When a day starts with a visit from someone passing ‘just to give you a hug’ it HAS to be good. That’s what Clive’s sister Lynn did on Saturday morning as she knew I was about to leave for a conference to present my new keynote.
It did look troublesome though a few hours earlier. On Friday night I decided I would take the new tablets I had been given to help me sleep. Very silly in retrospect as I knew I needed to be on top form for my talk. I took a couple at 9 p.m. and slid into bed by 11. I was feeling confident with my preparation, was thinking happy thoughts BUT then my legs began to twitch and my head was spinning. I could not relax at all! One night when I was really ill with puerperal psychosis I had been given a new drug and that had the same effect. On that occasion I had wandered around the ward, collided with a book case, knocking a vase off and was severely reprimanded by a member of staff.
I remember when Clive read how I had been treated that night he text me (in my saved messages),
‘Just so that you know, I am your knight and it is my job to protect you and I will do that with the last breath in my body. I truly adore you and everything you are’.
At the time I didn’t know he was reading my book but when we were next together he said that woman’s bullying of me had made him furious. Once he had read my story he completely supported my passion for making early parenthood happier for others by reducing the effects of postnatal depression.
So to have similar side effects in the early hours of this morning on my own was scary! For while I debated if to put on Facebook ‘Help! How can I get this drug out of my system?’
I must have dosed off eventually and thank goodness when my alarm went off I felt good. I didn’t feel drowsy but my mouth was as dry as the bottom of a birdcage – one of the other side effects. I won’t be taking any more! Back to other methods!
I took a drink and breakfast back up to bed – strawberries and lemon tart! Dessert left over from last night. How decadent! Neither would have been left if Clive had been around! Incredibly my hair was still looking good from Paula doing it for me at Genesis on Thursday so no action needed.
I packed up, got ready in jeans and T-shirt and set off for Coventry. En-route I had a few phone calls on hands-free but didn’t notice a wrong turn and kept wondering what the flashing circle with an arrow pointing down meant on my Sat Nav. Hmm, slight detour needed! I then realised I was doing a route near Worksop that I had driven Clive to present a workshop at a few weeks before Christmas. It reminded me of many happy hours in the car. He often had flashes of inspiration and blog ideas as he was driving and would suddenly announce ‘write such and such down.’ We were a great team.
I finally got to Tibshelf services on the M1. On one journey last year we had bumped into fellow speaker Paul McGee there. Until this New Year Clive would stop there for coffee and a cake for us, regardless of time of day. He ate so much junk on car journeys. In his desire to lose weight this year he had changed his thinking about diet and finance and we had a new habit. Fruit tea in thermo cups when we left home plus a bag of fruit and healthy snacks in the car. Over a few weeks he worked out that he had lost not just pounds in weight but also in cash. See his blogs here.
I sat today having tea and a toasted teacake remembering. Sad but not tearful. In the ladies I did my ‘random act of kindness’ by tucking in a ladies label hanging out of the back of her neck! Made me smile as that is what Clive would have done (not in the ladies though!).
I spoke to Dom who wished me luck and as I drove the last few miles more memories were uncovered. I passed signs for The Belfry where we had just sorted out some engagements a few weeks before Clive died. Next was The Forest of Arden hotel, the venue of a PSA event I have wonderful memories of. Even a Jet garage I recognised upset me. But I changed my thinking and my actions. Knowing I was only a few moments away from the venue I put Bruno Mars ‘You’re Amazing’ on and stroked my cheek as Clive used to. Both gave me strength.
On arrival at the hotel I knew I was in time to catch the last speaker of the morning. No exaggeration I then spent 25 minutes waiting for a member of staff to appear! Seriously! I finally found someone laying tables who apologised that she was also the receptionist. She told me I could not have a room until 2 pm on which I politely told her I needed somewhere to change as I was due to speak at the conference at 2. She literally ran off and came down saying my room was ready after doing some changes on the computer with the comment ‘it’s only you?’. Hmmm. My room was the tiniest single I have seen! The shower room had a plum coloured suite and the wardrobe so narrow you have to hang clothes sideways on the rail! It was a 70’s time warp! No chance of feeling lonely in a big bed here!
I was booked to speak for the IAPH. Once changed I caught the end of what sounded like a brilliant presentation by Rob Kelly. His last message on people changing their internal dialogue to make a tragic situation into a positive one blended great into mine. He told the story of a young woman whose husband was swept away by the Boxing Day Tusnami on their honeymoon. She has now set up a charity for the children in that area.
At lunch break I checked my presentation had loaded correctly and went to dine. Immediately I felt welcomed and at ease. The receptionist/table setter/waitress was now serving meals! Had she cooked too? The hotel has been taken over apparently and there is a great deal of renovation going on and not many staff. I just smiled at her and felt sorry she was so stressed.
Then it was my turn to speak. I told my life story – so far – using photographs, touching on the main points, ending with Clive’s death and my new journey. The photo collage I did along with Rascal Flatts 'My Wish', went down well. It is pure joy to see a sea of faces all being attentive! I got nods, smiles and shock at appropriate times. I went on to talk about my 'Hanzak principles' of coping with life’s challenges, illustrated with anecdotes and stories from my life.
I was really pleased that I did not have the urge to cry at all! I don’t want to be perceived as using the platform as part of my own recovery. I want to show strength but also not hide my vulnerability.
I could sense how far I have come since I spoke in Colchester within a few weeks of Clive’s death. That time I felt him hold me all the way through. Today I sensed a ‘hand on tummy’ time when I was looking at the photos on the song. I had chosen ‘fun’ ones because we did have a huge amount of it.
Comments I got were ‘Superb. Powerful. Touching. Brave. Wonderful. Useful’.
To say I am pleased is an understatement!
Back in my room I realised I hadn’t packed a nightie and was luckily talking to a friend on my mobile when two delegates let themselves into my room!! It was a good job Nic rang or they would have got a shock! The receptionist had told them she had just checked that this room was ready for them! What? A single for two people that a third was already checked in?!
It was a room. The company was what mattered. Time for a posh frock for dinner!
I just hoped the receptionist did not serve us cornflakes! .......
To be continued!