Well as I said in my previous blog post, going to the London Marathon was wonderful, meeting so many different people all trying to make a difference in any way they can, a very humbling experience and a reminder to always take time to stop and smell the flowers, to appreciate all that you have every day and take time to breathe and show a little kindness.
The Lows - April is always a very poignant month for me, my brother Tommy died at the end of November 2015 he was only 47 years old. He came into the world far too early and unexpectedly and left the very same way. Its not known how he died but suspected possible chest infection, he was never one for going to the Drs no matter how much you nagged him. Tommy made up one third of us, I am the eldest by eleven months, then Tommy then 13 months between him and our youngest brother Gary. We were all extremely close, holidaying together and spending weekends and family get togethers, Christmas, Halloween, any excuse really. I don't believe you get over losing someone but I think you learn to live with it, you develop coping mechanisms, once you can accept it.
Although I have always supported charities I have never actively raised funds unless it was through schools, the death of my brother however changed all that. When it was coming up to the anniversary of when he died, I felt terrible and really didn't know how I would cope, so I decided to walk, but I knew I wanted a worthwhile reason so I choose to walk for Alzheimer's Society, I pledged to walk 300 miles over the 30 days in November. I already walked to work which would be in total approx 4 miles a day so it wasn't really that much of a step up. No pun intended! So I'd walk in the morning, then walk to work and walk home the long way round. It was hard work mostly on weekends when I did it all at once with no break. Walking got me out, in the fresh air, the frosty mornings were beautiful and I really started to relate to the changing landscape. Walking home at night after work, when it was dark was also very good, it meant no one could see my tears, and I cried buckets. I also must confess to listening a lot to crappy Christmas music. So that month of November was hard, but I managed, I spent time with myself and sometimes the dog, getting into nature was very therapeutic, I did a lot of thinking and soul searching and just........ breathing. The walking did raised funds for Alzhiemers and it got me fit. It also helped me come to terms with the grief and to start to accept the loss of my brother and my friend.
The next year I persuaded my brother Gary to join me on a walk in Tommys memory for SSAFA and Mind charities but this time we were going to walk The Ridgeway, starting from the stones at Avebury. We were doing this without any support and managed to get lost a couple of times, heading to Swindon at one stage! Garys wife who was tracking us said at one point it showed us in two separate areas and she thought we'd had a fall out! Then Gary unfortunately injured himself, he hurt his hip and his foot, I remember egging him on to get to the pub we had booked into which was our halfway point. Poor Gary trailed behind further and further, he was visibly shaking and limping badly. Anyway we still managed to get some money raised. But this year I am doing it again, by myself, well with about 2000 others, with Dixons Carphone RTTS. Fingers crossed. I know when I walk it this year in July I will be thinking of Tommy and all the daft things he'd be saying to me if he was there. I'll probably be cursing Gary too, in between wondering why I'm doing it and praying I don't get lost! I always get lost.
Grief is a funny thing though, that first year after we lost Tommy in truth is a bit of a blur, I read somewhere that grief comes in waves, sometimes its sudden with almost no warning and sometimes you know its coming, like birthdays and Christmas's. I have no doubts that Tommy is absolutely fine, I know there was nothing I could have done, I certainly couldn't have nagged him any more than I did! The family still talk about him all the time and I wouldn't want it any other way, and sometimes its as if he's were here with some of kids comments! Its then, in the everydayness, that I miss him in. I honestly don't think that will change, but it doesn't have to, I've accepted it, I can live with it.
I know people grieve for other things too, like when you lose a pet, we often invest so much of ourselves and our love, time and energy into a pet, it becomes part of our family, part of our every day lives, we account for them, take responsibility, talk to them. So losing a pet, especially if there are no close family members can be truly devastating, and yet people often feel ashamed or guilty about their love and telling people about it. But if you love someone whether its a person of the two legged or a person of the four legged variety, you have loved and been loved and you have every right to that grief. That persons life meant something, something to you and perhaps others. No one should every feel ashamed of loving.
Grief can also show up when we leave a job, or get divorced or even move house. Its ok, its not silly, or insignificant to look back and know you cared, either about how you did your job, how you worked hard, how many years you invested in it, its ok to grieve after a divorce, after all we enter into marriage or partnership with the best of intentions and our intention is to be with this person for the rest of our lives, we invest emotionally, physically and mentally in it. We share our lives, our hopes and dreams with this other person and there can be children involved. So divorce can be devastating - for everyone, but it doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do (and only the people involved will know) It is the end of plans and the future you once planned with this other person. But much like the death or loss of a loved one or pet, its not the end so much as the end of an era and the beginning of the next chapter. It can be so hard to accept, and guilt will rear it ugly head, bitterness can yell from the sidelines, but life is just that, its about living, its about moving, taking the next steps, even if for a while you carry your grief with you, and it seems too heavy to move, start walking, even if it feels all up hill, one - step - at - a - time. Even if you are crying so much its difficult to see along the way, even if its in the loo, keep walking, find something to connect with, nature, a pet, a new place, a job, keep walking, you can do it, so many of us feel alone in our grief, believe no one will understand, but we all feel grief at some point in our lives, because all of us have, without a doubt, loved someone.
These are my thoughts only.
Tommy would have been 50 years old on the 24th of April 2018.
Tommy, me and Gary
"each mans life touches so many others, when he's isn't around anymore he leaves an awful hole"