Disconnected


The Hound found a phone on Hampstead Heath last week. The two of us were mooching about in the grounds of Kenwood House when he started sniffing something under a bush. Usually such nasal activity is connected to another dog’s poo, pee or passing bum, but this time it was a phone battery. Scattered nearby was the front and back of a new-looking HTC smart phone. I gathered up the pieces and put it back together, intending to find the number of the phone, ring the owner and reunite them, but my cunning plan failed immediately because I hadn’t got my reading glasses with me, so the hi-tech keypad was just an blur of random colour, like a psychedelic 70’s album cover.

Back at home and specced up, I found the list of recently called names and numbers. The first one I tried, Sara, went straight to answerphone.

I tried name two: Si.

After a few rings a man barked “What?”

Actually, “WOT?” would be a more accurate description of Si’s first word. A stroppy irritated, What the hell do you want now? type “WOT?”

I launched into my little speech. “Er, you’re going to think this is very weird, but I found this phone on Hampstead Heath about half-an-hour ago, so I’m ringing your number because it was in a list of dialled numbers.” 

Now, in the movies, the script would go something like this: Grief stricken recent widow with no intention of finding romance ever, let alone after only six months and three weeks (previous scene shows her investigating becoming a nun in a non-silent order, but only if the habit is black and white and relatively stylish), arranges to meet Stroppy Si to hand over found phone. Widow arrives at appointed rendezvous (Kenwood House again: if it was good enough for Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, it will do for my movie) sans slap, haggard-faced, wearing a dog walking jacket stuffed with black poo bags, to be confronted by six-foot dishevelled hunk with sad eyes (due to his own grief at losing his wife, not because he’s been crying over losing his smart phone). There is an instant electric connection, but both freaked-out by their feelings, they beetle away in different directions and the next two hours of the film are spent in a “Will they? Won’t they?” game. (Yes they do!)

That was a nice little diversion wasn’t it? I’m thinking Sandra Bullock and Hugh Laurie for the lead roles. The Hound has asked to play himself and be paid in squeaky balls.

Of course what actually happened was that Stroppy Si said in a voice that dripped with annoyance, “It’s my wife’s phone; she’ll have dropped it out jogging. I’ll get her to ring you,” and we exchanged mobile numbers and landline numbers. Then his wife called and gushed about how honest I was (given that my BlackBerry is on its last legs, don’t think that I didn’t have a brief thought of pocketing it) and how I had saved her life because she was due to collect a new nanny from the airport later that night. And instead of my little fantasy of arranging to meet Si in front of Kenwood House, Si’s wife arranged to meet me at my house later that afternoon, which she knew because of the ruinously expensive private school opposite.

She turned up and was just as I imagined her to be, because living in this part of north London I am surrounded by women like her: honed, toned, glossy, accessorised, confident; black shiny 4×4 parked in the road, hazard lights flashing, causing an obstruction. Did I ever mention that The Daily Mail saw Gwyneth Paltrow hanging around outside my garage? OK, so The Daily Mail didn’t actually specifically mention my garage, but I heard that she was standing over the road from the school gate which is directly opposite my garage. She was picking up the fruit-named child from the school with her chum, Beyonce. It’s like that round here, but if you’re trying to outdo Gwynnie and Jay-Z’s wife, you’re on a loser to nothing. I don’t even try to compete, but in any case, I suspect that the glossy posse of mums think I’m the hired dog walker, if they even deign to glance their Boxtoxed faces in my direction.

Anyway, Glossy Mum thrust a bottle of posh Prosecco in my hands as thanks and rushed off. As I closed the door clutching my fizz I felt unbearably sad, not because I had no one to share the bottle with, but because Glossy Mum had her husband and I didn’t, and her husband didn’t sound pleased to see her name flash up, but I knew mine would have been; JS wouldn’t have answered with an irritated, “WOT?” Perhaps Si was having a rough day being an international wanker banker, or maybe they’d had a row that morning because she’d warned him not to make a pass at the new nanny which was why the last one left, or any number of reasons that usually loving couples are short with each other. We had a code: If JS couldn’t speak because he was busy, he would either leave the phone to ring and I’d leave a message, or, answer it and say, “Can I phone you back?” Perhaps some of those times he didn’t answer or said “Can I phone you back?” was because he was irritated with me. I know I used the same tactic when I was irritated with him. But if he did answer and wasn’t busy, he always sounded either pleased to hear from me, or at the very least, interested in what I had to say.

Well, not always…

Twenty-plus years ago, JS went away on business. Instead of going back to my little pad in South East London, I decided to stay at the flat he was renting in town, a swish place (compared to mine) entirely decorated in cream (sofas/carpets/walls/the works). I also decided (with his permission) to use his car (smart very powerful Audi Quattro) as opposed to my car (Citroen AX 1.1 – a motorised tin can: 0 – 60 in fifteen minutes). It was icy, and I tried to take the Audi out of the car park at the flats, said car park having a steep ramp out onto the Grays Inn Road. What I didn’t realise was that to engage all four wheels I needed to press a little button. As I accelerated up the slope, the car slid sideways and slammed into a concrete pillar. Unfortunately, in trying to negotiate away from the pillar, I simply embedded the concrete further and further into the side of the car. I have trouble remembering my husband’s voice from seven months ago, yet strangely the sound of concrete screeching on metal two decades after the incident is toe-curlingly familiar.

Anyway, in floods of tears I rang JS to tell him what had happened. Instead of his deep voice telling me everything would be OK, his first words were, “What do you expect me to do about it?” I should point out that I was ringing him at his hotel in the middle the night (his time) in New York, but even so!

As another digress, that week was also the time when sitting on the cream sofa which rested on the cream carpet in JS’s rented flat I jumped up to answer the phone, totally forgetting that I had a plate of haddock and chips and tomato sauce on my lap. Don’t think I ever confessed that to him. Too late now…

Anyway, I felt immensely sad that JS would never again ring me and I would never ring him, and I wanted to phone Stroppy Si and tell him to cherish his glossy wife because no one ever knows when the ‘Until death us do part’ stuff is going to kick in, and you don’t fully realise the implications until it’s too late and you’re choosing coffins out of a flip book instead of flicking through holiday photographs.

So I kept mulling over Si and his jogging phone-losing wife, and then twenty-four hours later when I was out and about I got a call from Orange. I’d been having terrible trouble with Orange, and in the end I sent a two page letter to their head office listing my complaints, threatening to approach Watchdog if they didn’t sort everything out. I’d been keeping JS’s BlackBerry going because of business calls, but in the end, such was the hassle with Orange, I asked them to close JS’s account for simplicity. The woman on the end of the phone agreed they hadn’t treated me well, offered me a £50 discount off my next bill and then said, “Your husband’s account will be deleted in the next few minutes and his phone will be disconnected.”

It was what I had asked Orange to do, JS’s phone was costing me money, I knew he would never ring me again, every time his phone rang it made me jump, emails were still coming through as were Twitter feeds, and yet as I walked home, the fact that somewhere someone was pressing a button cancelling JS’s number floored me. I had to sit on a bench at a bus stop to get myself together.

As I sat there, I fished my husband’s phone from my bag.

The screen already proclaimed: Unregistered SIM.

Little by little JS is being pulled away from me; our life together is disconnecting and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

Sitting on a bench on a busy street looking numbly at a dead mobile belonging to my dead husband was never supposed to be a scene in the movie of my life, whatever Sandy and Hugh end up doing in the script.

I demand a re-write.

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62 Comments

Hat
Reply September 23, 2011

This morning I brushed my teeth with a toothbrush that he bought me just before he went into hospital all those months ago. I've had the replacement for months. I always replaced our toothbrushes after three months...and yet....

It's another severance of our connection, another gnarled root of Captain Corelli's Olive Tree that when I throw it away, will be wrenched from the stump of what is left of two people that grew together as one. I can't do it. Not yet, maybe never, maybe it will go into the memory box, the toothbrush with the curled edges that was bought with love and concern. The only toothbrush he will ever buy me again.

That little toothbrush has so much weight on it's shoulders. Fully get what you are saying here PG, heartbreakingly right there with you. Love to all, Hat xx

    Al
    Reply September 23, 2011

    Hat, I totally relate to the toothbrush, like you they used to be changed every 3 months but for the last 8 months I have been using Brians toothbrush (sorry if you all think that's yukky) it's getting a bit useless now and I know it has to be changed but I just can't yet, when I do it will be another thing less of Brian in the house, his razor and shaving foam and hair brush are still on his side of the bathroom sink and the new full bottle of mouth wash I'd put out for him (he didn't like mine) the night before he died is there too, still unopened.
    Love Al xx

      Planet Grief
      Reply September 23, 2011

      Al: I loved JS to bits but I wouldn't have used his toothbrush for that long! Horse for courses.

      I was talking to my friend Big Bird last night and said that I felt that I was getting close to clearing out JS's bathroom cabinet (he used a second bathroom). When I was in Barbados and had the whole issue of getting another suitcase home, I threw out all JS's toiletries and vitamins. Then, just as the case was closing, I took them all out of the bin in the hotel room and brought them back. x

      Al
      Reply September 23, 2011

      perhaps I should clarify: Bri had only had the toothbrush 2 days.

        Planet Grief
        Reply September 23, 2011

        Al - there is no judgement on Planet Grief! xx

Planet Grief
Reply September 23, 2011

Hat: We had a rotten last Christmas together, our worst ever because of me getting ill and not being able to travel to Northumberland. When we took the tree down in early January, I remember becoming tearful and saying to JS, "What if it's our last Christmas? What if this is the last time these decs get used?" I felt impending doom, but we both thought I was just feeling post flu-ish.

JS took the branches off the big real tree we have in the front room, and they went to recycling, but he'd put the thick stem behind the garage and hadn't got round to sawing up.

Yesterday, I had man round to chop some stuff down in the garden (heavy work) and as he loaded his van with the green waste, I saw the tree stem propped up against the wall, ready to be taken away. Hat, it took every ounce of self-restraint not to rush up to it, grab it, hug it and shout, "Don't take that away! It's special!"

I didn't, but I wanted to, and as the man drove away, I still wanted to chase his van down the road. Love and understanding. PG xx

    ChrisJ
    Reply September 26, 2011

    One of the reasons Christmas and other celebratory dates have lost their sparkle and glitter for me is that, due to circumstances outside our control, I had to tell our 3 sons (and some other family members) that the Christmas (2007) coming up in the next 2 weeks would indeed be the last with their mother. Desperately wanted to delay giving them this information until after Christmas and only when it became unavoidable.
    Managed decorations and the usual trimmings apart from presents to each other. Not a big deal for me since her choice in presents usually defied all previous hints. Mutual presents (also at 24th anniversary a couple of weeks before) were considered rather pointless since the one thing we wished for, ie. her recovery, was not, ever, going to fit into Santa's sack. The one thing that she wanted a quiet "normal" Christmas at home was slightly tarnished and denied because of what we had to tell the children.

    I think 2 of the boys got new mobiles for Christmas.

    Only fake trees (and an illuminated white twig thing - not my choice) allowed in the house since I objected to being the one who was always having to vacuum up the needles despite previous guaranteed assurances that I wouldn't have to. Sadly, the decorations stayed in the loft last year. I just did not have the motivation. At least, I don't seem to sulk anymore.

      Planet Grief
      Reply September 26, 2011

      ChrisJ: Again, lovely and touching (I will overlook you grouching about the pine needles).

      Having abandoned my plan to become a nun, I am considering becoming Jewish. I have many Jewish friends (it's north London for goodness' sake) and it would solve the dilemma of Christmas (which I want to totally cancel). I would be able to have lots of chicken soup, candles, parties with dancing (but not for a year after JS's death according to tradition) and if I went all the way, I could wear a wig which would solve bad hair days. Don't want the religious bit, but then that stuff never featured in my nun plan either.

      Oy vey! Life is hard.

        megan
        Reply September 26, 2011

        HBPG - I was totally just thinking the same thing, about becoming jewish. Actually, I was also thinking, well, if I won't be a nun, maybe I can be a rabbi. But I'd have to become jewish first.

          megan
          Reply September 26, 2011

          PS - Rosh Hashanah. Then Yom Kippur. Coming right up, bracketing my birthday. I love Jewish holy days.

            Planet Grief
            Reply September 26, 2011

            Megan: Sounds like a plan. x

Al
Reply September 23, 2011

H: Brian loved his gadgets, he had a new updated mobile phone twice a year, all singing all dancing things that confused the b'jesus out of me, his last update however he went for a simpler model, just a phone, camera etc, he said that in his opinion they'd just gone over the top and all he really needed a mobile for was calling, texting and taking the odd photo, I've only ever had work mobiles and after Brian died and because of the unpleasent calls I was receiving from work I opted to take over Brians mobile, I spoke with Vodaphone who were very helpful and I sat & like you watched as the phone told me 'sim unregistered' then a couple of minutes later it came back to life and now was my phone but with Brians mobile number, this in some small way has kept me connected to Bri, I know in reality it hasn't but in my little world I have the number & phone he used to text & call me from, something so small & insignificant but it means a big thing to me.
Much love Al xx

Steve
Reply September 23, 2011

Very sad to read about the damage to a precious Audi Quattro (was it an original late '80s, early '90s UR Quattro?). But reminds me of my wife mashing the (very rare and expensive) Mugen front bumper on my Honda CRX on the local speed bumps - it was the end of the world at the time, but obviously 10 years later is of no consequence whatsoever. And yes, bit by bit, my wife is disappearing from my life - little nik naks find their way into the bin, old files get cleared out, electrical items run out of life and get binned. But the stories that others tell (even those that I have never met) trigger long forgotten memories that are tucked away in the corner of my mind - and that means we will never be completely disconnected... (and I will never throw away the last two mobile phones that she owned!)

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 23, 2011

    Steve: It was a 1989/1990 Quattro like this in navy:

    The old style Quattros are fabulous and I always wanted one (and yes, there is a story for another time there), but the one JS had was my favourite car ever. Was tank like, felt totally safe but I have yet to be more excited by a car than the short time between putting my foot on the accelerator and that huge burst of power which sent the car rocketing. I used to absolutely love cars and driving, but my confidence is now shot to bits, and funnily enough, something happened recently which I am going to blog about and is all to do with driving. Watch this space, as they say.

    Back to grief. (If I must.) I am particularly touched by your post as I feel that perhaps I am becoming too hung up on 'things' rather than 'feelings'. Your comment that we will never be completely disconnected from our past even if the cupboards become clear is very timely. Thank you. PG x

    ps Speed bumps were the bane of JS's life when he had the Lexus IS300 Sport Cross. Low front...Hated the low profile tyres too; noisy on the motorway. (Note to self: quit the car waffle before this becomes Planet Auto)

    pps: Oh forget the last bit of the ps. ChrisJ - do you have any car thoughts? I can imagine you wincing as you read about my low speed crash! (And there was another one in my car later...)

Jane
Reply September 23, 2011

Well done for not chasing down the tree man, not sure I could have done that .
I had his phone transferred to my name, couldn't deal with my dads comment of 'well the contract just dies with him' ... Cheers dad
But the battery charger was breaking and now it's out of oomph and chargeless ( bit like me) so i can't use it, wouldn't anyway. Now I get monthly reminders from orange that I owe the £0.00
The phone just sits on his bedside table, silently shouting out at me whenever I go near.
Xxxxx

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Jane: I was on JS's talkplan thingy - he was the main account holder and my phone was the secondary phone; I wanted both in my name. They did everything but what I wanted: kept cutting me off in the process; assigning the direct debit back to JS (which of course wasn't paid because his accounts are frozen); every permutation but the right one!

    I think that however you feel you are far from lacking in oomph or charge. Maybe you aren't fully powered all the time! x

ChrisJ
Reply September 23, 2011

I am more likely to wince (and slowly shake head) at the Lexus than a low speed prang in the Q car. Ice can be tricky for RWD, FWD and even AWD cars - that can also be fixed in the event of these learning experiences. Pushing the button may have theoretically helped but would be no guarantee. Speed bumps, ramp cushions, pointless roundabouts/traffic signals/road paint, artificial chicanes seem to be sprouting like weeds everywhere lately. They need to be rooted out.
I have low profile (and run-flat) tyres on my machine but there is little road noise. Coupled with the suspension, the ride could be said to be on the firm side. For snow, I was advised to push the button to DE-activate the traction control thingy - seems counter intuitive. And equally useless.
My wife once took her estate car out when everything outside resembled ice sculptures due to a weird phenomenon of freezing rain. She had not spotted that the drive and road were slippier than a teflon coated greased ice rink. I could literally push slide the car back the 30m she managed to travel and back to the bottom of the drive. She never admitted damaging her car apart from the time she hit a cow.
In another bizarre co-incidence, yesterday I bought "What Car" magazine probably for the first time in nearly 2 years. Planet Auto or Planet Telepathy?

My eldest is a bit like his mother - never answers mobile (former has HTC!) when - I - call. Always an excuse. Rather frustrating and somewhat defeats the object of me paying for the thing. "Can I call you back" was also one of my refrains at work when I had to break off to deal with incoming operational issues. During the day I used to spend a lot of time on the phone. Not anymore. It was also a sad day when I changed from my Nokia 6230 to a son's hand me down Samsung.

You may not believe that Orange Customer Service has improved in the last year. I have had many battles with them over the years. Written complaints simply ignored. One of the few organisations whose apathy caused me to eventually give up justifiable complaint(s). They have a signal monopoly in my valley.

These couples who are surly or uncommunicative or miserable with each other don't know what they have got. I see them in supermarkets. Accepting the obvious escapes them as they compete for possessions, attention, grievances or understanding. It is sad since one can see the view from the other side of the street. Communication was one of our relationship strengths even when I was stubbornly sulking.

Say Hi to Gwynnie, Beyonce, Julia and Sandra for me. Party on (Hugh's not invited).

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    ChrisJ: Another top post. The comment: She never admitted damaging her car apart from the time she hit a cow is priceless.

    I do not believe that Orange have got better. In my experience, there was no way they could get worse. I actually pulled the Grieving Widow card in my letter to Orange. I still intend to write a blog post about all the hassles I have had with Orange and Virgin etc (and wait for all the comments to flood in because I know I'm not alone), but still I get angsty thinking about it!

    JS could sulk for England and St George and sulk for days, whereas I am (and it takes a lot to rile me) a blow up for ten seconds and get over it instantly girl. Didn't always make for easy living, but can you imagine if both sulked or both blew up?

    Re: Party. Not sure you should have all the fun. It's Hugh Laurie not Hugh Grant. He could play the guitar or the piano for us all. x

denise
Reply September 23, 2011

I have been lucky enough not to have lost my partner, but have lived with the grief of doing so - my lovely man lost his love in a car crash and spent several hours in the car with her decapitated body.

But the phone subject got to me...... yesterday I deleted my Granda's no from my phone, he died 2 years ago and in a routine phone clearing I thought - yep i don't need this no anymore. When I got home I realised it was his birthday.

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Denise: Thank you for posting. Touched that you did. I don't make it commonly known, but I have first-hand knowledge how the death of a partner can shape a future relationship. JS's first wife died in tragic circumstances. That will be my only comment on the subject.

    I remember when I deleted Karen's number from my phone. It didn't make any difference that on a practical level I knew it made sense - emotionally it ripped me.

    Do contribute whenever you would like to. xx

      megan
      Reply September 26, 2011

      pg - just * on that comment of yours, and that will be my only comment.

Colin
Reply September 23, 2011

Wish I could write like you HB. Yet another good post.
As I said in my latest post, over time losing connection with Alison worries me. But in hindsight since I wrote that, I realise that I only have to go upstairs to her study and rummage through the memory box and the tears flow and I'm connected. I really cant see that ever changing.
Hugs

Colin

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 23, 2011

    Colin: Let's do a deal - for one day only you let me have 1% of your artistic talent in exchange for 100% of my so called way with words. Can't even draw a stick man without it looking like a drunken spider crawling across the page. xx

      Colin
      Reply September 23, 2011

      Deal done, talent sent.
      Seriously, I know what you are going through and just admire how much humour you put into your writing and I know that it ain't easy.
      thinking f you
      XX

        Planet Grief
        Reply September 24, 2011

        Colin: No, have to disagree. The humour comes easily to me; it's the dark, humourless grieving I find difficult. x

Emma
Reply September 23, 2011

I know this is so coincidental, but I got up early this morning to travel to Bucks Police Station to pick up Mark's mobile that had been released, finally.
Part of me was excited, to have his phone back with his things on it... great. I had been waiting for a long time for his phone to come back, 7 months in fact. As there were numbers of people in the address book that weren't written anywhere else, people from long past that were important to Mark at some point and I wanted to get in touch.
After signing for the phone I made my way to the nearest coffee shop and booted it up... one bar of battery left from where the tech guys had been fiddling. Unregistered sim came up as his account was cut off a while ago.
Cutting a long waffly story short, I opened the address book and there was nothing, empty....no entries, all had been deleted by Mark as part of his 'plan'. I searched through some more and the only thing he had kept was photo's of me and of us...
His phone was in his pocket when he sat in that car and took his own life... the image I have in my head now is that the last thing he looked at was pictures of me and us...

I also have no way of getting in contact with any one that I had in my head who's details were in that phone up to the 22nd February...

So after reading your post PG,I get it .....xx

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Oh Emma.

    Don't know what else to say but, oh Emma. xxx

megan
Reply September 23, 2011

Matt had his son and his father on a family plan, along with his phone. I needed to use his phone to call everyone in his phone book to tell them he drowned. The people answering "Matty!!!" were especially rough. Anyway. I put myself on their plan and paid for everyone for a long time, not wanting to shut off matt's phone. But my step=son got his own phone, and my father in law rather wandered away, so I eventually shut it down. Matt disliked having a cell phone, hated that people expected to find him anywhere he was - occasionally, he would hold up his phone to me and say "this is going away." When I had his phone disconnected, I told him, Well, my love, you have your wish. No more cell phones for you.

Sometimes, even recently, I have wanted to call his number - it is still on speed dial on my phone - but I know he will not answer, and the thought of hearing the Wrong voice.... But still, sometimes, I just want to send him a text. ..... extra ellipses, just for the heck of it.

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Megan - Anarchic ellipses! Sometimes it just has to be done.

    Yes, going through JS's phone book to tell them he had drowned... well, there are some calls, actually one particular scream, I will never forget. It curdles my blood just thinking of it.

      megan
      Reply September 25, 2011

      I think "anarchic ellipses" should be the name of something.

      Sometimes thinking of what I lived actually helps - the event, the phone calls, the conversations, the things that I had to do, and were done. I suddenly feel softer to myself. A little more gentle and forgiving of myself and how hard life feels.

        Planet Grief
        Reply September 26, 2011

        Megan: When I go through the timeline of it all from putting that wretched bikini on and then the point it came off and what happened between, well, when people say to me: How do you live with it? I'm not sure I do. I think it happened to someone else...

          megan
          Reply September 26, 2011

          a business acquaintance of matt's said to me, when she realized who I am, "I don't think I could survive that." I said - I don't think I will, either.

          Some days, it still knocks the wind out of me, to realize it did actually happen, to him, and to me. Sometimes I think what is called "healing" is just a callous forming over the reality.

            Planet Grief
            Reply September 26, 2011

            Megan: I keep picking at my callous.

Sue ab
Reply September 23, 2011

Soon after B died I gave his phone to his sister as hers had stopped working, but I kept his name on my contacts list. Now whenever she phones me, his name comes up on my screen instead of hers. It's always a bit of a surprise I must say but feels kind of right because of the brother sister thing and because I get on well with her.
Don't worry too much about the other disconnection thing. After three and a half years I still feel really close to B but without the hideous grief thing ripping at the old heart strings. (Do hearts have strings actually?)
Sue xx

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Sue ab's question of the day: Do hearts have strings?

    PG's totally non scientific answer: Whatever Gray's Anatomy (book not Grey's Anatomy Dr Dreamy stuff) might say, I am sure that mine do otherwise how do I account for the feeling that sometimes they are being pinged?

      megan
      Reply September 25, 2011

      I concur. Definitely stringed.

    ChrisJ
    Reply September 27, 2011

    Chordae tendineae. Sometimes it felt mine had been windmilled by that clever Mr Townshend. Who you may ask. But this was a more positive emotion compared with the overall sense of loss.

    Of more worry is "Broken Heart Syndrome" or as one of my (two) clippings calls it "Stress cardio-myopathy" and some say you can take an aspirin for it. The good news is that if you have made it this far you will be OK.

emily
Reply September 23, 2011

A fabulous post...you do know that you are creating a wonderful document here? These stages, feelings, widow brain symptoms are so familiar to us all where ever we are on this journey. Out of real devastation you are helping so many people with your writing...so many fellow widow/ers out there shouting yes! me too! i felt that!
Your post got me thinking about the funny things we keep...from toothbrushes to breakfast cereals. I still have tony´s aftershaves next to mine on the shelf, some clothes still hang in the wardrobe. More bizarrely i had to recently make myself bin some ginger ale which was 2 years out of date( but which was bought when he was going through chemo in the naive hope it would reduce his nausea)...and some frozen kippers which i kept for an unsavoury amount of time!
lots of love x

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Thank you Emily. PG started as an entirely selfish need to get it out there ('it' never really having a definition) because at times I find writing easier than breathing (witness the dizzy spells I had in the early days). Since then I have found that whatever our individual circumstances, however bizarre we think our behaviour, and even if we think we are the only widow(er) in the world to be doing what we are doing (having bizarre dreams, sniffing dirty washing, sobbing over the central heating controls), someone will pop up and say "Me too!" and wave the flag of sobby solidarity.

    Aftershave: OK, this is a bit naughty to write because it isn't JS related, but the whole smell thing is so powerful, isn't it? When I was at school I fancied this sixth former something rotten; eventually managed to have a snogfest under a street light with him. Anyway, like you did in the late seventies/early eighties (at least in Northumberland) even if you only had bum fluff, Sixth Form Stud splashed on Brut aftershave. Do you know, years later and even though I was happily married, sometimes if I was in Boots and passing the Brut stuff I'd stop and have a sniff and remember being sixteen, and the excitement of being snogged in the street by a Brut wearing sixth former would come flooding back.

    Need to calm myself down now by thinking of your frozen kippers!

    Love back. x

    ps Editing this to add - Mark (who helps me with the techie details of this blog) if you read this, the snog wasn't you - you came later! ;-)

    megan
    Reply September 25, 2011

    gross, but the container is sealed: I have the half gallon of milk (in a glass jug) I bought when we went shopping the friday before matt drowned. Taking up room on the fridge door shelf, but I cannot throw it away.

D L
Reply September 23, 2011

Because Ted had not planned on dying, he had no will, therefore he died Intestate, meaning that from the start I knew I would have to sell our house.
90% of Ted's life now sits in a skip outside the back door, 5% is waiting for the Shredder Man, the other 5% is carefully packed to take with me.
Everything item I have thrown in the skip I could hear him behind me saying"don't throw that out I may need it"
His partner asked for his mobile phone back, I think the day after he died - reasons unknown, I hung on to it for as long as I could. his number is still plumbed into mine, again reasons unknown. His facebook account is still active and this week it reminded me that his birthday was due.
His car was taken back by his Partner within a couple of weeks, on the excuse that it would be sold and monies would go into the Estate. He was a BMW man and loved every one of his cars. The last time his partner visited me and took me out to lunch, he arrived in Ted's car - am I the only one who found that insensitive? I climbed into the passenger seat with a pain in my heart, fighting back the tears, feeling that looking across I should see Ted and not a "Born again Christian" whose Christianity does not seem to extend to any compassion or fairness.
As I pack up our home, one that we only moved to 5 years ago, gutted and refitted into our dream home, the plan being to stay and enjoy our old age, until the seafront beckoned. Each morning I look at the incredible view we have, hearing him say "we are so lucky to live here" I have to go, it breaks my heart and I have lost him into a skip and boxes, all that remains of this wonderful vibrant man is what I have in my heart.
Tonight I looked at the rack of Champagne, when we first met, he promised me a chanpagne life, he was true to his word. I can not drink it now as without him there to pour my glass its meaningless.
In ten months his life has almost been eradicated, I am the only one who still longs and wants him.
Yes I have been ruthless with chucking his life away, his son has moved abroad and I can not leave things for my daughters to clear when I die.
I will always cling onto his memory and love of life, but like all of us bits slip away daily.
P G that was a very honourable thing to do with the phone you found, I have to say that had it been me, I would have chucked it in the SKIP !!!
xxxxx Deena

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Deena honey, you have such a lot on your plate at the moment. I ache for you, truly I do.

    Your champagne reference was poignant. I didn't particularly want to get married (never dreamt of the big white do), I was happy as we were, but it was important to JS. I remember him saying, "Marry me and I promise you, you'll always turn left on a plane and drink champagne." That was in the days when First Class or Business Class was always left. I continued to say no, but eventually relented when I had flu and he sent me a fax asking me again. So after all the romantic proposals, it was the fax that did it.

    Does it matter (rhetorical question) if you are the only one who still longs for him and wants him? Wouldn't it be odd, as his loving wife, if you weren't the last one standing? (so to speak).

    We are all being dragged along by the current of life (and yes, even though JS drowned, I can't avoid the watery references) and at the moment it's dragging me faster than I intended.

    Your heart is a very special place to 'keep' Ted. xx

      D L
      Reply September 24, 2011

      Oh P G, I had forgotten the days of turning left on the plane, having real food, china and cutlery ! I am now on a trip down memory lane to those glorious days, pushing aside the present day outfit of track suit whilst I fill the skip !!!
      I have been in London all day and escaped for a while with a lovely long lunch at the Ebury, just returned to the Contract for the House Sale in the post box, reading the wording of the "Late" Edward etc etc, on it. So back to the harsh reality of widowhood.
      xxxxx

        Planet Grief
        Reply September 24, 2011

        Deena: Happy days. Happy days.

        I believe we will have more happy days again, just different ones.

        x

          D L
          Reply September 26, 2011

          I do hope so P G, but I have to say I can't remember what Happy feels like xxx

Ian
Reply September 23, 2011

Lovely well written post as always PG

What to keep, what to pass on, what to throw, what to buy new and when. All so hard.
Whatever feels right whenever it feels right.

I have had big change in our cars. Got rid of large family car, basically mine.

Brought a Classic MGB 40 years old, if you are interested chrome bumpers, wire wheels mostly original. We had one before children often talked about getting another. Should have done it 4/5 years ago.

Now my daily car is Dianes car which is a practical estate.
It has dents in two of the doors and the boot has suffered. Dianes handiwork.
She never wanted them fixed got her from A-B and that was good enough.
I have added some damage, got too close to a post when parking.
While the car lasts it is not going to have any cosmetic repairs.

take care all
OLLI

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Thanks Ian.

    Love the smell of the stuff used to clean chrome bumpers. Wire wheels sound a nightmare to clean though.

    My Fiat 500 has a dent in the boot where I let the tailgate fly up into the garage door. It annoyed JS (the dent, not my cavalier attitude to opening the boot) and he wanted to get it fixed. I didn't. He couldn't understand it. Glad I didn't - that little imperfection reminds me of the countless times we stood at the garage door and had a 'discussion' about it. PG x

Bonnie
Reply September 24, 2011

Hi PG,

I like prosecco , does that make me a glossy mummy too ???
I'm clutching as tightly as I can to every last piece of him. Coats still hung by the door, shoes in the hallway, bag of clothes from the hospital, still unpacked.
I did the Great North Run on Sunday for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and it is tradition to wear an old sweatshirt to the start to discard when you start to run. A houseful of his clothes and I still couldn't find something I didn't mind parting with !
Eventually remembered a charity bag he filled before going to hospital and fished out a sweatshirt with a broken zip . Did I really start the race with tears in my eyes because of the sweatshirt ? Yes because it signalled so much more.
Please can I have a script re-write too ? Lone mother raising three kids in North East of England, Hollywood don't want that storyline.

Thinking of you xxxx

    Planet Grief
    Reply September 24, 2011

    Bonnie - I love Prosecco but I am sad to report that it is not only the booze that marks you out as a Glossy Mum, though you may well be in your own right.

    Congrats on the GNR. We were in Newcastle on that day last year, having just had a week in Northumberland dodging Raoul Mout's moves (seriously).

    Actually, I have a little fantasy of writing a film script of PG where we will all come together at the end - each of our stories little vignettes which eventually overlap - sort of like a Calendar Girls of Widows and Widowers.

    I have already said I want Sandra Bullock to play me (or Monica Bellucci, but that may be stretching credibility just too far - as if Sandra Bullock for me isn't). Who do you fancy playing you? Please please don't say Kate Winslet. Our film is bound to win an Oscar and I just can't bear another of her speeches...

    Running across the Tyne Bridge in the sweatshirt, three beautiful children cheering their widowed mother on, a woman running with tears in her eyes - I can see it (through my tears) on the big screen right now. xx

      Bonnie
      Reply September 25, 2011

      So loving prosecco just makes me a sloshy mummy then !!!
      Pouting lip ....... please let me have Kate Winslet just so we can make her look hot, sweaty and harassed in an oversized sweatshirt. It's not an easy look to achieve.
      xxx

        Planet Grief
        Reply September 25, 2011

        Bonnie re Kate: Oh go on, if you have to have her then do, but promise me if she gets best actress over Sandy B we race onto the stage together and drag her off before she drones on. I follow Esther Walker on Twitter (love her blog - sharp writing not just about recipes but about being a new mum and a woman etc. Giles Coren's wife. Must be a challenge that, though Giles once wrote me a lovely email about something) and her tweet the other day was: Kate Winslet is probably a really nice person but her award acceptance speeches make be believe her to be a d**k.

        Bonnie - AKA Sloshy Mum - you have been warned. xx

          megan
          Reply September 25, 2011

          can you please make the PG script not be a cinderella story? No "and she lived happily ever after in the end, so it was all alright." Pleeeease? I don't need no stinkin' transformation.

          Hat
          Reply September 25, 2011

          What do you think to Lisa Kudrow playing me? She would have to wear a hat though!

            Planet Grief
            Reply September 26, 2011

            Megan - if it is a big Hollywood number then the financiers will want a slushy ending. However, as luck would have it, one of JS's best friend's produced Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots, so I am sure that if we get a Brit studio they will be sympathetic to your need for no stinkin' transformation.

            Hat: No. Just no. You need someone prettier and sharper.

              Hat
              Reply September 26, 2011

              OK, Lisa is out then. Cameron Diaz - avec chapeau? x

                Planet Grief
                September 26, 2011

                Totally love Cam. She's in. x

              PMR
              Reply September 26, 2011

              remember PG I bagsed Julia Roberts yonks ago. I don't look like her, but love her laugh and her big mouth and teeth.

                megan
                September 26, 2011

                I'm afraid I have no idea who should play me. Oh wait... what the heck is her name. ah - Janeane Garofalo. She might be too cool for me.

                Planet Grief
                September 26, 2011

                Megan: Cool choice. Edgy. Says something about you that you want an edgy tattooed chick to play you, whereas I have gone for Miss Congeniality. Ho hum.

                Planet Grief
                September 26, 2011

                PMR: Julia is already booked for you. It's a given. HOWEVER, can I say that having met you, you are much classier than Miss Roberts, who, if you remember, turned up at a film premiere with a garden under her armpits. Please nip into her trailer and wave a BIC in her direction pre-filming. x

Julia Cho
Reply September 27, 2011

wonderful, wonderful writing moving us from the quick pace of the fantasy/cell phone man to glossy mom to the silence of the unregistered phone. we all know these. only other widows would understand how early on we have these bizarre fantasies of meeting another man- not because we're not heartbroken- but just because- we're kind of insane?