Friday, 16 September 2011

'We're not here for a long time - but we're here for a good time'!

When I was a little girl I vividly remember cold, wet days at school but for a reason to smile! My Mum was a full-time one (a role I always aspired to) so it meant my brother and I went home for lunch. On the days I described Mum would sit me on the central heating boiler in the kitchen (before they were on the wall), along with my scarf and gloves. For a few minutes we'd chat about what I might be doing that afternoon and with a warm bottom we'd make our way back to school. It was her way of ensuring I was at my best - warm, well fed and thoroughly loved - to face whatever the world threw at me the rest of the day. If Dad was also at home, depending on his shifts, there might be the added treat of him taking me back to school on the crossbar of his bike.

At 48 years of age I feel I have had similar treatment! The warmth has come from the hot sun in Lanzarote; food from numerous restaurants and the constant ingredient of unconditional love. As I waited in the departure lounge of Arrecife airport I almost felt as I did those cold, wet afternoons - bring it on!

However, if Plan A had happened I would now be somewhere in the Western Mediterranean on a blissful cruise with Clive until 17th of this month. We had been due to sail from Southampton on the 3rd of September. Initially I wanted to go and take Lynn, his sister, but as the weeks passed we realised that would not be a good idea. I knew I wanted to be somewhere memorable on the 3rd because after Clive died I found a letter from him to me with instructions for it not to be opened until we were comfortable in our cabin that day.

A few weeks ago Mum and Dad said they'd booked a week in Lanzarote 1 - 8th September and wanted to treat me by joining them. Why would I say no? The condition was no blogging and limited use of my Blackberry! They felt I needed a proper rest and 'just to be'. I agreed. In a way as I have gone through life these last few months I have always had 'the blog' at the back of my mind. This could also be the turning point to ease my addiction to it!

And that is what I have done. In summary we spent 6 days with the same routine. Breakfast on the balcony of our apartment; pool side time; lunch on the balcony; pool side time; Happy Hour cocktail as the sun set; dressed and out for a meal.

In between I have listened to music; read trash mags; lost myself in some light weight novels; and often just lay soaking up the sun.

Yes I have a tan to show for it but internally a new strength to begin the next chapter of my life.

The letter? I waited until late afternoon on Saturday to around the time I would have opened it. After waiting so long I was reluctant to do so because this would be the last thing Clive had for me (as far as I know). That made me feel sad. Finally I poured myself a glass of wine and sat on the balcony to open and read it.

Several years ago I went on a personal development course with The Well-heeled Divas, thanks to my friend Angela. As part of that we visualised where we wanted to be in six months time and wrote ourselves a letter to describe it. That came through the post to us six months later. I have since learnt that it is motivating technique used by some on their courses. Clive used to do something similar.

Hence two weeks before he died we had discussed our cruise and if we could afford to go. We made our plans and were on target for it to happen. The letter basically endorsed this, including other aims, such as Clive having two good knees so we could dance!

He also thanked me for many things including 'bringing pleasure, love and beauty' into his life. That made me cry.

It was what I had expected. It confirmed our joint belief of what an incredible future we had ahead of us, together. That he adored and idolised me as much as I did him. I knew that and that was enough. This letter simply sealed it for me.

I just sat for a while. My mind was like a cinema reel showing 'the greatest bits of Clive and Elaine's love story'. Beautiful.

Mum and Dad joined me and I showed them the letter. Incredibly a lone pigeon chose that moment to land on our balcony! It cheekily hopped onto the table and within inches of me! It cocked its head, blinked at me and flew off! We christened him Clive!

The letter and the week around it, has given me a sense of serenity. Is it acceptance? The reality that my darling Clive really is dead? That he is never coming back? That I still have my life to live as both he and I would want - bringing pleasure, love and beauty to those who seek it?

I let my mind drift often and thought of my purpose in life. Has my desire to help people through the hell of postnatal illness really had an impact? Should I be back at teaching in a school now?

'Balderdash', as Clive would say! Each day there were about 10 - 16 people around the pool, if that. Mum, Dad and I didn't chat to others on this trip. However, as I moved to a different sun lounger one day the lady next to me smile and we chatted.

Incredibly her daughter, Catherine Burrows, also had PND and has written a book on it! Jennifer, her Mum, text her daughter later that day and she told me that my book was her 'bible' and I was her 'heroine'!! Of all the pools in Lanzarote ...

Amazing! I was thrilled! On my return I will be in touch with her daughter and hopefully she can become involved with the charity.

We discovered a restaurant at the harbour area of Puerto Del Carmen called El Poril. It was our favourite of the week for both food and service. Front of house was charming Antonio who explained his family's link with everything! His grandfather's liquor; his grandmother's secret dip recipe! He entertained as well as encouraged people to dine. The first night we were in there I did become tearful as a romantic song played. The empty chair opposite me blocked out everything else as far as I was concerned. Mum realised and asked Antonio to move it, explaining why. He didn't like to see his customers crying!

Next time we went he instantly moved the fourth chair! THAT is what you call customer service!

One of his chirpy expressions to his customers was for them to relax and enjoy themselves.

'We're not here for a long time - but we're here for a good time'!

What a brilliant mantra. One I know Clive would enjoy. And one the rest of us should endeavour to do?

Dad, me and Mum at El Poril
So waiting for my flight back to the UK I was so grateful to my incredible parents for this week. 'Thank you' seems inadequate! I purposely did not look at the itinerary of the cruise because I would have tortured myself and Mum and Dad, with 'should haves'. Instead I had a brilliant, healing time with my parents and a week that I shall always remember with them.

This time last year ...
Both Clive and I had been anticipating more photos like this one of us in Egypt last September. It wasn't to be. I still cannot bear to read my journal from that holiday but in time I know I shall. I just want to wait until I smile when I do so, and it doesn't hurt as much. I shall never forget him and still feel him with me just as I did before he died.

This reminds me of an email he sent me on 13/11/2009 this and thought of you princess...

“Your relationship with another person does not exist in the real world, you can’t point at it and say “That’s our relationship right there.” It lives purely within our thoughts. Your belief makes the relationship real."

I believe baby that this is why I still love you and feel you even when you are 100’s of miles away. Our relationship is not tangible it is engrained in my soul. I don’t need to see you to love you, I simply need to know you to love you.

Now THAT makes me smile.

Oh yes - we also had a message from my brother a few days ago. His contract at the Natural History Musuem in Oxford ended last year. At 50 years of age it was a massive blow to be without a job. He has worried us all and has tried for a few new posts to no avail. Suddenly he has an extremely well-paid post as a senior geologist - in Perth - Australia!! He flew there as we went back to the UK!

We are thrilled for him and wish him every success! How quickly life can change.

So if you are currently seeking work please remember that your dream job could just be round the corner (although maybe not the other side of the world!).

And to quote Antonio, remember

'We're not here for a long time - but we're here for a good time'! 

Midnight paddle with Mum
 So what are you going to do today to make it 'good'?

Elaine x

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