relish!

Elaine x

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