Z uses a snorkelling metaphor and updates her profile

I have to tell you about what has happened, I really cannot put it off any longer.  Many of you know the situation, either those who have met us or Facebook friends, but it’s something I haven’t felt able to post here.  This is my happy space, if you know what I mean, and if that means that I don’t tell you everything, it usually means that I tell you the best.

Back in July, I said that Russell was having a gastroscopy and afterwards I gave the impression that all was fine.  He wasn’t ready to disseminate the information and I didn’t want to talk about it on the open internet – but it wasn’t.  He was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.  This was unlucky.  It’s mostly a smoker’s cancer and he never smoked in his life, otherwise a tendency to acid reflux and heartburn, or excessive alcohol intake would increase the risk, but neither applied to him.  However, that was that, and nothing could be done about it.  There was every hope that he’d be at Ronan and Dora’s wedding, but little that he’d be with us for Christmas.

He didn’t make it to the wedding.  He died, very suddenly and unexpectedly – I was still talking to him, I only realised when he didn’t answer – in my arms on the 20th August.  That I was with him, never mind that I was cradling him, was fortuitous, there was no warning.  But it was painless and, I’m sure, spared him a more difficult and tortured end.

Several of you dear, kind internet friends came to his funeral, where we managed to introduce a quirk or two, in proper homage to a very individualistic man.  And I’ve been cared for since then in phone calls and visits and I’m very lucky to have such wonderful friends.  I’m so sorry, if you are learning about it here and I haven’t been in touch with you.  I ran out of words to write a couple of weeks ago and I still have a list of people to tell.

I had realised that he wouldn’t have long, back in the early summer.  Even before his cancer was diagnosed and when we still hoped it was something that could be cured, I knew that the weight he had lost had weakened him so much that he would not have more than a year or two.  It’s been a miserable summer, forcing myself into acknowledgement of that, whilst trying to bolster up his well-being and also trying to save him from getting into too many scrapes – he was still buying at auction, still giving away or lending (with no paperwork) alarming amounts of money, I’m thousands of pounds down with no hope of retrieving much of it and he’s managed to lose various vital pieces of paperwork, though I hope they will turn up in due course.  His cheery insouciance turned into recklessness over the past few years and I can only choose to forgive him and remember better times.  Sometimes, this takes its own effort.

Now I’m alone.  I’ve never lived alone in my life before.  I married when I was nineteen and went from living with my mother to living with my husband.  I’m so busy that I have to keep rigid control over my emotions, letting feelings out for a few minutes with tears or howls of pain and then clamping down again, planning little treats and appreciating moments of happiness – I know it’ll catch up with me and become unbearable at some time, but that can wait as long as possible, not least because I don’t really believe it yet, I don’t feel that he’s gone forever, which I suppose means I’m still in a state of shock.  All the same, giving in doesn’t help, I find.  Hitting the depths only means that there’s a long, long way to climb before breaking through into the air again.  It’s kinder to myself to swim below the surface, bobbing up to take in air when the waters are calm.  If you’ll excuse the laboured metaphor.

11 comments on “Z uses a snorkelling metaphor and updates her profile

  1. sarah

    Dear Z

    We haven’t met, but I always read your blog and we have conversed on twitter. I am so sorry to hear about The Sage. It must feel strange for you to not have him around, but what a lovely way to die. I hope that is not too crass.

    I hope all will eventually be well with you and to quote from Desiderara, be gentle with yourself.


  2. allotmentqueen

    Oh darling – have a good howl on me. I feel grateful that you emailed me a while ago, although I appreciate that is probably because my internet name starts with ‘A’ !!!
    That reckless acquiring things rings very strong bells of my father-in-law who was sending his wife out to buy increasingly expensive camera equipment items in the months leading up to his death from bowel cancer at the age of 64.
    That’s very brave of you to use the phrase “now I’m alone” which is, of course, both not true (you have extensive family and friends and internet friends) and terribly true. In some ways, that’s the curse of the female of the species – by and large they live longer. And you married – for love – at a pretty young age. It will take time to adjust. And in some ways, you are right to want to “not adjust”. I, for one, will not forget when he died – it was my birthday! But he will stay in your heart, and your family’s hearts, for ever.

  3. Blue Witch

    Putting everything down honestly here is a very important stage I think. Well done for having the courage to commit how you feel now to the page.

    And as for everything else – well, you must do what feels right, when it feels right. Everyone’s path is different.

    Gerry Rafferty’s phrase, “Whatever’s written in your heart, that’s all that matters,” seems very appropriate.

    And – you’re never alone with a blog.

  4. Z Post author

    I take great care of myself, so I didn’t push myself into posting it here before I was ready – and yet, I missed blogging when I stopped for several days. My compromise was ducking out of the situation. I always face a situation in the end. And thank you for your kindness and support.

    Today, I looked into a barn and found a car that he must have bought years ago, but never told me about. I never tried to stop him, nor did I nag (I hate nagging and carping, which I see so many wives do) and there was no reason, except his love of secrecy. It all way predated his illness – though I know about the need to assert oneself by buying things, the first thing I said when we left hospital was that he needed new clothes and we went straight out the next day and bought them.

  5. allotmentqueen

    While I agree with you about the not nagging (as long as you can afford whatever it is and you’re not going without because of it), I think it’s a shame that he never told you about the car – it would have been something you could have shared?

  6. Liz

    I am glad that you now feel able to write about this on your blog and I believe that it is perfectly acceptable to release this sort of information via social media once you feel comfortable to do so. It is clear from the number of comments you get both on here and on anything you post via Facebook that there are lots of us who care about you.

    Getting used to being alone will take time, especially as you have not experienced it before. I have lived on my own in the past but find it hard to recall what that was like now. I am generally fairly content with my own company, but not everyone is. As Blue Witch says, you are never alone with a blog and I am a great believer that writing things down helps in making sense of them.

  7. LZM

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. There is no proper way to handle grief. I’ve been dealing with internet problems for a couple of weeks and am just now reading about the Sages’ passing. I’m falling apart a little for you and sending you a heartfelt hug, with thoughts for comfort and strength.


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