‘Back when I were a lad – before I had me sex change’ (A patented Gail joke there) – a legend was someone who who pulled a sword from a stone or stole from the rich to give to the poor. But as we approach the second decade of the 21st Century, legendary status now seems to be enough to confer on someone who brings back three packets of Cheese and Onion crisps from the bar without being asked.
Language is constantly changing and so it should, but it is difficult sometimes to keep up with these new innovations. For example, it’s no longer socially acceptable to just say goodbye to someone; you now how to be effusive, telling them how you’ll miss them or even that you love them even when you patently won’t or don’t. Everything is great, astounding or, indeed, awesome.
Similarly you can now damn with faint praise very easily. Liking something isn’t enough – even on Facebook it doesn’t seem to do justice to your appreciation of a post – and, if someone buys you a present it is a poor indictment of your delight for you to just say “Thanks, it’s nice”. More often or not that will now elicit the response “Don’t you like it? I have the receipt”
That’s a shame. Because when you’re grieving you’ll have a lot of really nice days. Really nice days. Providing you force yourself out, accept invitations, take holidays, try and go to events that you have been to previously and from which you got pleasure,or even open the curtains and see the sun streaming in through a window; you will find it is perfectly feasible to have a nice day.
Don’t be afraid of nice days but, equally, don’t be surprised if you struggle with the concept of having nice days that you think should be better. It’s unlikely you’ll have a great day or a wonderful day and you’ll just have to accept that. And that will confuse people. If, for example, you are on holiday and looking at something quite wondrous or, perhaps, doing something you’ve wanted to do for a while but never had the opportunity to do before, it is very easy to wonder why you don’t feel greater enthusiasm for what you’re seeing or doing. In your heart, you’ll know the reason of course, but someone outside won’t recognise this and that is where the problem lies.
I’ve found I’ve had to bite my tongue on numerous occasions when people have taken my lack of enthusiasm over something as a sign that, whatever it was I’d been doing, had been a disappointment. “That’s a shame you’ve always wanted to do that”, they say. It’s not that, of course, it’s just that hovering over you the whole time is the reality of why you’re doing what you’re doing and it permeates your every thought. ‘If Gail was here I wouldn’t be able to afford this / couldn’t have come here because the flight was too long / couldn’t have done this trip so easily’.
Death also underlines everything with it’s grim finality. On several occasions I’ve thought ‘I’ve always fancied going there / seeing that – I’ll do that next year’ Then, realising how you know only too well how everything can crumple in a few months let alone a year, I’ve immediately booked to go / see whatever it was I wanted to do safe in the knowledge that not only is there no time like the present, sometimes there is no time but the present.
I’ll feel guilty though! Oh yea, never make it easy on yourself. I’m always sure to remind myself that I wouldn’t be doing this had Gail been here or, she would have wanted to do this too and I’d denied her the opportunity previously, only selfishly going when she wasn’t around to enjoy it. I mean, don’t be hung for a sheep when you can go for the whole flock.
Even sitting in the sun with a glass of wine or a decent coffee, perhaps reading a book or listening to your favourite music, those days when you think ‘Well, isn’t this nice?’ will suddenly turn around and swipe you. You’ll suddenly feel angry at being able to enjoy the moment when someone else can’t.
It’s an endless cycle of sadness, fortitude, determination, anger, regret and sadness again. But there are some nice days.