2018: is safe to come out yet?

Wishing you all Yuletide light, love and blessings. I haven’t always marked Yule but over the last few years I have embraced the celebration. It seems so natural to celebrate the end of the short winter days and the coming of the light. 2018 has been a dark year for me and I am more than ready for lighter times.
It’s that time of year when everyone starts claiming the new year for themselves. I’m not even going to attempt to trump their claims – they can have it. I don’t need 2019 to be my year, I just need it to be a bit kinder to me than 2018 was.
2018 was mainly poo. But even in the poo there were glimmers of hope and positivity. I just need to give them a bit of a clean up so we can see them properly. Let’s start with the deaths of my parents…
We fought for them and for their welfare even when they fought against us. They both had good deaths in places where they were cared for by people who really cared. When the people who sat with your mum as she died can’t speak because they will cry, you can’t ask for more. The way the Macmillan nurse looked at my Dad with such fondness reassured me that it didn’t matter if we weren’t there at the exact moment of their deaths.
This was a significant and liberating realisation for me. In fact it is not the last breath that counts but all the times before that. It is their life that I want to remember, not their death. It was not possible for me to spend every waking minute at their sides, counting each breath. Waiting.
It is heart breaking to be without them, especially at Christmas, but at least this grief is pure, unadulterated grief. Last Christmas they were already gone – taken by dementia. They looked like them and there were glimpses of them there but often they were frustrating, exhausted and exhausting. I spent more time trying not to be angry with them than is healthy. And yet more time berating myself for being angry. But now in the space where they should be – the phonecalls, the visits, the ridiculous Christmas ornaments – there is just loss and sadness. And that feels right. I’m not OK. Knowing and feeling that it’s ok not to be ok helps me accept that I will be.
Looking back over 2018 it can be hard to see positives through the blinding grief but they are there, nestling amongst the day to day sadnesses and losses. In fact as Romeo once had to be reminded there is ‘a pack of blessings light on my back’.
When I realised my Dad was dying, I contacted him brother who we had lost touch with over time. His brother came to see him and now we will remain in touch. I have gained an Uncle.
As I said, we fought every step of the way for and against Mum and Dad and we made sure they had good ends to their lives.
When my Mum’s dementia got so bad that she lost touch with my Uncle, I picked up that contact and visited him a few times. We reminisced about holidays we had together – good times. He died earlier in the year. I am so glad that I spent time with him. He was funny and positive and always made the best of things. I will miss him but that sadness is imbued with happy memories and gratitude that I had that time with him.
We were burgled this year and I lost a lot of jewellery. Thankfully they missed Mum’s jewellery. It’s only stuff but it’s stuff that’s inextricably linked with memories and I’m glad that I can wear her rings.
The other battle I’ve successfully fought is getting my son the school provision he needs. It was tough, some days it still is. Some days trying to (sometimes failing to) get him into school is an emotional tightrope walk which leaves me struggling to balance. Daily I remind myself and him that we are getting there.
The business has continued to grow stronger. Being nominated for the Yorkshire Choice Award for Independent Business has been a lovely end to the year. It has also prompted me to reflect over 2018 in a much more positive frame of mind.
I normally set resolutions or at least suggest resolutions for other people. There’s just a couple – one for me and one for you and if you can all do your best with it, I’d appreciate it: if everyone could just stop dying (-just for 2019) – just while I recover that would be ideal.
And me? I’ll just crack on with ‘doing the thing’. I think I’ve been doing the thing well on the whole and if I just keep doing it… well, everything will fall into place… eventually.

Get your own daily reminder from Katie Abey.

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