Saturday, September 28, 2013

There's More to Say After All

I had an afternoon nap — a rare thing for me, but I had a late night last night and have to go out this evening. I dreamed that Andrew came back. I dreamed that his illness and death had all been a dream, and now I was awake. 

He was so well! And he looked quite a few years younger — still grey-haired, but very fit and happy. (Better than I ever saw him, in fact.) He had apparently been away somewhere, as I showed him all the changes and improvements I have been making to the unit. He was very pleased and encouraging. 

My friend Tish, who is consciously connected to God and the angels, told me two nights ago that Andrew had finally left the earth realms and been 'assimilated'. Apparently one or more old friends had been trying to hang on to him, to use him to get messages from 'Upstairs' — not realising that (a) being still attached to the earth realms, he was in no position to do that, and (b) they'd do better to connect directly with God anyway. However he is now in the right place to start his work. Tish said he will be working with children (which he himself told his daughter he would be doing, when he visited her shortly after he died). And he will be my angel. 

Neither of those things is any great surprise. But I must say, they are very nice to know. 

Now I wonder if it was a true dream, and that was his angelic self come to visit. Not only did he seem in much better health than I ever saw him, even when he was well, but ... I was going to say he also seemed kinder and wiser, but he was those things in life anyway. It was as if he was more assured in his kindness and wisdom, more at home with them. And he was clearly very happy, in what I sensed as a calm, ongoing kind of way. It is really quite hard to describe these impressions. I'm groping after the words. But I experienced them clearly enough. He was himself, and at the same time a sort of bigger and better Andrew. If it had just been a wish-fulfilment dream, I think I would have dreamed him exactly as he was in life.

Oddly enough, I didn't feel particularly upset when I did wake up and find his illness and death were not a dream.

Soon after he died, as I have recounted elsewhere, he came to look in on me. I actually saw him for a moment. And since then I've occasionally felt as if he was there briefly. But for the most part I have not felt his presence, which was odd given that I'm a psychic medium. I talked to him constantly in my head, of course, just to get myself through my days, but never with any sense or even expectation that he was really hearing me. It pissed me off a bit, though I tried to tell myself, 'Oh well, he's busy with his new work'. I am thinking now that it may have been because his attention was monopolised by people wanting him to act as their personal messenger! 

Never mind. All his friends loved him. Anyone doing that would have been misguided, not malevolent. And now he is where he belongs. 

And I do think he came to visit me in that dream.

Monday, September 9, 2013

So Here I Am

So here I am again, writing in my garden, on my trusty iPad Mini. It's a pleasantly warm day in early Spring. I have watered the garden, washed the car and swept the back steps. The vacuum cleaner is charging, preparatory to being used. I am feeling virtuous. 

The weather is conducive to my on-again, off-again daily walking habit, so at present it's on again. That and healthy eating is having me lose weight at a gradual, steady pace and feel energetic. 

My life is comfortable. It suits me. I am essentially doing the same things I've been doing for decades. I have even more freedom now to do just as I please, without taking a house mate into account. Yes, I still have anguished moments; I still miss him and would prefer he were here — if that could be in vibrant health — but I make do, and find ways to enjoy my solitary life. What a blessing that I have always liked my own company, and in fact have always needed plenty of solitude between interactions. There are still interactions, on and off-line. I need them too, of course, as we all do, and I'm lucky they are there.

This dear, daggy little town we came to live in 19 years ago suits me too. It's surrounded by the natural beauty I love, it has all the shops and services I need, and enough people here know me either as friends or acquaintances. I love small towns, where you can't walk down the street without exchanging greetings with someone you know — usually several people. I grew up in one (Launceston, before it was a city) and I'm glad to be spending this end of my life in another. Actually I am spending it in a region, and many of the surrounding villages are familiar and nurturing too.

I can't walk around town or drive around the area without Andrew being everywhere, in memories that spring to life every moment. When we came here, I was glad that this was one place which (previous husband) Bill and I had never explored in our travels around Australia. We always meant to go and check out Nimbin some day (famous hippy town) which would have meant going through Murwillumbah, but we never did. So there were no memories of Bill and me imprinted on this place. Likewise, Andrew had not been here before. We came to a new place for us, to conduct our new marriage. 

And we loved it from the start. 'Australia's best-kept secret,' we said, and, 'Paradise!'  We continued to love it. We missed our families, all the more so as we aged and made fewer visits back to Melbourne, while they acquired more and more responsibilities and made fewer visits to us. But the thought of leaving this locality was never desirable.

This place is my home, and it is full of Andrew. That still occasionally causes a pang, but mostly it's a pleasure, and adds to my sense of belonging. Nowadays I am more often remembering further back than the recent difficult years of illness and decline. I guess I had to work through them awhile and release all the pent-up emotions. Now it's a pleasure to recall all the rest of our life together, and the adventures great and small.

I could no doubt continue these 'chronicles' indefinitely — and no doubt I shall, in some form. But it seems to me that this is a logical point at which to end this blog, having traversed my first year of widowhood and reached some peace. I'll continue posting about my life back at my SnakyPoet personal blog.

I have just realised that on this date last year we held Andrew's wake. A fitting completion date indeed.

The next project is to turn this account into a book — perhaps including poems I wrote on the same topic, and private journal entries which at the time felt too personal to share. Thank you very much to those who suggested it should be a book, thereby motivating me to try and make it happen.

I'll keep you posted! I'll leave this blog up as an archive, and as a place to tell you about the book, when that comes to fruition.

Thank you all for reading, and for your kind and understanding comments.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Getting to Base Camp

Sunday morning, 9am. The day starts up: a plane drones over; a lawnmower comes to life down the street. The cats and I have had breakfast. When I start late, it works for me to meditate after breakfast, not before, though that's against all the 'rules'. Feeling hungry is too much distraction. And life itself distracts; if I decide to do it before lunch instead, I might never get to it.

I like to come out here early, when the day is fresh. The machinery noises have gone now, and some nearby bird is chirping, softly and briefly. It is the first day of Spring. This time last year, Adam went home (back to Melbourne) in the afternoon, after visiting Andrew in Heritage Lodge in the morning. He had been here several days, and felt there was no more he could do, as well as no more he could stand.

'Goodbye, Dad,' he said, knowing it as the final goodbye. Andrew was deeply loved by all his children, and loved them deeply. Remembering, I'm struck by the sadness in that moment. At the time, it was one piece of a larger, ongoing, all-encompassing sadness.

On the first of September last year I wrote a poem (a tanka): 

in Spring
the time of new life
my dear love
makes ready to travel
to the Summerlands

And indeed, two days later he went. The anniversary is now so close! I cannot believe a year has gone by already. A year in which I have been focused on getting through grief and widowhood as best I could, a day at a time. I am reminded of what my psychiatrist said, many years ago when I was in therapy: 'Just keep putting one foot after the other —and after awhile, if you look back over your shoulder, you'll see that you've travelled quite a way.' Yes, a whole year, step by step. 

I feel as if I am only now beginning to adjust. I suppose it took that year-long journey to bring me to this point. I recall our flight to look at Everest in 1998, which revealed that it's a heck of a hike even to get to Base Camp — an arduous journey in itself, even before starting the actual ascent. I guess I've just reached Base Camp. This, I acknowledge, is an achievement in itself.

I don't expect to proceed very differently. I'll go on step by step. But for climbing a mountain, different plans and preparations must be made. You have to make sure you are physically fit. I'm working on it! You have to make sure you have the equipment you need. I've just upgraded various household appliances that conked out ... and I have my friends, my cats and my writing. You have to be in the right frame of mind. I meditate regularly now.

My neighbour next door has woken up and is giving the repeated, phlegmy cough with which he always starts the day. I think I'm bad, with the throat-clearing that goes on at night when I hit the pillow! If I drink olive leaf extract, that fixes it. This guy is much worse; but it seems to be a first-thing-in-the-morning occurrence, not lasting through the day.

We all continue doing our lives the best way we can. Until we stop.

This day, every year, is the birthday of my dear niece, Ellie. This day last year I didn't ring her. Couldn't quite come at saying, 'Happy Birthday — and by the way, Andrew's at death's door [uncontrollable sobs].' I deferred the call until some days after he died. But I'll phone today, in a little while.

Music, Meditation, and Another Small Epiphany

My new neighbour is playing heavy metal — not loud enough for me to hear when I was indoors, but very audible now from my back yard. Which is good. I like heavy metal. I'm not so into it that I could name bands, but I quite enjoy hearing it when I come across it. If that's his taste in music, I can happily co-exist.

Luckily I am well-trained in Transcendental Meditation, which I've practised (on and off) for about 40 years, and was able to do my morning meditation despite heavy metal in the background.

Now I have moved from my meditation chair to my writing table — both outdoors. There are indoor options too if the weather isn't right, but I love to be here in my little courtyard surrounded by trees. 

I find I am liking a number of things about my life alone. Many of them, of course, are things I also enjoyed in my life with him. So I guess what I am experiencing is some easing of grief, to recover that enjoyment even in present circumstances. Then again, this home was the scene of his decline, and during that period I had little time or opportunity to sit in this back yard to meditate or write. Now I can savour these enjoyments more. 

Acceptance increases, as I start to go further back in my memories than those final years. I was recalling the other day what an independent man he was, most of the time I knew him. It allowed me — finally — to be thankful for his Alzheimer's. (Of course, that would not be possible had it not been so mild.) There was only a fairly short time when his restrictions, such as having to stop driving, felt intolerable. Then the childlike aspect he acquired allowed him to live with them. They sometimes irked, but he was able to adapt and be in the moment. 

Then, although his mind became confused sometimes about present reality, it was still full of dynamic ideas and passionate ideals, still a place where he could engage with fascination and joy. 

I am continually led back to knowing that all happened for the best, no matter how hard that was to grasp at the time. 

I am sure it helps that I also believe in reincarnation and karma. Indeed, I think of it not as belief so much as knowledge. I don't view karma as reward and punishment, but as both achieving balance and experiencing all there is (which could scarcely be fitted into one lifetime, no matter how full). I realise that he was not only involved in working out the karma between the two of us, of which I have some awareness, but also other karma which had nothing to do with me. 

I believe, too, that the soul chooses its own life experiences before an individual incarnates. 

These ideas reinforce the notion that all was for the best, no matter how it looked or felt at the time. But it is one thing to understand all this intellectually, another to absorb it deeply, as I have just done in relation to Andrew ... and do over and over again, regarding various bits of what occurred. 

I don't get one big epiphany and then everything's all better forever and ever. I am sure I'm not done yet with crying and (literal) heartache. But I do have epiphanies, and something of each one stays.