It was two years ago today that Gracie passed away. It is slightly strange but sometimes it feels like it happened five minutes ago and sometimes it feels as if I have been on my own for a lot longer than two years. The passage of time is relative to the observer according to Einstein. (I may be misinterpreting what he said.) What doesn’t change is my love for her and the amount that I miss her.
Two years on my life has settled down to a fairly steady rhythm. I’m no longer tempted to spend all day in my pyjamas drinking whisky (not that I ever did but for a while it felt like an appealing option). The fact that I have carried on working part time was the biggest barrier to that. Carrying on working, which was something that Grace told me I should do, has probably been the thing that has, perhaps, not quite kept me going, but given my life the structure that I need. The extra money that it brings in is useful but not essential. Most of it gets either saved or given away, though it does help to pay for the away days. Football and AFC Wimbledon have assumed an importance in my life that is larger than it really should be. But against that it has given me something to belong to, family if you like.
If it had been the other way round and I had gone and Grace had been left behind, she would have found her family in Church. I have a problem with Church, partly theological, in that I don’t believe much of what is taught any more, partly personal, in that as a widower I just don’t feel comfortable there. It is easier finding my fellowship on the terraces at a football match. That is probably more of a reflection of me and where I am at than it is of where Church is at. Actually there is one Church thing that I do enjoy. Our local Anglican Church runs this thing called Café Connect on a Monday morning. It consists of a group of people who don’t have anything much else to do on a Monday morning getting together at the Library Café for a coffee and a chat.
Another thing that I have found really helpful is a group called Way Up. It is a self help group for people who have lost their partners. There is a (closed) forum where you can ask for advice, rage against the unfairness of it all, post lousy jokes, or whatever. The great thing about it is that everybody gets it. We also have on informal local group, and about once a month we get together at a bar in Wimbledon for a drink and a bite to eat. Again I find it really helpful to be with people who are going through the same stuff that I am. Where I can be as open and as vulnerable as I want, and know that no one is judging me.
This has turned out to be a lot more about me and where I am at than it has about Grace. It is probably inevitable. Memories don’t fade away, but there are no new ones to be made. It is easier to write about the present.
The memories are always there. Our last summer, when we got Grace her e-bike so she could get out cycling again (and leave me behind on the hills). Our two and a half years in the Solomon Islands, or the time when she came to sea with me. Going across the Tasman Sea, it was a wee bit rough, but Grace decided that she would like a bath. She was in the bath when the ship dug her nose in and all the water went forward, and according to Grace, leapt out of the bath leaving her high and dry. I was on watch at the time so I missed it. Memories like that and lots more will always be with me. It is just that there won’t be any more to add to the list.
So where am I after two years? I think I am in a reasonably good place. My life is quite different to what it was when Grace was still with me, that goes almost without saying, but I do enjoy the life I have now. I think that while I will always love and miss Grace, I have made my peace with the fact that she has gone.
Life must move on. In fact, last night at the Way Up social it occurred to me, that while I am not actively looking for one, if the right
girl, sorry I’m pretty sure she would be a woman, came along I wouldn’t be averse to a new relationship.