Sunday, 24 April 2011


The two weeks leading up to Easter were hard, i was starting to feel very run down and in need of a rest! This was compounded by the Menace breaking up a week before me - and what a manic week that was. I ended up not only doing my usual lectures, but in Wimbledon for a meeting on the Friday and also lecturing on the Saturday. I was also going out on the Saturday night and flying out to Ireland on the Sunday.

For a couple of weeks, i had had a burning mouth, indigestion and general malaise, this wasn't going to be an easy week, but i made it!!

This was the first break that the Menace amd myself had been on without Kevin. Oddly it was not an issue - we went away with my family (my sister-in-law is Irish). My packing was a bit erratic, i managed to pack all the wrong things - i forgot my pyjamas, and took next years diary!!?

Luckily I was able to resolve all on arrival. The Menace was an excellent companion to travel with, he is an age where he can wheel his own bag and can be very sensible. We got there easily, was met at the airport by my brother, and headed off to sunny Donegal! (and it was sunny). We had an interesting journey, we ran out of deisel, my brother had to run to get some! He set off with a cheery "not a problem!"

We arrived in one piece, the Menace ran off to join his cousins, i sat down with a cup of tea and started to wind down. That first night i felt awful, like some sort of space cadet - a head like cotton wool! But a good night's sleep, a week with no access to the internet, so couldn't check my e mails, and a holiday reminiscent of my childhood - boating, beaching and suchlike, lead to a feeling of calm that i haven't felt for months! (I had debated taking some marking, but in the end decided to leave work well and truly behind).

I can honestly say i really enjoyed myself, this was partly because this was not really a holiday that Kevin would have enjoyed, so i didn't feel that ache of how he would miss it. Kevin couldn't swim, would have hated being waist high in the cold water of the Atlantic in April!! It just reminded me of the years of holidays in Anglesey, when my brother and i did these things before (as children). It was a good choice of holiday for a "first".

We went out to a far off beach by boat, had a barbecue, we went dune running, we caught the first lobster of the season (which i killed by putting it in fresh water) and we ate the first lobster of the season. The Menace loved being with his three cousins and had a great time.

We had a walk to the beach on our own one day, and Dennis asked if we could "do this again, next time for two weeks" - i just loved to hear him having fun and doing kid's things.

We came home for Easter Sunday, i tackled it with a new sense of calm, and have had a good weekend too! Although there are plenty more "firsts" i am feeling stronger right now, that has got to be a good thing, i don't want to let the little one down, he needs to see me strong! So Happy Easter to you all!! I feel like sharing the cheer!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Mixed Emotions

I feel that this week i have been visited by the three ghosts; The Ghost of Lost Opportunities Past, Present and Future.

The Ghost of Lost Opportunities - Past

A few weeks ago i met up with some old friends. We go way back and meet up once in a blue moon. One of them was complaining (as we all do) about her hoard of children and what a pain it all was. At the time it didn't bother me and i was happy to join in and empathise with the rant. But later, on my own, i felt a stab of peevishness. One of the issues i have to deal with from the menace is his wish for a sibling, he regularly asks me if i could "have a baby in my tummy", and i have explained that i am a bit old for that. What i haven't told him about was how hard we tried for a sibling, how i went through four unsuccessful rounds of artificial insemination with Kevin's frozen sperm, nor can i tell him the bitter disppointment each time it didn't work. I don't begrudge anyone moaning and normally is doesn't bother me, in fact it didn't bother me this time. It just sparked in me that feeling of complete lost chances, because in Kevin's death, that last hope went, even though it was never going to happen anyway....and we had accepted that and stopped trying ages ago. Its just the Menace in his innocence, doesn't know the anguish we went through. I am in general happy with my one, i know there are others who don't have that, and i don't wish to seem ungrateful, it was just a part of the mourning process. Dennis, in turn likes the idea of the security of siblings, he has expressed to me concern that if i died he would be all alone. My first reaction to that was to brush it under the carpet, but it has been a very real fear for me, so i felt the best thing was to tell him what would happen if i did die. He would go and stay with my close friends, who would be his guardian, until his cousin gets back from Japan, then he would live with them. He looked relieved that i had thought about it, so i know it was the right thing to do - tell him. I did assure him that i am not planning to go anywhere!

The Ghost of Lost Opportunities - Present

This week i went to a party. It was the 40th birthday of one of the parents, and good friends from school. I found this very hard, these were friends that we made and built up friendships with together, so to go on my own was very hard, and not entirely successful. I arrived too early, i couldn't find the e mail about what time to get there, i was also getting quite tearful on the way, perhaps walking there on my own was a bit stupid! I was the second person (well third), the only other people being their old college mates, i felt awkward, made an excuse, left for a bit. I punished myself by walking passed Kevin's old workshop and went to the pub we met in. I knew there would be people i knew who could distract me, but the first thing someone said was "Are you okay?" in a concerned voice, so i ended up in tears. Thankfully i was surrounded by good friends and good landladies who plied me with drinks and cheered me up. (The pub is the White Lion, on Sopwell Lane, should you ever wish to visit, it is very hospitable!) I managed to recover myself and go back to the party. But the evening was one of those "firsts". A time, out with Kevin when i really wouldn't have gone without him under any other circumstances. The Menace was staying at a friends, so i went home to a very quiet house (the dog was pleased to see me), to then face Mother's Day in the morning. Mother's Day was also hard, as that is the sort of day Kevin was very good at(and normally for me such things bear little significance - i am not called the Grinch for nothing). But once again, good friends and my little boy got me through. My friends spoilt me, gave me a lovely necklace from the Menace, who wanted to get me a "beautiful dress" because apparently i am quite cool (that won't last, but made me melt, that he would say it, anyway..... and not to me, to my friend, even better, makes it more heartfelt).

The Ghost of Lost Opportunities - Future

I have had Kevin's wedding ring made to fit me, i have also put in it three small stones, one to represent each of us, him, me and the Menace. The three stones are our favourite colours - green (Kevin), orange (Dennis), red (me) - Yes i know, it is a traffic light!! I was idly twirling it the other day and i took it off, just to check that the inside was okay (we had our initials and the date of our wedding engraved in it). It hit me then, that we would never have another wedding anniversary.

This was never a day of huge celebration, usually we would go for a meal, get each other a card, bicker etc, nothing special, but special to us nonetheless. It was a real blow, because acknowledging it will be hard (our anniversary is not until September!!) you can't pretend it isn't there, nor ask someone else to acknowledge it with you, in a way it strikes me as the hardest, as that is a day personal to us two. The Menace and i have also been discussing the summer holidays, and facing it together without him seems tough right now. We have sorted Easter distractions, but not summer ones. We have some good ideas and some fabulous friends who are helping us to not face it alone, but the anxiety has still been there.

In my determination and resilience (i can be a bit gungho), i have, this week acknowledged that just forcing myself to do everything is not necessarily the best response, holidaying with friends may be an easier option this year! I had tried to tell myself that we would do it "just the two of us", but i think, perhaps scarring us both for life, at this stage is not the way forward! Friends have taken it out of my hands and are making such decisions for me, and i am (i have to say) eternally grateful!

All in all, there has been a lot of acknowledgements on my part this last week (my Polyanna approach is wearing a bit thin), and it has been a tough one. I have decided to try and be a bit easier on myself for the next few weeks. All work and no play .... and no, i am not stopping work, but perhaps, not working late at the computer every night (and if i don't not beating myself up about it..).