Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The end of 2008

Well, I am sat here at some ungodly hour unable to sleep due to the fact I have a really bad cold and I am feeling sorry for myself. I have been thinking about the past few months and the year that I have had and felt that I needed to put my thoughts down in writing - so my apologies for the possible length of this post.

I have had a year filled with so many happy memories and so many sad ones which have taken over the good ones. The beginning of 2008 was filled with so much hope, after having a very testing and trying end to 2007 for various reasons. Stewart and I had found ourselves again and were more together than we had ever been. We were looking forward to a wonderful year, how ironic is that now. In February I had a fall at work causing an injury to my shoulder which to this day is still troubling me but the support I got from Stewart was amazing. We went on the holiday of a lifetime, the holiday we thought would be the last family one as Jamie was growing up and we put every penny we had into a trip to Florida and Disney. Yet again how ironic was that, yes we were right that it would be the last family holiday but for such different reasons. The holiday definately fulfilled our dreams and watching Stewart's face light up as we walked down main steet in Disney and seeing all our favourite characters performing on stage was a magical moment which will stay with me forever. The holiday wasn't perfect, but then again our holidays never were, but it will be the perfect memory for me now.

On our return our troubles started although I didn't realise it at the time and our luck started to change drastically. Stewart's fall off a ladder seemed at the time to be just a blip and nothing more than a seconds loss of balance but I am so sure, in my mind, that it was a sign of what was happening to him but no one realised it at the time. Jamie went to New York in the summer and it was such a joy to hear him report virtually daily to us with his news and excitement and I know Stewart enjoyed those moments but these were probably the last moments we would enjoy together. In September my world collapsed and I can recall every moment since then in exact detail and sat here some 4 months later, cannot believe that my year has ended with me alone without him. I cannot believe that he has been gone for nearly 3 months, a quarter of a year - I cannot believe that i will never see him, never speak to him properly, never hug him, never kiss him, never shout at him again - ever. It is during these times that I have my darkest moments. The pain hasn't subsided, it is there every second of every day but I am beginning to have days where it is there beside me and not overwhelming me and I know, from talking to others, that those days grow but I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life without him.

When talking to others I can sound optomistic, talk about enjoying the children twice over, once for me and once for him, I can talk about the future and what and where I want to be, but in reality that's all it is, talk. In truth I cannot imagine enjoying anything properly again, cannot imagine my life 3 months down the line let alone years down the line. I cannot imagine how I can continue to exist without him, but I know I have to.

My children continue to be my rocks, so wonderful and supportive but I am trying so hard to be strong for them because when it gets too much and I break down, the pain on their faces is awful.

How we will get through the next few days is an unknown quantity - I cannot imagine how I will feel at midnight tomorrow, I have spent many new years on my own when Stew was working but he always came home, he always rang me - but not this year. I know I will be with friends but I don't want it to be hard for them either, even though one friend there will be struggling too as she lost her mum the day before Stewart died.

I keep thinking of writing a letter to stewart to help me deal with my feelings but I can't actually put pen to paper. I don't know if I am strong enough to deal with the feelings that will come out. I am sad, I am angry, I am lonely, I am missing him and that is only on the surface. I know it is something I have to face in time, just not yet.

However, there have been positives over the last 4 months I suppose. The closeness of my family and of Stewart's family - the support from them all and from our friends is amazing and continues on a daily basis. The community continue to support me with offers of help and the kids' friends are helping them. But I would swap it all for him back in my arms.

Every day there is more to sort out, we have sorted the garage and lock up and it feels like slowly he is disappearing from my life, I know in reality he will be with me forever but the physical things are slowly going and I know for the kids as well as myself this is so difficult to watch. I also know it's a necessity too but that doesn't make it easier. I think it is time to stop sorting and leave things as they are for a little while.

Today is the first day since the funeral that I feel that my legs just won't get me through the day, but I suppose when it gets lighter outside I will just get up and carry on again as I have been doing for the past 80 days. Gosh working that out means that he has been gone twice as long as the time we knew he was ill - I know it's just numbers but it really hits home when you see it like that. I feel that I want to go to the top of a hill and just scream that it is so unfair, that I want him back by my side, not just the feeling that he is here but to actually be able to touch him, hold him, kiss him and love him in person, not just looking at a photo. I know many will say go and do it, but actually it won't change anything, he still won't be here and it is that feeling that it is never going to change that is so hard.

However, I have to look ahead to the future, to next year and hope that there will be some lighter moments within it. We have birthdays and anniversarys to get through without him but we have special birthdays to celebrate like Jamie's 18th which I am determined that will be a happy occasion for him to remember, although I know there will be moments that are hard too. We have the fundraising that we plan to do to sort out, hopefully with dates being confirmed early in the year so that we can focus on some positives.

So I sign off for 2008 with these words. I want to thank my kids, my family, Stew's family, our wonderful friends, my amazing new friends, UKS'ers (who come under my friends) and everyone who has taken the time to either leave a comment on here, email me, write to me, talked to me or just held my hand whilst I walk this long and hard path. Without each and every one of you, I couldn't have got this far and I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2009 and I hope that all of your dreams come true.

Monday, 22 December 2008

An Update

Well what a week this has been, the good news is that my tax credit is finally sorted out and I have actually received some money. Only after a long battle did I find someone to help me out but they were truly a life saver and I feel so relieved.

Now I have the figures of what I will get, it is time to work out whether working is beneficial to me or not financially - it's a bummer when it looks like I will be so much better off not working - how ridiculous is that - if the goverment only allowed some of the other benefits you get on income support when you claim tax credit I could stay working but no, along with no free school meals which works out at £200 a month, help with council tax and help with the mortgate it seems virtually insane to continue to work .............................. except that I might go insane if I don't - we will review this in February when the rules for income support change again and see what happens, in the mean time I will struggle on.

This week Chanukah has started, our Festival of Lights, which is a lovely festival where we give each other presents. Usually we only give small tokens for Chanukah and larger presents for birthdays and this year was no different. My family mostly gave me alcohol which is a worrying thing - do they think I need it considering I am not a big drinker??? LOL. However, tonight, the second night of Chanukah (there are 8 of them!) we were home with just the four of us and for the first time the kids all gave me presents - that in itself was a lovely thought but what they bought me were so special. Gemma borrowed off grandma and bought me a teddy key ring to make me smile called buttons because she said I like buttons on my layouts (bless her), Alex bought me a cuddly Grumpy dwarf from Snow White, cos that was Stewart's nickname in Florida when we all took on alias's to use on the walkie talkies, he even bought a jacket with Grumpy on the back and the name across the front, and Grumpy is now sat on my desk looking quite crossly at me whilst I type this. Jamie bought me a digital photoframe which in itself is wonderful, but he had loaded a USB with photos of the family and especially ones of Stewart which run on a 30 second changing cycle, and yes it made me cry. What amazingly wonderful kids I have and although last night and tonight have been incredibly hard for us having to deal with our memories and the fact that Stew isn't here, we are coping to the best of our abilities.

As for me, well I am still having some up days and some down days and whatever I do it seems stewart is always on my mind. I am finding it still so hard to not be with him, I cannot believe it has only been 10 weeks since I lost him, yet it feels like yesterday too. There have been many tears but I seem to be finding a strength that I didn't know I had which means I can get up in a morning. All I need to do is find the strength to cope with Gemma's tantrums which are getting worse by the minute - I have had some advice which I am trying to follow but as yet, no change but I have noticed she isn't continuing the rudeness as long so maybe just maybe we will get somewhere.

Right, off to help madam sort out the new jigsaw she got for Chanukah - can see I might be doing this 1000 piece jigsaw with her LOL

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

On a happier note

Having posted about the trials and tribulations I am going through I would just like to tell you something nice for a change.

I got a pass out from my kids and on Saturday, after arranging for the kids to be out (thank you Elaine and Marie) I went to the Leeds Paper Dolls 12 hour xmas crop. It was lovely being out for the day although Kirsty was really poorly and went home and Alison only lasted till about 5pm because she felt lousy. I managed to do 3 canvasses and 2 DLO's and 1 SLO so I am really proud of myself. I will take some pictures of them and upload so that you can all see that I still do craft occasionally.

Tomorrow I have an appointment to see someone about some more invites so keep your fingers crossed for me pleeeeeeeease that they like them.

Right, better get off to bed, was planning an early night but as usual it hasn't happened.


Well, having taken advice when Stewart was poorly, we applied for tax credits and it went without a hitch. However, when I rang them the week after he died to tell them, they must have decided that I hadn't suffered enough. First they promised they would do the alteration over the phone, then they decided that they would cancel the existing claim and send out a new claim form which didn't arrive for 10 days.

Ok, I coped with that but what happened next - well being a little on the upset side, i put a wrong digit in my national insurance number and hey presto, the world stops. When I rang chasing the claim after 4 weeks I was told they didn't have it, then they found it, found the mistake said they would rectify it and said ring in a week. That has been the story ever since. Last week I demanded to speak to a team leader who having got me hysterically crying by this time, agreed to have the claim processed asap. Being me, I trusted them and today decided that having given them another 5 days to process the paperwork which they had had for 7 weeks, I would ring. BIG MISTAKE. "we haven't got a claim for you" and it started all over again. After much shouting on my side with the threat that this was about to push me over the edge and that did they have a bed in their office cos without my money I would be homeless or alternatively could pay the mortgage but then my kids wouldn't eat and we would have no gas or electricity???? I was told that I would need to write in and complain. WRITE IN AND COMPLAIN - I have found the second place in the world that has no emails or telephones, the tax credit benefit agency - cos according to the helpline they cannot contact them by phone or email. Maybe our prime minister would like to help them out and install modern technology so that they can be contacted.

Having hung up on them in floods of tears I left work and came home and rang again to be told "you've rung already twice today". Actually, I said, I have rung only once but I want to know if you will be processing my claim before I contact the BBC and ITV - he informed me they wouldn't be processing the claim but if I rang the Inland Revenue in Leeds they would help me with an emergency loan......................... possibly!!!!!! So I did that to find that the number in the telephone directory is for Income Tax!!!! That was it, having told the lovely lady in income tax my problems and being told she couldn't help me I said never mind, I won't need the bloody benefit and put the phone down. Within 5 minutes another lovely lady from income tax rang me to give me the information of where I go in Leeds to get face to face help. I have to say I think this lady saved my sanity - so whoever you are, thank you so much for being a normal human being and caring.

I went down to the benefits help section at the local inland revenue offices and WOW another nice, caring normal lady called Ayasha (I think that's how you spell her name) helped me out and after listening to my story went to speak to her supervisor. She came back having got all the advice she needed and helped me fill in a new form which she personally will process tonight and call me tomorrow to let me know when I will get some money (hopefully next week) which will be back dated too!!!

So, ok, that's one government department that was totally and utterly crap and uncaring, can you believe I have found someone else equally as unhelpful. EMA. That is the payments that Jamie gets for staying on at school, you know the ones that had silly adverts with talking heads in the classroom telling the kids they can get paid to stay in school. Well, they are wrong, cos the people who process the claims are useless, the people who deal with your queries are blatently stupid and the only way for them to correct an error they have caused is to go to appeal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What did they do - well you fill the form in and send in your P60 showing your income. That's easy, honestly. There is only one of me so all i had to do is send in my P60 which I did. What do they do, they double the pay on it!!! What the F**K is that about - I mean it was so obvious that they had put in the figure twice which meant Jamie doesn't get what he's entitled to. So very calmly I ring and explain that they have made this error to be told all I can do is appeal even though if someone got out the form and P60 it would be obviously their mistake. Nope, they won't check in you have to write in and it takes up to 6 months for the appeal.

My blood pressure must be up near Mars by now with all of this, not what I really need at the moment. You'd think that between all the forms you have to fill in for widows pensions, bereaved parent benefit, bereavement benefit, any benefits additionally you may want to claim, that they wish that they could kill the partners too. All I can say is I hadn't realised how distressing this would be on top of the grief which is really beginning to hit home.

So all i can say is AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Busy doing nothing

Well thought I should update on this blog on the weeks that have gone by - it has been a tough week for us all. I think it is starting to hit us how hard this is going to be. We have had some really rough days individually and a couple of really bad days as a whole which was really not nice to live through but I suppose we should expect it. When we all have a tough day then there is nothing that can be done to help us through it, except to get through to bed time, sleep and start again.

Not sure why this week has been so hard, is it cos it's 8 weeks and that in itself is a milestone, i mean on thursday it is 2 months. I can't get my head round that figure, 2 months without seeing him, hearing him, touching him. And my god, this is it for the rest of my life, no stewart, wham that feels like i have been hit by a steam train. I knew i would have to hit rock bottom to get back up and i think i am definately on the way down if not at the bottom but I have to pick myself up and start my life all over because i have three wonderful reasons and although it is going to be hard, I am going to do it.

And to top my horrid day off yesterday, i fell coming out of work, exacerbated my shoulder injury and totally destroyed my knee which is very very sore and a mess. It was so hard coming home and not having Stew here to make me feel better or look after me. That really hit me hard because after telling me how stupid I was for falling he would have been so caring and let me rest, but I had to get on with it and that in itself was hard.

So, to start with getting back into a "normal" life I have applied for membership at WAY, a young bereaved partners group. I have spoken to Winston's Wishes to get some help for the kids, the boys now have someone to talk to, i have requested Gem's school get someone in and I need to speak to the oncologist to answer some questions I have. On a personal note, I am having a busy weekend, going to a 12 hour crop with the Paper Dolls on Saturday. Although the kids were supporting me going, it was only this week that I realised I hadn't sorted out the kids for food and care whilst I was away, I suppose I had forgotten Stew wasn't here to have them, but my family and friends are amazing. Gem is going to her friends, the boys are sorted for food, Jamie is going to the football and picking up Gem when he gets home and I am allowed to be out till 10pm. I am so looking forward to it as it is my anniversary with the paper dolls but at the same time, so nervous that I am leaving the kids for that long without me. Sunday I am working then have a 50th anniversary party at lunch to go to - I am sooooo nervous as other than a table of us "youngsters" they will all be my parent's ages and some of them I haven't seen during the last 8 weeks so there will no doubt be sympathy and tilted heads all afternoon - great can't wait!!! but I know it's a good "first" because come the new year I have a 50th birthday to attend which I am hoping will be easier for me doing this week.

So, I suppose it isn't any easier at the moment but we are muddling through. I am going for my monthly visit to Stewart on Thursday as long as the snow doesn't come down again which I am hoping will give me some peace and we are set for another month. I want to scoop the kids up and hold them and take away all their pain, but I can't and I think that is the hardest thing about this. But I am determined we will get through this and start living - they have their lives ahead of them filled with all the excitement it will bring and I want to ensure they are ok in themselves to not miss those opportunities. Without the support I am getting I wouldn't be able to put one foot in front of the other, so I suppose that even though I am bleary eyed typing this at 7am in a morning, I am out of bed again and starting another day, which at the moment is an achievement in itself!

Monday, 1 December 2008


Well it's not polite to swear is it!!!! But it's how I feel life is at the moment.

The numbness is starting to wear off and the pain is worse. I am so angry, sad, tearful, mad, frustrated, guilty and fed up all at the same time. I am angry I am alone without him, sad that he isn't here to share my life, mad that we didn't pick up the cancer earlier and have a chance to have time together, frustrated that every bit of paperwork takes so long, guilty that I didn't trust my intuition that something was wrong earlier and just totally fed up of my life.

The kids are really struggling with everything and of course that means taking it all out on me in various ways which is so hard with no-one behind me backing me up and it seems that all I seem to say is "I am sorry daddy isn't here" and "I am still the parent and you will listen". It just feels like everything with them is hard work.

We have had good moments like a presentation at school for Gemma where the boys came along with my mum and dad and it was lovely to watch. They picked Gemma for a very special part of the presentation which of course made me cry and I just wished that Stewart had been here, cos he would have been soooooooo incredibly proud of his little girl. Everything is tinged with sadness at the moment and it is really hard to cope with.

I went back to work but I am not sure I have done the right thing. I just don't have enough hours in the day now to do everything around the house and all the paperwork and the nights seem endless even though I am only in bed for 4 or 5 hours.

And there is something else on my mind. Stewart had two lots of x-rays prior to him showing the obvious sign of cancer. One when he had the fall off the ladder and one just before he was diagnosed, yet neither times did the doctors pick up the cancer. So to settle my mind I am going to try and get hold of the x-rays and get a second opinion. I just need to know if there were any signs there that should have been picked up. When we were in A&E just before we saw the eye specialist for the last time he had x-rays to see what was causing the gastric problems, surely the sign of pancreatic cancer was there and should have been seen. If so, maybe I would have got him the help he needed 3 weeks earlier giving them a better chance of treatment meaning I would have had him longer. I know it won't bring him back but maybe it will save someone else the pain I am going through if I can help teach them the correct diagnosis. I cannot believe that it didn't show up - the pains he had were due to the cancer yet we were given gaviscon and anti-inflammory's for his stomach. I know I am grasping at straws but I have to have some answers. I also need to try and speak to his oncologist to suggest that MRI scans are given annually to patients so that these things would be picked up - if Stewart had had one every year the chance is something might have shown and although he may not have lived, he may have had a chance of a longer life.

I have also sent off my application to join WAY - a group for young bereaved partners (think you have to be under 50) so that maybe, just maybe I can talk my feelings through with people in the same situation. I hope someone will be able to reassure me that I won't feel this awful for ever, because if they can't I don't know how long I can live feeling like this. It is awful. I don't want to give up and die because I have three amazing children but I can't face this pain forever. It is crushing me and all I want to do is curl up in bed and never get up. I do get up but it is so hard. I thought it would get easier but at the moment it seems to be getting harder and harder. Maybe it has to get worse to get better but all the insecurities of bringing up the kids on my own is weighing me down so along with the grief I just don't know what to do. I am not suicidal at all, this blog helps me through my bad times, but the thought of life as it is going on as it is is very depressing.

I gave the kids framed photos of their dad today for their rooms and I don't know if that was the right thing to do. Simple things that seem to be right, are so often not. I just wish there was a guide book for people like me, it would make things so much easier.

Right, having been to a lesson tonight I am about to tidy up my house before eventually getting to bed - lets just hope I sleep better than last night (2 hours).