Sunday, 1 August 2010

The last drop

I may have mentioned R's bulk-buying habits once or twice.
There were few things he loved more than a bargain. Indeed I am still working my way through the pile of vacuum cleaner bags he bought over three years ago, and this is not by any means for want of vacuuming. By my reckoning it will probably be another year before I have to buy any more.

He took the same approach to his grooming products. He wasn't a man for aftershave or cologne, not even when he scrubbed up and put on a suit, but when he finally settled on a shower gel that suited him, he naturally ordered several bottles, rather than just one like a normal person!

For many, many months after he died, I mostly wore his jeans, T-shirts and sweaters. And used this shower gel daily. It gave me comfort to feel totally enveloped in things that felt, looked and smelled like him. The scent of the shower gel on my skin made him feel close by, perhaps just in the next room. Always out of sight, but within range of at least one of my senses.

I still do wear his Calvin Kleins, but now it is because I like them, rather than needing to do it. I carried on using the shower gel, but no longer every day - just when I felt a little down. But even R's stockpile had to run out eventually, and I think there is only enough left for one more use.

When it has gone, I don't think I shall buy any more.

Next week is the second anniversary of his death.
When I look back at the way I was this time last year, I can see how far I have come on this journey. I can still feel the madness building up in me as it always does at significant dates, but the intensity of feeling that so overwhelmed me last year is less ferocious this time around.

So it somehow seems right to let go of this crutch this week. It makes me feel like a small child preparing to ride her bicycle for the first time without stabilisers. I have come this far using it as an aid. Now it is time to let go and ride freely on my own. Even if I fall off a few times at first.


  1. You can always get back up again even if you do fall off. R's buying habits made me smile.

  2. Hi, I am a widow of sixteen months. Similar to R, my husband was a buyer of lots and lots of random things. Things that he considered useful, but I considered (and still do) crap.

    However, although I'm surrounded by this irritating 'useful stuff', I find it a little difficult to deal with it and have been going through it in dribs and drabs. Logically, I know it's serves me no purpose, but the other part of me is reluctant to 'let go'.

    Widowhood is a journey with no set stops along the way, and your post reinforces to me that when I am ready, I will, like you, remove the stablisers.

    Thank you.

  3. I've just realised I spelt stabilisers wrong in my comment. I hate it when I make a spelling mistake!

  4. It's about 5 more weeks until the second anniversary of Don's death. I too have been looking back at how I felt a year ago and can see how much I've changed. Because I've done so much traveling, I can feel those differences in how well I cope with situations. I'm much more resilient now than I was a year ago. The anger is also slowly ebbing away. It's still not easy, but at least it seems that I'm managing okay most of the time now.

  5. @ Rose: LOL. Have I ever told you about the entire flat-pack kitchen that I have in my spare bedroom...?

    @ Bub: Thank you for saying hello. I am very sorry for your loss.
    I don't think there is any quick way to deal with the 'stuff'. All you can do is to chip away at it over the weeks and months. I find my ability to get rid of stuff ebbs and flows with my other feelings - sometimes the thought of throwing things out seems impossible, at others I can really get up a head of steam. I don't think there is any logic to this business whatsoever. The only thing I know is that I don't think I have yet got rid of anything I regretted - I know deep down inside what is important - and when I do have a clear-out session it feels very empowering. But you do have to go at your own pace.

    @ Bev: It is all about managing, isn't it? Managing grief, managing your expectations of how you should be feeling and coping, managing the way you appear to other people, managing the ups and downs of a new life alone. There are still days when I just want to draw the curtains, stay in bed and jolly well not manage, but mostly I can talk myself out of that now. As you have found there is a certain resilience that comes with time.

  6. Terran01:47

    There was a home office full of computers and computer parts, I gave it all away. I kept his wedding ring and the clothes they cut off him at the hospital. There was so much going on, two young grieving sons to care for, financial chaos and uncertainty. I thought I was doing fine until six months into it. I woke up one day and began to cry. I couldn't stop to save my life. My two young children held me through out that day. I kept telling myself I needed to pull myself together, my two children were looking to me....I had to be strong. I think I deferred that complete grieving process. Sometimes, I say to myself, I will have a proper cry when the kids are grown and away. When there is time to think it through.

    I made some great decisions. I made some bad decisions and some in-between decisions:) Time has been a wonderful healer. Finally, I am me. It took so long to do that.

  7. @ Terran: When I read other people's stories I realise just how 'lucky' I have been (if that is the right word to use here). I was able to simply withdraw from the world for several months and concentrate on my grief. No work, few people, just the animals to give a bit of shape to the day - I could shout, cry, walk up hills, dig the garden, look at photographs, etc, whenever I needed or wanted to. This was fairly disastrous financially, but I am gradually recovering from that now I am working full-time again.
    I don't know how I would be now if I hadn't had the luxury of that period of total introspection, either because of having to work or having to put my grief on hold to look after children. I understand totally what you mean when you say you have deferred your grief and, as I say, shall be eternally grateful that I didn't have to do it.

    I am glad you have found yourself again, though. I remember that Megan said in a comment here that she misses herself almost as much as she misses her husband. That is so true.

  8. I have just found your blog and will have to take more time to read it. I've jumped around and read snippets of your grieving and can relate to much ... I am only a widow of two months tomorrow. We were only married 5 + years ... it would have been 6 August 28. He was the love of my life too ... a peach of a guy. I'm 56 and he was 60 when he dropped dead of an acute heart attack. I'm grateful that I don't have to work, my D had a pretty good pension (of which I get half) and I had a small pension too, which started at 55 ... enough to keep going on.

    I am currently so unmotivated though I try to strike something off my "to-do" list each day. A good thing I have a young dog (Mingus, a Cairn Terrier, 17 months) to keep me going.

    I've added you to my Bloglines so I'll keep following your progress!

  9. @ Cicero Sings: I am so sorry to read of your loss and after such a short time together. There is very little that makes the early months better - they just have to be endured - but as I said above being able to give myself over totally to my grief did help.
    Like you I found that small goals and lists did help. It is enough just to make it through the day in one piece at first, but actually achieving something on top of that is a positive triumph.
    Give Mingus a hug from me.

  10. This made me laugh. I would have loved R's shopping habits. I buy everything by the case when I find something I actually like, and even T-shirts in multiples of 3! Shopping, to me, is mainly a time consuming nuisance, but I need bigger cupboards.