(This post mentions living children and family life).
Four years, almost five means the normalcy of life slips around us like a comfortable coat again. An average day, the rumble of life and bounce of activity and I fool myself successfully that we are always as we were once.
Bags packed. Lunch made. Car filled. Drop offs accomplished. Teacher alerted to latest mini-drama in the life of the children.
The internal dialogue: "five bags, not six, five lunches, five seats, 4 schools, no reception aged child" is a whisper.
I have it in place, checked, muffled, restrained.
He died and a day would pass and tears would come at night, pent up exhausted emotion, hidden until the little ears and eyes were sleeping. Flood gates opened willingly, a barely contained tide of sorrow. Roaring sobs. Anguish. Despair.
All the words and all the agony that each of us here knows.
He died and a week would pass and a grief tsunami would blindside me, the choking horror flinging itself above the dam walls and tearing my feet from under me. Swollen eyes. Wracking wails. A darkness that swallowed and drowned and took the light, the oxygen, the hope.
He died and a month slid by; numb, disbelieving, functioning, robotic. Smile politely, say the words, a film across my eyes and the world seen through a rain streaked window pane. The constant fall of droplets, the hammering storm and an eye that saw sun but could not believe in it.
And no rainbows. Not one.
He died and a year passed by; some ill constructed raft, knotted from driftwood branch and stray half-rotten vine kept me afloat. And somehow, somehow, I began to float along the current.
And one day, I found that I had a paddle in my hands. And somewhere... somewhere... I must have begun to row.
The day - this almost 5 years on day - clatters to a close; the hallway strewn with bags and my outraged berating voice as I trip across a boot and shout for chores to be completed. Those muted, bleary grief days seem so far away when the children slid to bed - often found curled together, sleeping in comfort pairs - and we huddled beneath a blanket and stared blankly at TV trash, all resources spent and the grief storm raging all around us.
We rarely mention him. We rarely speak of grief. Less and less do we need to poke gently at the wounds that grief left across the children - or ourselves - and consider what balm we need to offer. My husband is not one for pulling up the past and I could be forgiven for thinking that all of it - Freddie, grief, loss and all the rest - is long gone from his mind.
But we are changed. In all the murk and carnage that came after, we seemed to reach for mindful rest, to be together in some other way than vacant entertainment. And so we sit, companionable, entertained by our own pursuits but together. Reading, making, doing, gaming, writing, learning. And sometimes I tentatively pull the threads of grief to see if he still has some and mostly, he stitches firmly at the ragged edge and neatens down the the damaged patch without a reciprocating comment. Polite, gentle, closed.
He read Wolf Hall 5 times. I couldn't imagine why, having shied away from it myself. But lately, we've listened to it together, sharing spoken word and taking our own meaning from it. From time to time, he reaches out, touches my hand or arm and each time I know what is coming: a loss, a grief, some pain or hurt written inside, and his care to let me know that he is there. That he notices these parts, I think. I hope.
I keep my face unflinching, afraid to break and stop him offering the comfort, lest it is too much to risk again. But I do notice.
“It is not the stars that make us, it is circumstance and necessita...." (Hilary Mantle, Wolf Hall).
How has grief affected your relationship? Are you different? Better? Worse? Are you raging at difference or can you offer a path or way or hope to those seeking acceptance and understanding of each other and themselves?