It's only been 4 months. 4 months since I last held Andy's hand, 4 months since he was in this house. In the days and weeks afterwards I was swept along by the wave of practicalities, the memorial, the funeral, the paperwork.
In the past four months I have been grateful in many ways for the challenges and distraction of keeping the plates spinning with my family. The week after Andy died it was Daisy's birthday, then Christmas, New Year, the final goodbyes, hospital appointments for Daisy, meetings at the children's schools and colleges, two more birthdays - Theo is now 19, Xanthe turned 17, Easter, Valentines, Mother's Day.
I have had to put my own grieving on hold as I support my children who need me in different ways, sometimes when they don't even realise! Throughout this time I have had a clear focus and goal; I have been training for the London marathon, my fourth London and sixth marathon. I have been leaving the house early in the morning, when it's dark and raining and I have been pounding the streets fitting in long runs to build up mileage around Daisy's school day and respite shifts.
If I was working I would have been able to take a period of compassionate leave, in some cultures there is a prescribed period of mourning and reflection. Some people can go away and take an extended holiday. No such luck for this plate spinner so the marathon training has been my way of trying to keep going over the past four months.
It has given me focus and structure, it's been a bit of predictability and control in my chaotic world. My goal was always to get to the start line, marathon fit, and I will do that this Sunday (barring any major curveballs of course). But during these last few days of tapering and resting, reality has been creeping up on me, the reality that this is the first race that Andy won't be at, the reality of exactly how much I am running on empty. I may be physically ready for the marathon but as anyone who runs long distance knows, it's a mental game, keeping that inner dialogue going, overcoming the voice that tells you to give up, focusing on the finish line. But that focus is difficult for me, Andy won't be there. He won't wish me "good luck babe" when I leave the house and he won't be there to cheer me on and hug me at the end.
Sunday's run is something I have to do, I need to do, because in many ways it will be part of the process of acknowledging that he is not here any more. I can't pretend he's somewhere else in the house, or away on business.
I'm so grateful I have running in my life, its been therapeutic, it's given me physical and mental strength to cope. After Sunday I won't have a big goal for the rest of the year, I will still run and swim and train, I will still do small local races, cross country meets, parkruns when respite allows, but I now need to free up some space and time for me to really grieve.
Daisy has another hospital stay looming, practical stuff needs to be done, building work will be starting soon to adapt the house further to Daisy's changing needs, we need to start the process of scattering Andy's ashes in the favourite places he requested. But I also need to remind myself that it's only been four months, that's no time and yet in that time I have achieved so much. We are all still standing, we are all still coping, life is still ticking along. I want to take the pace down a bit now, I need to take some time to smell the roses again, I need to take some time just to be me.
In the meantime, there's a small matter of 26.2 miles to get through.
Websites close to my heart
- Shooting Star Chase (Daisy's Hospice)
- Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity
- Torbay Holiday Helper's Network
- Sick Children's Trust
- Daisy's Angels - Facebook Page
- About Costello Syndrome
- Asperger Syndrome
- Caudwell Children
- Together for Short Lives (Children's Hospices in the UK)
- Costello Syndrome Support Group
- Give Kids The World
- PostPals - Putting Smiles on Sick Children's Faces
- Singing Hands (Daisy is their No1 Fan!)
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