Reflective, Thought of the Day

This Is Me

Just to get things off my chest; here we go.

Firstly, I am not brave. I mean, I’m quite brave but not as brave as you all seem to think.

Brave adj. Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

‘Ready’? I’m not ready! I had 16 months to prepare, am almost 4 months in and I am still not bloody ready. I was thrown in to this ocean of grief and, really, when landed with a choice of ‘sink or swim’ what would you do?

By making that decision to battle through the waves, I am merely making the decision to survive. But for every frantic swim forwards, there’s the inevitable need to be still and tread water; the moments where the amount of tears that flow from my eyes, become the salty ocean. It’s during these moments that my head feels heavy, as if I could just close my eyes and let it sink beneath the grief. Is it brave to not give in to that emotion? I suppose it does show a certain amount of courage. So why do people label suicides as cowards when all they really are is lacking a little bravery?


Secondly, I will never NOT be alright when you ask me. Why? Because if I wasn’t alright, you wouldn’t see me; I wouldn’t answer the phone. For some women it’s make-up – never leave home without it, for me it’s vulnerability. Only two people call my home phone, (actually, only one now) so I know who’s on the other end and if I’m drowning in my tears or reminiscing with myself I simply let it ring. You’d assume I was out and never check because, let’s face it, you don’t really want to know. If you did you would be on my doorstep; catching the tears on your shoulder.


Finally, not all grief is the same. Most people know this and completely understand the complexities of relationships and their bearing on emotions after losing someone. I can give you an example if you like:

In 2001 I lost my brother in a tragic accident. We were all left shocked and devastated by the utter surprise of it all. Four years later, talking to a friend, we realised we had both lost a brother. But due to differences in our sibling relationships, our grieving process was completely at odds with each other. Ten years on, we were both in the same place of acceptance and forgiveness; our grief having run it’s course, I guess.

So if, when comparing like for like, grief can be so incredibly varied, why do people feel that they ‘know’ how I feel because they’ve lost someone too? They don’t, they can’t. How can they know exactly what I’ve lost when they don’t know exactly what I had? In the same way that I don’t know exactly what they’ve lost. I mean, I lost my grandma but we really didn’t have much of a relationship so my grief was minimal. I have another friend though, who’s nana is her world… you see where I’m going with this?

Basically, grief is massively personal; you owe nobody an explanation as to your feelings or emotions and you aren’t owed one in return.


In conclusion;

My bravery is transient; it depends on you all, with your wet shoulders and understanding words. Without you, I would’ve disappeared under an ocean of tears – you are my Braves.

When you see me, I am fine. It’s when you don’t that you need to worry so, to that end, I will always endeavour to communicate somehow; be it Facebook, WhatsApp or my WordPress. I probably won’t ring you though – I just don’t do that.

Though my grief be all-consuming, I am learning to make space for others. I am starting to notice the hurt and pain that loved ones are enduring and have begun to build pathways for them to access that part of my heart not broken. It dawned on me, just today, that if there were 100 people at Nigel’s funeral, then that’s 100 people hurting at some point… If you need to talk, I am here.


 

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Diary

Keep On Moving

“What about if I come to you? I do much better in the outdoors and in smaller groups. So does Django!”

With that one, quick WhatsApp message to my niece, my next solo doggie jaunt was born. Within twenty minutes I was messaging her back with the details of this little gem:

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Bredy Farm, in Burton Bradstock, Bridport.

Anoushka, the niece, has always championed this area of Dorset yet, aside from Lyme Regis, Nige and I had never explored it. So, for that reason alone, it seemed like a sound plan.


 

Arrive: Anytime  Depart: Anytime

I very much loved the relaxed approach at Bredy Farm. Knowing that I could get there whenever I wanted to meant that I wasn’t stressed as the SatNav continually chatted on, with instructions to ‘turn left’, ‘turn right’, ‘enter the roundabout’ every thirty seconds – I became so comfortable with the constant natter, I found myself replying, ‘This way, are you sure? Well you’re the boss…’ And apparently, she was: I found it with no real drama or trouble. Not sure that would’ve happened with just Nige and me.

I rumbled through the idyllic orchard, looking for a place to park up (noting at least another three T4s). I plumped for the far end and only as I parked up did I notice the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner. That’ll be a party later then!

I realised, as I switched off the engine, that it had been a tearless journey. Now, that is unusual. For thirty years I had Nige either in the car or waiting for me at my destination and so car trips have, up until now, been incredibly emotive. But somehow, as I pulled into the orchard, my mind was somewhere else. Somewhere completely new. Perhaps that’s it.


 

Setting up

Whilst Django made furry friends, I put up the awning. The sun was shining, my jumper was off and a field full of sheep set the scene of tranquility. A couple opposite were dozing off in the sun as their little dog bounded about with my big puppy. Next to me, one lot of the party-goers had arrived and seemed really lovely – they had a puppy too, though only the size of one of Django’s legs. After smiling and chatting I conceded to the voice in my head saying, ‘Cider. Ice cold, local cider.’ I downed tools, untangled Django and set off to the farm’s Cider Shed.

downloadSitting in the courtyard, beautiful languid puppy sniffing around an equally beautiful 1970s Lincoln (!) Sunshine warming body and soul, with an ice cold pint of Monica Lewinsky – yeah, what a stunning start to the bank holiday weekend!

Half a pint gone and I remembered that I needed to eat. I’d brought Django’s food but totally forgot myself, and as nice as the cider was, it wasn’t dinner.


 

‘Just a short walk to the village… about 10 minutes?’

Any moaning I do now is utterly futile as there was no choice but to walk the mile and a half to the Texaco garage, but ten minutes it was not… The first part was a joy, as we wended our way over the River Bride, turned right onto the road to Burton Bradstock with hopes of seeing the Texaco sign in the distance. Nope. The road to Burton Bradstock is a long a winding one indeed. To shake it up a bit, I took Django on a detour to Hive Beach. Now that was lovely. Furthermore there was a cafe serving, the sign said, until 5pm. It was quarter past 4. Feeling a bit smug that my detour wasn’t foolhardy, I asked about food; ‘Sorry, we’ve finished serving.’ Oh, well, hmm. Too hungry and tired to say anything else, I retraced our steps back to the road we were on. And then error number 2: ‘Oh look Django, a footpath to the village…’ Again, it was a worthy detour; I got to see the village and it gave me a sense of where we were but also where we weren’t, and that was at the bloody garage. A quick look at the map on the village hall showed me Donkey Lane, leading to High Street where there’s a, you guessed it, garage!

Django loved the coolness of the fridges so we spent a few minutes opening them, feigning interest in perishables. Aside from the make-shift air conditioning, there wasn’t much else. I grabbed an egg and cress roll and a couple of bags of fancy crisps. The young lad serving went a bit ga-ga over Django which made me beam a bit with motherly pride. Mission finally accomplished, we left. Crossing the main road, I saw, around the first bend the entrance to the footpath I’d taken us on… For the whole walk back to camp I was muttering, ‘If we hadn’t had taken the footpath I’d be round that bend down there by now.’ That then became, ‘If we hadn’t have gone to the beach, I’d be back at the van, supping cider, tucking into this pallid egg fucking roll by now…’ All the while Django bounced ahead of me – panting a bit but he wasn’t being a moaning old dick like me. Somewhere Nige would be noting the irony.


 

Sunset and Cider

I bought a small carton of Lewinsky, chatted with a few of my fellow campers at the bar and then we took our leave; Django and I. He told every dog on the camp that I’d forced him on a ‘should’ve-been-a-3-mile-but-she-made-it-a-5-mile-hike’ which gave him kudos I think. Well, every dog has his day (you just knew that was coming, right?) The party goers were all there by the time we’d returned. They were extremely polite and not at all leary… though they did all have sparkly face tattoos. Fine when in a ‘sparkly’ group but I felt for the big fella who had to walk to the farm and buy the cider, on is own.

As the group sat around their barbecues, swilling cider and Prosecco, sharing tales and laughing, Django and I sat out on the grass. We didn’t have a fire because it was too warm. Lucky really because I forgot to buy anything to burn. Or matches… I did buy some pretty lights though. Anyway, none of that compares to a setting sun and a few mugs of cider. With a smile on our faces, we climbed into the van, swish-banged the door and settled down for the night with Washington Irving’s, Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.


 

West Bay and the Point of the Visit

After my disappointing first visit to the Hive Cafe, I decided I’d have breakfast there. We got up about 9 I guess and before coffee I dismantled the awning. It wasn’t as hard as you’d think as Django had (helpfully) chewed right through a few of the guy ropes. The whole structure was barely hanging on… I felt quite sad to be going and could’ve done another night, I think. That said, I would need to be better equipped with food, wood, matches etc. It took barely 5 minutes to drive to the cafe. Parking was straight forward and getting seated with a dog was not a problem either. I ordered Mushroom Benedict with some home-made doggie treats for Django. My goodness, food never tasted so good! I was clearly hungry and this was just what I needed before driving to West Bay to meet up with Seb, Noush and the kids.

We weren’t meeting until midday but I was there by 11. Parking on the quayside was ample and surprisingly reasonable. Django and I enjoyed our jaunt around pretty West Bay. It isn’t a huge place but it is quite convoluted; you can see where you want to go but you have to go the long way round to get there. This was frustrating as poor Django was so desperately hot and just flagging. I decided we’d go back to the van for 20 minutes or so. I pulled all the curtains closed, open the windows and filled his bowl with water. Then we both flaked out until Seb rang to say they were here.


We spent a glorious hour on West Bay Beach, watching Grace and Ben throwing stones at each other and Django eating them (stones, not children…) We chatted a bit, though not enough I feel. There’ll be other times. Then I had to be off, back to the van, with it’s ticket near to expiration. I tried to walk cooly away, leave them with an image of serenity but it’s hard walking on shingles, when every other step is a limp…


 

Family are truly what life is about. If you can’t push yourself, move aside your anxieties for loved ones who are going through their own personal hell, then maybe you need to seek help. Honestly, it would’ve been far easier not to have left the house this weekend; safer to not hear the woes of others but at what cost?

By achieving this weekend I have noticed the step forward I’ve taken. I have enriched my knowledge of others by opening up to people who share my love of camping but mostly I have righted a wrong. Noush and Seb needed to see family. And I, however unwittingly, thwarted that plan and so devised this one. I am absolutely delighted that I did. Though their visit was just a tiny bit of my mini-break, it took effort and love on both sides and love should always be celebrated.

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A photo full of love xxxxx

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Diary

Keep On Moving

“Before Prince left Wendy and Lisa with a heartbreaking hole in their nomadic dreams, Lisa pondered how her future in the road would be; ‘I’ll be the enigmatic lady, aloof with a book and a puppy. Everyone will wonder what my tale is… I’ll be cool like Mona Lisa…’ Since reality hit, she has mostly been thinking, ‘Shit, I’m a forty-something widow in a van, with a dog… It’s all going to be sad and lonely…’
Well we’ll see. Next Saturday will be the first night away – alone – for Wendy and Lisa AND Django. What could possibly go wrong?”

With the Ostara Equinox upon us, though clearly the Goddess has fallen out with the weather, what better time for me to dip my toe in the murky puddle of my new camper van life. After all, Spring is all about rebirth and new beginnings, right?


Where to go though?
The last trip, but one, that Nige and I took together was to Blackland Lakes, in Stockley. We chose it because of it’s proximity to my brother’s house in Quemerford and the delightful walk we’d have to take to get there for drinks and a meal. One of Nige’s favourite places was Nick and Shelley’s little cottage where he always enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere, wonderful company and incredible food. Since his death I have visited them often, it still being a safe place where I have no fear of letting go of my emotions. I have very few places where I can do that safely. So, for my first solo escapade with Django, my trusted hound, Blackland Lakes was the obvious choice.

One adult, one pet.
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Booking was simple – out of season, one adult, one pet. You just click and choose, with a gin and tonic in your other hand. The next day I received the confirmation via email.
It was peculiar to see the number 1 next to ‘adults’ but only briefly. I mean, life changes right? Not so long ago it would’ve been 2 children as well as 2 adults. And I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to be able to put the number 1 next to ‘pets’! So it was all booked; one adult, one pet.

Wendy and Lisa and Django.
Django is an Airedale pup of just 18 weeks old. He is full of energy, testosterone and teeth. He doesn’t run, he bunny hops and on the end of those powerful, hopping legs, he has massive sponge-like paws. Imagine my utter delight as the rain settled in for the weekend… Saturday morning, after cleaning the cat (beautiful, old and poorly Eccles) I set about gathering up bits and bobs for the van. It’s been a while since I’ve accessorised Wendy and I thought, with Django roaming around at the end of his 50ft lead, I’d have the perfect opportunity to add a few quirky ornaments to the decor.
I got there in the rain. The camp was virtually empty; save for a few motorhomes and the obligatory fishermen with their weekend passes. To my surprise I was booked onto a hard-standing with electric hook-up! I’d thought, probably naively, I’d be in paddock 9 again, opposite the gate that leads to Nick’s house. But this was great – electric hook-up! Another first.
Whilst Django sniffed about, I organised the awning. Oh dear. Puppies and balls of string, as we know, go together like bread and jam. Guy ropes are fluorescent balls of string… Django is a puppy. It was never going to end well was it? I managed though, to erect an awning of sorts. I moved it to the back of the van, rendering it pretty much redundant and made a mental note to invest in something a little easier for the single lady (with a puppy) to put up. I also managed to add little touches to the decor. My most significant one was the two little Indians.

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Nige bought a Playmobile set years ago which had Indians, a canoe, wigwam, a Chief on
 a horse just so we could have ‘2 Little Indians’ – the name

of our design company. I had forgotten all about them until the morning of my trip. Harry found them for me and so I spent a thoughtful half hour assembling the figures and building the scene. The only relevant bit though was the two Indians so I placed them in the canoe and they are now eternally paddling across the dashboard on the passengers side. Nigel’s side. Well, Django’s side now.

I tidied all my bits away and pulled out the bed to save me having to do it later. I slipped Django onto his walking lead and took him for a stroll. Naturally we headed down to paddock 9, where Nige and I stayed on our first and last trip here together. The main gate was padlocked – I think because it’s a field and needs to ‘heal’ if you like, before the peak season begins next week. I was a little concerned as the gateway to Nick’s (the only way I know of getting to his) is through that field… Then I remembered the walkway around the outside. It’s set up as a nature trail and leads you past the Pygmy Goats. Django froze as the goats stood on top of their little houses and peered down on him. I love them! With words of encouragement and much pulling of the lead, I managed to get him past them all. Yes, the gate was still there and accessible. The Hebridean Sheep were in the far field. As I walked passed the gateway and took in the field something strange happened. I could see every motorhome, camper van and tent that had been there on our trip together. Including ours.  With each step Django and I took the scene filled up with the past. By the time I drew level with our pitch from the past I could see Nige, chatting to the young couple from Calne, who were lighting a barbecue. I was lying on the bed watching him proudly as he talked optimistically about life. The tears were falling. I hadn’t expected this.

5pm. That’s about right. I grabbed my bottle of Peaky Blinders Gin, some tonic, treats and poop bags for Django and set off for Nick’s. Back to the Pygmy Goats. Yeah, Django still didn’t like them… As I got to the gate I could see the Hebridean Sheep spread out in front of me. “Shit!” Nothing for it though, he’s on a lead and I’m a country girl. Over the stile, head down, one stoic foot in front of the other. Of course, stoicism is easier without a large puppy bunny-hopping excitedly through a water-logged, rare sheep inhabited field but we got there… At the sight of the fisherman’s cottage I cried again, as I recalled the stilted conversation Nige and I had had. The whole walk was punctuated with memories akin to this; gentle, simple conversation due to his illness that filled me then with sadness now destroyed me. I guided my beautiful hound through the flooded pathway, I found myself laughing at the ludicrous situation we were in. I smiled at Django’s unending bounce no matter what was ahead. The similarities between him and my beloved man were not lost on me. Amidst all this heartache, I met a young couple who fussed Django nonchalantly yet with affection and two young girls who fell upon him with lots of ‘Ooohs!’ and ‘Ahhhhs!’ No one noticed my distress and I genuinely feel that maybe I just don’t wear it… I feel it – hugely. At Nick’s Django escaped wth him to the garden. I found myself collapsing into Shelley’s arms. You see, that’s what a ‘safe place’ is all about.

I had the best evening. Nick cooks so beautifully, he really puts passion and heart into what he serves up. Nige always adored his food too so I felt a real connection as I savoured each mouthful. Shelley kept me topped up with, first, gin and then, later, coffee. Django and cousin Amy bonded with some rather complex mouthing… Their relationship is an ongoing adventure! At about 11 Nick was ready to walk me and Django back to the campsite. We went a different way – less water-logged. Somehow we ended up on the main road to the site. I did think he’d leave me at the gate but he didn’t. He walked me right back to the van. He watched as a lifted Django up and onto our bed. Then, with a heartfelt hug, he left me to my first night alone on the van. I could not love him more.

One of my concerns initially was Django’s insane biting. I thought he’d just rip everything off the roof, that he’d chew anything else and possibly eat me alive. But I underestimated just how much your puppy adores being with you. He snuggled up next me, as I watched Guardians of the Galaxy (thank you electric hook-up!) and he came with me the first couple of times I needed a wee. After that he just sat and waited for me! We didn’t wake up until 9, and the sun was shining. 29542430_2131446107092901_5989086490392840998_n (1).jpg

*

As I packed the awning away (badly) and drank my coffee, I felt accomplished. I thought about other widows and widowers I knew and felt, not superior but knowledgeable. I wanted, right there and then, to say to them, ‘Do it.’ No drama, just be. Because, yes, it’s emotional. Yes, it’s hard but, man, it’s the ONLY way to move forward. And I know that if I don’t move forward I may as well turn the steering wheel into the path of on-coming traffic… And I haven’t done that yet.

Please join me on more journeys with my dog. Next stop: Brean. Probably.

 

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Reflective

My Heart’s a Black Feather

“I don’t know what to say, do or be. You were my everything – more than that – you were you.

I’m so good at boxes or compartments, places for people and experiences, for heartache and love. My head is full of them; there’s one for my childhood, firmly closed. One for my adolescence, closed but not locked, like a love-sick diary. My mum has a box that is continually being added to and Ben. Ben has a box which was locked before I even attempted to go through the contents. What a mess. You, Nige, you are not in a box. I couldn’t bear that. I decided a year ago that you wouldn’t be archived but you would stay as an open book by the side of our bed. I decided that I would embrace this tragic experience of ours and feel every second, not skip the painful bits and shut them away. I did this because to do so honours you and improves me.”

 

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Poetry, Reflective

Nothing Is What I Have Now

Nothing was what we once were

And happiness didn’t live there.

Then something became available

We breathed a breathe,

Took a step,

And happily became a pair.

 

Something was better than nothing

But something wanted more.

So children beckoned us in

We breathed a breathe,

Took a step,

And delightedly we became four.

 

Everything is what we had then

Nothing fazed us, you see.

Then fate decided to show

We breathed a breathe,

(A long, slow breathe.)

We took a step,

(A faltering step,)

And pulled together as three.

 

Nothing is what we are now,

Something is missing in here.

But we hold each other tight

We breath a breathe,

We take tiny steps,

We stand together,

Forever and ever.

Everything shows us you’re near.

 

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“People say, ‘Oh, he lives in my heart,’ and I go, ‘Yeah, yeah, no, I know,’ but he doesn’t. I mean he’s in my heart, but he doesn’t live at all.”

Nick Cave

 

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Diary

The Only Way

I have no idea how or where to start. I think I’ll just wander through my head and let the words flow. Or not. We’ll see.

Those who have followed our journey will know how determined I’ve been in getting my beautiful man the most dignified route off of this mortal coil possible. A vague and hopeful notion at the beginning which became an absolute after his ‘false alarm’ in August. No thin, blue blankets or dingy side-room, not when the view from our own, lovingly chosen bed, in our prettily decorated bedroom was so stunningly beautiful. No.

I’m sure I voiced this wish of mine but maybe not too loudly and probably not to Nige. What would’ve happened if I’d berated the notion of dying in hospital and then, due to no fault of ours, that was what we got? It so nearly went that way too. So I dug my heels in more and promised Nige he would never go back to hospital. He chose to stop the ineffective chemotherapy and we started visiting Dorothy House instead. I’m crying now at the memory of his face as we walked through the main door, into the waiting room with a sweeping oak staircase on the left and a huge open fireplace on the right. Every week I took him to see Steve for his physio, every week he went in tired and came out invigorated. We did that up to the beginning of December. Nige was genuinely fed up when it stopped but his exhaustion was so very acute that it became unsafe. I hoped it was a blip and that next week we’d be back to it. It wasn’t to be and he never asked about it either.

So it was just me at home really, with a little support from the boys. Things had to change at some point; Ann from Dorothy House told me that right from the beginning. I heard it all, took it all in and filed it away somewhere. “Carers, respite…” No; “Me, home, bed…” And in the end we were both a little bit right. Though I was more right (of course).

After Nigel’s fall on the 18th of December, he took himself up to bed. Although he continued getting up for the toilet, he never came back downstairs. The nurses still came though, to check his blood sugar levels and, slowly, they slipped into my life. I felt comfortable with them there, bathing Nige in bed and it meant that I could share any worries I had. It turns out I had quite a few…

They saw me struggling to get Nige to the bathroom – two days later we had a commode and a bed bar so he could pull himself upright. The commode was the biggest help yet when first offered one I said, “No, no, I’m fine…” It took me almost a week to succumb. Same thing happened with the Over Night Respite Care. Actually, that wasn’t really that helpful. Twilight Nurses? “Honestly, I’m fine…” In just a few weeks the bedroom resembled a ward, with a commode, bed bar, back rest, slide sheets, handling belt, ankle pressure mattress and a whole body mattress topper – you turn your back for a second!

In the final week carers were introduced. It started with a letter from Virgin Care telling Nige that he qualified for care… Then there they were, complete with file, three times a day (four, if I wanted). I know I would’ve got used to them but I didn’t have to. I think we had one complete day – maybe two. On the Friday he died, Anna knocked the door. The nurses had been around a few times to set up syringe drivers and Anna was dropping off more meds.

“I’m so glad you’re here. He’s not right, he’s been different all day.” 

It started with no appetite. Then, at about half 4, his breathing changed. He was shaky, and sounded like he was straining. I told Anna that at first I thought it was serious but then I started to think that maybe he just needed to empty his bowels – it had been 12 days. Anna concurred that he was straining and did a sweep. He was more comfortable then, his breathing, still laboured, was less pained.

“I’m not going to say that things haven’t changed because it’s hard to tell but…”

“I know. I know. But at least he’s less uncomfortable… and he’s had a pretty blonde nurse put her fingers up his bum, which I’m sure was on his ‘to do’ list!”

I think we both knew that the beginning of the end had started. With Gabe at work and Harry in the garden, I perched on the bed and took his hand… His breathing went through stages, each one gentler than the last. As the tears fell he slipped away. I waited and waited for the next breathe… and waited.

*

We stayed in the room, with our man, our sweet, breathless hero who had battled for too long. I don’t just mean the illness. Between tears the boys and I reminisced about Nige, things he said, things he felt. We were his everything, he had told us.
“I wanted my family to be that but they showed me over and over that they didn’t want me. So that’s it; I’m done. I hate them all.”
It was as simple to him as that. And, honestly, I couldn’t blame him.
At about half 11, two District Nurses arrived to lay out his body. We stayed downstairs until they’d finished and joined us.
“You need to call the Funeral Director. Do you have anyone in mind?”
“Not really. Co-Operative? I drive by that one on my way home from work…”
Gabe said, “Maybe anyone else? Other than the Co-Op? I mean, it sounds a bit…”
“Hunt then. They’re in Moorland Road.”
One of the nurses said that they’d used them and they were very good so that was that decided. I rang them up and they assured me the Private Ambulance would be here in about an hour and a half. The nurses took their leave, once again it was just our hero and us. Together we decided to see Nige ‘laid out’. Harry and I had chosen a t-shirt and pants for him to leave the house in. But I think it’s fair to say we were not prepared for the normality clothes added to the whole situation. Before he was Nige, the long suffering patient finally come to rest. Now he looked like Nige; artist, designer, husband, father, lover, friend. We had lost that Nige some months ago, of course, but the mourning of that loss had never really happened. We thought it had but we were wrong. I thought my heart couldn’t break anymore but it did. It shattered beyond repair. As I looked at our two boys, I saw their hearts go the same way.
“He’ll never really leave here will he, he’s everywhere.” 
And Gabe was right. As I gazed around the bedroom, Nige’s art work gazed back. His books filled the shelves and his personality shone out from every corner. That was just one room.
We again went downstairs, awaited the arrival of the undertakers. Alex turned up first, and what a lovely sight that was! He hugged us all, made tea and paid his respects to the man who had driven him to Guildford many a time and who had ensured that he and Gabe had a cupboard full of food before he left them to their studies.
It was after 1am that the undertakers got here. We followed them upstairs – like ducklings really, the three of us in line. Harry cleared the landing and stairway as we left them to it.
“Should we follow them out?”
“I don’t know. Should we?”
“I think the fact we’re finding it so hard means we probably should…”
We did. They carefully carried the body-bag down the steps with us trailing behind, bravely. At the bottom they interred the body in the black Private Ambulance. The road was quiet and empty, not a soul was there to witness Nigel’s last journey from our home aside from Harry, Gabe, myself and his own. It felt perfect. It felt calm. It felt right.
If the first was Nige the patient and the second was Nige the man then this was just the body. Seeing it like this has enabled us to deal with the funeral arrangements with a certain detachment. We know the body in the chapel isn’t Nige; that he is forever here, with me, with the boys, in our lovely little home on the edge of Bathampton woods.
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