Monday, 2 September 2013

Reader, I Married Him.

'Moving on'. A stupid phrase, with so many negative implications, don't you think? When I hear people talk about moving on, it's always about dumping things, dumping people, dumping situations, and in a lot of ways, it is about all that. The things cluttering up your home that you've held on to, yet never really liked.  Clothes that don't fit, or never suited you anyway (what was I thinking when I bought that yellow suit?).

Those so-called friends who were really a bunch of miscreants whose only source of entertainment was to make your life a living hell, with their bitchiness and dramas, gossip and interfering.

The misery, the sorrow, the grief. Dump it all, let it go.

Instead of investing time and emotion on the negative aspects of my life, I choose now to focus on the important things, the things that have made me happy over the past few years, those moments of joy that have kept me going through - adversity I suppose, for want of a better, less worn-out word.

I have wonderful memories of my mother that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I have family who love, value and respect me as much as I do them, and I cherish that.

I have friends who bind me to them with their good sense and humour, their bravery, their companionship and love.

I have pictures that remind me of happy times, and souvenirs of a life well lived.

I have clothes that make me feel good, confident and strong whenever I choose to wear them, and the books on my shelves and music on my iPod stimulate my heart, soul and mind.

My knitting and cooking fire up my passions and move me to create, even if the end results are a pile of crap, I still love and enjoy them so very much.

As well as these, and so much else, I have a partner in life who has held my hand, kissed my lips and loved me unconditionally for seventeen years, through the good, bad and woeful of times.

"Babe", he said to me one day, "let's get married".

And so we did.

As many of our friends and family that could, came together at a registry office in Jersey, Channel Islands, and watched two confirmed batchelors - or so we thought - solemnly(-ish) declare to love and care for each other for the rest of our lives, signing our marriage certificate to the strains of 'Stone Cold Dead In The Market'. A wholly inappropriate song, I suggest you look it up for confirmation. Much later at the reception, we watched as guests laughed, ate a shed-load of cake, swam in the pool and, in the case of our younger guests, beat the living crap out a fish-shaped pinata. Yes, there were tons of pictures. No, I don't have any of them. I'm hoping to see some at some point, if people are kind enough to send them in. I'm told that some are absolute corkers.

What a wonderful bunch of people you all are, I am still overwhelmed that you came, and send you as much love and best wishes as you sent to us.

The next day, Studley and I packed up our stuff and sailed off to the island of Sark, where we walked a lot, talked a lot, laughed and ate (a lot), and fished in the sunshine, and for the first time in a long time I was truly, completely and ecstatically happy.

And so it is that I - that is to say, we - move on with a new sense of selves, a new feeling of belonging. All the things, the situations, that made us unhappy in the past will never completely disappear, we would be foolish to think they ever will. Crap comes along, it brings its' mates and sometimes eats at your heart. That's what crap does, right? It takes up space in your mind and screws with you from time to time.

But things feel different now. I feel different now.

I'm happy. Happier than I have ever been in my whole life.

I married my best friend.

Monday, 1 July 2013

One Year On...

Dear Mumsie,

Well, here we are. One year ago, you passed away. I can't help but think you're looking down at me, knowing just what a shitty year it's been, and being extremely disappointed at how I've dealt with it.

All through your illness, I was the strong one, or so I thought. Supporting you through the chemo, the radiotherapy, cleaning your house, cooking your meals, getting you to your appointments and dealing with the hospital, the doctors, the nurses, the home care, all meant I had to be strong for you. After four years and finally seeing you up and about, able to go to church, visit family and friends, even to go on holiday and enjoy a birthday party, I thought I was doing it right. I thought I was being strong and doing what I was supposed to do.

And yet, I feel like somewhere along the line, I took my eye off the ball. Immersing myself in the routine of taking care of you, I somehow managed to miss that moment, when the cancer returned.

I blamed myself, and it's because I blamed myself that my year turned out to be so shitty.

It's all well and good being told that I did the best I could, or that no-one else could have done more. I know I did the best I could, but will always wonder how much more I could have done. I'm naturally an intra-punitive person, I will always think like that.

Your final diagnosis seemed to break me in two. I fought so hard for you, but when things were taken out of our hands, I felt my spirit dissipate, and then I would cry, loudly, and for so long that I'm sure you wouldn't have recognized the lost, broken and snotty pile of uselessness that I became as someone you had raised to be a hell of a lot better than that.

I failed you, Mumsie. I forgot what it was to be strong. I let myself be consumed by the anger and the darkness that came with the grief.

Even now, one year on, I can still remember the warmth of your hand in mine for the last time. The pain of losing you still runs deep within me, and I feel like all the strength I had just fell away.

I haven't been good to your memory since then, Mumsie. I haven't been good to myself, and I haven't been good to Studley (actually the truth is I've been almost too good to Studley. So good, in fact, that he's feeling smothered, and plans to take up fishing to get away from all the attention I've transferred from you to him. He preferred it when I was always out).

With my routine gone and with you gone, my life changed forever, and for a long time, I found that some heavy shit to deal with.

I need to find a way to fill the emptiness that doesn't involve drinking my body weight in alcohol, or having a mid-life crisis that involves PVC miniskirts, tattoos, weeknight clubbing, or burlesque classes. I'm about a couple years away from a hip-replacement as it is, and my bone density measurement is nothing to be proud of.

Give me a little more time, Mum. I promise I'll get my shit together. I love you.

Being a middle-aged orphan really sucks.