Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Coming up Roses

It was good to rub the last of the jelly off my right breast after the Ultra-sound scan. All clear, no sign of anything nasty, just a false alarm. The mammogram showed a cluster of cells which turned out to be normal. What a huge relief, yet only a few months' ago I wouldn't have cared too much, thinking that it would be not that bad if I were to die. No more grief, no more thinking about him and the good times, no more wondering what the three spinners of destiny have in store for me. My girls are self-sufficient and strong and would survive without me. So what's changed?

The only answer I can give is that perhaps: I have!

Now I want to live - don't know why! Nothing much has changed; I still don't have a job; no friends nearby; no social life; no idea of what I want to do with the rest of my life. But... I'm off to Tenby for a few days at half-term holiday with two daughters and three grandchildren in a caravan, and I'm really looking forward to it. We may all end up with cabin fever and short tempers by day four, but it doesn't matter... we are going somewhere, and together.

I am grateful that my scan showed normal cells, unlike the brave woman in the waiting room with me who had a negative result and was holding back the tears as she and her friend left quietly.

A reminder that Roses have thorns...

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel

I used to think that it wasn't a light I saw at the end of the tunnel, but a train speeding toward me instead.

Five months after he died I though I was doing really well and conquering grief. One year after he died I felt as though it had only just happened and that I'd been in some sort of time warp.

Eighteen months after he died I began to think of finding work, hobbies, friends, but a couple of months later I was back in the depth of despair and just wanted to curl up and die. When was it going to end? Was this normal? Perhaps I was depressed as well as grieving.

I'd seen various doctors about my continued fainting episodes and had all sorts of tests done; all knew that I was recently widowed but all they said was "how're you doing?" To which I could only murmur, "Okay", not wishing to even begin talking about it for fear of collapsing in tears in front of them. I suggested to one GP when discussing more results that returned absolutely normal, that could it be some sort of anxiety attack that makes me faint? She shook her head and said "Not unless you're having palpitations as well." Which I didn't remember at the time, but later I realised that yes, I had felt palpitations as well as feeling faint - then promptly fainted; several times.

Mind you, I have fainted several times in my life-time, often hurting myself, smashing teeth, bruising and banging various bones and my head in the process. My blood pressure seems to dip abnormally low at odd times, hence the fainting. If only I could do it gracefully.

Now, two years and one month after he died, I do see light at the end of the tunnel, which some days is brighter than others. And, just when I'm feeling okay and positive about me, life and my future, I receive a phone call to go into hospital this afternoon for another breast scan.

Is a train speeding towards me after all?

Monday, 8 October 2007

California Dreamin

I first saw the Californian Poppies growing wild on the banks of roads while we drove along the Gold Route in California a few years' ago. I bought a packet of seeds from a small shop in the Nappa Valley and since then have enjoyed them in my garden each summer. Petals like smooth velvet turning their faces to the sun, then closing up on dull days and in the evening.

I've been up to my neck in pond weed, nettles and thorns trying to clear out the little stream that runs along the road edge and my garden. Although I don't own it, I am apparently required to keep it clear. Frogs, snails, insects of all types and smelly mud have tried to frighten me off, but did I falter? No. The last bag of ripped-out weed has been taken to the amenity site where a rugged man heaved them into the garden waste bin.

Just the remaining hanging baskets and summer pots to empty and put away for winter, and nearly forgot, the mammoth task of cutting back my neighbour's encroaching hedge that has now become a bramble hedge instead of Beech. A task I shall need help with unless I keep at it for the rest of the winter months. Some of my neighbours don't DO gardening; they hire a man for the day.

If he were still here, he would say, "get someone in and I'll pay." Ahh, those were the days. Where's a good man when you need one? That's what I say.

Instead, a good woman has to get on with the job.

Niagra in Time

Niagra Falls in early winter 2004 where the temperature was minus 21 (it said so on the car thermometer). This photo was taken by my lovely man just a couple of months before he suffered a stroke. He was on a business trip researching a new communications system for our Police and which came into use in the UK shortly after. He was a work-a-holic and the pressure and tension he was under, both imposed and self-imposed was tremendous. He decided to retire on the 30th December that year because the pressure was becoming too great and his request to go part-time had been refused. We had visited Niagra before while on holiday and visiting my brother in Ajax near Toronto. It was a different Niagra then, with sunshine, leafy trees and deep blue waters emerging from the pounding falls. He was relaxed then; no worries and the future looked bright.