I talked about putting things in boxes, a few weeks ago – mental ones, that is. Blanking off a strong emotion so that you don’t have to cope with it and just letting a chink out once in a while, then slamming it shut again when it feels too much to handle.
That’s all very well if you can manage it and I’m struggling to now. Looking back, I realise that I never let grieving for Russell take its time. Ronan’s wedding was only eight days after Russell’s funeral. I led by example; I said that we had to look forward, not to allow our sadness to spoil the joy, and we just about managed it. It was a joyous day, and happiness was our focus. It helped that I knew, only too well, how awful the end stage of cancer can be and I was relieved that Russell had been spared it.
A few days after the wedding, I flew to Amsterdam, then went by train to Maastricht, to visit Irene. Her blog was called, I think, Green Stone Woman and we’d become friends, though not yet met. Earlier in the year she’d been diagnosed with lung cancer and I went to spend a week with her while it was possible. We actually had a great time. She said I’d given her strength and let her forget her illness. She died just before Christmas, by choice – while she could still laughingly drink a toast to wonderful morphine on Facebook and, afterwards, have her life ended with her family around her. The Dutch are practical people and she timed it so that the funeral could be held and her daughter and ex-husband fly back to America without having to take any extra holiday time.
After that, I was determined to have a happy Christmas. And then I started to visit Linda, or Ziggy if that’s how you remember her from her blog. Going back and forth to Wiltshire, in between clearing out barns, then holding my first auction, re-meeting Tim, Linda dying – that was 2015. I’ve never really stopped and let myself acknowledge feelings if I could smother them. I don’t see what else I could have done. And, as I said before, nothing actually goes away. But I’m not the same Z that I was seven years ago. I’m much more open and willing to acknowledge my weakness. Not the right word. Fragility, perhaps.
Enough of that.
The pandemic has accelerated change so much – online banking, cashlessness and even chequelessness, doing things online or by telephone. One can register a death by telephone now. I know some people find using the phone is an ordeal and so do I, to an extent (making phone calls, I’m okay receiving them) but then it does spare one from difficult meetings. Tim told me where to find all his passwords but he didn’t realise I didn’t know how to unlock his laptop and he hadn’t saved many passwords on his phone. So I’ve got various anxieties about knowing what bills that he paid by direct debit, so that I can take them over. Not just because of going into debt – all you have to do is explain – but having services cancelled before I’ve taken all the information I need. I don’t want his phone contract cancelled, his Spotify payments to cease, anything like that. But I trust that the bank will help with information. I can’t do anything until I have Tim’s death certificate, which I dread getting but which I need.
In the meantime, I’m going to visit the undertaker on Monday afternoon to deal with things. I know the best date, that everyone in the family can manage and I have a backup date. I have a flexible plan. I have little planning in mind for the format of the funeral itself. A church/religious funeral has a format to work within and Tim’s secular crematorium funeral won’t have that.
Rose came over yesterday and spent the night here, then Indigo Roth, officially kindest man in the world, drove two or more hours to take us out to lunch. Then he took all the photos for the catalogue for me. 96 pictures, that is, not including a few deletions. He is truly wonderful.
The elephant arrived yesterday, in a seriously heavy crate, fastened by 8 long screws. My electric screwdriver had to be recharged, it wasn’t up to the job on half battery. I removed 3 screws by hand and couldn’t quite face the rest. But Wince finished the job this morning and Tembo the elephant is currently standing in the hearth, to keep her safe from falling. I know where she’s to go, but a more sturdy hook is needed as she is surprisingly heavy. She is also beautiful. I’d been going to give her to Tim. I only gave him a few books for his birthday as I’d commissioned a painting for him, which was supposed to arrive five or six weeks ago. The artist is a friend and I won’t mention it, but I am disappointed not to have heard anything since late June. At least Tim saw a photo of Tembo and had something to look forward to.
I’m going to bed. Only half past nine, but I didn’t sleep much. I woke at 7.15 with a migraine, which I staved off with pills, but it’ll return if I don’t rest. Goodnight, dear friends and thank you for your emails and messages. It’s helped.