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

Astrocytoma

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

When we were here

26 February 2012

Jane is dead. I know this. There is nothing left of her but a jar of ashes that is sitting on the cupboard in my room. I do not believe in life after death or spirits. I don't believe the spirit lingers in a place where people have once been.

So then why do I keep visiting places Jane and I went to together? I went to Cornwall. To London. To rugby grounds.

What am I hoping to find?

As time goes on, my daily life holds fewer painful memories. The memories are still there. Every minute of every day. But they are no longer as painful as they once were.

When I go to a place where we used to go, it hits me hard. It hurts. It makes me cry to see the road where we walked, the pub where we drank, the hotel where we slept. And for a reason I don't understand, I feel compelled to seek out those places. It is almost like crossing them off my list. But why?

So that next time it doesn't hurt so much? Or is it because I need to feel something, anything. And so I look for the pain because the pain makes the loss feel more real, more recent? Does that mean I have to visit every place we ever visited together? Even the ones I never plan to return to?

This weekend I went to see a friend in Manchester. She was at school with Jane and is a dear friend to me now. On the way back, I decided to drive past Buxton. Jane and I stayed in Buxton in April 2009. Jane had finished her radiotherapy and we needed a break. We stayed in The Buckingham Hotel and I wrote two blog posts about it. This one here and this one about our stay in The Jodie Foster Room.



Tonight, as I arrived in Buxton, I parked up at the hotel and waited for the tears to come. They came. For a long time. I just cried and cried. And when I felt the tears subside, I thought of something else we did in Buxton and I started crying again.

Jane in the tub in Buxton. She was unable to push
herself up and get out of the bath. It took us 20 minutes
before she could stand.
I remembered how, on the way there, we were listening to The Indigo Girls album "Despite our Differences". We used to sing along in the car. My hand on her knee. When they sang the line "Most of what will happen now is way out of our hands, so just let it go, see where it lands" we would take each other's hand and smile at each other with tears in our eyes because we knew there was a hard road ahead for Jane.

But on this trip. Jane wasn't singing. I encouraged her to sing and she admitted she had forgotten the words. Bloody radiotherapy had wrecked her memory. I taught her the words again but she still wouldn't sing. She said she no longer felt like singing. So I sang alone in an attempt to keep her smiling. Tonight I sang alone, knowing it would make the tears flow.

Or when we were buying her new trousers in the Buxton outdoor shop and we had to run out of the store to find a toilet, only for us to be too late and I had to buy the trousers she was trying on as well as a clean pair.

I remembered all those things and more. How we got a room upgrade and a discount because the receptionist saw Jane was clearly a very sick woman. How much I loved watching Jane have her afternoon nap in the big hotel bed.

After about 30 minutes of crying, I felt like I had laid this place to rest. Like I had laid our memories in Buxton to rest. Like I made my peace with these memories.

Next time I am there, I will still he sad but not as distraught as I was this evening.

But why do I seem to need seeking out these painful moments? I may never ever visit Buxton again. Or any of the places I am revisiting. Because visiting them with someone new will be weird and wrong. All I'll see is Jane.

Maybe it is a way of owning the memory. So that I am in control of it. Or maybe it is because feeling pain is still better than not feeling anything at all.

As you can tell from this post, I really don't know (although I am leaning towards wanting to feel the pain). But I need to do it.

Until the hurt has gone.

Or until she comes back.

But I'm afraid neither of these two things is going to happen.


UPDATE: a very astute friend made this observation about my need to seek out places. She suggested it is about interaction. Interaction with a memory of Jane is still better than no interaction with Jane at all. So perhaps this is all about a desperate search for interaction.

She has a point. Perhaps I need to visit these places so that I can interact with the memory of Jane. Maybe losing Jane is such a big shock that although my rational brain knows she is gone, some feelings just have not caught up yet. And so I look in all these places where I have feelings associated with Jane and where 'she might be hiding', just to prove to myself she really isn't there. I interact with my memory to try and 'get something going' but when the memory and the crying stops, Jane is still not there. And then I leave another place behind me where I know I won't find Jane. Another chapter finished.

Or something like that. I am not explaining myself very well but what she said makes sense to me.

I am not sure this is all a good thing. Because once I have revisited a place, I can never feel those emotions again, even when I return there. So perhaps I should take more time when revisiting places. So that I can still feel stuff in a few months/years time. So I can still decide: I want to feel close to Jane so I will seek out a place I have not yet revisited. Instead of doing it all as soon as possible.

God emotions are complicated. Especially at 2am...

Please feel free to tell memwhat you think the reason is. I know I am not the only person who deliberately seeks out things that evoke sadness. But why?
Keep Reading: "When we were here"

Watching The West Wing box set

16 February 2012

The West Wing box set
Jane loved The West Wing. No, not loved. Adored. She got me in to watching it. It was just such a reflection of her intelligence that a 23 year old student would love that show. She got me in to it as well. We watched it whenever we could but would often miss it on tv. Over the years, I often found her drooling over the 7-season box set in the shops. I would offer to buy it, she would refuse because it was too expensive.

Today I bought the box set for a mere £59.

As I sit here watching it, I am in floods of tears. Maybe it is the bottle of Rum making me tearful. Maybe. But more than anything else it is Jane. It is not the thought of missing her. What is upsetting me tonight as I watch her favourite show, is knowing what it would have been like if I had bought her this West Wing box set earlier.

We would have had the cheese & crackers out. And the red port. Or the Jack Daniel's & Coke.
We would have curled up on the sofa.
We would have sat close together.
We would have discussed her small crush on Alison Janney.
Jane would have rested her head on my lap.
We would have watched The West Wing whilst I played absentmindedly with her hair, stroking her face.
At about 5pm, I would have reached over and covered Jane with a fleece blanket that used to live next to the sofa.
We would have looked at the clock hours later and realised a whole day had gone without us getting up, turning the lights on or even go for a pee.
Jane would have fallen asleep around 7pm, still with her head on my lap.

I would have bent over to kiss her cheek.
I would have looked at her sleeping face and feel an overwhelming sense of love. A sense of forever. A sense of past, present and future, all rolled in to the person now sleeping in my arms.

That is what I am missing right now.
Keep Reading: "Watching The West Wing box set"

Celebrating Jane with a fundraising night

13 February 2012


On May 30th, it will be a year since we lost Jane. I want to mark this milestone on June 2nd with a nice evening of live music and good company and you are invited.

I think I deserve a party for getting through this year:-) And I think you deserve a party for being there for me. Or for having been Jane's friend in the past. Or for still fondly remembering Jane. Or for, well, whatever tenuous link you may have to me or Jane :-)

But most of all, I think Jane's life was one to celebrate.

There will be live Acoustic music from some of the guys from Wordsworth and their friends. They will play all kinds of stuff but mainly things Jane liked: Crowded House, Foo Fighters, Manic Street Preachers. You know, stuff you remember from when you were in school. Mixed in with other solid tunes.

Corinne Lucy
There will also be music from Northampton's own Joni Mitchell, Corinne Lucy.

Please bring friends along as I will be charging £3 to get in, in the hope to raise some more money for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

The easiest way to comfirm your attendance will be to donate £3 to my Just Giving page (http://justgiving.com/bouncybean) for each person you are bringing along. Just pay with your card and leave a message with your donation with your name and number of guests.

Alternatively you can pay on the door of course but I really would prefer to know in advance how many people are planning to come so I can inform the pub what to expect.

Here is the Facebook event where you can confirm your attendance if you like. Please tell all your friends and invite them too!

If you can not make it, I think you should still give me £3 for the hospice, as an excuse. Just mention in the message that you are unable to attend :)

I have booked the pub for the Saturday evening but there will be other people as well as the pub was, understandably, not willing to close its doors on a Saturday night. However, people will all have to pay to come in. So, again, please bring friends as more friends=more money and more Jane-related people at the party.

If you feel you want to mark the occassion with something special, something to do, sing or say, please feel free to do so. Just let me know.

If you are coming from far away, I might be able to put you up for the night, as long as you let me know.

I can not explain how much it would mean to me to see friends who still think of Jane coming together for what will hopefully be an evening of joy and good memories.

Xx
Marieke

Venue:

The Romany
Trinity Avenue
Northampton
NN2 6JN
Keep Reading: "Celebrating Jane with a fundraising night"

End of Life care

06 February 2012

Back in April last year, Jane went in to hospital after a seizure. 4 days later she came out again and a complete care package had been put in place over the weekend. I wrote about that in a post entitled Hurrah for the NHS.

Jane and me watching TV shortly after she
came home from the hospital in April 2011.
Jane was lucky enough to be part of a pilot project in Northamptonshire for End of Life care that enables people to stay in their own home in the last 8 weeks of their lives. With this project, a Rapid Response Team of nurses and Health Care Assistants was available in addition to special end of life carers 4 times per day. The carers and nurses were fantastic. Their help made me feel supported and calm. Well, as much as possible. It made the difference between being able to handle things and being totally traumatised by the weight of all the decisions.

Life moves in mysterious ways.

On Wednesday, I will become part of their team.

I will admit it is probably partly therapeutic for me. After all, nobody but me and those people know exactly what things were like in Jane's last few weeks. They were there with me. They were there for me and I will be forever grateful to them.

But it is more than that. I really believe my experience can help others. And that I owe it to Jane and myself to try and give others that same feeling I had: You are not alone. We are here to help. We understand what you are going through.

I suppose I might struggle at times. I am especially concerned about possibly being faced with a young couple in a similar situation as we were. But I am also reassured by the fact that the people who took me on are aware of my past. And they are still prepared to give me a chance.

I will repay their faith in me.

Bring it on.
Keep Reading: "End of Life care"