Tag Archives: grief

The Confluence of Chance

At the time of writing this post, five months have passed since I lost my wife to cancer. Rather annoyingly I’ve discovered that I’m no nearer getting over her death today than I was at the time it happened. Then I had so much to do – all the legalities and stuff – that my mind was completely occupied. Most of every day my mind is still occupied. Thank goodness for my writing and photography: I can escape into those slightly off-beat worlds. But today (like every day) something from the real world – from the past – impinged itself upon my cocoon: in this case a letter from The Tax Man, stating that she had over-paid income tax during 2020, and that, as her ‘legal personal representative’ (read; grieving husband), I am entitled to the rebate. My initial reaction was ‘Oh, that’s good; I’ll use that to buy a get-you-home spare wheel for the Skoda.’ Then it struck me that even now she is still helping me provide for our Special Needs daughter – which is what she would have wanted – in the form of her company pension; discounted food at my favourite supermarket; and now this. But rather than bouy me up, this thought just reminded me of my loss. But then I made a poor decision: I sat down at my computer to take my mind off the subject. Automatically I reached across to the stereo and switched it on. It auto-played Michael Buble’s ‘Home’, which is a sad song about how his career took him away from the woman he loved. Being in a heightened emotional state I found the song depressingly sad, but I was determined to sing along – until the line ‘And I feel like I’m living someone else’s life; it’s like I just stepped outside’, when I went into meltdown –  slapping at the OFF button in desperation. I never really understood grief before – despite losing both parents and two brothers. I wonder if I’ve been storing  it up all these years: it certainly feels like it. But at least I have a release valve: it’s called The Earplug Adventures; and right now I’m going to pour myself a coffee; sit myself down; and write the next episode. It won’t be poignant: it will be funny. I’m determined.

Tooty the Chef: Where’s He At?

You may have noticed a dearth of Tooty the Chef posts in recent times. Millions have. Well there is an explanation. Of course the good cook would have liked nothing more than to blame the month of January and its scrotum-puckering chill that rises through the concrete floor of his kitchen and freezes his ass off. But, annoyingly he can’t. Not because it isn’t cold: it is. In fact he has been hard at work. Regard the following four pictures…

Nice, eh? Unfortunately poor old Tooty’s head isn’t in a good place right now. At the time of this report, it has been four months since he lost his wife to cancer, and, quite frankly, he’s having a hard time being funny. To use a colloquial term: he just can’t be arsed – which is quite ironic really, because  it’s his arse that he usually reveals at some point during the cooking of his meals. What little mirth he possesses is kept in reserve for the Earplug Adventure story. But he will be back: I’m sure of it. You can’t keep a good chef down – unlike his pants. And just as a reminder of  how brilliant he can be: here’s a picture of his trim buttocks as he selects a bottle of wine to mix with his sugar-free Sprite…

 

Sudden Unbearable Sadness

Like most men (and probably women too) I like to put off the house work until I can’t put it off any longer. Ironing clothes in particular. So when the kitchen table begins to bow beneath the weight of so much laundry I reach for a CD to put in my ancient (1990s) stereo – before I pull the ironing board out from the cupboard beneath the stairs and plug in the iron. Today I selected this CD…

I bought it for my late wife. I don’t know if she ever played it; but I knew I hadn’t. I figured it must be pretty good – Richard Carpenter having re-mixed his original works with new accompanyment from the Royal Philharmonic – especially if the listener likes high production values, wonderful melodies, superb chord progressions, and harmonies to die for. Of course it also included many songs that I’ve been singing along to for the past five decades, so I knew I’d like it. It was a no-brainer choice. What could go wrong? And indeed, for 99% of the CD nothing did go wrong. In fact it  made the chores an absolute delight. Then, after a couple of verses and chorus or two of the final track – ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ – with me singing along with gusto – the words to the song suddenly penetrated into my consciousness. It is a joyous song about two young people starting out their life together. It is a beautiful song with wonderful lyrics. But it was those very lyrics which cut me to the core. At first it was just for me that I felt such sudden and unbearable sadness. Then my thoughts went to all of those millions of other, older people for whom those lyrics can be so painful. To anyone who has lost the most important person in their life  -. especially in these days of Covid 19. My eyes redden and my throat constricts as I write these words. I had been singing along so merrily too. Then “So much of life ahead. We’ll find a place to grow.” And other lines: “Sharing horizons that are new to us.” And: “working together day to day”. I suddenly thought – I’ve done all that. So many of us have. Struggled to raise a family and keep a roof over our heads. Just getting through life together as a not-always-dynamic-duo, doing the best they could. I don’t suppose any of us thought about a time when we wouldn’t be sharing those horizons. That we wouldn’t be working together day to day. How many couples have planned their retirement together? How many have worked a lifetime and now ask for the reward at the end of it – only to be denied when one partner dies? Utimately the answer must be everyone. Those are the lyrics of a young person, for a young person. That beautiful song – and it is beautiful – is now torture for me. Go listen to it: I’m sure you’ll agree. But not if you’re over sixty.

Photography as a Coping Mechanism

I was well aware that my wife’s death was imminent: it was a long time coming. But when, that September morning, I walked into our room, and checked for (but failed to find) any sign of breathing, it still came as a devastating surprise to me. At any time leading up to that moment the scenario had always remained hypothetical – even to her, despite it’s absolute certainty. Now ‘The Event‘, as my Son had labelled it only a day earlier, had occured. Not being a complete dunderhead, my higher functions took over and I took care of the situation. Her Doctor had been expecting the call, and came round the house as quickly as she could. She, in turn, had called others, and by the time she arrived, so had personnel from the three agencies that had been caring for her. Then, having called a funeral director, I finally took a moment for myself. As the Doctor was making Linzi’s passing official, I took a few moments for myself. My Fujifilm Finepix SL300 lay upon the kitchen table; so, taking it with me, I went into our sunny garden to take a picture of something with which I could associate my beloved wife. I took this  photo of some berries…

The reason that I mention this now (November) – two months later – is because (at that time) I needed to share my very raw grief with the world, and so posted the photo on Flickr. Tonight, whilst perusing my portfolio of shots on that platform, I stumbled upon it. Because she had planted the bush upon which these berries grew, I had dedicated it to Linzi. So now, as Autumn looks towards Winter, and the berries have been eaten by the wild birds that Linzi had planned to feed, I re-dedicate this picture to her. I titled it ‘Life Continues’.