Thursday, 12 February 2015

Smile, open your eyes, love and go on

Thank you for all your kind comments and messages and thoughts, I really do appreciate them. I've been struggling as to what to write here now. I always try and keep this space positive and upbeat, which usually isn't tricky, I like to think that's the person I am most of the time. But these last few weeks have been quite tough, and I'm not at my most positive right now. I seem to be more in a place where all the little things that I would usually take in my stride, things like hunting for school shoes or squabbling children or teas that don't work, feel like mountains to climb. Plus we've had a horrible flu like bug go through the house, that seems to be of the lingering cough kind. And then to top it off one of our lovely cats died in the night. Just as with my Mum, we knew it was coming, but again just as with my Mum, that doesn't necessarily make it any easier. It's probably hard to have absolutely no regrets when a person dies, most likely there's something you'd wish you might have said or done differently, but I'm not sure it's ever quite that simple, people are complex creatures, we do the best we can do at that moment in time and regrets are usually something I manage reasonably well to avoid. But this morning I couldn't help but wish, repeatedly, that I'd taken the time to give our cat one more stroke, before going to bed last night. I know that seems stupid, especially given our wider picture at the moment, but cats aren't complex, and stopping by for a last stroke would have been very easy. Perhaps a psychologist would have a field day with this and suggest that I'm projecting all my suppressed, complex regrets about my Mum into a single, simple regret about my cat!

You see, this is what happens when I try and write, without knowing quite what to say!

OK, since I try and focus on the positives here, I will have a go at that now. And there are some positives:
  • All the children seem to be coping very well with the situation. I was worried about how each of them would deal with it in their own ways - Sam and Theo because they are that much older and more reflective, Venetia because, of all the children, she spent the most time with my parents and is very close to my Dad, and Maria because she reacted so badly to my Mum's illness in the Summer. With Maria, I think hopefully we may have bottomed out her worries before we got to this point, and quite possibly she was as much disturbed by the frequent trips to the hospital as anything else. Venetia is continuing to spend the most time with my Dad and is being extra, extra affectionate and loving. And the boys have been touchingly concerned about my loss and how I have felt, but that is beginning to wear off a little now and a return to more usual teenage boy avoidance of any excessive discussion of feelings is returning! Hugs in a respectable amount of moderation are happily still perfectly acceptable. And all the children are also being very mature about our poor cat too, and giving our one remaining cat lots of extra love, in case he's lonely (personally I think maybe he's relishing having the food bowl all to himself and just lapping up all this extra attention).
  • My Dad is very much in the right place to try and heal, and to move on as much as he can from this. He has obviously been the one to struggle the most with my Mum's death. It has been truly heartbreaking to see at times. We worked out that until the day after her death, my Dad had seen my Mum every day without fail for the past 58 years. He has always been totally devoted to her, and that's a hard habit to break. More than that, for the past 3 or 4 years his whole life has revolved solely around caring for her. His one purpose has suddenly gone, his daily timetable is now non existent and he has been lost. Whilst there is no quick fix here, my Dad does love being around the children, I know he takes a lot of comfort, as well as distraction, from time spent with them. My Dad is also a very positive person, and I know he will get through this.
  • I think children are generally very good at showing us that life goes on, and more than that, making us get on with it. Birthdays have been celebrated, cakes baked, birds fed, exams studied for, ballet lessons attended... 

Peanut butter based bird food is apparently quite tempting to little girls too!

  • I am very thankful that my Mum was at home with all of us in her final days, and that she was comfortable at the end. She always reacted very badly to hospitals, and I'm sure it would have been far more distressing for both my Mum and Dad had she gone into hospital.
  • The funeral was a very difficult occasion, but I feel that everyone said all the right things, all the things that would have mattered most to my Mum. For my Dad, I think it was just a case of getting him through it, and I'm not convinced he will remember much about it at all. But for the rest of the family there, I think maybe it did provide some comfort. I didn't know what to call this post, till I got to this point, but the 'Smile, open your eyes, love and go on' is the last line of the poem 'She is gone', which my two nieces read beautifully at the funeral. And, for my Dad, we have plans to create a special area to remember my Mum in the garden, just outside his kitchen window, with a bird bath, and snowdrops and a special bench. He doesn't need a special place to remember her, he will be remembering her all the time, but I think this is something that will give him some comfort.
Snowdrops, both real...

And a year long variety, from Cornish Crafty Made

  • So many friends have sent heartfelt cards, many speaking of how my Mum touched their lives for the better. And so many special, local friends have been incredibly supportive and caring. Thank you to any reading here.

So, there are very important positives, and it is still such early days for us all. So far I have been struggling to return to sewing or anything creative really. Chopping wood has been a better therapy, but at some point soon I will force myself to sit back down at my sewing machine, and when I do I'm sure it will help me.



  1. Oh what a beautiful poem, especially the last line. I've not been in your shoes exactly because everyone is different but in my own pair shall we say and it sums up exactly how I feel about my Mum, that life has to keep going and you need to hold onto the happiness. And while life never goes back to how it was before, it does become normal, and the sewing machine will be waiting for you - for now take care of yourself and make the most impressive log pile in the west country!

  2. That poem is beautiful Sally, thank you for sharing it. And I think your title for this post is perfect.

    I am so sorry about your cat. Even when it is expected, it is never easy. Hugs to all of you.

    I just sent you an email, so I won't say much here. Know that you haven't been far from my thoughts my friend, and that I am only an email away. Much love and hugs to you. xo

  3. I think this is a beautifully heartfelt post and I hope it was a bit healing to get some of your thoughts written down, Sally. When I saw a grief counselor in early November, she said that having a routine was really important and to try to get back to sewing. It really took me 2 or 3 weeks before I FORCED myself to sit down and sew and I could only stand it for maybe 30 minutes at most. But after a month and a half it started to feel more natural again. I know we are all different and process grief in our own ways, but it will come back, even if it doesn't feel like it now. *hugs*

  4. Beautifully said, Sally.
    May your heart start healing and your soul be released from anguish to sing again.

  5. I've been thinking of you, the snowdrop memory garden sounds lovely x so sorry about your cat too, and that you've all been unwell, such a lot to deal with at such a difficult time x take care, be gentle to yourself xxx

  6. Sounds to me like your doing amazingly. Just do what feels right and things like the sewing will slip back into your routines in time xxxxx

  7. What beautiful words and what a beautiful poem. Moving on happens so differently for so many, it's hard to know what is right and what is wrong. Was is positive and what is not. Just feel the way you need to feel my friend and never apologies for just speaking your mind. We are not here for you to cheer us up, this space is your space and if you need some healing, then that is what you should right about. Thinking of you. xox


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