Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Six weeks on
This has nothing to do with today's post, but I felt like a bit of sea. This is Bedruthan Steps, taken on a walk last summer.
I have managed 6 weeks and 3 days so far and I think Pip would be – is – relieved. I have not starved, I have not drowned myself in wine nor a sea of self pity. I have continued to work (thank god for work), walk Molls, go to singing and meet friends.
I have started to collect my own wood.
My metabolism has changed. I am nearly always cold, and have chilblains on my little fingers. Contrary to what everyone thinks, I am eating hugely, as I'm constantly hungry. Don't ask me where all this food goes.
Some people ask me, nervously, if I'm all right. But often, if I'm not all right, I can't tell them, for at the first sign of my incipient tears, their eyes flicker like a startled horse and they start to cry themselves. So I end up consoling them.
Alternatively, there are those that rush to console me when I want to be left alone. These friends mean well, but sometimes I just need to deal with it by myself. Grief is difficult for all of us to manage.
I have discovered that sometimes, I really don't want to be with my nearest and dearest. Anyone over-emotional is a no-no. Whereas people I don't know well, or new friends, turn out to be just the right people to be with. It's an intuitive thing and one that the great writer Joan Didion has written about, to my relief. It's not just me! I thought, when I read her book, A Year Of Magical Thinking.
My friend Anne at the Farmers Market is a great source of comfort. Before Christmas, when Pip had just developed pneumonia, she said, “You'll be in my thoughts and prayers over Christmas.” Ignoring the growing queue at her veg stall, she declared, “I'm going to give you a Christmas hug,” and enveloped me in her cosy arms.
I met someone from singing at Anne's stall yesterday, and asked her if she was OK. She shook her head and tears sprang to her eyes. She told me what was the matter and we hugged each other, weeping over the polyanthus. We laughed, shakily, and compared notes on grief. We decided to go for a drink and cheer each other up. And we both went our ways with tears in our eyes and a smile on our faces.
Grief is a private matter, and not always meant for sharing. A close friend asked me how I felt, as she wanted to empathise. It varies from minute to minute, I said. Sometimes, when I think of the last three months, a great foot presses on my chest so I can't breathe. At others, I wonder if I've dreamt the last 14 years.
When I looked at Pip's watch the other day, my stomach plummeted, as if I was descending in a very fast lift. Walking Mollie the other day I felt as if my heart had slipped – and then I realised that this is exactly what it's done.
Yesterday, I saw light over the sea and my heart lifted. That's my Pip, I thought, out on the horizon, waving to me. Later I played football with Molls and I giggled like a child. On Friday we had a gig at the Poly in Falmouth and I stood on stage and sang my heart out, and I didn't miss Pip because he was right there with me, cheering us along.