A snapshot of blue …

It isn’t always like this, but I’m feeling a bit blue today. Then again, it’s probably only to be expected because I have, as we might euphemistically say, the painters in. But I’m going to take a few moments out to bang on about grief again because I suspect the way I’m feeling is pretty universal, so it might help someone to read it and see they aren’t alone.

As a human, I’ve always approached my life, and my future, with an attitude of mild interest, a kind of, ‘I wonder how this is going to turn out.’ That doesn’t mean I don’t try and mould my destiny at all, but I am aware how many other riders there are affecting the outcome of anything I plan. I hope my actions make a difference. Fervently. But I also think I’d be a fool to think I can realign the stars and guarantee anything about my destiny through my own efforts … well … you know … beyond how I react to what happens.

So my dad died. It happens to lots of people. And I’m OK with that and, more to the point, he was. It was his time, he led a full and wonderful life, he was loved … it was, dare I say it, beautiful.

The thing I am having trouble with is what happened first.

Losing someone to Alzheimer’s is really hard. There’s a strange mixture of emotion at the end where you’re glad their suffering is over but really want them back. There’s always hope, until they draw their last breath, that a miracle will happen and they’ll come back to you, that the gradual extinguishing of the light can somehow be reversed, the damage undone, your loved one returned. That you’ll find them again.

It can’t, although you might find enough of them. Dad definitely came back to us a bit at the end, I am in no doubt whatsoever about that.

They say that you don’t get over some things but that you do get used to living with them. That makes perfect sense to me. I try to give myself gaps to grieve, and in between, I tell myself it’s hormones, and yes, I am looking forward to reaching the stage when I no longer have a cycle, when Psycho Week, Misery Week (which is probably where I am now) Extra Special IBS Week and of course, not forgetting Brain Fog and Constipation Week all come to an end and every week becomes Mary Week. I do have a Mary Week once in every five and it is literally like being someone else, someone I really like.

Anyway, I try to convince myself that I’m busy or tired or hormonal but the truth of it is, I’m just sad. And I guess I’m learning that I have the strength to carry that sadness, which is nice, but at the same time, unfortunately, I’m not quite as strong as I hoped I was. Which is a bit of a shitter.

One of the things you can notice about people, if you look hard enough, is that those who are suffering or damaged are marked. They have an intensity, a brittleness about the edges, a burning brightness to their eyes that acts like a huge neon beacon over their heads saying, ‘Damaged Goods.’

Sometimes, I have to tell people that my dad died recently. It’s cringingly embarrassing because usually it’s part of an explanation as to why I’ve forgotten to pay a bill that arrived around that time, or pay in a cheque etc. I find it difficult to keep my voice flat. The emotion always creeps in and evinces an outpouring of kindness from strangers that is only reserved for folks they are very, very sorry for. Which is lovely but quite mortifying. I also find it really, and I mean really hard, to keep it together in the face of sympathy. No matter how hard I try to be dispassionate, they hear the emotion. I am always hugely grateful for their concern. But at the same time, it’s also difficult and embarrassing because there’s only a finite amount of time about which I can talk about it before I cry. I wouldn’t want people to stop showing sympathy though, or stop being kind. Because for all the awkwardness I feel, it’s also a wonderful and uplifting thing.

There’s very little time for sadness in modern life and even less in mine. Mum has dementia, someone has to run her financial affairs, pay the care team, make sure she’s OK. In some respects my weekly visits are a lifeline for both of us. It is wonderful to be able to talk to her about Dad. We discuss how we feel, how there was nowhere else for him to go, how illogical our sadness is when it was such a good death and when it was clearly a death he embraced. I think it helps both of us. Mum is definitely better than she was but she’s had a bit of a blip recently, which, I suppose, is  another reason why I feel the responsibility a bit more keenly than I usually do, and feel sadder.

Typically, now he’s gone, it seems that my life is full of events and problems that I would have discussed with Dad. Things he would have been able to advise me about so I could have made sense of it all and it would have been OK. Interpersonal stuff. It’s a loss I would have felt badly any time in the last one and a half, possibly two, years but it seems a great deal worse now. I think it would be melodramatic and downright wrong to say I’m sinking but it’s definitely a struggle. And I’m so raw. Oh blimey I’m ridiculously raw and so easily hurt about other things. Everything makes me cry, I reckon if I was walking round with a thistle stuck up my arse I’d cry less.

Politics hasn’t helped. It’s like the loss of Dad’s goodness and humanity, the compassion and empathy in him has taken it out of the entire fucking world. This week Britain has stepped up it’s efforts to make a monumental tit of itself on the international stage. The jury who found Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament illegal have been warned to wear stab vests for fear of nutters who are also pro Brexit.

And the two sides bang on at one another, the left getting all drama llama about Jo Cox so they can tell the right that they are heartless twats who don’t give a shit in a way that makes the whole thing reek of faux. The right are totally unmoved, of course, since the majority of them are heartless twats who don’t give a shit and I really don’t understand why the left felt that point had to be made, since we are all already aware.

In the middle of all this, I’m still waiting to hear someone mention the good of the people. Not ‘the will of the people,’ as decided by a ridiculous sham of a vote to decide which side’s lies were less plausible (but sadly, a vote, nonetheless) not who should be in power, not how much better we would be if x or y was in power. Likewise, I don’t want to hear politicians spouting off in the media for the benefit of sending a message to other politicians via the press, rather than because they have anything meaningful to say to us.

Wouldn’t it be great to see someone in Parliament who genuinely seems to be there to try and make life better for the British people rather than to feather their own nest? Someone who isn’t a plutocrat foisting left wing sentiments they can afford to hold onto people who can’t, or conversely, someone who isn’t a hedge fund manager, wholeheartedly buying into the vileness of the party opposing them; a party which continues to demonise the vulnerable, the disabled, the chronically sick as scroungers and weaklings, quietly passing laws to punish people for their disabilities, or chronic illness, or having dementia like my parents, as if these people are to blame for their own suffering. A party pedalling the view that anyone who is vulnerable is weak and that those who are sick somehow deserve to suffer and are not worthy of our compassion. A party that puts the view that, contrary to the tenets of the Welfare State, those less fortunate, or who have fallen on hard times are somehow stealing for us when they are given help. A party which is punishing the elderly for having savings and being careful, stamping on the fingers of everyone working or lower middle class who has dared to put a foot on the ladder. A party which is quietly dismantling the welfare state and the NHS while everyone is too distracted to notice by the circus of shite that is Brexit and all that goes therewith.

We need normal people in politics. Now. Because at the moment, for the most part, it’s just a bunch of rich, entitled pricks doing what they like. On all sides. Their wages alone put them into the top 6%, the expenses some of them charge probably put them into Fortune 500*. Only 8% of Labour MPs are working class. We need a proper mix and we need to hold them accountable, the trouble is, voting doesn’t seem to work so I really don’t know how we do that.

* That was a joke even if it does ring true.

All I know is that watching the different parties competing to out do each other over the lowest depths to which they can sink I feel like something inside me is dying. It’s like grief has taken my reality filter out and I can see every crack and fissure and smell the foetid pus below.

But then something will happen that snaps me back.

For example, today I had to explain to the lady in the building society that I’d failed in some duty of admin because the summons arrived while my dad was sick and dying, or possibly while I was on holiday just before, or maybe in the six weeks previously while I was sick as a dog with a massive temperature and road testing different varieties of antibiotics to get rid of a persistent chest infection. The minute I fess up to her, I know she’s seen the rawness. My orange neon ‘damaged goods’ sign is flashing. She nips out back and comes back with a leaflet.

What to do in a bereavement, it’s called.

‘There are numbers in the back,’ she says. ‘And your doctor can help you too.’

My doctor? Shit.

Is it that bad?

Is it that obvious?

Am I more damaged than I think?

OK so watching my father go mad was pretty horrible, but I genuinely believed that once it was over I’d bounce back. It’s happening but it’s not a bounce and I’m aware enough now that in many ways I will never be the same. I thought it would be a lot faster than this and I thought I would get over it all. I’m not and it’s going to be slow. I guess the hard thing is having to keep going, having to carry on paying the carers and doing the pathetic amount I do to keep things running – the care and gardening team do literally ALL of it but I still find my few duties tough. I probably need to look what happened to Dad squarely in the eye but if I do that right now I’m undone and I can’t be undone, because … Mum.

Or maybe I’m just humiliated that another person has seen the extent of the damage, noticed my brittle cheerfulness and angular edges. I am worried and grateful in equal measure. As I try not to well up at her compassion and kindness I remember what Dad always said,

‘And this too shall pass.’

Maybe that’s the thing that’s so hard. Grief is amorphous. It oozes about inside you like a liquid and leeches out where and when you least expect. There’s no stopping it and no answer. You just have to ride the storm and wait until you are used to it, or it goes. It’s not as if I’m the first person who’s lost a parent, or the last … It’s just … hard.

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

‘Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
‘Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
Today the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

11 Comments

Filed under General Wittering

11 responses to “A snapshot of blue …

  1. And this to will pass away 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Jim Webster and commented:
    One of the best descriptions of coping with grief and the world that I’ve seen

  3. That’s such a beautiful quote. I read it slowly, out loud in my head.

    I firmly believe that my mother and father are watching over me from Heaven; but they are busy, and it is as thirty-year-olds, because that’s the best age for them, or maybe even younger, before they contaminated their lives with the five of us. And WWII had just ended. Such a long history – yet somehow they lived through that war, and learned why it had been fought, and picked themselves up and continued what would be a long life.

    I don’t talk to them as much as I thought I would – I have too many daily battles of my own, I guess, and they didn’t understand those, but we always knew we were loved. That was constant and very clear, and it came with standards we strived our best to achieve, not to let them down.

    Now I’m technically the matriarch – but I live far from my four younger sisters and their families in Mexico City, and not close enough for frequent contact with my own children. My next younger sister, well, she was BUILT for matriarchy – and does an excellent job – and she can have it.

    Which leaves me hanging in the middle, wishing I could share the WIP with my dad who didn’t live to see the first volume published, but wondering what he would have thought of it. AND wondering what Mother would have thought if she could have read it – she read a lot.

    And that’s life. And has always been life as humans. Sorry you don’t feel well so much of the time – hope that’s over for you soon, because life after that is actually better.

    Thanks for so many resonating words and ideas – you are DEFINITELY not alone.

    • Thanks, I absolutely get that whole thing about wanting to be able to share your writing with them. Mum and Dad have seen mine and I am glad of it, although Dad could never follow it he liked the style and gave it to someone who could. I do regret that my old housemistress never got to see my books though. I think she would have appreciated them, so I can imagine how sad it is never to have been able to show them to your dad.

      Glad you have a stand in matriarch 🤣🤣🤣 it’s always handy when someone else steps in for that kind of stuff. Luckily my brother is the eldest so while I’m the Matriarch, he’s the eldest so it could be worse!

      Thanks though, and you’re not alone either.

      Cheers

      MTM

  4. Carol Powney

    Mary, my dear, you are one of the herd when it comes to grief. I lost my only child at the time, Carl, 3, with cancer, Mom and Dad, both cancer. Dad with metastases affecting his brain…and he wasn’t the Dad who had been, but, was still my Dad; as your Dad was yet wasn’t the Dad from your past as he neared his end too. Like you and so many others, yes, we would have them back at ALMOST any price, but no, we would never have them back to suffer or hurt as they did…what ever the cause of their demise and death.
    Grief, loss of one loved in the first year they are gone is raw and intense, and we who really loved them are sensitive. Talking for some helps, burying memories for others, going into a little world of the past for yet others…whatever, we need find our ways to cope…hopefully with understanding friends, and you can email me anytime.
    Eventually, usually second, for some, even the third year before the sensitivity and rawness of grief changes, eases and you become desensitised for longer periods. But note, when you lose someone you truly love, there will always be unexpected moments of the raw, grief that returns when you least expect it. Often Christmas, holidays, celebration times of past happier times. Bittersweet our loved and lost.

    I finally found help, and released my pent up and held in emotions, partly in order to not upset or embarrass others, by accessing CRUSE bereavement counselling sessions. There you talk, they listen, you can get all the mixed emotions out and reasons for how you are in the now, and how to walk on in the future.

    One thing, make as much time and enjoy the time with your mom while you are both on this earth. xxx

    • Oh bless you, I do feel for you and thanks for that, you are a complete star. Mum and I talk about it lots, McMini and I do too, and I’m on the waiting list for CRUSE, they will contact me when they have a slot. I’m trying to just roll with it but I feel that blogging about it may help people, even though I sometimes feel that it makes me look a bit drippy! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a child, miscarrying one was bad enough! I’m in awe of you carrying that.

      Thanks for your support. You are a star.

      Cheers

      MTM

      • Carol Powney

        I’m glad you’re getting support in due course.
        No, you don’t look ‘drippy’. Death is and always has been the hardest thing to come to terms with in my opinion.
        Loved people, and pets, then lost, hurts. But it also shows the depth of feelings one creature has for another.

        Consider doing something a bit different in your Dad’s memory.
        Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s perhaps.
        From coffee mornings, where meeting folk near you helps each other break the ice, or garage sale to clear out excess material items, or sponsored event.
        I did that, and it was good that something positive came from my loved ones death, to help others. Just a thought. Mind you, don’t go overboard…or harm your health, climbing Everest is not what I meant. 🤦🏻‍♀️😂

  5. My dad died just over nine years ago and there are still times when I am so sad and miss him dreadfully. He wasn’t an ideal father and husband but he loved us all with all his heart and that counts for a lot. My mother is now very frail and almost blind but we talk of him almost every time we meet which is a few times a week. I am lucky to have a mum who hasn’t got dementia so that we can remember together. We still get tearful at the oddest times, though! Something sets us off and we have a cry and we usually feel better. You are right. People are never the same after the death of a loved one. The grieving goes on for much longer than you’d expect but it softens with time. My prayers are with you, Mary xx

    • Bless you, thanks. I think I’m very lucky in that mum’s dementia so far hasn’t altered her personality, just made her forgetful but we have great charts about dad and I think it helps both of us. Thanks for your kind words. They do help.

      Cheers

      MTM

  6. I have no words of wisdom but there is no shame in your grief, although I understand the feeling of being an “other” when you are going through bad stuff that society as large would rather not deal with, and feeling like you must soldier on. It must be doubly hard to have felt like you dealt with the loss of him on some level with the Alzheimer’s before he passed, and to then have the blessing and cruelty of him coming back a bit towards the end. What a bastard of a disease. You are doing amazing, please ask for help if you can with day to day stuff if you need it. Thank you for being so open and as eloquent as always, I am sure many others can relate to this who are struggling, even in your pain you are doing things to help people without realizing it I am sure. Hugs.

    • Bless you, thanks. Much appreciated. I am sure the comments on this one are easily as helpful as the original post. If I ever do a book about this stuff I’ll have to put some of them in – where I get permission! 😂😂

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