I am slowly, oh so slowly, breathing in the reality of Ray's death. It is easy to fill my days with busyness, to cook, clean, weed, shop, exercise, walk and find so much to do to fill my days. There are still a lot of tasks to do, I have just finished writing the "thank you for the flowers" letters, 8 of them, to loving and thoughtful friends and thanks yous to the three Clubs we belonged to that also sent flowers. The lilies we put on Ray's grave, the rest I had here until they faded and died.
But sooner or later I have to lay down and sleep and that is crunch time. No more evading the reality. I am on my own now, truly alone, just me to oversee my life, to make the moves, to do what there is to do. Yes, I knew it was coming and to a certain extent planned for it to happen but still it is a state of being I just need to learn to live with now.
It is like becoming a different person, not all at once but a piece at a time. I got a letter addressed to "The estate of the late..." that was hard, harder are the cold calls which ask: "can I speak to Raymond please?". I wish I could speak to him too, I spent so much time in the past year doing that, sitting by his bed, sitting by his wheelchair in the dining room, the lounge room, out in the courtyard, sitting speaking to Raymond. Now I can't.
Friends are kind but they will go back to their own lives, they all have busy lives. It is part of the world we live in, being busy, busy, busy. Some I thought would contact haven't, maybe Sue without Ray is different, a single lady, not a member of a couple as they still are. Maybe they are afraid I will pour out my troubles to them or frighten them by describing the last days, which I am busy trying to forget. I am still the same person, aren't I?
I am taking the advice of close friends and where I can I do accept invitations, so I had dinner with Trev and family on Thursday night and coffee with a friend yesterday. I will eventually reach out to others but not yet, at the moment I am still in self-preservation mode. Those of you who have had a bereavement will understand what I mean,I am not ready yet to be "out there".
I did go to the Lions dinner on Tuesday night but didn't agree to join in any of the current activities. That too will happen eventually. The Christmas Stocking roster is out already so I will fill in a few spots a week, get myself dressed, go out, smile at the people, try not to cringe when people ask: "and how is Ray?" as I know they will, there are old acquaintances we only ever caught up with while selling Stocking tickets. I will have another older Lion with me and he/she will pat me on the back and say "never mind when my ... died...". There are a great number of grieving people out there.
I have been visiting Mum twice or three times a week. She is mostly sleeping now. I interviewed the nurse at in charge of Mum's section in the nursing home. I had a call to tell me she is "palliative only" now. In my opinion she has been for some time, this is just confirming it. So she will be allowed to reject food and drink, sleep when she wants to sleep, even miss a shower if they think it will disturb her. It is sad they have it all in writing now, almost as if she is being written off. I knew it was coming, I just don't think I could deal with her death so soon after Ray's death. But if I have to I know the strength will come from somewhere. My faith tells me that it is so.
It is one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, look around and see what needs to be done and do it. It is trying to pick up the routine things again and going through the motions. Some of you have been there, done that, some of you have not yet experienced what I am going through and will think "that is something ahead of me that I don't want to think about". Please do think about it, line up your ducks. Remember we all have to go through it sometime, with a parent, a partner, a spouse whoever you look after,all of us are vulnerable.
Being prepared is a good thing and does take some of the stress out of the event. If you have made some preparation, a power point of photos, a eulogy that I had previously prepared to be updated were the two things Shirley and I worked on in the days between Ray dying and his funeral. With Mum I have done those things already. But I just hope I don't have to use them soon. Sleep on Mum.