Month: <span>February 2021</span>

Blocked.

Stuck.

Static.

Nothing.

OK, that’s four very similar words, that’s a start. Let’s build on that.

There must be something I can write about.

Somewhere.

Come on brain, let’s do this.

There is something in there somewhere. You know how this works.

Starting writing.

The words will come.

Won’t they?

I read an article about the impact the pandemic has had on casual friendships, those acquaintances you only saw now and then back in the heady days of 2019, it’s definitely something I could write about. How I’ve got a core group of close friends but everyone else is more an acquaintance, and how those latter relationships have been reduced to a few likes and comments here and there on social media.

But that’s not unique. Everyone is feeling that.

What else then.

I read about Joe Biden’s morning routine, I could write about mine, get up, stretch, have breakfast, go upstairs and start work.

Yeah that’s not really that interesting is it…

I’m running again, making my way through the Couch to 5K program, and in a week or so it’ll be complete.

Yeah, so there’s that.

What an odd time we live in.

OK, I give up.

To be honest between our recent engagement, the arrival of Daisy, and just getting on with life day by day, that feels like enough right now and whilst I have the usual morass of nonsense banging about in my head, and about six or seven blog posts in draft, this is about all I can muster up.

And my ohh my what a first world problem this, bemoaning the fact that I’m struggling to write down some words whilst I sit here in front of my shiny laptop in a warm home with food in the cupboards. What a privileged bubble to occupy.

But that’s a whole other thing. Right?

Or maybe that’s the point, that’s the blockage right there, the cold realisation that nothing I write here matters. Nothing I post is of consequence to anyone except me.

Yet that should be freeing, that should open the flood gates, if nothing I post here is of note, if it holds no real value then post and be damned! Except it’s never worked that way, has it. This is part of me, a filtered and focused view into my life, the parts of it I want to share with you at least. So dear reader, here we are again, another trip down the introspective rabbit hole? No, not today.

I’ll stop here and revisit those drafts I think, see if they can be cajoled and buffed into something. Anything.

Anyway, enough about me, how are you? Comments are open, what are you struggling with?

Blogging Life

Isn’t life a funny thing.

If you’d bumped into me 3 years ago and asked me what I thought the next few years would hold for me I most definitely would NOT have predicted any of the things that have since transpired although, to be fair, I don’t think most people would have picked ‘global pandemic’ out of the hat for their predictions either. I might have predicted (hoped) for a few things but I’m pretty certain that I would not have said that I would be engaged and living with my beautiful, loving fiancée and our two dogs.

That said, if you’d asked me 2 years ago then I probably would’ve told you that this is exactly where I would be, although back then the proposal I had tentatively planned didn’t end up happening (I refer you to oft mentioned global pandemic) but turns out that just made the proposal all the more special and I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.

She said yes, by the way.

The location of the proposal doesn’t matter, not to anyone else, but it means something to us. To be fair it doesn’t look like much, just few slabs of pavement that hundreds of people must walk on every day, but for us it’s where it all really started.

So that’s where we went, that’s where I asked her to marry me, that’s where she said yes.

Like I say, the place doesn’t matter nor the time, and whilst getting engaged was something we’d discussed and were both ready for, I managed to keep the day itself as a surprise. So it was just as surprising for me just how overcome with happiness I was in that moment. Just a boy, standing in front of a girl…. and yes, there were tears from both of us, I slipped the ring on her finger, we kissed and then floated home, fighting the urge to tell every passerby that ‘Hey, we just got engaged!’.

So here I am, living a life that makes me happier than I’ve ever been, feeling like I’ve finally discovered my true self, discovered a contentment and ease that I’ve never really felt before, and every single morning I wake up with a smile on my face, mostly because of the face that’s just kissed me awake.

Whilst I’ve mentioned my partner here a couple of times in passing I’ve found myself pausing each time, unsure of how much to divulge. However, given we just got engaged I think it’s time to properly introduce her and the role she’s played in my life over these past couple of years.

Her name is Rebecca (Becca), she has beautiful big eyes and a cute bum but, more importantly, her quiet strength, confidence, relentless taking of the piss, and genuine love for me is something I want to shout from the rooftops. I feel seen for the first time in a long time. I feel enabled to be me, with all the flaws that entails. I’ve never felt so sure about something, so positive that this is right. We talk about ‘us’ often and both say the same thing, both of us STILL pinching ourselves that this is real, this is our life, and my oh my are we just so damn happy!

With all that in mind then I wonder why I’ve not really mentioned her here. It’s not like we’ve been hiding away on the rest of social media, but I guess here is where my words land and fail and stand in history for the world to see. Ahhh the world. But the thing is if I’m so happy and so content, why shouldn’t I be vocal about her, why shouldn’t I be writing about her us, about us? What was giving me pause?

At first I think it was to protect ‘us’, and will admit there was a part of me that, considering my previous relationships – throughout all of which I also felt love – wondered if proclaiming that I’ve found happiness again could somehow be construed as putting down those previous relationships, marking them as somehow less important or less meaningful, or just ‘less’ in some way?

I know I’m not the first person to be in this position and it’s easy to say that time moves on for everyone and not every relationship works, I’m a divorcee after all. And it’s not that I look back on my previous relationships and think ill of them, more that they weren’t ultimately right for me (even if I didn’t always truly appreciate why at the time) and now they are over. That sounds cold but it’s the truth. Yes I was happy at times, and yes I felt love for those people, but in the end those relationships weren’t right for me for a multitude of different reasons that I’m not going to get into here (ever).

I guess if you remove all the emotions the reality is simple, those relationships are in the past, they helped me learn and grow, they helped me change, and this is where I find myself now.

But then I found myself pondering what makes this relationship different? Why is Becca so special to me?

Editors note: Yes. He overthinks things sometimes. No. It’s not always a bad thing.

It’s hard to be specific but, as cliched as it seems, the simple fact is that we clicked and fell in love almost straight away. Even if we didn’t want to admit it at the time, we both knew it, both knew where it was heading and it was just a matter of time.

Looking at the early days of our relationship it’s obvious now, that initial attraction was deeper than the usual quick bursts of lust, the simplicity of the emotions I was experiencing made it all seem so obvious and clear and very soon we were spending every minute we could together; I would pick her up from work (late) and drive to her place so we could see to the dogs, we’d fall asleep together in the wee small hours and I’d be up before dawn to drive home to change to go to work. I couldn’t stay away, and the few nights we did spend apart just made me feel listless and a bit lost.

There is a word we both use to describe how things have unfolded; “Obvious”. We both feel it, both love each other as deeply as the other and everything after that is, well, obvious. There isn’t any feeling of surprise about how things have panned out for us, it all seems (now) like this is just where both of our lives were heading and, now that we are here and on this journey together, everything else is easy, straightforward. Obvious.

And I really do feel so lucky to be part of her life. Becca continues to impress me, amaze me, and makes me feel good about myself. We support each other, listen when we talk, and nothing is ever a big deal. She also doesn’t put up with any bullshit which helps if I’m just being a tired irrational grump (seriously, just call me on it, it’s the best way to snap me out of it). We laugh often and when she kisses me awake in the morning I find myself smiling.

She supports me gently, not nagging or cajoling, just makes the odd suggestion now and then (OK, I’ll say it, she’s always right!) and she has given me a quiet confidence, something much more concrete than the blustering confidence I have grown so used to hiding behind. My family and friends can see the difference in me and said as much.

For my part I only hope I am able to support her as much as she has me this past year when my Dad passed away. She was there whenever I needed her, gently and lovingly supporting me and my family, leaving me alone when I needed space, holding me when I felt lost. She is kind and considerate, generous by nature, and passionate about helping others. She is beautiful in so many ways she doesn’t realise. And she has a cute bum.

How did I get so damn lucky?

I won’t lie, it feels odd to be starting over with someone. I presumed I’d passed the age of thinking about such things and whilst I’m not that old (yet) there was a period for a couple of years where I figured that being single wasn’t such a bad thing, I’d had my fun.

Age is but a number though and so here we are, engaged and on a new journey with each other. I’ve no real idea where we will end up and, whilst we have the usual dreams and aspirations that all couples do, this time they feel grounded and possible and have a whisper of anticipation about them, like the things we hope for our future are already out there waiting for us, beckoning us towards them.

And now we are engaged, and will be married, and I cannot stop smiling.

Isn’t life a funny thing.

Life

It’s been six months since my Dad suddenly passed away. Since then I’ve been working through my grief and, somehow, stumbled across an Instagram account by Dr Laura Williams who shares writing prompts as one way to help people process their grief. It immediately struck a chord with me as my go-to method for dealing with things is to start writing. What follows is a suggestion from one of her prompts (sort of mish-mashed into a couple of others).

I’m sharing this with you all because grief is odd and weird, but maybe you’ve had similar thoughts to me about your grief and that’s ok. It’s also ok if you haven’t or are still figuring it out, no matter how long it’s been.


Dear Dad,

I’m writing you this letter in the hope that my grief will give you some solace. I’m writing you this letter although I know you will never read it. I’m writing you this letter to help myself because you aren’t able to anymore.

I still can’t quite believe it’s only six months since you left us. Six months since those final days in the hospital, six months since the last goodbye, six months since the phone call from the hospital telling us you were gone.

We’d only left you an hour or so before, looking calm and peaceful and already at rest as we told you how much we loved you, and stifled the worst of our tears. We left the hospital and drove back to your home, then the three of us sat together in the living room, waiting for the call. I answered my phone and repeated the awful words to Mum and Jennie.

We all paused as it sank in.

Then we all gathered around Mum and cried together, the depth of our love growing with each sob as reality tried to push in; but we weren’t ready for it yet, so we held each other close and pushed it away, a closed circle of quiet strength, it was just too awful to consider our lives without you in it.

This was the form my grief took for the first few days, a constant battle of pushing away the horrible truth, keeping it as far away as possible so as somehow to keep it from being true. It just wasn’t possible, you couldn’t be gone, not yet, not with so much more life to witness, so much more love and joy to give. It wasn’t fair.

It still isn’t.

Since then my grief has morphed and moulded into something else, a constant companion waiting in the wings to interrupt at random moments; it’s odd the things that trigger memories of you, of us, but I take comfort that they are all happy memories even though they are now tinged with the sadness of losing you.

I cry sometimes without warning and give myself willingly to those moments, whether they are just a few silent whimpers or deep anguished sobs. Sometimes a single tear is all there is to mark another day without you in my life.

My grief is not constant.

Sometimes I catch myself realising that I didn’t think about you at all the day before. Is it a good thing that the time passed without you in it? Does it signal a lessening of my grief? Or is it a bad thing, marking the beginning of your slow removal from my conscious thoughts? I ask you these questions even though I know you can’t answer, even though they aren’t the kind of thing we’d even have discussed before. Before.

It’s funny now to think of the clichés that I’ve read and seen repeated too many times to count, all rendered true by your passing. I didn’t spend enough time with you, that’s for sure, but such things are clichés for a reason, no-one ever spends enough time with their loved ones. I don’t regret that, I have nothing but fond memories, joyful moments shared, to look back on and they always bring me the solace I expect.

I always thought my grief would be a huge mess of emotions, days of surviving, of clinging on to any scrap of love or happiness to get me through this unthinkable event. Then at some point I’d move into the humdrum days of the life of the fatherless, crying would become less and less frequent, thoughts of you would start to dim, a slow fade to black, sands dropping through the timer until empty.

But it isn’t like that at all. I knew this, of course, I’ve read enough accounts of grief to know that there aren’t defined stages, that they don’t follow or loop or arrive in any order, nor do they stay distinct, and nor are they the same for everyone. It is one thing to read about grief, quite another to experience it so profoundly but please know that I’m finding living with it is both harder and happier than I imagined, more bearable than I thought possible.

It’s odd to be learning about something new when all I want to do is walk in to the living room and see you sitting in your chair.

I learned a lot from you, inherited other things. My curiosity, my love of books, my propensity for tears, my silly sense of humour, my kindness, my geekiness.

I find myself diving deeper into my grief at times, not to wallow in it but to better understand it. I get an odd comfort from dredging up long forgotten memories, and I can feel the relief of still having those available to me, the emotions washing over me despite the cold melancholy that accompanies them. These moments are not a wailing, sobbing, grief but a nurturing one, a balm on my rawest emotions, a salve of all the love you gave me whilst you were with us. It’s nice to still be able to feel that, to sense you and know and trust the love you had for me, to keep you with me that way.

It’s been six months but we are coping, we are learning how to live without you by, I think, keeping us with you. We talk about you still, laughing at some things, bemoaning others and it makes me understand, now more than ever before, just how much I am my your son. The realisation makes me smile and cry all at the same time.

This is my grief, these constant combinations of emotions, never distinct, always tumbling over each other for attention, a morass of frustrated glee and quiet discomforts. A few times I’ve embraced the sadness completely.

One day I was overcome by the fact that you weren’t here anymore. I can’t recall what triggered it but it overwhelmed me so deeply. I sat on the edge of my bed and waited for the tears to arrive, but grief cannot be forced, my eyes remained dry and the lump in my throat, the rock lodged there, refused to yield. Later that day, walking Dave in the evening gloom, a line from a song suddenly brings tears to my eyes. I walk on and let them fall willingly to the ground.

I miss you.

I’m still trying to understand how to deal with this grief and all the maelstrom of emotions it brings from day to day but that’s ok, I have so many wonderful memories of you to lean on that as terrible as it is that you are gone, I console myself knowing that my life would’ve been far worse without you as my Father. It’s a constant whirl, a raging hatred of the world that took you away from us, and a blessed calm that we knew you at all. How rich our lives are now, how poor we would have been.

In the midst of all this there are realities we face as well, we know your IBM was worsening and soon you’d lose the ability to walk, to care for yourself and, undoubtedly more importantly in your eyes, to care for Mum. We know you’d have hated relying on others, to have carers fuss over you, and ultimately we know your end would have been a miserable one as you slowly lost all muscle control. It is not a life I would wish for anyone let alone my own Father, and I think we all take some tiny comfort that whilst your death was too soon and too sudden, at least it spared you that ignominy.

I spoke at your funeral. The words came easily at the time and still hold true, but I wanted to say so much more than I did but that day wasn’t all about me, after all I was speaking to, and for, others. I hope you would’ve been proud of me, I think you would. It took a lot for me to stand there, a fatherless child, but I knew it was something I had to do for you, for me.

I will say these things again, I will say how proud I am to be your son and I know you were proud of me, proud of the man I have become. These recent years, with my own happiness something you commented on, a rare occurrence in itself which made the impact all the deeper, the richest of them all. I learned so much from you, have inherited your penchant for bad puns, questionable colour choices, and a trend towards silliness to make people smile. I have your warmth and care stored deep in my heart, I echo your curiosity for new things, and hope I have your light caring touch when needed.

The more of you I recognise in me the happier it makes me, yet I still remain sad that we can’t sit down and discuss these things, not that we ever would.

Returning to cliché then and I’ll say that I hope I can become half the man you were, and if I can manage that I’ll have done well. And no, no jokes about your height, not this time.

I still can’t look at a photo of you without bursting into tears, I don’t think that will ever change.

I hate that you won’t ever read these words.

I miss you so terribly.

Your boy, always.

Life Personal Musings