Bunny who?

Why? Who? What's this blog about? It's about MEEEE!

Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow


About Jane's brain tumour journey: Astrocytoma.co.uk

When we were here

26 February 2012

Jane is dead. I know this. There is nothing left of her but a jar of ashes that is sitting on the cupboard in my room. I do not believe in life after death or spirits. I don't believe the spirit lingers in a place where people have once been.

So then why do I keep visiting places Jane and I went to together? I went to Cornwall. To London. To rugby grounds.

What am I hoping to find?

As time goes on, my daily life holds fewer painful memories. The memories are still there. Every minute of every day. But they are no longer as painful as they once were.

When I go to a place where we used to go, it hits me hard. It hurts. It makes me cry to see the road where we walked, the pub where we drank, the hotel where we slept. And for a reason I don't understand, I feel compelled to seek out those places. It is almost like crossing them off my list. But why?

So that next time it doesn't hurt so much? Or is it because I need to feel something, anything. And so I look for the pain because the pain makes the loss feel more real, more recent? Does that mean I have to visit every place we ever visited together? Even the ones I never plan to return to?

This weekend I went to see a friend in Manchester. She was at school with Jane and is a dear friend to me now. On the way back, I decided to drive past Buxton. Jane and I stayed in Buxton in April 2009. Jane had finished her radiotherapy and we needed a break. We stayed in The Buckingham Hotel and I wrote two blog posts about it. This one here and this one about our stay in The Jodie Foster Room.

Tonight, as I arrived in Buxton, I parked up at the hotel and waited for the tears to come. They came. For a long time. I just cried and cried. And when I felt the tears subside, I thought of something else we did in Buxton and I started crying again.

Jane in the tub in Buxton. She was unable to push
herself up and get out of the bath. It took us 20 minutes
before she could stand.
I remembered how, on the way there, we were listening to The Indigo Girls album "Despite our Differences". We used to sing along in the car. My hand on her knee. When they sang the line "Most of what will happen now is way out of our hands, so just let it go, see where it lands" we would take each other's hand and smile at each other with tears in our eyes because we knew there was a hard road ahead for Jane.

But on this trip. Jane wasn't singing. I encouraged her to sing and she admitted she had forgotten the words. Bloody radiotherapy had wrecked her memory. I taught her the words again but she still wouldn't sing. She said she no longer felt like singing. So I sang alone in an attempt to keep her smiling. Tonight I sang alone, knowing it would make the tears flow.

Or when we were buying her new trousers in the Buxton outdoor shop and we had to run out of the store to find a toilet, only for us to be too late and I had to buy the trousers she was trying on as well as a clean pair.

I remembered all those things and more. How we got a room upgrade and a discount because the receptionist saw Jane was clearly a very sick woman. How much I loved watching Jane have her afternoon nap in the big hotel bed.

After about 30 minutes of crying, I felt like I had laid this place to rest. Like I had laid our memories in Buxton to rest. Like I made my peace with these memories.

Next time I am there, I will still he sad but not as distraught as I was this evening.

But why do I seem to need seeking out these painful moments? I may never ever visit Buxton again. Or any of the places I am revisiting. Because visiting them with someone new will be weird and wrong. All I'll see is Jane.

Maybe it is a way of owning the memory. So that I am in control of it. Or maybe it is because feeling pain is still better than not feeling anything at all.

As you can tell from this post, I really don't know (although I am leaning towards wanting to feel the pain). But I need to do it.

Until the hurt has gone.

Or until she comes back.

But I'm afraid neither of these two things is going to happen.

UPDATE: a very astute friend made this observation about my need to seek out places. She suggested it is about interaction. Interaction with a memory of Jane is still better than no interaction with Jane at all. So perhaps this is all about a desperate search for interaction.

She has a point. Perhaps I need to visit these places so that I can interact with the memory of Jane. Maybe losing Jane is such a big shock that although my rational brain knows she is gone, some feelings just have not caught up yet. And so I look in all these places where I have feelings associated with Jane and where 'she might be hiding', just to prove to myself she really isn't there. I interact with my memory to try and 'get something going' but when the memory and the crying stops, Jane is still not there. And then I leave another place behind me where I know I won't find Jane. Another chapter finished.

Or something like that. I am not explaining myself very well but what she said makes sense to me.

I am not sure this is all a good thing. Because once I have revisited a place, I can never feel those emotions again, even when I return there. So perhaps I should take more time when revisiting places. So that I can still feel stuff in a few months/years time. So I can still decide: I want to feel close to Jane so I will seek out a place I have not yet revisited. Instead of doing it all as soon as possible.

God emotions are complicated. Especially at 2am...

Please feel free to tell memwhat you think the reason is. I know I am not the only person who deliberately seeks out things that evoke sadness. But why?


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