Dear John, 4 years on

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Dear John

Went to the Cemetery today and took flowers to your grave and the flower room.  Put a card saying I miss you and think about you.  Feel very sad that there’s no-one else to visit or care, so no-one will even see the flowers or the card but me.

What’s news here?  My (our) house is under offer and I’ve been househunting, but am still very confused and undecided about where to go and what to do with my future.

I’ve just come back from Pembroke, John, where I looked at 6 beautiful houses.  I can see myself starting a new life there, but it’s not going to happen.  Nothing feels right.

Little John – your proxy – came to Wales with me.  I even took him out as I drove over the Severn bridge to show him the view – dangerous and silly in many ways; you’d’ve been annoyed with me.

I keep seeing things I want to tell you about.

There’s one particular house down a path which I often drive past, that we looked at years ago when we were househunting, and I just saw it’s been extended hugely.  It was shared history, something I would’ve wanted to update you on.

The weirdest thing is that on the site of the Pizzaland opposite East Croydon Station, where we actually first met all those years ago, they are building a giant building – there are two ‘cores’ that keep getting higher and higher.  I want to tell you – hey, can you believe what they’re doing at our special spot?  All the people who might live or work in that building will never know that there used to be a Pizzaland there where a couple once met, and stayed together 29 years, til he d….  Every time I see those two tall cores, it’s like they are a (secret/private) memorial to our relationship.

It’s very weird that you missed the whole Brexit thing.  I think you would have been so interested cos you were into politics and it’s all ‘history in the making’ – which is why you said you liked watching live football matches!  It’s bothered me a bit that whilst I think I know what your position/opinion on Brexit would have been (same as mine) – I can’t be 100% sure.  I’ll never know.

I went to Italy for Christmas, John, and left a copy of A Widow’s Words in the hotel library/bookshelf.  I noticed the next day it was gone already, so someone at least has perhaps been reading about you.  I’ve also done the legal deposit thing, so at least there are six copies lying in libraries for posterity.  Maybe someone will read about you in 100 years time.

My plan for the rest of today is to start packing our 4000 books.  Everyone tells me I can’t keep so many, but they (most of them) are your property, things you acquired and wanted over the years.  It will be painful to be putting them in boxes and thinking how you should still be here to enjoy them.  But I’ve been so ‘stuck’.  I haven’t touched the nice ones in the front room for 4 years, they are still as you arranged them.  Probably if you were here you would be amazed I hadn’t moved house sooner.

So, still struggling on with my own problems, pretty depressed, John, and realising how much of it is still grief.  Have stopped adding to this site cos of crushing bad feeling that no-one looks at it anyway, so I guess it’s just a private diary.

Missing you.  xx

(Little John sends his love.)

(He says he’s trying to look after me but it’s a big job.)

PS The cuddly red dragon in the photo is called Henry because Henry VII was born in Pembroke Castle, which fact the probability of your having known I would estimate at about 70%.

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Nuthatch Grove

LJ at NG

In A Widow’s Words I wrote about the several significant places where I scattered some of my dear John’s hair – for example at Hever Castle, and in St Moritz.  There was one more place I wanted to do it, and I finally addressed this the other day.

It’s a place we loved at Wakehurst Place, a clearing in the woods where birds come to feed.  I saw that it’s really called the Himalayan Glade, but we called it Nuthatch Grove.

I wrote about it in People and Places – here’s a link to that chapter: Nuthatch Grove

So I went and did it, managed to spend some time there alone (though it was quite busy with people despite being quite isolated).  I took ‘Little John’ and got some photos.  All very sad and sentimental.

Amazingly, I really did get several sightings of a nuthatch, so it’s a pretty reliable place to see them.  It’s a tiny bird that flits about so quickly and never seems to rest long in one place, so even if I’d had a proper camera it would have been difficult to get a good shot – below is the best I got on my phone camera.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go there again… too painful.  Very beautiful though.

Nuthatch crop

 

Insensitivity

Arundel castle

I don’t really hold it against the poor woman, but yesterday I came across the worst insensitivity I’ve experienced in three and a half years, with respect to my position.

I was walking around Arundel Castle and Gardens all day alone, and at the end, heading for the exit, chatted to an older lady who was also (so I thought) on her own.  But then she announced, “My husband’s round here somewhere.  If he doesn’t turn up – if he’s fallen off the ramparts or something – I’ll be going home a widow!”

You’d think it might have crossed her mind that the woman on her own she was talking to might ACTUALLY be a widow!

It really made me flinch.

I just don’t think, even if I hadn’t had the experience myself, that I would ever make a remark like that to another woman on her own – just in case.  I would have been aware of the possibility and been sensitive.

The castle is wonderful, by the way.  Gorgeous views of the countryside and the sea from the keep.  The narrowest spiral staircase I’ve ever experienced.  Sumptuous and historically interesting rooms and corridors, especially the great hall and the library and the bedrooms.

And the gardens are so unexpected, so varied and unusual and pretty.  Beautiful pathways, features and fountains.  Beautiful lawns and colourful flowers, all with the backdrop of the Cathedral beyond the wall.

A delightful attraction I would definitely recommend, and  a lovely day out in the sunshine.

I went home a widow.

Little John at Arundel

https://arundelcastle.org/

 

 

Three Cathedrals

Little John at Gloucester

Here’s Little John at Gloucester Cathedral.

I went on a househunting trip which ended up being ‘the three cathedrals tour’ – looking at three towns in the West of England; Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester.

Guess I liked them all – lovely countryside everywhere.  Difficult to choose a new future though.

 

 

Nightingale

Nightingale

A small cuddly bird is upsetting me.

John and I collected the whole series of small bird toys that sing when you press them, which you sometimes see in toyshops and giftshops, like the Richmond Park gift shop where I’ve just been.

I recently packed them all away, and there is already a poignancy because gradually, they stop singing, and this makes me sad that they are all gradually going quiet – you can’t replace the battery.

When we went to the US we also bought the whole US set, so it’s quite a big collection, and is very much in the ‘sensitive’ category for me, because it was a joint thing.

I quite often, when I see the collection in shops now, review what they have and assure myself I’ve got all the options already.  Today for the first time in years, I’ve found one we didn’t have, which must presumably be relatively new, or we just missed it.  It’s quite orangey coloured and is the ‘Nightingale’.  Of course I bought it, but it’s so difficult to handle wanting to come home and say to John, look, guess what, I found a new one we haven’t got!  He’s not here to know or care any more.

Similarly I wanted to say to him the other day, hey you know how many times we’ve passed through Brixton by car, or when you used to get off the tube and catch a bus home – did you know there was a Brixton market?  Indoor arcades with quirky shops and lots of eating places – I discovered it the other day, I’m sure he wouldn’t have known it was there.

I went in a French bistro and ate escargots.  (He will never know, about my escargots!)

Clouds in the gravestone

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The gravestone/memorial has been put in place now, and I was shocked when I first saw it because I hadn’t anticipated the fact that the black granite slab reflects the sky and the clouds (as well as the wording on the stone) like a mirror.

I didn’t like the reflection at first but now sometimes, when you watch the clouds moving in it, it’s like it is drawing the sky and ‘heaven’ down into the grave.  Quite a nice idea, maybe.

(The blue flowers are because we had blue cornflowers in my multi-coloured wedding bouquet.)  (So John will understand why I’ve chosen them.)