Tag Archives: Coping with loss

Last Night of the World: Bruce Cockburn

“I‘m sipping Flor de Caña and lime juice, it’s three a.m.” sings Bruce Cockburn in the first line of “Last Night of the World”. So am I, but it’s not quite that late…yet.
This iteration of “Songs I love” was in part prompted by discovering that Sainsbury’s now stock Flor de Caña, a Nicaraguan rum that in Bruce Cockburn’s opinion is the finest in the world. I decided to buy a bottle to see if I agreed. I don’t know if it is actually the finest, but it is pretty good, especially over ice, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a drop of Angostura Bitters.

The song was released in 1999 on the album “Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu”.  “Last Night of the World” became our Millennium theme song. Not so much because we thought that the world was going to come to an end on the 31st of December 1999 but because we loved the sentiment of “What would I do that was different, Unless it was champagne with you?”

If this were the last night of the world
What would I do?
What would I do that was different
Unless it was champagne with you?

We did hope, along with most of the rest of the human race, that in the new millennium the world would change for the better. Sadly we were disappointed. But at midnight on the first of January 2000, as Grace and I sat on top of Epsom Downs, drinking champagne, it felt as if anything were possible.
Even more sadly, since Grace passed away in April, if it does turn out to be the last night of the world, I no longer have anyone to drink champagne with. So I shall listen to Bruce and sip my Flor de Caña and lime juice and remember all the happy times we had together, especially Millennium Eve on Epsom Downs

I’m sipping Flor de Caña and lime juice, it’s three a.m.
Blow a fruit fly off the rim of my glass
The radio’s playing Superchunk and the Friends of Dean Martinez.
Midnight it was bike tires whacking the pot holes
Milling humans’ shivering energy glow
Fusing the space between them with bar-throb bass and laughter

If this were the last night of the world
What would I do?
What would I do that was different
Unless it was champagne with you?

I learned as a child not to trust in my body
I’ve carried that burden through my life
But there’s a day when we all have to be pried loose

If this were the last night of the world
What would I do?
What would I do that was different
Unless it was champagne with you?

I’ve seen the flame of hope among the hopeless
And that was truly the biggest heartbreak of all
That was the straw that broke me open

If this were the last night of the world
What would I do?
What would I do that was different
Unless it was champagne with you?


Couch to 5k Day 11

tiredThere is a little bit more to today’s Couch to 5K post than just a record of my run. Today has been a hard day. I miss Grace every day, but today I seemed to be missing her even more than usual.

I have mentioned previously how grief or aspects of it sneaks up on you. Today was like that. I didn’t sleep particularly well last night, but that in itself isn’t that unusual. I haven’t slept well since Grace died. Also I have been told by others who have lost partners that it is common either to have difficulty in getting to sleep or as is normally my case, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep.

I lay in bed about four in the morning wide awake and all I wanted was a cuddle. Not a hug, I needed a cuddle. Don’t get me wrong, hugs are great and you can give me as many as you want. Hugs are what you get from friends and family, but only your lover can give you a cuddle. That was how my day started.

One of my jobs this morning was to inspect the boilers in a nursery school. Walking in there with a load of bouncing four-year olds asking me who I was and what I was doing took me back to the days when Grace was still teaching. The only person more enthusiastic than her kids was her. She would be reading stories, showing them how to play tunes on old pots and pans and always encouraging them to work together and share. It wasn’t the school she worked at, but she would have loved the place. It was a happy memory, but still one that I needed five minutes on my own in the car to get over, before I could move on to the next customer.

Eating my lunchtime sandwiches in the park helped lift me slightly. After visiting the final client for the day, I thought it might be good to go and visit Grace’s grave. When I arrived at the cemetery there was a rather large funeral taking place in the same section that Grace is buried in. It just didn’t seem appropriate to go and have a talk to her. So I came home not feeling too great.

What I want to talk about though is the uplifting effect of running and talking to people. Just as I was about to set off my next door neighbour, Jackie, spotted me going out ( it wasn’t difficult I was wearing a fluorescent orange running top). So we talked for about half an hour before I set off on the latest run/walk/shuffle.

The programme has stepped up another gear. It now consists of a three-minute run followed by a two-minute walk, then two five-minute runs with three minute walks, finishing off with another three minute run. I am managing it so I guess that it proves yet again that the gradual increase in intensity is about right.

As I was finishing the run I was going past an older gentleman (probably not much older than me to be honest) taking a pre-dinner walk when my Californian Motivational Lady said something like “Awesome!!! You’ve done it!!! Cooldown walk for five minutes then Strreeeettcch!!!!” . Which caused him to look across in my direction. I explained what was going on and he nodded. His walk was taking him in the same direction as me, so we had a pleasant chat until we arrived at our house.

I arrived back home in a much better frame of mind than I had left. Running and interacting with people it’s worth remembering.

Coping with losing Grace

I know I have said that I don’t want to turn “A Scotsman in Suburbia” into a coping with grief blog. However coping with the loss of my partner Grace is unfortunately the biggest part of my life just now.

It is now five weeks since Grace left us.

I’m sure that you will believe me when I tell you that the last five weeks have been the hardest five weeks of my life. The first week after Grace died kind of passed in a blur. There were things that had to be done, like registering her death and organising the funeral. I suppose I went through them on automatic pilot. My sister flew down from Scotland the day after Grace died, that got me through the day. Various friends helped me through that week. In some ways the first week wasn’t too bad. I had things that needed to be done and to a degree Grace’s death hadn’t quite sunk in.

Five weeks on I am functioning, in that I get myself up in the morning, get myself out to work and I am eating reasonably well. In fact probably eating better than I have been for quite a while. This I think is due to the fact that, especially in the evenings, I have quite a lot of time to fill. I am quite a good cook and I enjoy cooking. I have found that planning, preparing and eating my evening meal is a pleasant distraction. I am eating fairly healthily and generally getting my “Five a Day”.

I have good days and bad days. Sometimes the difficult days are easy to spot in advance. Grace’s birthday was one. It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to hurt, but knowing that it will be a hard day to get through at least allows you to prepare yourself. Other days things sneak up on you.

Apparently “Denial” is one of the first stages of grief that you go through, and having to face up to it is hard. Normally I get back home about three in the afternoon. I usually still have about two or three hours work, writing reports, making phone calls and answering emails. It was not unusual for Grace to be out when I got home. Right up to the point when her body started to give up completely, she led an active social life. The expression “ladies who lunch” was coined especially for her.

Last week, I was up in the spare room that I use as an office, typing up reports. I had the feeling that I was waiting for something, but I wasn’t sure what. Suddenly it struck me, I was waiting for the front door opening. Some how I had decided, at least subconsciously, that Grace was just off somewhere, out to lunch with friends, or away at a conference and that she would be back. It was then that I realised that, no, she wouldn’t be back, not now, not ever. And that hit me hard, really hard. Even as I am typing this I am half expecting to hear her say,
” Johnnie, turn that blooming computer off and come to bed, it’s gone eleven o’clock.”
But the voice I hear is inside my head.

Actually I should listen to it because I really should be getting to bed.