Monday, 18 March 2013

Too much change - and all at once

It's now almost five months since I lost Henry, and life, goes on, as indeed it has to.

My financial situation when Henry died was a total nightmare. At a time when all I wanted to do was sit in a corner, rock, suck my thumb and sob myself dizzy, instead I had to borrow money to pay for the funeral, as the undertaker wouldn't release the death certificate until he was paid in full and I couldn't claim the life insurance without the death certificate, which incidentally had to be translated into French..

I panicked about how slowly things were happening, even now I couldn't tell you exactly what my monthly income is, but I do know that the life insurance isn't going to be there forever. Teenagers are expensive things. Particularly those who are at university. This was the driving force behind me actually plucking up the courage to apply for a job I saw advertised in the local English newspaper. The heading was "Parlez vous Francais?" which caught my eye, having just escaped from 15 years purgatory in France. An estate agency about half an hour away from where I live was advertising for an office administrator who's fluent in French. Apparently the Belgians (who I didn't even think had a government last time I looked) are buying up property around here and they like to be able to speak in their own language when enquiring about properties. I went for an interview. I went for another interview. I start work on Wednesday. I would have been starting work today, but there are a couple of bank holidays this week, so it was put off till Wednesday - at least that'll make it a short week. I don't know why I told you that bit, but that's me! Here's the link, if you're interested..

After twenty years out of the workplace spent running the gites, and bringing up the children this is daunting to say the least! Having thought I'd managed to avoid being a single working mother, I now find that that is exactly what I am..

Luckily for me, lots of folk have rallied round - they're like that around here, and I've got firm child care arrangements in place for after school for DD (nearly 15) with several back up options, and one of the neighbours even dropped off a French/English dictionary!!! I had to laugh at that!.

The funny thing is that I've been spending the last almost two years, since we came here, trying to forget all the French and replace it with Spanish. Now I'm trying to re- remember the French! No wonder my brain doesn't switch off easily. Torment! .

I can tell you this, because you're my blog and I can tell you anything, but there's been another "development"..

One of Henry's golfing buddies, another widower, has moved from being on the sidelines to being centre stage (well almost). He's been so kind, patient, generous, helpful, understanding of everything I'm going through and I just started to realise, this past weekend, that the relationship seems to be turning into something deeper, and he's become more and more important to me. He's put me under no pressure whatsoever, beyond letting me know that he's there, isn't that sweet?.

All of this feels like too much change in too short a time! I've been crying all morning, and when I analyse the reasons why it's loud and clear..

The trouble is, all I want is my old, predictable, familiar, unchallenging life back!.

... and above all, Henry!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Slowly emerging from a very dark place

It's taken a long time to feel able to write about what happened on that fateful day in early November 2012. Following a meeting at the school to discuss our daughter's proposed school ski-ing trip, I met up with Henry in the local bar for a meal with friends. The proposed day's golf had been cancelled due to heavy rain but it had been too late to cancel the meal afterwards, so we all met up for salmon baked in the oven and copious amounts of alcohol. Them, not me - I had to be up early the following morning.

I had my usual half of Guinness and was persuaded to have another one before I came home as our daughter was home alone. As I left, Henry was organising a Christmas meal for the next golf day, which would be held in early December. I took myself off to bed and he came into the bedroom, stood in the doorway and said what a good night we'd had and how pleased he was to see me having another Guinness. That was the last conversation I was to have with him.

I woke up the first time at 1.30 am. Did I hear anything? I think now that I did, but believed it to be our son coming home from his stint in the bar/restaurant where he works. Certainly nothing untoward. I went back to sleep. I woke up again at 4 am, saw that the light was on under the bathroom door, needed a wee, so instead of disturbing Henry, I went to the main bathroom. When I came back to bed, I realised that his side of the bed hadn't been slept in. I started to realise something was wrong, but it wasn't unusual for him to be reading in the living room or watching golf when he couldn't sleep. I opened the bathroom door. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found there.

Henry was bent double over the bath, with his lower body in the air. I knew immediately that he was dead..

What to do? I walked backwards and forwards from the bedroom to the bathroom to the living room and back again. I got into the bath and talked to him. I stroked his ice cold arm. I stroked his back. I asked him if he'd done a silly thing. All this is so clear to me that it could have happened yesterday..

I rang his sister, who lives at the opposite end of the street from us. She came with her husband very quickly and rang for an ambulance, which seemed to take absolutely ages before it arrived. In no time at all, we had about twelve people in our tiny house. The doctor told me that Henry had died of a broken neck. He'd fallen into the bath and died instantly. There was only a tiny amount of blood and some yellow liquid where he'd been..

I remember ringing our eldest son in France before he left for school at around 6.20 am and breaking the news to him. They finally took Henry away at 7.20 am. They performed a post mortem immediately and I had to go to the police station at 9 am with a translator and make a statement.

The next few weeks were like I was existing inside a dreamworld. I expected Henry to walk in through the door at any moment. I still do. People tell me that the memories will bring me a great deal of comfort, but I'm not ready for Henry to be a memory. I want the real Henry, sitting in his chair, watching golf, making me cross.

I'm now starting on another journey. Getting used to being on my own with my teenagers, instead of being half of a couple. I'll let you know how I get on.