Goodness gracious, how lovely to see so many of you return to this tardy blog; it made me feel all warm and wanted. Thank you so much. I shall pick myself up and start visiting and commenting too; what a community we are!
One thing I’m glad about is that I stayed in our house, now just mine. At first I felt that I should move as soon as possible, telling myself that the house is too big, the garden is too big, it’s too empty, too lonely, too isolated. When your partner or anyone else you love dearly falls terminally ill and dies you feel helpless, hopeless. There is nothing you can do to regain control. So you grab at anything that makes you feel in control; moving home being one such undertaking. Rearrange the externals and you’re back in charge. Except you’re not. Less than ever, because now you have upped anchor and lost everything that gives you a grounding, the comfort of the familiar. In my case common sense prevailed, or perhaps it was just lethargy, cowardice, fear of the unknown. Anyway, I am still here and likely to stay here, who knows for how long. Somehow, Beloved is all around me, literally so, of course. I have made a small memorial garden for him with a bench, where I can sit and talk to him. It’s snowdrop time, his long drawn out dying time, has been since Christmas, when the first little bells poked their heads out of the muddy, at times snowy, then again frozen, ground. Once they have faded I shall dig up a clump and plant them in ‘his’ patch, awaiting all future anniversaries of his death.
The problem is that there is work to be done to the house, nothing major, just some painting and maybe rearranging rooms, deciding whether to live downstairs and upstairs or just downstairs, changing a downstairs room into a bedroom. This makes it sound rather grand but it isn’t, it’s just that the original owner of this house, who built it to suit her needs, more or less built two bungalows on top of each other, making it easy to divide the house.
So, what to do? When I asked a friend, idly speculating that perhaps I am too old to go in for great redecorating schemes - the usual thing: is it worth it? will I have the time to enjoy it? how long will I be able to stay? - he recalled an anecdote. ‘Two clergymen met. One of them was wearing a suit which had clearly seen better days, looking rather frayed round the edges. “Thing is, do I bother to buy a new one at my age,” the wearer asked his friend. “Buy a new suit?” his friend replied. “I don’t even buy green bananas.”
The story cheered me up no end. I used to tell Mum to go ahead and treat herself to anything she fancied, no matter how short the time to enjoy it. Now I myself am the kind of ditherer who can’t make up her mind because it might not be ‘cost-effective’. (Sorry about the word, I don’t really speak in such terms, just couldn’t think of anything more apt for our mercenary times.)
Talking of cheering myself up: I have seen a bereavement counsellor who let me talk for an hour, singing Beloved’s praises and going back over the wonderful thirty years we had together. Although close to tears at times it made me realise how very fortunate we were and what wonderful memories I have. A whole treasure chest of them. I will see her again. Talking really is the best cure for me. My step-daughter recommended that I write to Beloved, a kind of daily diary, I may yet do that too, although I prefer to talk to him.
Another coping mechanism is increasing physical activity, releasing endorphins, happy hormones. "any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body's opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.” My doctor came up with that one when I consulted her about depression. So now I go to the gym and enjoy it greatly. I do exercises, pound (or rather went from shamble via amble to walk) the treadmill, cycle on a beautiful stand bike and will be doing weights and other infernal machines by and by, as soon as my personal instructor gives the green light. I have to be careful because of the heart condition which is otherwise fully under control.
Eating chocolate and/or falling in love also produce endorphins; I’ve tried the chocolate cure with great enthusiasm but that had rather sad side effects for my hips. And unless you can show me a sweet kitten or puppy I shall probably never fall in love again.