30 December 2010

Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011

Greg 1949-2010
The end of another year and what a year! 2010 will forever be etched in my memory as one of those landmark years. A year ago I wrote this. As usual, I was full of optimism at the start of a new year but realistic enough to know that something bad had to happen, as the elastic of our living nightmare could not stretch any further.

Thank you for all your kind comments to each and every post I have written. I know some people answer every comment on their blogs, but I am usually rushing from one job to another in my attempts to keep busy busy busy, so I don't usually have time to comment to individuals. It does not mean I do not appreciate your comments, though, and when I have been a bit down your comments have truly helped.

Kay and my mother managed to get here for Christmas from different points on the compass, despite the threats of heavy snow keeping them away. We survived our first Christmas without Greg. Kay and I have always loved Christmas, so I wanted to decorate the house and the tree, as usual, putting a special star-shaped tag with a message to Greg in a prominent place on the tree. When we sat down to the big Christmas lunch, we began by raising our glasses to each other including Greg in the toast. We talked a lot about him - the films he would have liked on TV, the things he used to say or do. So although he was absent in person, he was there in spirit (though thankfully not the whisky kind!) It was a relaxing Christmas - no tensions or arguments like last year - and it seems strange to say it, but we enjoyed it.

Now, just like a year ago, I am gradually winding down to the last day of the year, waiting for the chimes of midnight and a new year emerging. I am again full of optimism, that Kay and I can finally shake off the last vestiges of the nightmare we have gone through and start to rebuild our lives.

I wish you and yours a happy New Year and may all your wishes come true.

20 December 2010


In the last few years of Greg's life, we did not have deep meaningful conversations any more, in fact for the most part we hardly spoke at all. We yelled at each other when alcohol made him impossible and his alcoholism made me angry in frustration, or we kept conversation purely to the functional, such as "what time is your hospital appointment?" or "I'm taking the dog for a walk". Otherwise we lived separate lives in silence. In any case, Greg's mind bordered on that of someone suffering from Alzheimer's. He was often very confused - a condition caused by the excessive alcohol. He would misread the clock and think it was a quarter past ten at night when it was really ten minutes to three in the early hours of the morning, so would ring me, if I was away from home at my mother's. Getting woken from a deep sleep by a phone call at that time of the night used to chill me to the bone, but I got used to it, as he did it so often... and not just to me. He would also confuse me with his mother and often phone her to ask her something that was clearly intended for me. He would phone up friends and talk for hours on the phone to them, and I could hear him often repeating the same sentences over and over again in the course of the call. It was like he was on a continuous loop. He even once rang a friend and in the course of the conversation asked how her partner was; the partner had died some six months previously and Greg had "forgotten" this. He once was a very intelligent man holding down a very stressful job with hourly deadlines. That all seemed to fade to nothing in the space of a few years once he had retired and turned to alcohol. So our conversations dwindled too.

I am now 9 months further on from Greg's death. The letters, emails and official practicalities arising from his death are beginning to finally wane. My last recent piece of action was to organise an entry for Greg in a book of remembrance at the local crematorium and to attend a small candle service last week which the local undertaker invited me to at their funeral parlour. With that done, Greg' death passes into history. I am facing the first Christmas without him, comparing this year with last. I still have not been able to cry. But the numbness following his death and the subsequent anger have passed into another phase. I have lots of questions to ask him and the one at the top of the list is "WHY?"

  • Why did he want to drink so much after he retired?

  • Why couldn't he have found some hobbies?

  • Why was he hellbent on killing himself?

  • Why was life so horrible that he wanted to leave it?

  • Why did he want to leave me on my own with so much life ahead of us?

Was it that he was so unhappy at work that it made him retire when he did, or was it really the ill-health he claimed as the reason? Was retirement such an anticlimax after such an exciting but stressful job? Was life at home with me so boring? I wonder whether I missed vital signs when he was younger. If only I could sit down with him now and ask him those questions and hear his answers, but all I am left with rolling around in my head is "Why?" It's a question which I think of when I wake and before I go to sleep and often in the middle of the night too. The sad thing is, I am never going to get those answers and sometimes the silence in reply to those questions is agonising.