Unless someone like you, cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not-
The Lorax- Dr Seuss
I’ve been very busy this last while. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve learnt how to spot a good egg from a mile away, and a bad one. I’ve learnt to do this quickly. Mostly I’ve learnt a lot about love and about others who are also grieving. In Option B, I read how in the Sandberg household the family have coined the phrase -‘We take it (joy) back.’ Her sister in law told her- He’d (Dave) want you to be happy, don’t take that away from him.” Seeking joy after adversity is taking back. “Joy is the ultimate act of defiance” U2
So I started taking back. First it was foods, I and only I liked. I took back T.V. shows that I had been engrossed with with James and now accepted I could enjoy these without him. The irony is in no way lost on me that the creator and writer of our most favourite T.V. show that brought us both some much needed respite and something to look forward to, would end up being my own personal well of joy, as well as my future. Sometimes the stars really do align.
When Sheryl Sandberg bravely started dating some months after her husband’s death she was criticised on social media with one man referring to her as “Garbage”. In response to this she states in her book -“Women are expected to carry the torch of love, and when that flame is extinguished they are supposed to mourn it for longer. The weeping widow lives up to our expectations. The widow who dances and dates does not. These differences reflect a double standard routed in a range of issues, from women feeling more anxiety about new relationships to a greater cultural acceptance of man marrying younger women to the demographic reality of women living longer than men.”
There’s a huge double standard going on here akin to that of the pay divide and opportunities in the work place between men and women. Men are quicker to date and remarry when a spouse dies. 55% of men are in a new relationship a year later compared with 7% of women. In the U’K. men are twice as likely to be remarried within five years of the loss of a spouse than women. Not so long ago women in India were committing ‘Suttee’, an act which involves the man’s widow immolating herself on his funeral pyre . In some parts of Africa women are still forced to drink the water used to wash their husband’s corpse. Widowhood is the last hurdle of feminism, in my humble opinion.
A blogger named Abel Keogh who talks of dating six months after his wife committed suicide wrote “The first time I went on a date with another woman, I felt like I was cheating on my late wife…I was filled with feelings of guilt and betrayal” (A year later they were married and remain happily so). When I read this I must say I could not relate to these feelings on any level, the overriding emotion I had when I ventured out on my first date was pride.
Any bereavement specialist will tell you that very young children’s grief is quite different to others, in that they respond to their parent’s grief: so if you can, as soon as you can, really the bravest thing you can do for your children is get happy. And so is it any wonder that one of the biggest supporters of my new romance has been my mother in law, and James’ two best friends. Oddly it has been the older generation who have been far more accepting and supportive- I recently received a beautiful letter from an elderly friend of my mother-in-laws, a woman who is approaching 90. She wrote- “We are all so thrilled to have heard your exciting news and wish you every happiness. So deserved.”
People talk about moving on, which I’ve never been comfortable with, but I prefer to think of it as moving out, out of one life into the next one. Life after life. In the Jewish religion, mourning for a child or sibling is a year, mourning for a spouse is just thirty days- the rabbis want people to move forward.
My traumatologist said to me- ‘I’ve seen people like you before. You love very deeply, you’ll be absolutely fine. I’m not worried about you at all.”
When I met my new love I was floored. Never could I have imaged such a person even existed and was right there, wrapped up like christmas waiting for me to open. When all of this happened to me I knew I had to accept that I was entering a whole new life and I did wonder (often with dread and huge amounts of fear) what my new life would be like. I could never, ever have possibly imagined that it would be such a happy one with so much love.
I live in a new house with a new love, a man who dresses himself and my children as giant bunnies to present my birthday cake in bed. Who takes my son on trips to The Emirates stadium, regardless of cost or inconvenience, despite the fact that he doesn’t even know the offside rule. A man who is consistently funny and who is constant. Who writes on a gift tag to accompany a beautiful glass -Mars -globe to my son ( his housewarming present to him)- I’ve given your mum the moon ( literally- also in glass form) so you must have the stars. Who hangs my daughter upside down and pretends (in a deep southern accent) she is a chicken that he has cooked and is about to eat. Whose one true desire is to make us happy every day. Who is so kind and special that my son regularly asks me- “why can’t you be more like him?!” So I really didn’t stand a chance.
Our house is a place of fun, joy and laughter. Only Flynn’s best friend Ronan and this man can make Flynn laugh so much he can’t breathe. And so I have to say that there is, in life, now nothing that surprises me. I am no longer shocked by anything. I’m ending this blog on a quote from Cold Play for goodness sake, thus proving never say- never in my wildest dreams. This is me. Me after you.
And if you were to ask me, after everything that we’ve been through, still believe in magic? Yes I do. Of course I do – Magic.