As Time Goes By…

gold colored chain necklace with watch pendant
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I have awoken once again as I have done for as long as I can remember in the past few months, exactly two and a half hours after I had gone to bed. It seems to be such a regular occurrence now, part of the new normal forcing its way into my life. Again I am compelled to write about what has happened in the past few months and get it out of my head in the hope that it will not spend more time there and that I will be able to move on from it in some small way. I do not know if that is forcing something which is not ready to leave, or just stop it from occupying most of my thoughts.

I have been quietly writing in the background the past few months, so much has gone on in my private life which needs to remain private for now, but the difficulties of the past few years seem to pale into almost insignificance in comparison.  I have sat and purposefully written in a bid to explain, but those posts will not be shared publicly, there has been so much pain to deal with and I have been fighting still despite feeling ill equipped to do so. I have also written a few more poems, some of which I’ve posted here on the blog.

It is difficult to know where to begin so I guess it will just have to come right out and say it, that which I am able to share with you. My brother passed away, he died suddenly and although it was a huge shock to us all. I am struggling to deal with it.  The past almost three months since his passing, have felt like a year, endless in its quest and dragging onward.  It is not over yet, since the grieving process has really only just begun due to the delays caused by legal formalities. He is not gone from my thoughts and remains very much a part of me. In my home I am surrounded by his things which bring back memories all of the time.  Of course this does not just affect me, the rest of the family are left reeling from the shock of it all, he was a relatively young man at 48 years old and this was totally unexpected.

He lived his life in the enviable position of having no responsibilities in fact he positively shied away from them, left no will and made me his next of kin.  Suddenly, there was a policeman on the telephone, faced with the duty of informing me that there had been an accident and that I was to contact his employer urgently.   At that point, he was in a critical ward of a hospital in Corsica and it was my job to inform Mum.  We spoke on the phone since I was also away at the time, and only a couple of hours later, he was dead.  Gone forever it felt surreal. He had been working away for most of the last five years, returning only for short periods in between and staying with friends, who were extended family, whenever he was back in the UK we tried to catch up, but during his trips he would call me at length and tell me all about where he was living and the people he was working with.   He was excited by life and new experiences and I loved those conversations. I was lucky to have had one such conversation the afternoon before he passed away, which made me wrack my brains and replay every moment in my mind to see if I could have sensed that something was wrong, if it could in some way have forewarned me of what was to come.  But it did not. What happened was just an awful accident, cardiac arrest brought on by shock of the extreme heat of the climate, to cold water in an outdoor swimming pool. One misjudged moment in time, deciding to go for a swim and he drowned. It was awful and it still is.  To think of a life so suddenly gone, I am still coming to terms with how final that is. He was just getting to do the things that he wanted to and living the life he felt that he should. He had plans and was excited by what the future may hold.

I still can’t believe that he is gone and not coming back, as a seasonnaire chef, his summer stint would be over and he would be back by now. I like so many others, his friends and his family are waiting for that phone call we would normally have had by now, saying “Hello, I’m back”.  He stopped calling it home a couple of years ago, when he decided that he wanted to live in Italy and began looking for a flat there, alas that was not to be. But here was where he returned to, his roots and the extended family he had chosen, lifelong friendships with people who anticipated his return.

It was August when he passed away. It took two months to get him home and have the funeral since there was an inquest and repatriation to deal with. I am relieved that his employers were a reputable company who had insurance, otherwise I for one could not have coped with it all and the costs of bringing him back and dealing with it all would have been impossible. It would have been a very different situation since as far as I can find out he had no insurance to cover him for his death. He had not written a will and had no savings whatsoever surviving from one pay check to the next and never quite managing it consistently living beyond his means.

Thankfully, from a leaving people behind point of view, he did not have a wife or children, just parents and siblings, me and his sister.  He also had literally hundreds of friends, dotted around the world.  I honestly feel that he never lost touch with anyone he ever met, leaving a lasting impression upon them, they stayed in touch or he would walk into a place somewhere in the world and someone would know someone who knew him, or an old acquaintance would reappear. It was uncanny.  He was a loveable rogue and when we planned his party for him, in celebration of his life it only then became clear to us how loved he was.  He did not want a funeral where everyone was sad, he wanted a party where everyone could gather and talk about the good times, drink and dance and talk.  Throughout the planning I was worried, wondering if I would make him proud. It had been many years since I had planned an event, but I wanted it to be perfect for him. Nothing would spoil it and as it turned out it was a wonderful night, which a month later people are still speaking about with fondness, cherishing new memories along with the old and rekindled friendships. It was a wonderful compliment to be told that if he had made it to fifty and had a party, then this would have been exactly what he would have wanted to do and it couldn’t have gone any better.

We picked a location he loved as fate would have it there was a real ale festival at the first pub. A local place where he always returned to, it was the perfect setting on a beautiful warm and sunny day. A refreshing seaside breeze after a funeral service packed out with around 400 people. It was massive and although emotionally exhausting, it was filled with love and tributes. We spoke, which was something I knew that I had to do, anecdotes from growing up together and then I read a poem I had written just after his passing, called My Brother. (You can read it here) It was a first for me, reading something I had written out loud in front of an audience but it was very well received.  Our sister, who is a musician, sang a song live which she had written, also a first for her and it was emotional and beautiful. Our Mum told everyone stories from his past which had everyone laughing and smiling at the memories.  My partner got up and spoke, thanking all of the people who had helped and been there for my brother and for us and the tribute from his friend, reliving the memories growing up, were both entertaining and captivating.

After the initial meet up where the beer festival was held, we moved onto another pub, where we had organised a buffet, some of his school friends who are DJ’s played the music he loved for a packed out pub full of people from all walks of life and all age groups who were there to say goodbye.  Our sister played live with her bands and we were fortunate that the entertainment that the pub had already booked for that night flowed effortlessly from what we had done for him. Everyone had a great time it was not like a funeral at all.  It was a day and a night filled with love for someone who has left a wide gaping hole in our lives by his sudden departure.  We had guest books and reading them after the funeral was lovely. We encouraged people to write their memories of him and are planning to publish his story at some point, the book he didn’t quite get to write.  I am sure that he was still too busy living his life to write it all down.  I have spent two months looking for the book he always spoke about writing one day, but have not yet found any evidence of it.  We decided that the stories should not die with him. They are too funny, heart-warming and vivid to let go.

I was sent out to Corsica by his employers, they arranged for me to attend where he lived and worked and meet the team, his working family and the ones who had tried to save him. It was cathartic towards the end of the trip, I was so pleased to be able to do that and it helped immensely to piece together the time before his death and share some wonderful memories with those who surrounded him. I returned only six weeks ago, it feels much longer.  Time seems to drag on and all of a sudden it will be three months since he died, this weekend it has been a month since his funeral. The seasons have changed and with them so have I. Although I am not sure whether it is for the better or worse and I am so far out of my comfort zone lately that I can’t remember where it is any more.

As I deal with his affairs in the line of duty, my own personal grief has kicked in it catches me out at the most awkward of moments, creating havoc in the day to day.  Having dealt with the formality of the funeral now, it no longer consumes my every moment, I am still dealing with formalities as this will take some time to do.  I have time to think now and remember and those memories which fall as tears when I think of him, of that lump in my throat which arrives when I get to thinking about the fact that I will never again get to hug my infuriatingly haphazard, but very endearing and loving brother. Meanwhile I am surrounded by the belongings which I am still gathering in able to sort them out and share out amongst family and his closest friends. He left his things all over Europe and even now I am not quite sure where, some are only just coming to light now. I do not know if I will be able to recover it all. Despite my daily routine being somewhat relaxed, insomnia and concerns are wearing and damaging to the health and mine has suffered, along with that of my partner who has been at my side, supporting me every step of the way.  He is tired, for that read exhausted and already suffering ill health it has really taken its toll upon him, I must look after my rock and not let it crumble. As he pointed out to me, life is for the living and we are still here.

Last night I visited one of his close friends, I called round on the off chance and we talked for over an hour about the funeral and how he would normally be home by now. That he still shows up now and then, in the strangest of ways.  She has been married to his best friend for over 20 years and they were a very large part of my brother’s life, always there for him come what may. Only 3 months ago I had never met her.  It was the case for so many of his friends throughout his life he kept them and his family separate.  But the love and warmth that they had for him has been extended to me and the rest of us and never fails to move me.  I came home happy but emotional it was good to talk about my brother, but I am conscious that we also talked about other things in our lives such as making plans for the future. It was just what was needed after a week where I have been going stir crazy at home, seemingly chasing my tail to get things done, although I have made small progress nevertheless.

As time goes by, things are slowly changing, things which are forcing me to re-evaluate and make new plans.  I need to concentrate on improving our health and moving us onward.  I hope that down the line I can begin to follow some of my dreams with regard to work and I want to be able to write again, not just poetry but other things.  The future could be a long time, there is much to do.

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Upon reflection.

Upon reflection, all in this life game.

I think of you so often and will never be the same.

Reflecting on the tears of joy and those of sorrow

And hoping for a sign and yet a much longer tomorrow.

Love was what you brought to us, it’s there for all to see,

That this is what you gave to all now I have clarity.

The friendships now rekindled, that once were dead and gone,

From every path of life they walked and joined us in the throng.

Flowers and written tributes, for a faithful friend

and later on we hope in time that our hearts will mend.

The feathers all around us, sent from you to say,

That you are never gone from us, for you will always stay.

Emotions up and down the tears we often cry,

Reminding us that we love you as we fought to say Goodbye.

But my dearest brother don’t worry as this is not the end.

Your message carries on here, filled with love you send.

Change is often painful as we reset the pace.

Friends will be around us, locked in our embrace.

My Brother.

When your world’s outpouring grief,

There’s no relief.

While the grief has just begun,

I feel so numb.

Where I think of what is left,

I feel bereft.

Nerves are buzzing, feel the pain

My memories remain.

Where does all this come from,

Because your gone.

Never again to return,

My eyes burn.

There with me right from the start,

Piece of my heart.

As I’m reeling from the loss,

Can’t count the cost.

As my life enforced this change,

It feels so strange.

There’s no distance near or far,

Small shining star.

Never again to hear your voice,

I have no choice.

Feeling raw and very blue,

Because of you.

Shattered dreams are torn apart,

New course of life to chart.

Which direction to navigate,

Things so highly I will rate.

Back in a moment filled with your joy,

Our beloved and cherished boy.

No longer here to hold my hand,

Can’t begin to understand.

Why you had to go away,

And couldn’t stay.

My loss is heavens gain,

It’s such a shame.

Despite it all it’s safe to say,

You did it your way.

You lived life fast, enjoyed the ride,

Now the pace has stopped I want to hide.

But life will go on and yet besides,

Can’t find release where pain resides.

Silent prayer to the one your soul to keep,

Whilst I sit and weep.

My brother and my very first friend,

It’s not the end.

Distraction

The momentary distraction,
of sitting on a train,
in pain.
The people that surround me,
living out their lives,
it thrives.
Working, Dreaming, Sleeping.
the memories spring to mind,
not weeping.
A thought or treasured memory,
unjust circumstances in time,
not feeling fine.
Anger and frustration,
While in grief from sudden loss,
Now life has changed forever,
As I stop to count the cost.
That interesting point in the middle distance,
to fix my eyes upon.
The horror and realisation,
that he really is gone.

 

Angel Wings

070818 Angel Wings.

As we sat in the park,

Nature all around us, shoes off, feet on the ground.

I noticed it.

The angel waving from the other side.

Playing with the children.

It’s wings flapping up and down.

Vying for my attention.

Trying to send it’s message.

Look closely and you will see.

So much is sent to try us.

You can get through this.

You are loved.

We sat on the grass,

In shock for what had happened.

Events of the day and before.

Emotions raw and anger creeping in.

And Breathe…

Letting it out.

I tried to remain calm.

The voice of reason in crisis.

We talked, all of us three.

Unintentional but despite the distance,

You’d always join in somehow.

A perfectly placed signal just when it was needed.

Reassurance, holding my hand.

I noticed a single white feather.

Then another and another.

And all around us a circle of them had fallen.

In case we hadn’t noticed.

Surrounding us with love.

Your love will last forever.

No one will take it away.

This Little Bird…

This little swift.

I call her Lazar,

This little bird,

sits on the wire,

alone.

Her mate gone,

he flew to the light and did not make it.

I found him a week later.

We together mourned his parting,

I was too late to save him.

But she returns,

sits there night after night,

in the warm and dry,

blinking when the light goes on.

A little chirp, when I say Hello Little Bird,

I will not harm you, you are safe here.

Morning comes,

she flies off to do her duty,

her babies are calling.

She disappeared the other day,

I was worried for her safety,

then she appeared and circled my head

proudly showing off her babies.

All by herself,

and there they all sat on the telegraph wire

singing their hearts out.

Person in Progress

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

Not to put to fine a point on it, most of the last year or two has been toxic in alot of ways. It has not gone well, besieged by illness and tormented by the past and situations which I felt powerless to change.  But underneath it all, little did I realise that actually I was changing. We are ever changing and sometimes, it creeps up on us and whacks us over the head with the proverbial hammer. Sometimes it needs to.

I needed to change, so many things.  My self-destructive thinking, my approach to people always thinking that it was my job to make them like me and getting awfully disappointed and even upset if they didn’t. My attitude to myself and general way of thinking. I had to stop taking things so personally, but the trouble with being an empathetic soul means that unless you take time to protect yourself, then it feels as though it is all on you, your responsibility to make things better for others, to listen, to advise etc, etc. Sometimes it is just too much to cope with.

Then someone wonderful sat me down for a little talk, well actually a lot of talks over quite a long period of time. She told me that I was a nice person, (I have always tried to be) that I am loved and that people should be proud to know me and work with me, that I am an inspiration and encouragement to others and if they didn’t like me, then it was their problem and not mine.

That last bit, I have to admit was a bit of a thunderbolt. I don’t think that I was equipped to deal with it at the time, but it was nice to hear it.  But there it sat, at the back of my mind for months and months.  Slowly over time, I began to view myself differently, I looked at the things that I could do, the ways that I could help people and even in some small way, I decided that if people didn’t like me, then that was it. I wasn’t going to beat myself up trying.

This was a sign of a new me emerging.  I also found my usually reserved thoughts, creeping out, when someone made me angry, or sad, or hurt then I became vocal about it. I occasionally swore, whereas the previous me would have done almost anything to avoid this, I have become more like my siblings who don’t hide their emotions. It didn’t always make me nice to be around, but as time has gone by, I have been fighting invisible illnesses which people do not understand and trying to keep a brave face.  Sometimes the cracks show.

I have looked into myself, rediscovered my spirituality, things that make me tick, instincts which I have long neglected to follow, recognition of things that I know to be true.  I have looked at alternative ways to heal physical ailments. Having been let down by medics who are supposed to help, left out in the cold I decided that it was not good enough and would look at alternative therapies, return to reflexology and homeopathic remedies in the hope that it would start to make a difference and slowly it did. Little steps, bit by bit I began to change.

I have consciously tried to regain my confidence that had been ripped from me by the people who tore away at me. By the circumstances which have caused havoc in my life lately and by the grief caused by the loss of loved ones.

But, I am still the new me in progress. My eyes have been opened to so much in the past few months. The toxic people and relationships which I have had to sustain in the workplace just to get along, are gone along with the job. I have found that by having time to work things out in my head and realise people for what they were has given me a better understanding of their behaviour.

I miss working, in the normal sense but I now realise that I don’t have to accept their bad behaviour any more. Lately I have been concentrating on getting my health back to normal and I am still a way off. I am less trusting of people now. I no longer take them at face value, I watch for the signs, body language and follow my gut feeling. As someone who was watching my back once said, “if something looks too good to be true, it usually is” the same can be said for people.

The environments that I had been around had become toxic, there was bad feeling all around me and it was making me more and more sick. Those of you who have followed the blog for a while will notice that some of what had been happening, or had happened in the past has been mentioned sometimes at length and this has been part of the process of healing from it. Fixing my mental health along with my physical health and finally I feel as though I have turned a corner.

I took time out from the norm, actively encouraged, (well pushed and shoved kicking and screaming would be more apt) to go off and take some time out, to see friends not knowing how my health was going to be in the future it was arranged for now. I was also encouraged to do things which caused happiness and to get creative, which I have been busy doing for a while now. In conclusion it has been exactly what was needed.

So have I rebooted my system, for want of a better phrase?  I hope so. I think I am becoming a different person and it isn’t just about growing up and being an adult. Time changes us, situations change us, relationships change us, so we remain ever-changing, evolving into hopefully a new improved version of ourselves, before we get to grow old disgracefully, having the time of our lives, surrounded by loving people who will miss us when we are gone.