Bunny who?

Why? Who? What's this blog about? It's about MEEEE!

Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow


About Jane's brain tumour journey: Astrocytoma.co.uk

Sarah Bettens and other obsolete cds

28 June 2012

Listening to Sarah Bettens (K's Choice singer) on YouTube. Then I remembered Jane had bought her solo album years ago so I went to find it from a box of Jane's crappy cds.  I have 4 boxes of her cds. There was no space inmy own cd rack so they live somewhere separate.

I don't understand why seeing the pile of cds made me cry. Counting Crows, Crowded House, Matchbox 20, REM. None of the stuff that I really like. But it made me so incredibly sad. Such a reminder that they don't get played anymore. I wasn't even crying over Jane as such. It just made me feel so angry and sad about a life lost.

So I cried. Over a bunch of unused cds.

Actually, it is Sarah's rendition of this song, Leef, that made me sad to start with. She sings it so beautifully.  So I was already sad when I opened the box of cds.

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Making music again

21 June 2012

Girlfriend is pretty good at making music. I am okayish at singing other people's songs. I am in awe of people who write their own songs. Maybe even jealous. Girlfriend had said a few times that it would be cool if I could sing some harmonies on some of her songs.

Now I am ok singing covers of other people's songs. But to sing harmonies with the person who has written the songs seemed nerve wrecking to me. Especially since I did not want her to think I was stupid and destroying her pretty song.

Last night there was an Open Mic night in a pub down the road from my house. I kind of said: I could join you on one of your songs. STUPID ME! So then an hour of frantic and somewhat reluctant practicing followed. At first I mumbled along a bit, pretending to not really knowing what I was doing. What I was really doing was finding out how shit Girlfriend thought I was. Turns out she did not think I was crap at all. She was wonderfully patient with me whilst I sang the wrong words and wrong lines. Eventually we got to a point where I felt comfortable enough to say: OK then, let's do it.

So off to the pub we went. I played a short set of 4 songs first. (Dolly Parton's "To Daddy", Melissa Etheridge's "Like the way I do", Joan Armatrading's "Weakness in me") Girlfriend joined me on the last song where we sang Crowded House's "Weather With you". We were awesome.  Then Girlfriend played her set and I joined her on her last song. It wasn't brilliant from my part but the massive grin on Girlfriend's face was just wonderful.  She was ecstatic that someone was singing her songs and her harmonies with her. And it did not even sound crap.

I really really enjoyed it. Having broken though that barrier of embarrassment of singing with someone I consider to be a much better musician, I think I might be more comfortable in the future. I did not realise until recently how much I have missed making music in the past 9 years. Actually, it is longer than that. I just let it all slide for years. But making music with someone is brilliant fun and stimulating.

We might do that again some day.
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It's complicated

11 June 2012

I am not sure I should blog about this. As I have said before, I always feel like this blog is an open channel for my emotions. It did not used to be but it became an important emotional outlet for me when Jane was no longer able to talk to me about emotions. It was easy to write about how I felt here because Jane would not read it and feel upset about it. So I could be honest and open. I never slagged Jane off. Or anyone else. But I knew Jane was not reading my blog.

But it is different now. Girlfriend reads my blog. Once of the reasons we are together IS this blog. She read it months and months ago and felt she wanted to get to know me better. And throughout all this, things between us have been easier (according to her) because she has a good idea of how I have dealt with losing Jane, through reading my blog. And it is true that often she seems to understand me without me having to explain anything. We talk a lot about things. About emotions, about how we feel, whatever.

We have been together for over 2 months. I could not possibly love her more than I do right now. I am never the kind of person that holds back. It is all or nothing. I tend to tell my partner how I feel just about everything all the time. But I am starting to think in this case that may actually a detrimental thing for this relationship.

I think about Jane a lot. Not in a sad kind of way but simply in the things that happen in my daily life. I am only in this country because of Jane. Everywhere I have been in this country has been with Jane. Every item of clothing I have, I probably bought when shopping with Jane. Every book I own, I bought whilst with Jane, Jane would have read it and told me her opinion on the plot. We used to have the same size so a lot of my clothes are Jane's. After she died, I went through all our clothes and I just kept the stuff I liked best, regardless of whose it was originally. So more than half the time, I wear Jane's clothes. Half of the CDs I own are Jane's. A lot of the music I now like, I discovered with Jane.

None of this has any emotional significance to me on a daily basis. And so I'll 'carelessly' mention it in a conversation when a thought crosses my mind. The fact that Jane is part of that thought does not stop me from mentioning it. Because surely if it has no emotional significance to me, but merely a factual, anecdotal one, then it is not a problem for Girlfriend either, right? I mean, it does not mean I am still pining for Jane.

But it seems this is not the case. First and foremost, this is my fault. I could be wearing a T-shirt that Jane used to wear and of which I posted a picture on Facebook when Jane was ill. So Girlfriend has seen that picture. So when I wear that same t-shirt, it reminds her of Jane. Even when for me, that link is not in any way an emotional one. In fact, I am often not even aware of the fact that it might have significance for other people. To Girlfriend, this means that Jane is always there. She is always in something I wear, something I say or some music I listen to. When she looks at me, she can always find Jane in something.

I had not realised this. Because this is not how it feels to me. Because I will just mention something as a plain fact. Remarks like that are only a split second passing thought without much significance. Of course there are moments when I feel sad. Moment where I actually mention Jane in a significant way, rather than as a passing comment.

But if I mention Jane all the time when it doesn't really matter, how will Girlfriend know when it DOES matter? To her, all it might feel like is me talking about Jane yet again.

The past 2 weeks have been full of Jane. The memories of her last days, the stress about the charity gig, the sadness of June 3rd being our wedding anniversary and on June 8th, it was a year since her funeral. I have not actually cried other than a few tears at the gig. Which was unexpected. Girlfriend has been fantastic for me. She never once complained, has been there to hug me and has been nothing but understanding. Of course there are things she worries about. It would be weird if she did not feel some insecurities and feeling she is competing with a saint. As I discussed in a previous blog post, it is important we keep talking about this.

But when is it simply too much? Is it fair to just assume Girlfriend will understand when I am really sad and when I am merely just mentioning Jane as a passing thought as part of a story that could be told just as well without mentioning her? Is it solely up to Girlfriend to accept me talking about Jane all the time or do I have a responsibility to perhaps think twice about mentioning Jane in conversations where in fact she does not play a part at all? 

I mean, when for example I talk about where I bought my favourite pair of shoes, is it vital to mention that when I bought them, it was a very hot day and Jane was complaining about the heat, hence we went into a shoe shop with aircon? Would the story be any less interesting (assuming it is interesting in the first place) if I take a second and decided if mentioning Jane is a vital part of this story or that it does not weigh up against making Girlfriend uncomfortable?

A relationship is give and take. Just because losing my wife is a massive fucking thing does not mean it is a carte blanche to be insensitive to Girlfriend's feelings. I am not erasing Jane from my life. I just think I might need to be more selective in mentioning her. Because if I mention her all the time, how will Girlfriend know when I am actually sad and need a hug? It seems perfectly understandable that it would make her a little bit irritable. "Jane.....again".

 We went away to the Peak District after the difficult 2 weeks around the anniversary of Jane's death. I needed a break. Girlfriend also needed a break. I failed to understand that she needed a break from Jane. That it would be nice for her if for a few days, there would be only 2 people in this relationship. And not 3. That for a few days, SHE would feel the centre of my attention. That for a few days, she would not feel like competing with a dead person. That for a few days, I would NOT be wearing any of the clothes I shared with Jane but maybe I could consciously wear some of the clothes I have bought after Jane's death.

Also, all the places I have been in this country, I have been with Jane. Some of these places were awesome and I would like to take Girlfriend there. Not because of my memories, but because that place was just really nice. I did not realise that I may well not get emotional about Jane in those places, but that for Girlfriend, we are once again in a place with ties to Jane. And so instead of going to Buxton, we changed our plans and went to a different town instead. One that I had never been to. One that had no memories. No chance of me insensitively pointing out how at this particular bridge, Jane and I fed some nice ducks (or something equally trivial). I made an effort and found it did not feel like betrayal. I did not feel upset or angry. I did not have to spend most of my day suppressing memories. In fact, I actually found it quite a relief. Which was a surprise to me too.

If any of that sounds unreasonable to you, if you feel Girlfriend should be a complete saint and never mention her feelings about this, then you don't understand how I feel about Jane, relationships or Girlfriend.

I think Girlfriend deserves to feel like she is the only person I want to be with right now. Because she is. And if I make this difficult for her to understand because I keep mentioning Jane in unrelated, trivial throw-away comments that could easily be avoided, then I feel it is up to me to make the effort to try and be more careful about what I say.

It is about finding a middle ground. Girlfriend will have to accept that I miss Jane (and she does). Not as a lover but as a person I love deeply. That certain significant dates will be difficult. Or that certain things I did with Jane and now do with Girlfriend will be difficult. (We are going to Edinburgh Fringe this year. In 2010, our trip to the Fringe signaled the return of Jane's tumour and the trip was an emotional disaster).  I will have to accept that if I want to be in this relationship, I might have to think twice about sharing every single thought I have about anything.

If I talk about Jane too much when it doesn't matter, I run the risk of Girlfriend getting tired of it and not being able to be there for me when it DOES matter. She wants to be there for me. But she is not my crutch. She does not want to be and she should not be. She deserves to be in a relationship with me. Not with me and Jane. I should not take her understanding for granted. Because it is pretty rare to find someone so patient.

I am already feeling myself being more wary of mentioning Jane altogether, even when I am sad. Last night, for some reason I don't want to discuss, I got really sad and cried a bit. I did not miss Jane as such. I was just so sad about what has happened to a lovely young woman. My first thought was to call girlfriend and hear her reassuring & caring voice that always makes me feel better. But I did not want to talk to her about Jane again. So I cried alone for a few minutes. Then I texted a friend for a hug but she was out in a nightclub.

This is a worry. Because it should not become something that I can not discuss with girlfriend. I guess this is a tricky phase in our relationship. The initial excitement is making way for a more stable thing. (Although..... I have seen Girlfriend every day for the past 2 months. Every day. And still, every time I see her, even if it is only for a cup of tea during my lunch break, my heart soars.) We will need to find our own way with this. I have no advice for her. I have not done this before. She has not done this before. We are making our own history as we go along. But I want this to work. Because she makes me feel happy again.

And frankly *flippant comment alert*, Jane would hate to think she would be wrecking my relationships AFTER her death.

Keep Reading: "It's complicated"

That was cool!

09 June 2012

Last Saturday was awesome. The gig I put on to mark the first anniversary of Jane's death raised almost £400 for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

There were a lot of nice people. And there was a lot of nice music. 

Who was there I hear you ask? Well, there was Corinne Lucy:
Corinne Lucy

She played some lovely tunes of her own making and a couple of covers. If you haven't yet, you should check out her YouTube Page which has a whole load of lovely videos.

Life of Pie
Then there was Life of Pie. Well, 2/3 of Life of Pie as their pianist was unfortunately unwell. The boys performed admirably and played a bunch of covers that got people humming along. They also played a nice version of Crowded House's Fall at your Feet. They did not know this song was played at Jane's funeral service so that was a nice touch.

And to finish off the night, there was the lovely King's Gambit. They played stomping folk music. You should check them out on their website.

It was a nice evening. My parents and my sister had come over from Holland especially. Jane's mother and sister were there too. And a whole bunch of our friends. And some friends of mine who never knew Jane but came to support me. Afterwards, the musicians all said: we doing this again next year? And you know what? I might just do that.

Keep Reading: "That was cool!"