Happy Unbirthday

Not our picnic, but one nearby.

Last  Saturday, we had a picnic for Greg’s Should Have Been 50th birthday.

In a miracle of the Climate Gods, the weather was perfect even though it had rained solidly for the weeks beforehand and every day since (and up to 150mm / 6 inches last night alone).

I am glad we did it.
I’d forgotten who I’d invited, so as more and more people turned up, I was genuinely surprised and glad to see them.  Old friends and workmates gathered and remembered in just the sort of relaxed chat-fest that was Greg’s style.

I saw some people who came to the funeral and then disappeared so I’m hoping that this has reset their minds so they know they can talk to me.

The kids had a great time and I enjoyed seeing everyone.
But by the next day I was a wreck….
…and then today I walked downstairs to find my garage and store room sitting in 2 inches of (thankfully clean) water.
and I broke.
I feel like I’m 100 years old, everything is heavy, I am so tired, the kids are moody and I don’t feel like doing anything.
…except I have had to throw away waterlogged things and try to move things out of the water.
I want to sleep for a week.
Yep – death week is here :(
… but I know it will pass and while I don’t expect things to be “good”, I know they will be OK again.

Am I done yet?

 

This week, bang in the middle of death-march month, has seen me BEG Greg to come back more than once.
Many times in fact.

Seriously, I have coped with this shizzle for almost 3 years.
I have worked, I have kept the kids on an even keel, I have hit rock bottom on more than one occasion and I have stood up again.
Can I have my medal now?

I am tired of grief.
I am tired of being alone in THIS month …. the month that contains the 20th anniversary of that birthday party where we first met.
That first date.
Valentines Day (and the single time Greg bought me flowers without laughing that you’d swung by the 7-11 on the way home.
His birthday.
….and finally, his death day.

I just want to be done with this and go back to how life was Before.
.
.
.
…..but I can’t go back.

I must go forward, even though I hate every year that passes without Greg in it.
I have to ensure I experience joy each day so that yawning black hole of grief is held at bay.
I will move forward in a ways I have never dreamed of.
Grief will not define me.
I will rise again.

The Death March

5 First bars of Beethovens Funeral March (Sona...

5 First bars of Beethovens Funeral March (Sonata 12) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5 First bars of Beethovens Funeral March (Sonata 12) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

….. is here.
Its now February – less than a month until the 1st of March.
The last few weeks of year 3 are here before we tick of the 3rd Sadiversary and enter year 4 of this madness.

My internal monologue is stuck on repeat: “He’s dead.  Can you believe he is dead?  This makes no sense.  How could GREG be dead?  He is so alive.  So young and fit and healthy.  So adventurous.  So full of energy.  How can he not be here?”

February is the month Greg should have turned 50.
I’ve just invited a bunch of people to mark the occasion with an informal picnic at the beach.

I had to track down the e-mails of the men he had been friends with since his university days.
Funny – Before, when life was good, I thought I would be able to count on these blokes if I needed them for any reason.
They were Greg’s oldest mates.
They were solid.
But they turned to dust within 6 months of Greg’s death and have rarely, if ever phoned.
Maybe they don’t know what to say to me …. but anything would have been better than the complete silence of the last 2+ years.

But.

On the other hand, other people have been here the whole time.
The friends who had Greg as their Best Man at their wedding – always checking on us, and coming over to help with those handyman jobs that are beyond me.
Greg’s workmates – phoning, facebooking, sending through new photos as they are found.
My friends who have always been there, never drifting away from me and my grief.

….and my family.  My family are awesome.  They make life good.

…and as I look back over the past year’s death marches, I think (hope) I can say that  – so far – this one is a little bit brighter than the last two.

An odd kind of celebration

Picnic
Picnic (Photo credit: Carlos López Molina)

When Greg died, I had just printed out invitations to my 40th birthday party which was supposed to be held 31 days later …. but wasn’t…. for obvious reasons.

I am not a person who likes to host parties.  I think the last birthday party I helped organise for myself was my 30th birthday when we lived in a small country town and all but one of the party-goers walked to out house.

This time, we had booked a few tables at a local restaurant that overlooked the bay and had a dance floor and live band. I had bought an outfit and was getting excited to see all my friends.

… I still got to wear that outfit and see all my friends though.
Just not for my party.
There was no dancing.
Instead, there were lots of tears.

Anyway, my 50th is still over 7 years away and I am thinking I still need to finally have that party that I didn’t get to have …. but not for me.

…This coming February, Greg SHOULD have turned 50.
It seems such a surprise to say that number in the same breath as his name.  He always looked and acted much younger than his age.  He was such a fit, vibrant, adventurous, funny soul and he loved a good party.

I don’t want to replicate the wake where nobody could meet my eyes … when they rose from the floor that is.  Where everyone spoke softly and drank cups of tea.  Where the world had turned slightly foggy and surreal and I was there without really being there.

I want to have a party that celebrates the bloke that he was.  I want his old friends to come and I want the stories to flow.  I want the kids to meet some of his old friends and hear what an amazing Dad they had.

At the moment, I am leaning towards a general invitation for friends and family to meet us down at the beach for fish and chips – something we used to do as a family.
Informal.
Come as you are.
BYO folding chairs, kite and frisbee.
Picnic-style.

Just like he used to love doing.

Maybe I am odd for wanting to mark a birthday for someone who can’t be there.
Maybe this will seem inappropriate to some people.
Maybe I am asking for the grief monster to rear its ugly head and smack me back down.
But maybe I am onto something that will help us all.

I don’t really know.
But it feels right to me.

It is NOT the same

word cloud widow

OK – I have got my ranty pants on here because I am So Tired of hearing the following statement:

“You are lucky – my husband is such an arsehole – I wish He was dead”.

Usually uttered by my divorced friends who keep on telling me How Much Tougher they have it due to custody battles and financial settlements.

And I understand that at this point in time, they truly hate the person they once loved.  That they are hurting and feel betrayed by love.  That legal battles are not fun. Disputes over children are fraught with emotion and righteous indignation.   Financial hardship is hurting their lifestyle.
And I feel the hate for their husband emanating from their mouths in steams of vitriolic rage.

But.

Being widowed and being divorced are NOT the same.

I listen to all these reasons quietly, repeating in my head that the do not know what they are saying because they have not walked in my shoes.

I deeply love my husband.  Still.

I  cry myself to sleep every night.  Still.

In my darkest moments, I fine tune my exit strategy.  Still.

I look upon the compensation payout as blood money.
I am sick of the ongoing legal battle for the insurance company to pay out the full amount of compensation.
I am still trying to live day-to-day on a single wage and the entirety of ALL expenses fall on my shoulders.
I am worried about what will happen to my-husbands-now-MY-share of the farm that is jointly owned with his brother who can’t see that I need the money from the sale of said farm more than I need to retain ties with a farm that I am convinced caused the premature deaths of both his parents.
I tire of being the only adult making major life decisions that affect our children.
I would dearly love to find a great bloke and fall in love again …. but   Greg set the benchmark so high that I doubt I will ever meet another soul who is so perfectly imperfect for me.  Even if I was ready.

But I don’t say anything in response to these friends who tell me that death is easier than divorce because their Dad died and they had to put up with their batty mother who went  insane and life was still so much better than being divorced ….  I don’t comment that losing a father is not the same as losing a husband and I don’t say that almost every widow I know has thought of suicide at one time or another and I don’t point out that her mother’s insanity was probably deep grief mixed with depression and terror.

But perhaps I should.

Perhaps I should say the one thing I know to be true:

Death and Divorce are NOT the same and until you have walked in both sets of shoes and reflected on each experience through the distance of time, please do NOT tell me how much harder you’ve got it.