17-366

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m not saying that for felicitation purposes. I’m saying it because it will be my first birthday without Erika.

In a way, I’m almost dreading it. Wanting a message or a poke from her and knowing I’m never going to get one. Again.

Woman’s Hour had an article this week on bereavement, focussing on when a friend dies. And how it feels different from when a relative dies. It really does.

When you click with someone, when you choose them as part of your family, the pain from them not being there is searing. It is different to the pain I felt when my Grandparents died (well, three of them anyway, the fourth and last one that died can simply go forth and multiply).

As I got closer to Saturday; all week my thoughts kept returning to Erika. I hope wherever she is, she flicks me the bird, shoves against me in the mosh pit of life, or comes to visit me in my dreams and knows that I love her.

1-366

One of my twenty for 2020 is to blog everyday. Hence the title of this blog post, I’m going to count down, or up, as we go through the year. I got into bed last night on New Years’ Day, and thought “Damnit”, so you’re gonna get two today…

We’ve spent the past week and a bit on the Mornington Peninsula. I was looking online to see if I could book the Air BnB that we used at the beginning of 2019, but I couldn’t get the dates to match up with the Christmas shut-down at work (more on that later). The next morning, R rang me and said she and her family were off to Fiji for a month, did we want to use her house?

Ten minutes away from the cousins.

Yes please.

So we packed up, including the cat, and drove down. We then drove back again, minus the cat, to go to the Boxing Day test, Archie and I left at lunch, then headed back to the Peninsula. Cat very happy to see us and we’ve been here ever since.

As normal, we’ve not done everything we’ve planned to, but we’ve done other things. The jigsaw is mostly done, but we’re struggling with the sky, so many blues! The beach has been hit a couple of times, but we’ve relaxed, unwound and spent quality time together, which is what we needed.

Yesterday we drove to Sorrento and got the ferry over to Queenscliffe. We mooched through the town, walked up to Helen’s chair and spent some time reflecting on both Hubs’ mum and Erika.

Six months ago she passed, it still feels like she should be on the end of a call or a message.

Ian and I have spoken nearly every week since then, for which I’m grateful. One of the things I want to do this year is to share what I’m feeling, when I’m struggling, more often. I don’t reach out to people often enough. I seem to know when people need to talk to me, and expect that intuition from others. Doh.

I’ve not finished my Twenty for 2020 list off completely, mainly because as the year unfolds, I want to have room for actions and additions.

This year will be the year I stop drinking though. The past few months of funk has seen me drink more than nights than not, not quite to oblivion, but on the edge of it.

One thing I wanted to do by the beach was to press pause and reset on what I wanted. I feel a long walk by the beach is in my future today. I need to sit and let stuff come to surface.

[Point to note, if the blog posts are numbered, they will be free-form and unedited. If there is anything specific I want to talk about (rant over), I’ll put a title up ok?]

I’ve just cleared my beach visit with Hubs, when I’ve finished my coffee I’ll head off.

The job I started six months ago closes the office down, which I wasn’t that happy about when I first heard about it. I had to go into a negative balance to take a week off work to head over to the UK for Erika’s funeral. I’d just about accrued a week back again, to have to use it for the shut-down. I’ve got no buffer for any appointments, catastrophes or life in general. For the first time in my life, I will be purchasing an additional two weeks leave so I don’t have to worry about having enough time for stuff to happen.

Because stuff happens.

History is just one damned thing after another.

Winston Churchill

Ain’t that the truth.

Other stuff I’ve done over the week is review who I follow on social media, what podcasts I listen to and am umming and ahing over what books to read over the coming year. I did so well with my reading in 2018, I wanted to hit 2019 with reading 100 books. One thing I learnt last year, when I’m depressed or overwhelmed, I now can’t read. I stuff my head into my phone and ignore the world that way. Mind you, I have been known to just read and re-read Mapp and Lucia to avoid life too.

(See what I mean about I need to let whatever needs to come up, come up?)

Listening to the Daily Stoic podcast Ryan Holiday suggested that instead of trying to hit a number of books, why not try to delve deep. To not read widely, but to read deeply, to come to know the authors as though I’d lived with them.

Reading of many books is distraction.

Seneca

I’m going to get twelve books from Book Club, but I’m going to have a think about what ten-fifteen other books I want to read this year, to deep read; not skim over to get to a number. What am I trying to prove?

Well, that’s the story of my life right there. Proving my worth to others. Instead of being happy with who and what I am.

On that note, I’m off to the beach.

Going Viral

I had an odd week last week. Hubs had to stay home to look after me one day, which unless I’d had surgery, was unheard of before now. Archie came in to kiss me goodnight, surveyed the state of me, then kissed me on my head. The next morning he appeared beside my bed and decided that I still wasn’t well as, ‘You’re so pale Mama.’ Hubs took me to the doctor, I got told to carry on as I was and just ride it out. I carried on with the paracetamol, fluids and bed rest.

I basically did nothing for three and a half days, went back to work on Friday; managed an hour then came home again.

Not today

Picture credit: The wonderful C.Cassandra, Hubs got me her KickStarter package for my birthday last year. http://www.cassandracalin.com/comics-nottoday.html

I did watch the new season of Queer Eye, as I’d been saving it up for when I felt rotten and I’m so glad I did. It was beautiful. If I could sprinkle as much love and consideration through the world as the Fab Five, I’ll be a happy woman.

And on my last day in bed I realised that if I changed my VPN location, I unlocked the different programs on the Netflix. To say I was filthy about not realising this before now would be an understatement. I could have watched the US The Office from start to finish by now. Oh well.

All in all, not much to report. Although the funny thing we’ve noticed in our group chat about Erika, is our lows are synced. We all seem to struggle on the same day or night. HellCat said today that the chat is a nice place to hang out because we can all say what we feel and not worry about being told to ‘Get over it’.

I’m in the middle of it, I don’t want to get over it or get used to it yet. I spend my entire life trying not to feel emotions (Helloooo alcohol!) I want to honour Erika and ride this out properly by feeling it and being with it. Which is why when I got upset watching Arch play in the pool after his swimming lesson, I let the tears fall. I said to Hubs that I was worried that I hadn’t done enough and that I was missing her. Classic grief guilt, no more no less. My face after wiping the salty tears away on a towel is not so forgiving, I’m red raw :/

But I’m proud of it. In a funny, awful, sad, muddled way. Proud that I said to Hubs, “This hurts. This is why it hurts. I’m being visited by emotions and I’m gonna sit here with them”. As I was also wearing my Woman’s March t-shirt at the time, it was on top in the drawer, no other reason – it probably also looked a bit odd. #UnsatisfiedCommunistScumbagFeministGoblin

Erika’s lisp and gentle mouth always sounded and looked incongruous when dropping the F-Bomb. But I know she’s doing the sign of the horns with one hand, flipping us the bird with the other and cheering us on as we wobble on our paths.

It’s the best any of us can do really.

Yesterday was not a good day

Despite having all my hardware removed, I’ve still got my ovaries in, so hormones – those pesky little critters are still rampantly waging war on my moods. Combine that with a very late night the night before, I didn’t get home until midnight, I was cactus yesterday.

I could have easily stayed in bed and hidden away from the world, instead I hid in my phone and stuffed up my mood even further. When will I learn?

I’ve decided to not look at facebook for a couple of days. I’m not looking at twitter at the moment – sheer red rage at the orange twat-waffle and NRA lobbyists mostly.

My mood has not been helped by leaving a set of hand-over notes that were ignored by the person covering my role while I was away. Instead of having meeting papers in one place for me (brought forward folder) and one place for BossLady, (her daily pack); I found papers, agendas, things to sign and approve, OHS walks – anything and everything, all over the desk and shelves behind me.

When an autographed approval comes back to me, I scan it, save the PDF with the same naming convention in our files, stamp the hard copy with today’s date, update my spreadsheet and send the PDF on it’s way electronically. I then put the hard-copy into my pending tray to file each Friday afternoon when my brain is fried and all I can do is filing and clean my desk.

Never under-estimate the amount of people who want hard-copy bits of paperwork, as well as the same scanned bits of paperwork.

me

I had six days out the office, and its taken me nearly two weeks to find (what I’m hoping is now) everything, which is pretty impressive. Talk about a sense of humour failure. But more importantly, it also made me feel anxious and flustered because before I left the building, if I was asked for anything, I could put my hands on it straight away. Maddening.

This week I’ve been so tired, I looked up ‘How long does jet lag last for?’ It ain’t jet lag, pure and simple. I am an emotionally stuffed piñata. Hubs and I had such a good time away over the weekend, real-life in the week is hard to get back into. I am so far off my normal rhythm, it ain’t funny.

In an effort to combat this, I signed up for a 30 day Pilates challenge at my gym. You can only book into the classes 2 hours before they’re run; so far on day four, I’m yet to get a spot in one.

I can’t get comfy on my chair at work.

My back hurts.

I’m grumpy.

I miss Erika, spending so long thinking about our shenanigans has made me realise that despite the friends I’ve made over here – sometimes you need people around you knew you from before. Before divorce, before breakdown, before Hubs, before Archie. People who know you from days of yore and see you at your core.

Coven

Give me a couple of days to get out my funk, I’ll be ok. Until then, we’re all off again this weekend (we have a house-sitter), we’ll have a good car conversation on our drive up, I’m going for a run, we’re going to hang out with Hanno, drive the wee man’s RC car and watch an Am-Dram panto #HesBehindYou

I read this on Instagram from Andrew Johnson:

Imagine if we treated each new dawn of each new day with the same reverence and joy as we do each new year.

Angie Lynn

Tomorrow we start again. I just need to get through today. As I keep saying to Ian, sometimes you can’t get through more than a minute at a time. But anyone can do anything for a minute.

For Erika

Before I start, a bit of housekeeping: if there are any people with children here, let them be noisy – don’t shush them and take them out. I can wait and work around you. That being said, I am likely to swear a little bit and I will cry, you will also have to work around me. If anyone wants to come and stand beside me while I do this, thank you. Lastly, this looks long, but it is only really spaced out, so I can read it through my tears.

When Ian asked me if I wanted to speak today; he said I could send my words to Jane who would then read it out for me. But if Erika taught me anything; it was to get up and get on with it, even when you didn’t want to. Just keep going. 

For many of you, the past few weeks would have been a blur. I’m all over the place, I’m only here from Melbourne for a week. I don’t know my arse from my elbow, although I know it is Tuesday but only because I’m here in a dress talking to you. I started a new job the week before Erika died; I’m still in that learning new processes, period of confusion and breaking in a new boss limbo. We’ve also only just got Archie back to school after his two weeks winter holidays. Add the fact it is bitterly cold in Melbourne at the moment, is not helping my confusion on this beautiful day.

None of that matters though, because I simply cannot fathom I am never going to see Erika again; that she won’t get to meet Archie; that I can’t post Princess Bride quotes on Facebook while I’m watching the movie, that she’ll like every single one of them and volley them back at me; or that whenever I see a rabbit, kitten or Metallica video, I can no longer share it with her.

In fact, it’s inconceivable.

But I don’t want to stand here and rattle on about how awful it is, as every one of us is feeling that, the Man in Black reminded us that ‘Life is Pain Highness, and anyone who says differently is selling you something.’

‘Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.’ That quote is from Glennon Doyle Melton. 

Most of the poems on bereavement I found, are awful and not Erika. Death is nothing at all? Bull shit. Death is everything. I know it is only technically the opposite of birth; but it also the full stop at the end of a sentence in a paragraph that many of us were still writing. That quote was me. 

We celebrate births, then dither about what to say when someone dies. What I want to try to do today is celebrate Erika, to try and share with you how daft we were together, how much she shaped and helped my life over the past fifteen or so years.

We met in the early 2000s at a clothing company based in Andover, specialising in selling clothes to grumpy old women who would complain, vociferously, about anything and everything. Helen and I sat opposite each other in customer service; Erika was in an office next door. Before I go any further, can we also acknowledge that Helen’s beloved Dad passed away a couple of weeks ago, his funeral is on Thursday, let’s all give our love to her and her family too?

James Meade clothing was all hideous print blouses, high waist trousers and mostly polyester. If you walked too quickly through the warehouse, you could set it on fire. 

Customers would phone up and complain about buying a hideous print blouse, for it to be on sale after they’d brought it. They wanted their money back. Their parcel hadn’t arrived. They wanted their money back. The colour in the catalogue of this blouse was red, you sent me scarlet. They wanted their money back. 

A never ending stream of vitriol and bile which was not helped by calls being held in a queue for us to answer. If you answer a call and put people on hold to tell them their call is in a queue, it costs them money. The customers would only hear a phone ringing and ringing and ringing; they didn’t understand, or care, that we were all flat-chat on calls until we got to answer theirs. They wanted their money back.

Erika was away when I started, I bustled into the lunch room one day and saw her sitting there. I told her she looked like she needed a hug. So I gave her a hug. She then told me that she’d just got back to work after burying her Dad and she needed that hug. I probably gave her another one just to make sure.

We had an archaic vending machine in that lunch room, where you’d put your money in and hope you’d get what you asked for. One day I asked for Maltesers, but they got stuck. I went to find the key to open it, in the meantime, Helen had also asked for Maltesers and, of course, got two packets for the price of one. Helen just thought ‘Result!’ and promptly shared them out. I got back to the lunch room and shrieked ‘You Bitch-Troll-From-Hell!’ to much hilarity and the name stuck. I was re-christened Maddie-lion and Erika was Furriner.

We all took the day off one day to have a Bar-B-Que at my house. We went to the butchers in Ludgershall, then the supermarket, and ended up with enough food to feed the five thousand. Over the day, Helen and I bombarded Erika with British culture, including Bagpuss, and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life which she watched in either bemused horror, or bemused amusement at our hysterics. We’d also all got firmly stuck into cider, which made Helen’s task of making a dress to wear for an upcoming night out more difficult than it needed to be. Feeling slightly shady, she was worried it was a bit too short after she’d got carried away and tried to even the hem up. Sending Erika out to her car to get some fancy shoes to see what the dress looked like with heels on, Helen wiggled into the dress while I refreshed the ciders. Erika tottered back with two shoes. They were both black, but not a pair and both for the left foot.

I am so blessed with my close friends; I call them my coven for all the cackling and mayhem we create. In truth, I have many best friends, those people that when you meet up with them, it is like no time has passed.

Before the age of smartphones, Erika never had her phone on. It was either off all together, or on but on silent at the bottom of her bag, or on but had no charge. To get around this, I would text Ian, then ring him, he’d pass his phone over to her, we’d chat for hours. 

Then my world collapsed. My first husband decided he was leaving me. I can still see this day so clearly, I left my desk at work with my phone and called Erika. Her phone was charged, on, and sitting on her desk when I rang. 

Erika sent Ian to come and get me. Initially I stayed with them for a couple of nights. When I was told I had to move out of the house I had lived in with the ex-husband, she told me I was moving in with them. She wasn’t going to have me living in a council flat on my own. They helped me pack up my stuff, going backwards and forwards to try and collect everything over one weekend.

Amanda who I worked with at Sandhurst was on the phone with her sister Sara one day. Did Amanda know anyone who wanted to work as a PA in the Chairman’s office at Cable&Wireless? Amanda knew of the situation I was in and suggested I would be ok, and that I needed a new opportunity. Mum brought me a suit for the interview as I’d lost so much weight, nothing smart enough I had fitted me any more. When I got the job, I surveyed my wardrobe. I had precisely four outfits to wear to work. Getting worried about my severe lack of clothes; Erika reminded me that as they had dress-down Friday, I would wear jeans. That, when I got paid in a couple of weeks, I could buy a top or two. Now get out there and do it.

Erika and Ian let me stay rent-free while I got my life together again. I’d buy the groceries when we all went to the market, or treat her to John Freida’s Frizz Ease, as she’d never buy it for herself. Other times I’d be home, the front door would open and Ian would say ‘I smell cleaning products’. He’d also have to announce ‘I am coming up the stairs’ after he scared me shitless that many times by apparently just apparating into my bedroom.

Mon Bears took me to France for a weekend away. It had been a long day driving over, I decided to take my contact lenses out in the carpark of Carrefour as my eyes were itchy and dry, I was using disposable ones then. But before I could put one into a tissue to throw it away, it flew off and got stuck on a windscreen. Ian and I have been reminiscing over phone calls and messenger, he reminded me that ‘I had to separate the two of you before you could stop laughing’. 

Erika, Wiz along with the rest of my coven, nursed me back to health, back to life. 

Wiz, Erika and I would have tat competitions. Trying to find the worst thing we could as a holiday souvenir. The only caveat was it couldn’t be an outright souvenir, like a fridge magnet, or shot glass. It took some effort I can tell you to find things. I have a variety of memories from all over England, but my favourite is a tray from Montreal that would maybe hold a tea-cup, but only if empty. Truly useless.

Erika asked for the recipe for my sticky rice, not realising that I’m just hopeless at cooking it. She made a soup for Ian and I from the left over veggies after a roast dinner, whizzed it up, then realised she’d left a bay leaf in – so painstakingly sieved it all out. We’d bake for hours to make scones, biscuits and cakes to raise money or to take to offices for birthdays. Leaving the kitchen in a trail of destruction, and Ian to do all the dishes. One day Erika and Ian were coming over for lunch with Dan and I in Portsmouth. I was on the phone to Erika trying to navigate them in to the car park under our building when they drove past me walking to the store at the end of the block, as I’d just found a huge, surprised grasshopper in the bag of salad. 

I moved to Australia in 2008 to be with Dan, Erika gave me a Jasper thumb stone, auspicious for long journeys. Dan and I married in 2009, with Wiz and Erika arriving at the ceremony with wedding tat from the same Clintons range. A truly shitty wedding frame and a cake slice that was so plastic you’d either break it entirely, or fling the cake across the room if you’d attempted to use it. Erika put a wedding album together for us, and even with our official photos, we’ve never needed to put together another one. Then our Archie arrived in 2011, the Jasper stone also came into the theatre when I had to have Archie by emergency c-section. Erika sent a package of love to him, with post-it notes on everything, painstakingly telling me what, why and when she’d found things for us.

Our friendship slipped a little for a couple of years; life got in the way for all of us.

I’ve come back to the UK twice before this trip. Once for my brother’s wedding, again for his 40th. On my last trip here, Mon Bears came and got me from Wiz and Jim’s house, we drove around, not sure where to go and ended up at the seaside. We walked along the prom, eating ice cream. We went to lunch and talked and talked and talked. The bridges that were broken were mended.

I knew I’d be coming back for a funeral at some point, but I never thought the first one would be for Erika. Again, it’s inconceivable.

Ian, being Ian, apologised he had to break the news to me over the phone that Erika had gone. He has been humbled and amazed at the messages he’s received. Ian has told me that people he didn’t even know existed have sent him messages, and he knows they knew Erika because of how they describe her.

From her lary leggings at zumba, to her stamps and crafty buddies, to Charli at the Wakkie Hair company doing her hair, given free reign with colour and cuts. From Erika’s love of the sublime to the ridiculous, including, but not limited to: Harry Potter, heavy metal, rabbits, kittens, sci-fi books, Stargate, Dungeons and Dragons, Red Dwarf, The Hairy Bikers and Nigella, chicken wings and chee-bor-gays, both our fridges groaning with condiments, the airer that she hated me hanging washing on, but she loved me so accepted it; she taught me how to fold a fitted sheet instead of rolling it up into a ball and hoping for the best. Her absolute love of self, the endless selfies, she truly was “This is me”, I’ve so many memories. Such a long receipt of love to show everyone. 

It only remains for me to say, “As you wish”

It’s an entirely different kind of flying, altogether.

Goodness me. My post yesterday blew up a bit – I’ve had a few messages to check in on me. Honestly, I am fine. I process things better when I write, so you’re gonna get this journey, warts and all because if I write about it, then I won’t stew on it. In turn, if my waffling helps someone else, then I have done my bit to leave the world a better place.

We have a date for the funeral, 23 July. I’m booking flights this week to land at Heathrow and spend the week with Ian, heading back home to land over the weekend so I can keep a OBGYN pants off appointment on Monday 30 July.

Ladies, the things we do.

I can’t change that appointment, I’ll be waiting for ages to get in again – it’s my second review after surgery to check my stitches.

I’ve also had to pull out the 10km run I was doing (Run Melbourne) with Kath as I’m either going to be mid-air coming into land, or on the way home from the airport.

Today BossLady took me for lunch, we both had a list of things to talk about, but instead we just went for lunch and chatted. It was nice to get out the office and other than my interview, it was the longest time we’d been able to spend together on our own.

As an aside, I’ve not been there a month and my mailbox is full. To say I had a sense of humour failure about that would be an understatement. Not least because, whatever they’ve done (aside from giving us microscopic mailboxes) when you archive something – you can’t search for it in Outlook again. I’ve got some training and a meeting tomorrow, but in the afternoon I’m going to have a chat to IT to work out WTF.

I dialled into Book Club last night, in bed with a cup of tea. It’s all glamour. It was good chatting to everyone, although not the same as being face-to-face. When it was time for me to leave home I thought ‘Well, I could drive there ok, but when it’s time to go home – I’ll be too tired’.

Poor Hubs, last night I asked him to pass me my splint (like a custom mouth guard so I don’t clench my jaw overnight), he was watching the end of the Grand Prix, so I popped my eye mask on, ear plug in – again glamour puss. The next thing I remember is him shaking me awake to say goodbye as he headed off to get the bus and train to work.

I think the Valerian worked!

Valerian, the herb, not the movie

Last night it took me ages to get to sleep again. Then I woke up. Fretted. Got cross with myself. Fretted some more. Got back to sleep. I had bad dreams last night too, images I can’t shake even now. I staggered out of bed at 6:20am; bleary eyed, unbearably sad and with less than an hour to have a shower, finish lunches, get Hubs to the station, Archie to school and me on the road.

Things didn’t get done over the weekend, like Archie’s reading diary. We read every day with him, but have to justify it to his teacher by completing it. I sent him to school with three blank spaces in it, so can look forward to ‘????’ in there tonight when we get home.

I got in the car ready to whizz the wee man to school and got an alert on the dash ‘Key mechanism not working’ I only needed to get the battery changed, but it freaked me out somewhat as I’m transferring the car to my new job.

I’m tired, cranky and honestly, shell-shocked. I am not fully in my body. I have to start taking better care of myself, otherwise I’m going to fall over. I need to do some exercise to help tire me out and get me to sleep, but tonight I just need an early night. I’ve also brought some Valerian for good measure. I am making myself eat, as I have no appetite and when I do eat, I feel sick. To top it all off, my stomach is churning. Looking everything up online, so far so normal. I know it is a process I’ve got to navigate, my compass is a bit faulty.

I am so glad that I’ve got people on the end of the phone for me. I’m also grateful that Ian and I are messaging each other. Cat photos, nonsense, updates on our days and laundry. Anything and nothing. He told me off for drinking, having seen me obliterate feelings and pain before, he knows the depths I can sink to. I’ve reset my sober date to today (24 June).

At lunch time, I went to Box Hill Central – that has changed a huge amount since I last was there. I was only just pregnant with Archie, so over eight years ago. I dropped the dry cleaning in, found a pharmacy for the aforementioned herb extract. Walking round to find somewhere to get the battery changed, I got completely lost; asked for help, got misdirected out of one building and into another. Then giving up altogether, as I was heading out (in a huff) to get back to work, I walked right into the stand and got the battery replaced.

Then … I got lost coming out the car park, had to do a U-Turn on Elgar Road.

I should be able to book my flights tomorrow, Ian is off to the funeral director now. That might help, as I feel a bit lost and in limbo still.

I’m not ready for this

Whenever we are going away; I herd clothes as they either come off the ironing pile or Mt Foldmore, to the spare room. I also add ‘stuff’; spare chargers, tea, coffee, gluten free food. I’ve just been grocery shopping and picked up some snacks for the flights, as I’ve got form of getting delayed back to the UK.

Today I’ve started putting things on the bed; a dress, boots and bag for a funeral.

I’ve typed those words, and still it doesn’t seem real. Especially not for Erika.

Bereavement doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Most of the weekend we’ve been in party mode for Archie, so I’ve just pottered on getting the house ready. Ticking things off a list kept my mind busy.

Today we went to Werribee Zoo to see the dinosaurs they had on exhibit there. Archie told me a story the whole way down, we parked up, avoided the puddles in the car park, I got a coffee then we walked around the dinosaur models.

After we’d been on the bus and had lunch, I was peopled out. Archie asked to see the boat by Hippo Beach, we ended up going round the rest of the zoo, my anxiety growing. Sitting in the car at the lions, it was all I could to hold it together. I tried not to be too short with Archie as he took his turn in the car. We headed back to the exit and toddled around the maze, which made me laugh and relaxed me.

I drove home, he played in the back of the car, then got car-colepsy, I listened to Kermode and Mayo’s podcast. Dropping him off at home, I turned around and went back out to get lunch accoutrements.

I saw someone I knew at the shops and funked talking to them – I didn’t have the head space. I explained why I’ve needed to increase my anti-depressants to the pharmacist, just about holding it together.

I’m home now, getting ready to start meal prep for the week. I’m going to have a bath and an early night tonight. We start all over again tomorrow, we also should get a date for the funeral, I can then book my flights. And finish my packing.

I don’t know what to say

This is the bit I hate. When people do the head tilt and say ‘I’m sorry.’ Both of us feeling inadequate because we have no language for grief any more.

In a way, I’m glad I’ve changed jobs. I now sit in an office with ten people, instead of over a hundred. I don’t think I could cope with lots of people coming up and doing the head tilt at me.

I’ve been in constant contact with Ian, messaging each other about shit. Inanities, funeral plans, what, where, when, cats. I said to him today I was worried about upsetting him, he told me off – “Not going to happen” as he reminded me, “We lived under the same roof for goodness knows how long and never had a cross word.”

We had a giggle last night about the amount of selfies Erika took. Literally every where she went, she took a selfie. No shame, no fuss, no bother. “This is me in outer Mongolia. This is me with an ice cream. This is me with everyone. This is me!” We laughed at the montage of photos that could scroll through for hours without repeating itself.

I’ve got her last selfie saved in my phone, she knew she was heading into hospital so got all her hair cut off. She looks calm, adorable with a pixie crop, stoic almost.

I miss her giggle.

BossLady was very sweet last night and said, ‘Don’t rush in tomorrow’. So when L messaged me and said ‘Want to meet up?’ I jumped at the chance to say ‘Yes, let’s have a coffee’. Best laid plans were foiled when we found the coffee machine had gone phut, but we coped and went to the other cafe.

I am so blessed, I had so many hugs from friends this morning. Our house, Archie’s school and where I used to work are within 50m of each other, meeting L and A for coffee meant a steady stream of colleagues coming for their morning cup of Joe fix; and a steady stream of hugs for me. I didn’t put my make-up on, there was no point, I knew I’d cry.

After a good natter with my girls, I drove to work listening to Tim Ferriss talk to Amanda Palmer. I listened to his interview with Neil Gaiman yesterday. Amanda and Neil are two of my favourite humans, they are so of themselves, by which I mean – they are Amanda Fucking Palmer and Neil Gaiman. Amanda talked about how Patreon (of which I am one) gives her the freedom to do WTF she wants to do with her art; including making the most intimate, hair-raisingly good album I’ve heard in, well, ever There Will Be No Intermission. I can’t tell you how good it is, you just need to listen and wallow in it. She is talking with Tim Ferriss and telling him how much of a relief it is to be able to do this album, and not have to go to Steve and say “I’ve made an album, it’s got songs on it about miscarriage, abortion and death. By the way, the first track is 11 minutes long” (I’m paraphrasing), but with this funding model, she can do what she wants knowing that thousands of people around the world can support her. Each month, we contribute money to enable AFP (and others on the same platform) to create their art, whatever which way, knowing that we won’t always like it, understand it, but that we want to hear what she says. And, (Brucie Bonus) as we’re cheering her on through our monthly funding, if you can’t afford to pay $$ for her album, on BandCamp, she can release the album for $1. Because the Patreon community have already paid for the recording studio, mixing etc. It’s a safety net that gives artists flexibility and autonomy like never before. Which is why the record companies are getting worried…

I digress, have you watched Good Omens yet? have you seen that a fundamentalist Christian group have petitioned Netflix to not make any more? Never mind that Amazon made it? If you’ve not watched it, please do. Apart from anything else, it looks amazing, the colour scheme of the characters, the texture of their clothes – sublime. It also has a fabulous combination of the original BBC radio adaptation actors with a stellar cast, as in Josie Lawrence and Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Derek Jacobi – the list is endless. Michael Sheen as Azriaphale might be my latest crush. Might be. He’s totally adorable as the old fuss-bucket. David Tennant as Crowley camping it up is delicious.

It’s faithful to the book, raw, and as Neil was show runner, that it’s not been tweaked to ramp up the suspense to eleventy-stupid is great. I don’t know about you, I do like a bit of tension, but stringing it out over episodes while you finish off other storylines – yawn. I loved it. I love that the book is also galloping up the charts again too.

Picture Credit

I ate lunch today

Which is an odd thing to be proud of, but I do have a tendency to not eat when I get very anxious or stressed. My throat closes up and I have to force food down me. Last night I had some soup, a real tangy miso and mushroom (new flavour from La Zuppa that I’m loving). I managed a mandarin for breakfast, have eaten my smaller than normal lunch and just had a cup of tea with a chocolate protein bar. We’ll think about dinner when we get to it tonight.

After three days at home blowing my nose like a trumpet and with aches and pains all over, I went back to work today. HR were very sweet, “Are you sure you want to be here?” ‘Yes please. I need something else to think about’. BossLady and I have already had a conversation about my going back to the UK for Erika’s funeral; the lady who was covering my role immediately before I arrived will back-fill, so I also don’t need to worry about it all falling into chaos while I’m out.

I know I’m going to feel sad, lost, angry and so on. Grief will do that to you. But s0dding hell, last night was hell. I went to the spare room in the end. If it wasn’t my legs twitching, which wakes me up, I’d be dreaming so vividly I’d wake up. Maddening.

I’ve got Jasper stuffed in my bra today. Erika gave it to me when I left the UK, ready for my long journey. It’s a thumb stone, polished so you can put your thumb in a smooth groove and fidget with it. Jasper also came into theatre with me when I had my C-Section. I don’t particularly do crystals per se, I like them as aesthetic objects, but it was one of the things I thought of would be easily portable, a comfort and reminder whenever I felt it. Normally I’d put it in a pocket, but I’m in a skirt. Yes, I have several of them.

I’ve caught up with my emails; as in, they’re sorted, categorised and I’m working through them. BossLady’s inbox is going to take more work, she’s practically full so I need to do a major archive operation and plough through them.

I’d love to go to the gym, or for a run, but swimming with Archie last night before his lesson, (read splashing about and playing) was hard work. I’m as weak as a kitten :/ I’ll start again from the weekend. I can’t do everything.

One day at a time.