As Time Goes By…

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Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

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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All in a Blur

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This past few days have been a bit of a blur.

We have the news that my partner needs Major surgery imminently and has priority listing, we are waiting for a bed. His pre-op date has arrived within the week, it is soon.

It is almost like an altered state when I am outside looking in, except that it is happening around me. Lives going on, days going by, time passing elsewhere.

Waiting as though for something to happen. I feel dread, but know not what for. Just a sense of uncertainty on the air.

Perhaps some great change is out there and coming my way which will lift me out of this feeling. I am trying to remain positive so that whatever this is won’t bring me down.

The other day I had the first of my two long awaited appointments for different things. The hospital are going to do tests and scans, they really do want to get to the bottom of things.

A little fear creeps in, you know the nagging thought I hope that it’s not another hereditary thing. A bit like Hypertension but worse. No-one to my knowledge had Endometriosis in the family and Thankfully the line stops here from me. So far so good, my sister is Ok in that respect.

But this is not that, this is some old complaint, that hasn’t gone away,  over a period of time it has reared it’s head with new worrying symptoms. It could be related to the Endometriosis, which is the explanation I have given it until now. I talked frankly to my mother, about my beloved Grandmother and found out why she had to have a colostomy when she was young. Stage 3 Bowel Cancer with 8 weeks to live when they finally found out and operated. We worked out, she was in her 30’s. Younger than I am and she survived for about another 30 years. So there is hope. But I am scared suddenly and so is he.

The letter turned up the very next day, I had to book a SeHCAT Scan. The hospital don’t usually send thing first class post, he remarked.  That seems quick when I have waited six months to see the consultant and had symptoms for much longer. I called to book and have one in 2 weeks time. It comes under the “nuclear medicine” category. You have to take a pill, have one lot of scans and then return a week later for more.

There is pain that radiates through my nether regions daily at the moment and the Dog is extra cuddly, he is comforting me night and day should I worry?

I wake this morning, “what if I have the thing that I have been dreading?” Not the IBS which I have been living with for years but something else. Ever the practical one, the only thoughts going through my head being how would he cope with every day if I couldn’t do things? I will have to sort the loft out, he can’t get into the loft. If we had to move then he wouldn’t be able to empty it if I’m not able to. If I was really ill, we would have to rely upon others going up there. It’s odd the things that go through your head. It’s been a strange week, filled with both pain and uncertainty.

via Daily Prompt: Blur Image: Morguefile

Never Underestimate It.

9/11/16

Never Underestimate It.

What’s that? I hear you ask….

The effect a dog can have to help you to heal.

I read some time ago about how dogs have helped with PTSD and Depression, I know that having Kato around at my darkest times was probably a lifesaver, even when my partner didn’t know what would help, Kato always seemed to. When my partner was in grief for the loss of his family members and no-one seemed to understand, our boy was there, by his side to get him through each day too. When I was unable to work and ill, he was there for me watching over me, watching over us both, he always knew when we weren’t well and would be especially vigilant until we were better. I will be eternally grateful to him for all that he gave us in his life, the love and support and loyalty. I daren’t hope that we could find that again, so soon after losing him.

I read an article about prisoners caring for shelter dogs, for veterans who feel that they have no-one. The power a dog has to rehabilitate a person is astounding. A transformation can take place in such a short time and the bond that forms is incomparable.

The trauma of the summer will heal in time. We needed the distraction of our trip, we both needed to take time out and think about what we wanted in our future. It was there up on the hill that we decided although we have each other and that is enough. The icing on the cake would be to share our hearts and space with a new furry person, one who needed a new start, for whatever reason. I said that we would know when we found the right one for us, but that we did not need to rush. He kept getting me to look, almost daily. Had he decided that it was time, was he right?

We looked, we made a few phonecalls, sent messages, almost going through the motions, but I didn’t know how we felt. He could not even meet a dog without tears forming, he missed him so much. His buddy, his friend, he felt lost. We missed everything about not having Kato around and it was eating us up. We talked about whether it would be too soon and how he may have felt about us sharing our love. We concluded that he would want us to be happy. Meanwhile no-one even responded to our messages or calls. We thought maybe it wasn’t meant to be after all, maybe we hadn’t found our one yet.

It was a Saturday night, we had our favourite lovely meal and a bottle of wine, he asked me to look, there had been no internet signal all evening, at about 1am, I tried to shut the computer down but there was suddenly a signal. I again looked at the dogs which were up for adoption and rehoming. We had been speaking to a rescue lady the day before, but there were some issues with the owners and he wasn’t sure. I found three dogs which I thought might suit us and called him to look at the pictures. Two of them were Black and White, which I gravitated towards, but this was not just a decision for me. My partner told me that he would prefer someone who did not remind him of our Kato. He wouldn’t want to make comparisons and the new one would have big paws to fill. They were all between 2 and 5 years old. We wanted someone who we would have a chance of a good few years with.

Then there was Rocky.
He was so different from Kato, a blonde bear. Sable & Cream with a smile full of puppy nonsense. He looked as though he had a sweet nature. Such things are important. We barely got any sleep and as I gave him the list of the three numbers. He rang only one. He spoke to the man who was giving him up. We asked if we could visit on the way back South, we asked all about him, all the things that we could think of that we might need to know. We made an arrangement to visit a week later and the man promised that we would be the first to see him.

As the week passed we kept thinking about him. I had saved the photographs to look at them. We anticipated our visit.
Exhausted we travelled back from Scotland had very little sleep and then called to confirm our visit. When we arrived some hours later, my partner wanted to meet him first. He said he wouldn’t get a look in once he had seen me. The man let Rocky in whilst he was upstairs. He came down minutes later to find me sitting on the floor with this beautiful dog sitting next to me, having his ears stroked. Rocky came over to say Hello to him and came back to me for more fuss.

We stayed for hours, he barely left my side, we took him for a walk in the park, off the lead, after all we were with his owner. We were thrilled that he was so good and did not react to other dogs other than to go and say hello and run off again. I was holding the lead so I called him back, he returned to me every time and I praised him. He walked by my side so nicely. We had all decided by the time we left that he would be coming to live with us. As we departed Rocky tried to get into our car to come with us, there and then we knew. Resistance was futile but I had to send him back to his owner, telling him that I would be back next week to see him again. We trusted our instincts when we met him, came home discussing him all the way, I think we’d found our new son.

I was on tenterhooks all week long, hoping that nothing would go wrong. We spoke midweek and all was set, we would have a meal with his family and then we would be bringing him home. When we arrived he was in the garden on a chain, it was pouring with rain and he was soaked. I asked why but did not get an answer and asked for a towel. When the rain died down a bit we all took him for a walk. Otherwise the evening was lovely.

He said his Goodbyes, we will stay in touch and Father and Son can come and visit him when they would like to. It was an eventful drive home, 80 miles with him talking and whining all the way, he wanted to be in the front and climb onto my lap. I could not fit in the back to comfort him, there wasn’t room for me in his bed and I didn’t want to invade his space. We showed him around his new home and garden he was thrilled, I gave him a new soft blanket, he took it into the lounge, we laid it out on the floor and I sat on it with him. He just wanted to be cuddled. We gave him lots to drink and when it was time for bed, we decided that he could sleep in the lounge. Access all areas except the bedroom. We slept with the door open so we could hear him. He layed down to sleep and did not cross the threshold until he needed to go out. But kept coming to the doorway to check on us, he was amazing.

In the morning, when we woke up, he came into the room to see us and climbed up to put his paws on my shoulder, giving me kisses and a hug. The best good morning a new mummy could hope for.

There will be learning, there will be things which test us no doubt, like the tantrum when we put his Halti on, but he settles down. He is after all an Alaskan Malamute and it is in their nature to test, but so far he is proving to be a wonderful addition to the family and our home, full of character and love.

Our healing has begun and so has his. We have been in limbo for a while as we grieved. He is still in our thoughts daily, but I no longer sob nightly at the thought of him, that stopped only days ago. We still speak to him and tell him about his new brother, we are sure that he would have loved him too. I am telling him about the daily nonsense, he would have kept him in check a big brother to watch him.

The little one whom we adopted just three days ago, who is full of love and affection and has already changed his life for the better since his arrival.
He has no desire to sleep in his basket we brought back with him. He would not even climb into it so it has been put away. He was pleased to get a new harness which didn’t make him itch and wears it with a smile. The soft bed was washed three times, but he will not lay on it, not even disguised under his new blanket. He has plenty to say, where he was quiet when we visited him. He is finding his voice. He wakes us up to say Hello and give us kisses but were told he wasn’t very kissy. He kisses me after I feed him to thank me and comes to tell us that he has eaten his meal, for praise. He follows us everywhere, it is early days maybe this is normal to have a new shadow. There is no rush to eat his food, he is not so hungry, no-one will remove it, the cat won’t eat it if he leaves it. It is still there for him. He eats when he is hungry, leaves it and returns to it later, tail wagging that it is still there. He is not hunting for treats all the time, the obsession with food is gone.
We didn’t change his name, just how it was spelled.
Ecstatic that he was given his first toy by his new Dad on the first morning when he awoke he proudly presents it to us many times throughout the day and is happy to share it with us whenever we ask. He will fetch it back and wait for it to be thrown. He will wait when asked to and has wonderful manners. He wants to play, night and day and is chasing his tail for the first time today, dancing around the room as I write this with plenty to say.

We are smiling again, big smiles which are right across our faces, there is laughter and merriment in our house, three days in a row for the first time in months. The light is back on we are all happy, so very happy to be parents again. There are no second thoughts, no doubt or did we do the right thing? We realised that this was meant to be when we sat shattered from the journey, to see my brand new sleeping furry son head on my lap with a beautiful smile, for him to be squarely between the two of us, comforted by the feet of his new Mum and Dad.

The Daily Post – Second Thoughts

 

 

The Book is finally written… The Sentimental Journey – Poetic Stories Vol 1 by India Blue

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So, I finally have it.  The collection of Poems, some of which are here on the blog and others which are yet to be seen which are all neatly assembled into my book.

It will be called The Sentimental Journey – Poetic Stories Vol 1 by India Blue

Poetic Stories since that seems to be the form that I have found my poems often take. I am hoping to self publish it very soon that is after a few choice people have read it for me and given me their harshest feedback of course. With a bit of Luck, it will be available on Amazon Kindle, pending any more subsequent edits and I have re-scheduled my launch until November 2016.

Who knows, if I make the date without having to delay it due to the other things which have been going on lately and people actually read it and like it, then there may even be a Poetic Stories Volume 2, after all I have so many more poetic stories to share with you.

It feels as though progress has been slow, I finished it some time ago, but Life has got in the way somewhat since then and everyone seems to suffer with self-doubt and wondering if they are actually doing the right thing.

Now it’s time for me to get back on track and to write some more, watch this space…

Oh, and Wish Me Luck! 

The promise that my partner gets to read it first has been achieved, finally! He has taken the time on our trip to read it cover to cover and given me his opinions. Now that’s out of the way, a last tweak on the edit and I feel as though I can go ahead and get it out there at last.