You may have noticed that I’ve not been around a great deal in the past few months. Quite a lot has happened in my life in the past six months and at the time I didn’t want to share that but at the same time, I didn’t feel I could carry on posting about harvests and allotment up’s and down’s as if everything was tickety-boo.
So then, time to come clean.
At the end of July, my Mum died suddenly. She was 81 but of all her siblings, everyone agreed that she was the strongest and most likely to reach extreme old age. But now she’s gone and there’s so much I didn’t have a chance to say to her.
She had been feeling unwell with dizziness and nausea, but everyone including me, mum and her GP put it down to the extreme heat. Eventually, she was admitted to hospital with a suspected stroke but all the usual scans and checks revealed nothing untoward so she was discharged. She died of a pulmonary aneurysm in the taxi taking her home, at about the time I left a voicemail on her mobile. That she died alone, with strangers is one of the things that upsets me most.
As well as grief, I feel guilty. Guilt that I deliberately chose to leave my promised phone call until the evening, because I know how long hospital discharges can take and because I was driving home from Somerset (rather than driving to Lincolnshire to see her) but my mum will have just added it to the list of times when I just didn’t get around to calling her. Then there is the bigger guilt that we spoke so little; a handful of times every year. I don’t know how that happened; it crept up – all those little hurts and slights held tight and added together somehow created what felt like an almost insurmountable barrier. Ironically, in those last few months, we had started to find a way back to each other.
I was at work when I found out about her death. I was facilitating a leadership day with nurses. Up until that point, my motto was that trainers always go on unless attached to a drip or strapped to a bed – there were several minutes when I contemplated fixing up my game face and carrying on the day. As I left the ladies, my co-facilitator came in and asked if I was OK and of course, no I wasn’t. She hugged me, told me to go home and she would deal with everything. I didn’t feel I could just disappear, so I went and told the group and they all hugged me too. Why am I telling you this? well, it surprised me how much difference those hugs made at that moment and it came about because I felt able to shed my game face, be vulnerable and share my grief.
There’s more: after 27 years of marriage my husband and I are divorcing and the house is being sold, so all of my anchors are unattached. I confess that when I look to the future, I feel very uncertain and scared at the size of mortgage I need to take on in order to secure my future. I’m still clinging to the allotment, but I may have to let that go too.
I know things will work out, that opportunity awaits etc but right now I just don’t feel inclined to pretend I’m OK when I’m not and that is the very essence of being able to be vulnerable.
Thank you for lasting out and reading to the end xx
PS – if you want to know more about vulnerability, google Brene Brown’s TED talk
PPS – allotment chatter will resume shortly