Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Shubh Divali 2017

To all my friends celebrating The Festival of Lights today, Shubh Divali!

One of my several blogs about this darkness over light festival.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Life Now.

It's a few weeks since I wrote my last post and quite simply, nothing has changed. If anything, the pain is deeper.  Maybe this is because I am beginning to 'feel' as I have been weaning myself off the antidepressants which on thinking about it, is maybe at the moment,  not such a very good idea.But if your true feelings are dulled by chemicals, how can you ever get to the bottom of, and deal with the reality of your life?

Reality of life after the death of your husband (I cannot even begin to think of the pain that the loss of a child brings - and I have several girlfriends who are in that position), is devastating.  Apart from anything else it makes you think of your own mortality which can make you sink into a further abyss. I try to counteract those thoughts by telling myself how blessed I am.

As I sit here and look over a beautiful view, staring at God's creation at its best, not even that can erase the dark thoughts that engulf me.  I am reminded of how life really is now.  I should be cheered by the daily WhatApp messages that tell me 'to have a beautiful day'. Friends mean well and I am grateful to them but the people who live less than five minutes away and who I am supposed to be close to don't seem to think that it's necessary to check on me.  Is this a pity party? Probably. But that's the reality.  I tell myself that people have their own lives to lead but at the same time, a 'pop in', a call, would be wonderful. But you don't make that telephone call to them just in case it's not an appropriate time.

Frustration is a killer.  The table that falls apart sends you into despair.  The leaking tap in the bathroom becomes a major issue. The new vacuum doesn't do what it's supposed to so you fling it across the living room and leave it there for three days which is unheard of as your family says you have OCD. The leaves on the patio need sweeping up but you cannot get yourself together to face that task.  You get angry with a friend who dares to suggest that after ten months, you should have cleared your husband's wardrobe.  You bitchily think to yourself 'what the hell would she know? She's never been in this position'. You react badly when someone you have only met on three occasions through work, completely out of the blue asks at a bimonthly, half hour meeting, 'would you like to put your husband's ashes in the crypt?'. Lady, you are out of place. You do not know me. You did not know my husband. And if I want to hang onto my husband's ashes for the next ten years, it's none of your damn business.

From Monday to Friday, you put on your makeup and face the world. You put on your lipstick, wear the pearls or the statement necklace and it's business as usual.  You overhear people saying how well you are doing, your smile which hides the loneliness looks genuine and they go on their merry way. You are touched deeply by a priest, who even if he comes into your office twice a week, gives you a hug. And by the person who puts his head through your office door once a week to ask how you are and sometimes drops chocolate on your desk. Then you go home to an empty apartment that was once filled with music, companionship, and love.  Of course there were disagreements which you so disliked but now you would give anything to get angry over a disagreement rather than a vase that broke when the breeze was so strong that a flying curtain knocked it over.

Don't even mention the horrors of anxiety, the panic attacks and that headache that you convince yourself is an aneurysm.  The nausea that makes you think that there is something untoward going on in your body or the nightmares and the bad dreams that cause you to wake up in a cold sweat.

Self neglect sets in. Sometimes when you have closed that door on a Friday evening, you don't go out again until Monday morning. During that time whilst you shower and put a brush through your hair, there is no makeup, your legs remain unshaven, your nails are a mess and you don't always eat. It's easier to immerse yourself in Netflix, skim through FaceBook, do electronic jigsaws, post on Instagram than it is to dust and polish. And when you do dust and polish you cannot see the difference through the tears.

Widowhood is a bitch!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Almost Nine Months a Widow.....

After a week short of being nine months a widow, there is still nothing anyone can say that would make me feel better.

Oh,  believe me, there are good days in between the total meltdowns but they are few and far between.  The smile on my face hides the raw pain from the outside world. Wine doesn't kill the pain, starting to smoke again after thirteen years doesn't take away the stress (so knock that one on the head!), neither valium nor antidepressants ease the ache, and burying myself in my work is only a temporary relief until I open the front door in the evening.  I have come to realize that even with a supportive family and very good friends it would be very easy for me to become a recluse. There have been weekends when I have stayed behind closed doors from Friday evening until Monday morning when it's time to face the world again.

I am told, as I am so quick to tell others when they have lost a loved one, to treasure the memories but I find it hard, very hard to get past those last few days in the hospital when it became obvious that my husband wasn't going to survive. That horrendous memory is locked in my head and it seems as though someone has thrown away the key.

Today, I am in total meltdown.  I am not sure whether it is a result of having been unusually busy work-wise over the last two weeks and today finding that I could actually relax or the fact that I am so very tired, that the thought of cleaning, washing and cooking is totally overwhelming. For someone so organized, it's hard to get my head around what's happening.

I know one goes through several stages after a loss.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance although the first four really not necessarily in that order. That was confirmed to me yesterday by a dear friend who just happens to be a priest but funnily enough, we weren't discussing me. 

This year my husband and I would have been married for thirty two years.  That together with the two previous years of knowing one another, is sometimes just too hard to think about. Maybe when the raw pain has eased and I come to accept the loss, devastation and anger are a thing of the past, the smile I smile now will be genuine, the raucous laughter real and the fun filled, witty person who people believe has actually already recovered, will really be back.  

A mask is a terrible thing.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Greetings 2016

Merry Christmas to anyone who comes to this page.  Wishing each and every one of you peace, joy, happiness and love for today and always.  Let us celebrate family, friendship, love and kindness.

Let's also remember those who for one reason or another, don't find this season easy to bear but who, regardless of their sadness, put on a brave face.  Life for some, is not what is seems.


Friday, December 9, 2016

When is Enough, Enough?

Even in my own grief having lost my husband last month, I wept today for a young lady who went missing a few days ago and whose body was found today behind boxes in a busy store in the heart of town. An apparently sheltered twenty year old with her life before her who recently started to work in a major bank and who had called her mother on Monday afternoon to say that she was going to Pennywise and IAM Company before coming home is no longer alive. Her Pennywise bags and a shoe were found before she was. The story apart from being tragic, is smattered with anecdotes of how she was found, where she was found and what had been done to her body before being dumped.
It's a tragic story and one that, for all the four hundred plus murders that have taken place on this tiny island this year, seems to have hit home more than most. We ignore gangland killings. We ignore disappearances - talking behind closed doors and not so closed doors, of human trafficking, family revenges, gang related revenges. Even though it's very wrong, we seem to take those in our stride.
So why has this particular murder been the subject of so many threads on social media? So many conversations? Such anger? A population coming together in a unified outrage? The answer is 'women'. Whilst men are also outraged (my driver this evening was beside himself with anger) young women and not so young women have come together and continue to come together in solidarity over this terrible, terrible murder. Many of the women we know - mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts... walk the streets of Port of Spain before work, during the day, popping out for lunch, rushing to Pennywise because goods are cheaper there than in the Malls without a thought for their safety. They stop off at vendors in Charlotte Street to pick up fruit and vegetables, pop into the odd shop as a dress or a top catches their eye and then the Chinese supermarket for a cold drink and something to munch on as they make their way back to the office. Although we have been saying for a long time that nowhere in Trinidad, not even one's own home is safe, I believe the events of today hit home for many women especially those who work in Port of Spain.
I believe there is to be a silent demonstration tomorrow at the bottom of Charlotte Street. If I could be with them I would be but I know plenty of young women who have pledged to take part. Women from all walks of life. Women from all professions. Women who have had enough. It is time for women to step up and call for a solution. When women en masse are angry it's time to watch out. I sincerely hope this is not a nine day wonder. I sincerely hope that this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Maybe, just maybe Shannon Banfield's grotesque murder has made women angry enough to call out the necessary authorities; to make them act and to make them understand that women are not second class citizens and that they are entitled to walk the streets without fear, get into taxis without wondering whether or not they will make it to their destinations and be able to walk past a group of men without being harassed and hassled, never mind attacked or murdered.
This candle is for Shannon. May she rest in eternal peace and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her family be comforted and may the women of Trinidad and Tobago come together as one, remain together as one and make a great deal of noise as one. So much noise that the sound cannot be ignored. Let this not be a nine day wonder - let us use the loss of this innocent young woman to make our voices heard. Only in unity can we make others listen. Only in unity can we make a difference. Let those of us who are outraged today keep up the fight to stem the violence.
Shannon, soar with angels.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Birthday and All Souls

Today, the 2nd November is All Soul's Day and my husband's birthday.  I normally write about All Souls and just tag on the fact that it's my husband's birthday but today, it's the other way around.

As I write, my husband is very ill, lying in a hospital bed in Port of Spain General Hospital where he is being taken care of by the most amazing team of doctors and nurses. Even though so ill, he insisted that the family take cake and ice cream for the medical staff today. Hardly able to speak, he called me at 6am this morning to ensure I had everything set up including plates, spoons, forks and napkins.  By 9.00am my daughter and I were at his bedside having handed over the goodies to the nursing staff. Visiting is normally 11 am to 1.00pm and  4.00pm - 6.00pm.  We were allowed to stay on the ward with him from the time we arrived until whenever we chose to leave.  I have always made an occasion of  special days in the lives of each family member but I did not for one moment think that today I would be by my husband's bedside in a hospital.  However he is in good hands and we keep positive, strong, united, have faith and a determination  that he will survive this terrible ordeal and heal.

Having brought some people up to date on my husband's state of health, I will now say that All Soul's is a Catholic day of Remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away.  On this day, during Requiem Masses,  the Office of the Dead has to be recited.

The theological basis for the Feast is the belief that those souls which have left the body not perfectly cleansed, or have not fully atoned for past sins, cannot yet see God.  According to some tradition those left on earth  can apparently help these souls on their journey from Purgatory  by praying for them, offering Masses and giving alms.

Today and this evening many families will go to their family plots and graves, gather around and even bring picnic baskets to celebrate those who have gone before them.  Tonight every forgotten grave will be lit up by candles so that the cemetery/ graveyard will just for one night of the year, be bathed in candle light.    I would like to think that visitors would also light a candle on graves of  the forgotten.  In many instances those graves where the loved ones lie are  not forgotten. It's just that for various reasons not everyone can visit a loved one's grave.  My father lies over 4,000 miles away and there is no way I could fly to be at his side tonight. But I can and do light a candle for both he and Mummy at home this evening.  Even now it's burning brightly beside a photograph of them together.

I like  the customs and traditions of some European countries where candles are burning continuously  (24/7)  as one did  on my Austrian grandmother's grave.  Sadly there is no one left there to  look after my grandmother's grave but I do know that the graveyard keepers,  when they know there is no family left, do keep the candles lit.  In some of those countries there is a photograph of the deceased together with an eternal flame.

It would seem that the origins of this day have been attributed to various religious orders.  Some say the Cluny Order (the nuns still teach here in Trinidad), others the Benedictines who are also  still very much here, on Mount St Benedict, a major land mark in this country.

The Benedictine Monastery, Mt St Benedict, Trinidad 

 Whoever it was, it was a wonderful  custom which to this day, is celebrated, not only here but in many Catholic countries.

My wish on this All Souls is that the souls of my departed relatives have found peace.  And whilst I am wishing them peace, I also wish for complete healing and for peace of mind for my very sick husband.  Happy Birthday darling! Uncomfortable though it is and somewhat painful, you can do this!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Saints 1 November 2016

Today, 1 November is All Saints Day which is believed to have been established in the early part of the fourth century and was known as 'Martyrs Day'.  It is a Feast Day which honours all Christian saints whose names we know and those we don't.  Western Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate this Feast today whereas the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates it on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

In early days many Christians were persecuted by the Romans and died for their belief in God.  To remember those martyrs, various Dioceses set aside special days to celebrate. In the early seventh century the Emperor of the Roman Empire handed over the Pantheon Temple to the then Pope who removed the statues of the Roman gods and consecrated it as 'All Saints' in recognition of all who had died from persecution during the first  three hundred years after Christ.  Pope Gregory 111, in the Diocese of Rome,  instituted the 1 November as All Saints as he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs, in St Peter's Basilica.  Pope Gregory IV extended the Feast to the entire Church and except in the Eastern Orthodox Church, that is where it remains today.

Then, this is how people came to be made saints and when Christians became free to worship openly, the Church found other ways to recognize sanctity. Early in Christianity people were made saints by popular acclaim which was then sanctioned by the local Bishop. For the last five hundred years or so the path to sainthood has been a much lengthier and a more difficult process.   Sainthood certainly doesn't come as easily as it once did!  Today there has to be proof of extraordinary sanctity in the form of at least one if not two miracles before canonization.  However there are exceptions to every rule as in the case of John XXX111 who does not have a miracle to his name but has other amazing attributes.

In Catholic countries All Saints is a Public Holiday and is seen as a Holy Day of Obligation meaning that one is required to attend Mass.  In other countries, as with many other Feasts, the day has been moved to the nearest Sunday.  Countries and their cultures have different ways of acknowledging and celebrating this Feast.  In Spain, Mexico and Portugal offerings are made.  In Belgium, Hungary and Italy flowers are brought to the graves of dead relatives.  In other parts of Europe, eg Austria, Croatia, Romania  and Poland it is customary to place lighted candles on the graves of relatives.  In parts of Asia, particularly The Philippines, the Feast of All Saints is also observed.  Relatives of those deceased go the graves to clean and repair them, lay flowers and light candles.  In France, church services are held  but by evening the focus has moved towards the dead.  People crowd cemeteries and there is a great deal of cleaning and lighting of candles.  All Saints is closely tied to All Souls which falls on the 2 November  and is dedicated to prayers for the deceased who are not yet glorified.  

All Saints is not a Public Holiday in Trinidad and Tobago but the tradition of the living visiting the family plots in preparation for All Souls is strong and very much part of the culture.  This evening many Trinidadians still put candles in their windows carrying out the age old belief that 'lost souls' will be able to find their way home.  

Happy Feast Day!
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