Not the best photo, but the last of the three of us
2014 is drawing to a close. I sit alone and cast my thoughts, those that allow themselves to be cast – distraction has become my theme song – back over the year. In July, I cried. The job I loved and, with it, the security I had crumbled into a little heap of angst. “Not fair!” I cried. It wasn’t too hard to pick up out of that with the help of a new job and some truly great colleagues and friends. For a while there, I thought life could turn out to be ok.
It wasn’t to last though. A visit to the doctor, tests and a diagnosis later – life wasn’t done with me. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but being flung into a vortex of surgeons, scans, new foods, pills, tears, sleepy days and sleepless nights left my head spinning. I took comfort in my friends and family and had the rock-solid support of my husband.
The rock crumbled. Jurgis was the one who would coax me daily to take my pills and drink my juices. When I felt I couldn’t, he would do it for me, pushing me all along. It was never me. It was ‘we’. I remember sitting at the table with him. “We’ll nail this thing together. You’re not alone. I’m fighting with you.” He never let me give up! Not fair! Not fair! He was too young to die. He was meant to live to 112. We were meant to grow old together. We talked about it… joked about it. We had dreams, some realistic, some destined to remain in dream world. I first started dating him back in ‘81. We got married in April ‘86. That’s a fair time to get to know someone, though, after living in each other’s pockets for so long, I was still learning new things about him. He was very predictable in so many ways, but still managed to surprise me regularly. Ah yes, life is going to be different now.
Having said all that, I was thinking as I wrote this that, while the year has been a tough one on many levels, it’s also been an incredibly wonderful year. This is the year that I realised my dream of moving to live near Tatiana in England. We’ve climbed mountains and weathered many storms on that journey! I also had a job I truly loved. Not many experience that in a lifetime. I made new friends and renewed old friendships, both of which I treasure beyond measure.
I want to close this year trying, though finding the right words without ending up sounding gushy isn’t easy, to express the gratitude I feel.
I’m grateful for the 30 years I had with a wonderful man that I miss so much. I’m grateful that he was able to bring me this far. I’m grateful for the times he bullied me into taking care of myself, often to his own detriment. I’m grateful for the strength he gave me to carry on when the world appeared to be crumbling around me.
I’m grateful to my amazing daughter and her man. Tat has stepped in and taken over from her father in being my rock and my strength (and my bully). She and Ste have taken me in and made sure I had a home, so I wouldn’t be alone. What was meant to be a visit while we looked for a place of our own has become a longer-term haven where I can lick my wounds and heal.
I’m grateful for my friends. Oh how grateful! You, my friends, are what has carried us through all the drama and trauma of the past few months. I walk covered by a mantle of love and carried along by the collective caring I experience daily. My friends may be all over the world, but your presence here with me is very real. Then there are the friends who made sure that Christmas wouldn’t be a lonely tear-fest. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the whole Williams family!! I had reason to thank them even before that for making Jurgis’ farewell a spectacular one where we cried and laughed and toasted and burnt up the night sky. I believe he enjoyed that evening too. The only frustrating part for him was not being able to drink his own toast and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m also grateful to all those who helped us celebrate his life, people who didn’t even know me, but came to show support and those who travelled far to be with us. Thank you!
I also want to remember the people who form the network of healing for me… my old GP who would call to see how I was and my old breast cancer nurse who still checks up on me. All the staff at the Southport hospital for caring for Jurgis and ourselves with gentle dignity (and for not being too shocked at our outbursts of either laughter or tears) and later for the way they’ve cared for me through my own treatments. When I arrive at the hospital only to find it’s the wrong hospital, they’d take it in their stride, contacting the other hospital to explain and seeing if they could fit me in at the one I’d walked into. The patience of my surgeons is just one more gratitude to add. I’m grateful, not so much for their faith in me, but for allowing me to be me and to believe in myself.
I’m off to join Tat at the club now. It’ll be odd. I’ve never done this alone before – see what you get for going straight into a long-term relationship right out of school. I can do this. Bring it on, 2015!