I have been reminded that I have not blogged for a few days! Seems I have been missed – that’s nice, so thank you.
Basically I have been on my travels to Cardiff. I had a long but productive train journey from York down to Cardiff on Wednesday. I decided to have a coffee in Costa at York station, a regular venue for Clive and me. Although I was excited for my trip I also felt very sad that it was only me. Clive had booked us into the gorgeous St. David’s Bay hotel for this adventure and wanted me to have a pamper. I could not face going there alone so changed to the Holiday Inn. I had arranged to see Dr Ian Jones at Cardiff University who has a special department on Maternal Mental Health. Meanwhile Clive was to speak for one of our friends, Don Hales, at the Customer Service Training Network.
I could have got very morose and initially I did. I had hardly slept on Tuesday night through being upset. I felt washed out, weary and fragile. Some supportive texts on my way down really helped, as did this comment from Saturday’s presentation:-
Elaine thank you for sharing your story with us. Do continue to inspire and encourage others and remember that joy and laughter are also part of Clive's legacy to you.
I changed my thinking and decided that Clive would have agreed with this message. It also helped to write my previous blog on ways to ease the pain of loss. My own words began to heal me – I have to remind myself that one of the worse things ever has happened to me in losing Clive. In comparison nothing else is significant.
Once in Cardiff I walked to the hotel. I have spoken here before for Nursing in Practice and the Royal College of Midwives so it felt familiar. The excitement began to build.
I met up with lovely Don and his colleague Anne-Marie. We had a tasty meal together and a warm and friendly chat about many things, including Clive. I know Clive had a great deal of respect and affection for Don, as do I, and the feeling was mutual. We both agreed how pleased Clive had been to present for them. Don heard me speak before I had met Clive so he was delighted for me to be a replacement. I was eager for his evaluation on my new keynote.
I slept well and next morning got a taxi to British Gas who was hosting the event.
The Customer Service Training Network is a mutual self-help membership body formed by Don Hales in 2007 to enable those involved in customer service training and associated activities to meet on a regular basis to share ideas: listen to great presentations: keep up to date with latest developments and develop a network of colleagues in various organisations to call upon when necessary. The Association is open to everyone who has an interest in customer service training provided they respect the aims of the membership.
It was fascinating to listen to how customer service training and changes have been made at British Gas and I was happy to give my talk just before lunch. Although I am waiting for the full feedback, it would appear I was ‘brilliant’! I am thrilled. It would appear that my audience now has widened to anyone who needs some inspiration to ‘get through’ when life hits you hard.
Over lunch I was stunned to hear how my story and suggestions had impacted on some of those present. Following me was Lynne Cobb from the Work Life Company. I thought her facts, figures and ways to reduce sickness levels in the workplace was a perfect ‘follow-on’ from my personal story.
I felt very emotional as Ieft the building. I had huge excitement in that my belief that my new keynote is applicable for audiences who are not just health professionals, but business too. This had been confirmed. I felt humbled and privileged by those delegates who shared personal stories with me. I had a wave of such sadness too as I know how well Clive would have received by them. He would have been snapped up by some of the companies to present for them. The pleasure. The pain.
I got myself together and was delighted to be met by fellow trustee Martin Johnson from Joe (Joanne) Bingley Memorial Fund.
We went for a very productive meeting with Ian. We told him about the Foundation and he told us of the different groups he is involved in regarding maternal mental health. Watch this space!
Martin and I went for a delicious meal at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. Will was our waiter – what an excellent example of customer service from a young man who obviously loves his work. The food was excellent, as was the company and Will was a pleasure to be served by. By the time I was having a cool Guinness back in the hotel I felt mellow, pleased with myself and warm in the knowledge that Clive would be proud of me.
Friday was spent on UK motorways! It should have taken 4 hours but due to Bank Holiday weekend traffic and a few bumps it was almost twice as long! Poor Martin!
My day was made by the first comments from Don which made the trip worthwhile.
It was a very quick change at home as next stop was Leeds Rhinos www.leedsrugby.com/ versus Warrington Wolves which I shared with Lynn and friends Nic and Bob. Even though we got beaten I enjoyed the game. The spectators behind us were rather loud and I was doing well until Rhinos scored a try and someone in the stand shouted ‘whoop – woo’ just as Clive used to. I held Lynn’s hand tightly and fought back the tears. The swing from pleasure to pain is horrible. It can change so fast and I have to remind myself not to dwell on the pain.
Once Nic and Bob had left on Saturday I knew I needed ‘me time’. I have had a week of travelling, presenting, being sociable, being very high, getting very upset and low. I have been gearing up to this week for a while and put my focus on it, and no further. It has been a success but I know I need to recharge before I follow-up and take the next steps forward.
I have spoken to several people and am looking forward to having time with my family next. Yesterday I merely settled on the sofa and caught up with various television programmes. I finally defrosted a mince dish that Clive had made literally the day he died. Yes I could have kept it for months but I know he’d have said ‘get a grip’! So I had a can of Guinness and enjoyed it whilst I watched Britain’s Got Talent. The combination of it all was too much and once again the tears fell. Between my red eyes, blotchy face and runny nose I laughed at myself. What would my audience say now? Where was the brave, courageous lady they had seen and described? A crumbled wreck in her dressing gown! I gave up in the end and went to bed. I was actually pleased that I had actually done nothing!
As I settled in bed I made my mind up that I would have a productive day today. I watched ‘Face off’ to avoid the inevitable void I get at bedtime. I try to be positive and not burden anyone. I know everyone else has to get on with their lives and I must rebuild mine. Yet still the ache of missing Clive is massive. I miss his laugh. His touch. His hopes for our future. His excitement. His singing. Every darn thing. Sadly no-one can help with that.
When I woke this morning I felt optimistic and decided to start with tea and toast in bed with Steve Wright Sunday Love Songs. That was fine until Frankie Valli sang ‘My eyes adored you’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HJ7w9MTCqs&feature=fvwrel
I stroked the empty pillows at my side. In spite of all my best intentions this underlying massive hole and sadness remains. I loved the way Clive constantly told me that he ‘adored’ me. He always stressed the‘d’. Why oh why has he gone?
I gave myself a pep talk and decided to get into ‘busy’ mode at my computer to catch up on things. All systems go – except the computer! The mouse had died on me! And the printer needed ink. I went to Tesco for a new mouse, ink and a couple of bits. Whilst there I had a Sunday brunch, eating in the cafe where we had often had a scone. Sad again.
Back at home, fed, organised and ready to get busy the computer still refused to co-operate! I smiled at the thought that maybe Clive was telling me it was a ‘none office’ day! We often would have that rule at weekends as the tendency of being self-employed means you never switch off!
Instead, as the rain had stopped, I did some gardening. I had been ashamed of the length of the grass last week and had asked Rod if he would do the lawns for me, which he kindly did when Lynn and I were at rugby. The borders were a disgrace. In the past two of us shared all the house and garden tasks. It is a challenge keeping up and I am finding time an issue!
I regularly fought back the tears as I dug and weeded. Clive had really begun to love the garden and took great pride and enthusiasm in it. Each area held different memories. I wondered if he had realised as he planted some of the plants last year if he would have lived any day differently had he known his fate? Would you? If you knew that your days were numbered would you have spent today as you did? Would you be worrying about what you are worrying about now? Would it be so important? So should it be so now?
I have used my laptop for writing this as I watch Britain’s Got Talent. The last two years Clive and I had loved watching it together. He loved the whole concept of ‘people working hard at their talent and passion and getting recognition’. It was what he was about and often he’d be in tears too.
I am well aware that tomorrow my Mum will be telling me off for ‘torturing myself’ today. Arguably I have. Or is it that in order to be the strong lady at times I HAVE to allow myself days like today? I am not hiding from my emotions. I am not fighting them.
Clive was indeed my soul mate and would have been my husband with an exciting future ahead of us. It has been snatched away. After 3 months I feel that perhaps sympathy is waning. By now I should be ‘over him’. I should just ‘get on’ and let others do likewise.
It’s not easy when I still feel my heart has been ripped out. But I shall plod on! After such optimism for my speaking career this week I refuse to be down! Clive may not be here but his legacy would for me still to have fun and laughter.
Now it’s bath time, candles and restful music! Tomorrow is another day, I shall pick myself up and be determined to smile again!