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Friday, 21 March 2014

Admin and Emptiness

I'm sitting in bed with my iPad, still wide awake in the early hours of the morning, and as I gaze at the photo of Suzie that sits on my chest of drawers I'm engulfed by a sense of disbelief. These last ten days have passed by in a whirlwind of things to be done and arrangements to be made. At times I've been swept along by all of the planning and the preparations, but then, all of a sudden, it has felt like a knife through my heart as I'm unexpectedly hit by the painful reminder of why we're doing it all. 
It just seems so inconceivable that my precious Suzie has really gone and she won't be coming back. I talk to her all the time. I stroke her cheek on my photo and I whisper the words that I wish I could say to her. I look up to the sky and call her name.

My family and friends have been amazing. On that heartbreaking Tuesday morning last week I phoned my daughter at 6.30am and by 8am both she and my son were in the car and on their way here. They arrived less than two hours later and we spent the day together, talking, drinking wine, and trying to process the reality of it all. Suzie has always been like a second Mum to them ever since they were young children, and they both felt the sense of loss acutely. My special friend, Caz, was at my house almost as soon as I got home from the Hospice, and she came back again later to spend the evening with us. Our lovely 'nurse Mary' abandoned her day's schedule to be with us, Suzie's cousin and her husband joined us for a while in the afternoon, along with my parents.... and we also had telephone conversations with other family members and friends. There were a fair few tears shed that day.
The next day saw the start of what was to become the overwhelming task of dealing with all the legal requirements and 'admin'. My daughter, Bek, was amazing. She stayed here with me all week and we gradually started to work through all the things we had to do. The Funeral arrangements began to take shape and plans were discussed for a 'Farewell Party' for Suzie after the Church service to celebrate her life. Medical papers had to be collected from the Hospice and the legal registration had to be made at the Registrar's office ten miles away. Banks and Solicitors had to be visited and numerous official phone calls had to be made. During all this time Bek kept me going throughout. She helped me to deal with all the official requirements and took a constructive role in our meetings with both the Funeral Director and the Vicar, both of whom are very special friends of ours and loved Suzie dearly. Bek also provided hot chocolate croissants and coffee each morning for breakfast and she cooked a proper meal for us both at some point each day. Throughout all of the essential and unavoidable activity that dominated those days Bek somehow managed to create spaces for us to periodically step back from the official stuff and just remember Suzie.
When Bek had to go home the emptiness I felt was eased a little by visits from other dear friends who came to spend time with me, and by my parents, my sister, and my Auntie B who added their love and support, and, of course, made sure I was eating properly. Bek has also called me and 'Face-Timed' me every day. She's an absolute diamond.
I went to see Suzie in the Chapel of Rest on Monday. I wasn't going to because I'd said my goodbye at the Hospice, but I gradually became more and more certain that it was something I had to do and that I would regret it if I didn't. It was a hugely significant experience. She looked beautiful without a doubt, but there was an overwhelming realisation that she wasn't there. Her wonderful and precious body that she had inhabited for over 70 years was now just an empty shell. It was like looking at a caterpillar's discarded chrysalis, knowing that the beautiful butterfly it had become was now flying freely through the air. The real Suzie was no longer trapped inside this frail human body that was failing and deteriorating. I knew without doubt that she was now free for ever.
Even as I type this I'm hit again by the heart wrenching thud of reality. I can't allow myself to even wish that she was still here because that would be wishing her back into the sheer awfulness of her illness from which she has now been released. But neither can I begin to imagine a future without her. Everything that made my life what it was, every hour of every day, has been swept away and is gone forever. But Suzie's love will always be within me and the memories that we shared will never be taken away. She has left me a wonderful legacy of friendships that I would never have had were it not for her, and I owe it to her to nurture those friendships and to get on with living my life. Quite how I will ever be able to do that without her I just don't know, but, with God's help, I will find a way. I do believe His promise that He knows the plans He has for me and that they are plans for good and to give me hope. Maybe, in time, the tears will fade and the heartache I feel now will ease. May God give me courage and strength to face each new day as He gradually reveals His plans to me. 
I will continue with my blog for anyone who wants to walk with me in this next stage of my life's journey.