Sunday, 22 February 2009


I promised myself that I wouldn't become obsessed with milestones; those 'significant' dates liberally scattered throughout the year, designed - or so it seems - to trip up the unwary just when they think they are managing to cope with their loss.

Take Christmas, for example. I have never been big on Christmas. Some years we spent it with family, some with friends and a very few on our own. All were pleasant in their own way; the only thing they had in common is that we were together.

Last year, that just wouldn't be possible as himself had taken up residence underground. I tried to tell everyone that I just wanted to ignore the whole business, but it became clear very early on that this wouldn't be allowed. Matters were further complicated in that I had arranged to buy the turkey from a friend, and the plan was for me to cook it at home on Christmas morning, then pack the whole roast bird into my car and drive it to my sister's house 45 miles away. This isn't quite as crazy as it sounds. I telephoned to say that I was leaving, giving her just the right amount of time to prepare and cook the roast potatoes. It also ensured that the bird had a long and flavour-enhancing rest - an hour really isn't too long to rest a 16 lb turkey. Trust me on this!

This weekend wasn't a milestone as such. I was driving to visit R's family in Norfolk. What made it significant was that the last time we planned to visit was the day that R's heart stopped working. He went into VF at around 5.30 in the morning. Once the ambulance had carted him off to hospital I experienced a period of zen-like calm. I showered, fed the dog, fed the animals, rang brother-in-law to explain the situation, tried to ring my sister, only to remember that they weren't due to get back from holiday until that evening. Then I packed the dog in the car, along with lead and water for him, remembered to take some change for car parking and drove the 35 miles to the hospital without endangering other road users (fortunately there were few at that hour in the morning).

So the auguries weren't good for my drive over to Norfolk. I was half an hour late leaving home, missed several junctions, resulting in lengthy detours. By the time I reached Norfolk, I was a wee bit frazzled and more an hour behind schedule. At which point it all started to go horribly wrong. I tried to ring to explain the situation, only to find that R's phone would no longer work. I then got lost and stopped to consult the map.
The map that was still in the other car at home.
The best solution I could devise was to circumnavigate Norwich until I saw a town name that I recognised. Incredibly this worked, and I finally turned up almost two hours late to be greeted with relief by R's rather worried family.

I am happy to say that the rest of the weekend was notable only in that it was pleasant and uneventful. The journey home was at least two hours faster and I have now exorcised one of the demons sitting on my shoulder.

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