Sunday, December 10, 2017

Depression's a Bitch

This is supposed to be a happy time.

This is supposed to be a time of hope, joy, waiting, expectation and love.

It's supposed to be but for me, it's not.   I can hardly see through the tears as I  write. Regardless of the love of my children, some close and dear friends, I am engulfed by absolute sadness, loneliness, and utter desperation.

I am over sensitive to personal remarks made that I am supposed to laugh at.  I don't know how I am managing it, but I  am very close to telling people to fuck off.

I will go to work tomorrow, put on the face, wear the pearls and tell anyone who asks that I am 'absolutely fine'.

Reality is that I know I have once again, sunk into a depression and that weaning myself off anti-depressants over the last few months really was not a good idea.

I am tired but I will,  as I promised my daughter yesterday, go to the doctor this coming week because I really am beyond putting a brave face on it. and not finding joy in anything around me.

I try to be positive but wonder if it's all worth it.

I wrote the following in 2009.

The Jester

The quiz I took

In Medieval times
I was a jester
A natural entertainer
One who can
Raise a laugh from the toughest
The quiz I took
In Medieval times
I was a jester
A maker of friends
One who knows
The popular rich and powerful
The quiz I took
In Medieval times
I was a jester
A political animal
One who can play
The diplomatic game
The quiz I took
In modern times
I am an actor
Or world leader
One who is good
At getting along
The quiz I took
Did not say
In modern times
The actor in me
Like the jester of old
Masks the tears
Wears the smile
And hides the pain

Trinidad, WI 

January 2009 ©

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Saturday Hot Mess

"Grief is the price we pay for love". (Queen Elizabeth 11)

As the 14 November which is the first anniversary of my husband's death draws nearer, it didn't help this morning when the following favourite of ours, was played on BBC Radio2.  We would dance all night.

Meet a Saturday total hot mess.

When does the ache ease and the pain go away?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Birthday in Heaven and All Souls

Today, the 2nd November is All Souls' Day and my husband's birthday.  The problem is that my husband is now part of the group, All Souls.  For years I wrote about All Souls followed by a normally humorous tagline which read that it was also my husband's birthday adding what might or might not be for dinner! 

This time last year,  my husband was very ill, lying in a hospital bed in Port of Spain General Hospital where he was 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 so they could celebrate his day even though he could not.  It seems like yesterday that hardly able to speak, he called me at 6am that morning to ensure I had everything set up including plates, spoons, forks and napkins.  He called our daughter too just to double check.  By 9.00am my daughter and I were at his bedside having handed over the goodies to the nursing staff. Visiting hours were strict but 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 on that day I would have been at my husband's bedside in a hospital.  I wrote at the time that he was in good hands and we were staying positive, strong, united, had faith and a determination that he would survive the terrible ordeal and heal. It was not to be.  He left us twelve days later.  The build-up to today has been fraught and as anticipated, now it's here, is turning out to be difficult.  The next twelve days are going to be hard.  Not that the last twelve months haven't been but I do know enough to know that the first birthday, the first anniversary are hard. Even in my deep sadness, I know that I will get through this and I am blessed to have had such a man in my life.

I cannot let this day go with mentioning that All Souls' 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 is 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 candlelight.    I would like to think that visitors would also light a candle on graves of the forgotten ones.  In many instances, those graves are not forgotten. It's just that for various reasons not everyone can visit.  My father lies over 4,000 miles away and there's no way I could fly to be at his side tonight. But I can and will light a candle for both he and Mummy, and now Richard at home this evening. This morning I lit a candle for my husband.  It was only when I arrived at work that it occurred to me that I may not have blown it out! Panic stations as I called someone to pop in and check. Turns out I had extinguished it but probably for obvious reasons, my brain is not working well today!

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 it 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.

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 Benedictine monks who are also very much here, living in the monastery on Mount St Benedict, a major landmark in this country.

                                     The Benedictine Monastery, Mt St Benedict, Trinidad 

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

May God bless all those souls that have gone before us and as I hold my husband in my heart, this evening, even in my grief, I will lift a glass to him and give thanks for the wonderful years he gave me and the many memories that I treasure.  Happy Birthday my darling as you watch over me and the family from your place in heaven. x

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Saints 2017

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'.  All Saints is a Feast Day which honours and remembers 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 churches observe it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. 

In the 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 Roman Emperor handed over the Pantheon Temple to the Pope who removed the statues of the Roman gods and consecrated it as 'All Saints in recognition of those who had died from persecution during the first three hundred years after Christ.   Pope Gregory III instituted the 1 November as 'All Saints' in the diocese of Rome 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 that is where it remains today except in the Orthodox churches.  

That is how people came to be made saints in the early days 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 500 years, the path to sainthood has been a much lengthier process and includes necessary proof of extraordinary sanctity.

In Catholic countries, this day is a Public Holiday and is seen as a Holy Day of Obligation meaning that one is required to attend Mass.  In other countries, the day is moved to the nearest Sunday.  Countries and cultures have different ways of acknowledging and celebrating this feast.  In Spain, Portugal, and Mexico offerings are made.  In Belgium, Hungary, and Italy flowers are brought to the graves of dead relatives.  In other parts of Europe such as Austria, Croatia, Poland, and Romania it is customary to light candles that are placed on the graves.  In parts of Asia such as The Philippines, it is also observed.  Relatives go to the graves of the dead, 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 much cleaning and lighting of candles.  All Saints is closely tied to All Souls' Day, held on the 2 November which is dedicated to prayers for the dead who are not yet glorified.  

'All Saints' is not a public holiday in Trinidad but the tradition of the living, visiting the family grave in preparation for the 2 November, is strong and very much part of its culture.  On the night of the 1  November,  some Trinidadians still put lighted candles in their windows carrying out the age-old belief that 'lost souls' will be able to find their way home.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Light Hearted Look Hallowtide

It's Halloween folks.  I don't have any grandchildren to go trick or treating with which is probably as well because I never really liked it - even as a child.  These days from what I can see, it's far more commercialized than when I was growing up.  Parents hire costumes, bags have been replaced by baskets which seem to get bigger every year.  One toffee apple, a few sweets or a biscuit is no longer acceptable.  It has to be several of each!  This custom goes back to when people would offer sweets to the imagined spirits supposedly walking among the living.

Halloween seems to have originated over 2,000 years ago with an ancient pagan Celtic festival during which people would don costumes and light bonfires to ward off invisible ghosts and demons. The dark festival was called Samhain and thousands of Wiccans still call the festival by that name. Carved turnips holding a burning candle were used to repel the spirits. The belief was that the candle in the turnip represented a trapped soul in Purgatory.

Later pumpkins replaced the turnips.

It is interesting that when the Romans conquered the Celts in the first century, they adopted Samhain incorporating it into their festivals.  The first was Feralia when the Romans commemorated the dead and the second was the feast of  Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona's symbol is an apple and so the apple bobbing came into being.

Halloween is the Christian name for Samhain although it did not appear until the 1700s. In the seventh century Pope Boniface established All Saints' Day to honour Christian martyrs.  After the establishment of All Souls on the 2 November, the period became known as Hallowtide.  With the spread of Christianity, some of the old pagan customs remained until now when All Hallows has become big business and sweet manufacturers in the US sell more candy than at any other time in the year!

Happy Halloween to those who are partying, accompanying children as they go from door to door or just sitting back and watching the fun.

Me? This old witch is off on her newly refurbished, ten-cylinder broom!!  Watching from above!!

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.


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