That lasted a whole spring, summer and autumn. I'm not sure when I realised she wasn't there. Winter is full of cold snaps and I suppose she must have passed away - unless she found a tastier garden from which to feed!
I haven't thought much about Phyllis. I still feed the birds but it's a bit sporadic as I'm trying to find a new routine. But yesterday, on my early morning dog-walk I heard a bird in a tree and I looked up. It certainly wasn't Phyllis, but it took my mind back to the scary time when Lovely Daughter was so poorly and Lovely Hubby and I held each other tight trying to scare those worries away. Lovely Hubby's not here now but in so many ways he still is. Memories of these little snippets of our life take me by surprise sometimes and almost knock me down. But I'm so thankful that I have those memories and though remembering is comforting, the aftershock of loneliness is difficult to bear.
It's been three months now since Lovely Hubby passed away and it's hard to explain how I feel. The grief hasn't subsided - why would it when we were together for all my adult life? But I suppose I'm learning to manage it. It's rare to have a day when I stay in bed or on the sofa now - that might be partly because I took on a rescue dog who has a zest for life. But also I think it's due to the kindness that surrounds me - so many people show me they care, so many people want me to feel their love and to show me that I am not alone. I can't imagine what the next three months look like - sometimes it's all I can do to get through a day. But I am learning to accept that.
Other things I have learned:
- Don't plan too much. Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer, one good day doesn't mean I've got a handle on this.
- Find a moment of joy each day. Joy in the small things like watching the sun rise, or celebrating momentous occasions with friends.
- Be prepared for careless words. Off-the-cuff remarks are just what they are. I'm reminded that Lovely Hubby used to say they are throw-away words, so do that, throw them away.
- Avoid those who are unable or unwilling to try and understand. Expect nothing from them and then you won't be hurt. They don't understand that you are vulnerable and that you are adjusting.
- Rejoice in friendships. Be with the people who just let you be you. They are your safety net and comfort blanket. They will laugh and cry with you and hold you tight.
- Things will never be the same. Watching the sun set, Sunday morning tea in bed, watching the television, reading the weekend newspapers are solitary pastimes now. Loneliness is my companion and though the memories of our life comfort me, loneliness is always there waiting to choke and strangle the breath from me.
- You can do this. You will do this. But it is so hard.