Five Years (Preface)

Back in the summer on the 4th anniversary of Gail’s death, I posted on Facebook from Porto where I’d gone for my getaway

‘Four years ago tonight was the last time I spoke to Gail. This seems utterly bizarre. Like picking up a telescope in the dark, never sure what way round it is, I’m uncertain if she will be so far away that the whole relationship seems like a febrile fantasy or so close that I can just shout out and she’ll answer.’

I wrote it late in the evening just about the time I had last spoken to her. I was in a great City that she would have loved, seeing places she’d have liked, eating food she’d have approved of and I’d had a few reds too – which she would definitely have enjoyed! When I read it back later it seemed unbearably poignant but also something I was pleased with as it captured my immediate feeling so accurately. What was nice was that many people contacted me to say that they ‘got it’ and felt the same.

That phrase became the subject of another thought later though as I realised that short reflections like that were exactly the type of thing that prompted me to start this blog in the first place, but somehow, over the years, that had fallen away and I had only posted here if I had something specific that would make up a few hundred word post. I realised that social media is still the best place to get a short consideration like that out. This isn’t the place for a fifty word idea.

This brought me back to something that had concerned me soon after I started this blog; which is how long exactly should I continue to do it? I think I mentioned elsewhere that a lot of places I visited on the web seemed to stop after the first year. I felt that was wrong as it gives the impression that after a full cycle has been completed, grief gets easier and it buys into the whole myth of ‘time being a great healer’. Conversely, I did see the issue with continuing after the year; essentially most people just assume you’ve come to terms with it and are back on the road and sympathy for your feelings are – if not exactly non-existent – certainly strained. The only people who understand are those it has happened too.

I’m now approaching my fifth Christmas without Gail and, honestly, none of them have been any easier than the first one. In fact, apart from odd incidents that have stuck I’m not even sure I have had five. Whole Christmas Days seem to have blocked from my mind; Boxing days are virtually non-existent. I’ve even found myself counting up on occasion to make sure I have the dates right. Was the third one the lockdown? No, that was the second, wasn’t it?

So here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to open up a page called ‘Five Years’ and post various thoughts that strike me during the year and then – at the end of the five year anniversary in August next year I’m going to stop and just leave the blog here for posterity (in reality when I die and no-one is going to pay the annual fee!).

I think I’ve done what I needed to do. I think Gail would have appreciated what I’ve done but mostly I’ve done it because it’s helped me.

So that’s it. Five years, stuck on my eyes perhaps.

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