Klimt, The Cure and Rubik’s Cube

I had a short Facebook exchange with my dad today. He posted a rather dull photo of some trees and I remarked that it was very “Klimt-esque”. Klimt was a painter chappie who painted forest scenes among several other subjects. Juliet loved his work and she got this print for our lounge where it still hangs today:

klimt-buchenwald1-1902

On the opposite wall is this embroidery & textile work by J, clearly inspired by him:

dscf8149

We also both loved “A Forest” by the Cure. J introduced me to this haunting, classic punk-Goth song in the first days of our courtship, back in the early 1980’s. I still have her 7″ single. You can hear a slower, slightly distorted version of it below. Give it at least two minutes…

And on The Cure theme, here’s another of their later songs which J quoted in a posthumous letter to me, the day after her funeral:

That last one is far too upsetting. I’m going to have to stop.

Rubik’s Cube because it has 54 squares and J would have been 54 today.
Happy birthday Juliet.

 

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Unicorns don’t exist

S & J, Blenheim Palace Park, 3 June 2001

S & J, Blenheim Palace Park, 3 June 2001

Today’s title is taken from a piece by the comedian Isy Suttie that appeared in today’s Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/07/prince-harry-is-right-hard-to-talk-about-grief

I sent it to my girls: I’m concerned they don’t talk about their mum much/at all/to me.
In my work as a counsellor (actually a bereavement support volunteer), the most difficult cases are those where the person hasn’t grieved properly, sometimes having bottled it up for years. The first line of the above story says: “ Prince Harry said that he wished he had spoken more about losing his mother when it happened.

My girls have now both left home, Alice in the last week or so, and are well established with flats, new jobs and even a boyfriend. And yet as the article says, “…[bereavement is] probably magnified for children, because so much about living hasn’t yet been cemented. You may have only just learnt that unicorns don’t exist, and suddenly you have to get through life without the person who gently told you that fact.”

I re-read J’s instructions for household cleaning today, a small notebook that she had started when she was ill. I noted that the writing and spelling deteriorated in later entries. But I read it and thought “I know all this. I know how to sort clothes for the washing machine. I know how to hang them up and how to de-fluff the tumble drier. I know how to clean the kitchen.” I guess I didn’t five years ago though, and J was leaving nothing to chance. She even wrote me some instructions for when I met a new woman, and I remember thinking then how bizarre that seemed. Well, I did meet someone new and this time next year we should be married. D and I have almost set a wedding date, just got to re-jig it slightly before confirming it and just yesterday we put in an offer on a new house in an area far removed from our local areas. I have her to gently coach me but I worry because the girls will never have their mother back. You never stop worrying about your kids do you?

I spoke to J’s mother this evening and we both noted that today’s date didn’t hold as much dread for us as it once did. She had visited J’s park in Oxford this afternoon while I had run a 6-mile race at Hook Norton this morning and was driving home shortly after midday. I didn’t dwell on the moment, just noted it, as the CBT lady taught me to do. I’m pleased to report that these days the happy memories are doing a better job of crowding out the awful, awful events of 2009 – 2011. There’s many new events to look forward to now; maybe not unicorns, because they don’t exist, but all the happy things that do.

M and J, 24 December 2008

M and J, 24 December 2008

 

 

 

 

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53 and still counting

Juliet would have been 53 today, January 2nd.
Just a few random pictures. There’s plenty more.

Happy birthday love.

S x

J in Salisbury, perhaps 2001

J in Salisbury, perhaps 2001

DSCF0005_cropped

J at a wedding in Ireland, 26 May 2001

Four generations at Headington Hill Park Oct 1994

Four generations at Headington Hill Park, October 1994

Lucy's first Christmas Day 1993_cropped

Lucy’s first Christmas Day 1993

J & L in Headington Hill Park

J & L in Headington Hill Park

J as a young artist

J as a young artist

J and A at Wroxton Abbey

J and A at Wroxton Abbey

J and girls with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

J and girls with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

J with baby scan dated 21 May 1992

J with baby scan dated 21 May 1992

J and L by the River Elwy, August 1994

J and L by the River Elwy, August 1994

J at a wedding in Ireland, 26 May 2001

J at a wedding in Ireland, 26 May 2001

Posted in Birthday, Blog, Photos | Tagged , | 1 Comment

2015 in review

My 100th post; a summary of the blog in 2015:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Goldilocks Principle

Dunk Island 13 Aug 2005

Dunk Island, Australia. 13 Aug 2005

Four years and still counting. It still hurts, not too much these days if I’m honest, but just enough.

One of the sobering things about bereavement is that time marches on, regardless of the bereaved person.

We had holidayed in the Australian paradise of Dunk Island, ten years ago in August 2005.  I only recently discovered that it was almost destroyed by two tropical cyclones in 2011, the year of J’s death. We had no idea – I guess we had other things to worry about back then. It would have upset Juliet greatly. I was upset that she wasn’t here to be upset about it.
Similarly, a few months ago I re-visited an old quarry in our area where our family had long collected fossils, but was unexpectedly saddened to find it almost completely overgrown and derelict. It’s normal for that to happen to old quarries (and tropical islands) but it’s still a sad reminder that tempus fugit.

J and the girls in the old quarry.

J and the girls in the old quarry. They were very tolerant back then. 16 Feb 2002.

Lots of other tragic events happened around this time four years ago. At random: the shootings on the Norwegian island of Utoya, the death of Amy Winehouse and the Tottenham riots that spread across the country. When they occasionally come back into the news, I’m always reminded of the year 2011 when we lost Juliet. Also lost that year: Habitat stores, cheque guarantee cards and the Daily and Sunday Sport newspapers.

I’m still running and counselling. At the beginning of the year I left the big, huge IT corporation and transferred to a smaller version. Lucy recently qualified as a primary school teacher. Her mum would have been so pleased and proud of her, as am I. Alice is coding, or computer programming as we used to call it.

Our family. The Lake District, 25 August 2004.

Our family. The Lake District, 25 August 2004.

And I’m engaged. As of Valentines Day this year, to D, also widowed. We often speak about her late husband and of J, we think of them, mention them, wonder how they would have reacted to things. Not too much, not too little, just enough. The Goldilocks principle.

J and her smile. Banbury 1 July 2001

J and her smile. Banbury 1 July 2001

Posted in Australia, Geology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

She would have been 52 today

I’m conscious that this blog could deteriorate into one of those “round-robin” letters that you used to get at Christmas (and I was guilty of sending them many years ago, pre-email). It’s not meant to be about our family per se, it’s about Juliet. So I can simply say that there has not been much change since the last post.

I will just include this short video of Juliet and the girls decorating the Christmas tree, from 9 December 2009. Juliet looks well but two weeks later she would be struck by the first effect of the metastatic brain tumour that would eventually prove fatal. She was in hospital 23-24th December but we got her back late on Christmas Eve, and having her home for that Christmas remains one of the happiest I can remember.

And a few photos from that Christmas, five years ago:

Christmas Day 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Home for Christmas Eve 2009

Home for Christmas Eve 2009

Boxing Day 2009

Boxing Day 2009

Happy Birthday Juliet.  But you will always be 48 years, 7 months and 6 days old.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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