London Life   Leave a comment

Well I failed dramatically in my 2012 resolution to blog again. I just couldn’t find the motivation. A new job in January didn’t inspire me and all my other resolutions to sort out the house came to nought as well.

However, 2013 dawns differently and along with the New year is a new start in London. I’ve got the opportunity to work in London for a year so decided, what the heck, I’ve nothing to lose, so here I am. The scariest bit is lodging on someone’s house. I can’t remember when i last lived with someone who wasn’t family. 1977 I think. And that was an even flat share. At the moment (day 1) I feel like an intruder. I came here yesterday from home, a fairly good drive with my belongings in the car. I have a nice room in a nice house, and the house owners are both very lovely people. I’m just terrified. It’s about learning to live in someone else’s space. Understanding the boundaries and learning to navigate this new arrangement. I think I’m unsociable. but I’m not really. I can be a bit of a hermit. this is because i like my own company but also because it is the easy option sometimes. Making this move will force me to do some much needed thinking and by creating a space between me and my house will allow me to get things into perspective and start properly sorting it all out. for too long I have been unable to cope with the sheer volume of stuff and the amount of work that needs doing. so I have taken the line of least resistance and done nothing. Taking this opportunity to have a break elsewhere will give me the impetus to take short breaks home and get it sorted. I need to part myself from all the things that are cluttering me and my life up. Once i do that I will be able to let the house go and start afresh when my year in London is up.

I’ve been for a little walk today to explore the immediate area. It’s bustling and full of life. It reminds me of what i miss leaving the city to go and live in Blackpool. It’s also vibrantly multi cultural with a large Afro-Caribbean population and this is reflected in the shops and the produce on sale. I feel like I’ve been away from this kind of life for far too long. Surrounded by white people who have no real conception of different races and cultures. A peak in the local library gave me a good insight into this –  books on Black British playwrights, Reggae, Black poetry etc. wonderful.

So, along with taking a step back form home, I also plan to embrace and enjoy as much of London and what is on offer as I can. From art to music, writing to walking, museums, galleries, shops, expanding my creativity in terms of knitting and sewing. It’s all here and I am determined to make the most of my gap year in London.

Posted January 13, 2013 by clairemelhado in Uncategorized

Loafing   Leave a comment

In my new life as a widow I have honed my loafing skills to a fine degree. I constantly feel I want to do things and get jobss done but lethargy overtakes me so instead of painting the kitchen or sorting all the accumulated junk I find I can easily pass hours doing other stuff, Top of the list is reading, followed by messing about on the net – Facebook, Spotify, reading forums etc. I want to be highly organised and to live in a state of high motivation but it just doesn’t happen. I’m very organised at work, it’s just at home it all falls apart.

Today my plan was to paint the upstairs doors, but instead I’ve been on the phone to one daughter, two friends and my mum. I’ve updated Facebook and read The Guardian. Now as it approaches evening I’ve got the tea in the oven and I’ve got to get ready for a night out with a friend. So the lid has gone back on the paint tin and here I am blogging. I think I’m the sort of person who’d be happy without a job as long as I had money coming in. I could really take loafing to new heights. There’s no-one to get me doing stuff or to criticize when I spend an hour playing Angry Birds or Solitaire on my phone. I used to wish I could be a domestic goddess or highly motivated individual with all my chores and jobs done. But the reality is I love this way of life and for the first time there’s no-one else to consider so while my loss and grief are still profound I can at least accept this as how things are and enjoy it! It’s not a bad thing and I love my own company so when I have a day doing not very much I will continue to enjoy it. I know it’s also part of the grieving process to have days when you simply can’t get anything done, and days when you want to sit and stare into space. But there are days when I don’t want to do anything constructive because I just don’t. And in this new life I didn’t want or ask for I’m going to accpet that that’s the way it is. I’ve nothing to feel guilty about.

Maybe tomorrow the painting will get done – and if it doesn’t? So what!!

Posted January 28, 2012 by clairemelhado in Uncategorized

Resolutions   Leave a comment

It’s nearly the end of the first month of 2012 and I’m failing in my resolution which was to start writing again about my life since I became widowed at the tender age of 51. In order to inspire me to start and keep up my writing I decided to start a completely new blog. I’ve blogged elsewhere about the despair of the early days, the not sleeping, not eating, physical pain and emotion and although I’ll still write about that as and when the feeling arises I thought I’d begin afresh with where I’m at now. I’m also working on a book which is a personal account of being a widow as when I was first widowed I couldn’t find much written from an ‘ordinary’ person’s perspective. Rather a lot of the stuff available was written by famous people (Sheila Hancock, Joan Didion etc) and I felt there was a need for someone like me to tell their own story. I also thought I might stick some helpful information in – stuff I’ve learned along the way, useful resources and that kind of thing.

As of today I’ve been widowed for 21 months and 11 days and it doesn’t really get any better. I’m getting used to living alone and can cope alright with my own company. I do like pleasing myself and being able to do what I want when I want. But it is lonely. I know many people in my situation who can’t stand the loneliness or their own company and that makes the struggle harder to bear in many cases. However I do manage okay in terms of finding things to do, or not if I fancy it, and often enjoy my solitary life. It’s Toni I miss and the life we had as a couple and if I can’t have that then I’d rather be alone. People say – you’re young, you’ll find someone else –  and it infuriates me as if the only way you can be qualified by society is as part of a couple. It also angers me as if that’s what I need,  and it especially makes me cross when said by people who don’t know me that well and think they are some kind of authority on my life. These comments thankfully aren’t too frequent but often enough to get me mad. I have also been asked if I’m seeing anyone else. No no no!! That does get my back up. I usually say why? Why would I want to be seeing anyone else? Then I get ‘ah, you’re not ready then?’. I don’t comment on that.

I know everyone is different and I do know some widows and widowers who are dating. That’s perfectly okay and I would have no wish to comment on or interfere with their lives. But in some people’s eyes this is good news as it validates them again. They’re part of a couple again. Some widow/ers actually just miss being part of a couple and need to be back in a relationship fairly soon. It’s fine. Whatever suits the individual is fine. I just resent the assumptions that I should be in another relationship, or dating, when it’s actually the very last thing I need. I value more my friendships and my relationships with family. Losing someone young teaches you the importance of those who were there for you when you needed them. And those who’ve come after in my post-widowed life. I’ve now got widowed friends and I’ve got new friends who never knew me as Toni’s wife. This is what I value most and what keeps me happy and able to cope in my new life. For that’s what it is.  My resolutions also included continuing to move forward positively in this new life, by doing new things, continuing to study, selling up and moving on, making even more new friends. It’s hard when a change of this magnitude has been thrust upon you. But I don’t want his death to be a waste in that I just stagnate and vegetate without him. One thing I do know is that he would hate to see that happen.

Many friends who’ve lost echo what I feel – I’ve lost my soul mate. We are bereft of the one person who understood us, who loved us unconditionally, who we could share the private jokes and gossip with. And it’s true. But Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love writes that ‘People think a soul mate is your perfect fit and that’w what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet in your life because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.’ I liked this because I thought it exactly described how Toni was. He had huge faith in me and t=showed me stuff I could do that I never dreamed I’d be capabled of. He pushed me and encouraged me and supported me in whatever I wanted to do. But she goes on ‘Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.’  Now oddly enough I find this to be very comforting in helping me to deal with my grief. Although the person who said this to Liz Gilbert was talking about a failed relationship I found the words could equally apply to me and help me deal with getting my head round why I lost my husband after only 9 years together. It helped me to understand that maybe there was a reason for meeting him and that once he’d fulfilled it then it was time to go. And maybe he needed to meet me for similar reasons, as well as having someone who loved him to be with him during his final terrible illness, and to give him what he needed at that time. To die with dignity in his own bed. For if we hadn’t met I doubt that would have been possible. So you see we look for reasons for death happens and why we lost our loves. Whether by illness, accident or even suicide we seek to justify and understand why. It begins with ‘Why me?’ – selfish I know but it has happened to you in that you have lost your life partner. Later comes the acceptance that theirs is the greater loss but in the early days it’s mainly about you. You ask if you’ve done something bad and are now being punished. You seek to make sense of the situation. We act as if death is a rare occurrence and are surprised when it happens to those close to us. Of course when it happens at a young age it is seen as not the natural order and so we do question and look for reasons and explanations. We think we’ve been robbed of our future. All our plans will now not come to fruition. So my way of dealing with these questions is to try and accept that he was my soul mate and never destined to stay with me but to open me up to new experiences, to study and to change my life. Except of course I want him to be there to share in all these changes! But it’s a way of coping that seems to work for most of the time.

So life is going on. It is life, but not as I knew it.


Posted January 23, 2012 by clairemelhado in Uncategorized

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