I can’t get the words of the song “And Honey I miss you” out of my head. Instead in my mind it has become, “And Tiney I miss you, and I’m being good, and I long to be with you, if only I could.” I then start to sing the words about the tree, but then I remember that the tree that I planted for Tiney hasn’t grown at all and it lost all its leaves and I might have killed it. So, I forget the words for the rest of the song, it is just the chorus that plays over and over in my head.
I can’t believe it has been a year. I struggle with it in so many ways and sometimes I feel like I am back to square one, but I know I am not. I am doing so much better than I was a year ago. It doesn’t feel like it when I start sliding backwards, but I know I am. A year of loss fucking sucks in so many ways. A year is both forever, and a blink of an eye and it breaks my heart that for a year now Tiney, has been gone.
A year since you left us Tiney and a year of lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life and that have left me forever changed.
The lessons that your leaving has taught me Tiney,
Grief is permanent.
Before I lost you, the only genuine grief I had to deal with was losing my two dogs. I had stupidly thought that grief was something that hit you like a tonne of bricks and then you moved on. What I have discovered though is that grief is permanent. It is like a cloak that remains forever in your cupboard and that you can never lose. Some days it remains in your wardrobe and you barely glance at it, some days it just sits on your shoulders while you go ahead with your day. On the bad days, it sticks to you like velcro and wraps its fabric around you so tightly that you sometimes wonder if you will simply no longer be able to breathe. Grief becomes a part of you, it will never go away. Some days you will wear its fabric kindly, on other days it is as if the cloak has become part of your skin.
Loneliness is a weird and wonderful thing.
When you have had a kindred spirit and then lost them, loneliness becomes part of your life. I still go to pick up the phone, my fingers reach to type a message, I think ‘I will see you soon’ and then I remember. I remember you are gone and I will never hear your voice again and I feel an exhausting and devastating loneliness. I have discovered that it is easier to feel lonely around a busy table or in a crowded room than when I am on my own. Loneliness is something I rarely feel when I am pottering in my cottage with Archie and Rissie or sitting outside with Kevin and Rosie while I look at the stars and wonder where you are. I think loneliness will always be part of my life, but it has also taught me about the beauty of being alone which is not the same thing as loneliness.
Less is More
I want to survive with fewer things. One of the things that losing you has taught me is that people don’t belong in things. I like living with less. It is not like my little cottage needs anything, the kids and I have everything we need. I think it is important to teach them how to live with less and that our value does not come from what we own, but rather what we have in our heads and hearts. I remember that awful process of going through your things and it amazed me how I didn’t want anything apart from your hat and your dilapidated old wallet which I keep by my bedside. It took me a while to work it out, but then I realised that people do not belong in things. Also, one thing I never want to do is leave a cluttered life for Archie and Rissie to sort out if, god forbid, anything was to happen to me. Keeping things simple might mean having less, but ultimately it means having more.
Sometimes Happiness can be hard work
It annoys me when people complain about their lack of happiness. I always think to myself, “if you are unhappy, then work harder.” Happiness is not a gift or a right, it is something that is precious and something that can at times take a hell of a lot of hard work. I work at being happy, at keeping the kids happy and sometimes it is so unbearably exhausting. Some days it would be so tempting to lie in bed, pull the covers over my head and wallow in misery. That would be easy. What is harder, is getting out of bed, walking and looking for beauty, working, studying, telling the kids a hundred times a day stories about you that make them laugh. But I am happy, my happiness is very different to what it used to be, but I am happy all the same. But it takes so much work. Some days I get to the end of the day and I am so tired. But I know I would feel a lot worse if I was still in bed and not working hard to find happiness. All good things take work. Happiness is worth fighting for.
I have kept myself busy over the last few days Tiney. I have known this date would come and for weeks I have been reliving our last conversations, our last messages, our last emails. Your last days, my last days before my life was permanently interrupted by your act of leaving. The number of times you come into my head, you are always there, and it is not often that I can get through a few hours without thoughts of you. I think of my life now as being permanently interrupted by your leaving.
My life is good Tiney. I am busy. I am working hard. I am writing more than I ever have before. Every time I take a photo I think of you as you were the one who was my biggest supporter when I started taking photos of my world. I keep taking photos. I am studying and have a million recipes to try. I even got back on a stage this weekend and did the Man from Snowy River for you even though I was scared shitless. I am doing everything you told me to keep on doing repeatedly.
I am being good Tiney.
But the thing I cannot escape is something that occupies my mind all the time.
Whatever I do, it is always finished with the thought,
And Tiney I miss you.