I honestly wasn't planning on coming back here, but then I hadn't planned my hiatus in the first place. I hadn't intended on the title of my final post to strike such finality, but then the event occurred to turn my life completely upside down. For a long time I felt fragile, and once I'd recovered a little, I tried and failed to post, but it felt like like trying to correct someone who's been calling you by the wrong name for the last year that they've known you. It felt like too little too late. Then, on Sunday, I logged in and there were some kind, encouraging words waiting for me, and it was enough to make me realise what I was missing. So I came back. What happened was this:
On the night of Monday 5th March, I received a phone call from my prospective mother-in-law, to say that Spud had been involved in a car accident. She'd only heard the news herself, but she was able to reassure me that he was okay though he had broken his leg. I didn't see him until the next morning, after walking around in a daze for six hours at work. He was on a strong dosage of morphine, and was very out of it, and he was due to go into theatre very shortly. He also couldn't see at all, which was the most frightening thing. I sat with him for an hour before they whisked him away, and then barely made it back to my car before the emotions hit me like a tidal wave, causing me to break down and cry.
It was a very tense afternoon. I couldn't settle to anything, and spent most of the day waiting, trying to pray, ringing the hospital hourly and crying when I was told there was no news. Finally, in the evening, I was told he was in the High Dependency Unit, so that his heart condition could be monitored. He still couldn't see, and was still on a high dosage of morphine. I felt a bit stronger the following day, but something upset me before going into the hospital. I sat with him for a couple of hours, and then had to leave the room when his parents arrived, as patients were limited to two visitors at a time. I walked the corridor, feeling extremely alone. The only thing I could think to do was go to the toilets and have a good cry. I then got a coffee and sat at the far end of the cafe, sending out frantic text messages requesting jokes, anything to take my mind off what was happening. Unfortunately I had no signal.
I walked around for a bit, realising I needed to be in range, and that was when my in-laws rang to say that Spud had been moved to the orthopaedic ward, though we had to wait another hour or so before we could see him again, due to the ward's visiting hours. We returned to the cafe to kill a bit of time, returning to the ward at six. Spud was still very groggy, but the nurses were talking of changing the painkillers so that he would be more with it. I think it was his grogginess that frightened me the most, because the first time I went to see him after the accident, I was expecting him to be sitting up in bed, moaning about his leg nevertheless, and so it was quite a shock to see him like that.
The next morning at work, I felt like I was the one on sedatives. I barely felt anything at all, and even offered to stay on and do some overtime. By this time, most of my colleagues knew about Spud and were extremely kind and supportive. I was silently wondering what I was going to do if Spud never got his sight back, and even wondered about seeing if I could get full time night shift hours, which I knew would be strenuous to say the least. I needn't have worried though, because when I went to see Spud that afternoon he looked right at me and exclaimed, "I can see you!" We don't to this day know why he lost his sight for two and a half days after the accident, but we have had all sorts of suggestions. It could be due to the impact of the collision, because he was taking Warfarin, or because of the painkillers. We will never really know.
I felt that the worst was over, but in hindsight I realise that it was actually several weeks, even months, before we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Once he was out of hospital after two and a half weeks, he needed constant care and attention. I waited on him hand and foot, working for two people, but barely getting the rest for one. It was a time that tested our relationship. While Spud is a brilliant fiancé, he isn't a good patient. He found it difficult to look past his own pain and suffering and see that the rest of us weren't having an easy time either. He also doesn't often express gratitude, which I found tough. I didn't need him to praise me every single time I did something for him, but a little acknowledgement would have been nice. I lost my patience on one occasion when I made a mistake and he had a real go at me. I felt like crying or shouting at him, but instead, I calmly pointed out to him that while his situation sucked and I would never want to swap places with him, he needed to realise that everyone else was dancing around him in order to take care of him. It was obviously the right way to react, as he has been a lot better since then.
The last four months have driven us both to the very limit, but we pulled through. I believe that we are stronger, both as individuals and as a couple, for what happened to us, and I also feel that we are closer for what we went through. You'll be pleased to know that he's almost mobile again, and hopes to return to work on Friday. The accident hasn't affected his love of cars, and he's very glad to be back in the driver's seat at long last!
I don't think I really intended to abandon ship; I was just standing too close to the edge. When the boat rocked I slipped overboard into the water and found I didn't have the will to climb back on board. Instead I built a dinghy, and bobbed about in the ocean for a while, no longer sure of myself or my direction. There were days when I would gaze hopefully at the horizon, certain that my destination would appear before too long. There were days when I would curl up in a ball and hide myself beneath the tarpaulin, feeling that all was lost. One day, a boat drew up beside me and I recognised it as my own, but it wasn't desolate. There was a whole crew of people aboard and they were all waving at me and beaming, beckoning me to join them. I saw Tamara, and Anna, and Ashley, and Mariel, and many others including a new face. I secured my dinghy and climbed aboard.
There is a lot to tell, my friends, but please know that I am back and I am here to stay.
Today is Shrove Tuesday, and Lent is almost here again. Last year I didn't give anything up, but chose to take up blogging every day. This year I've decided to give up (drum roll please)... Facebook!
This should really have been what I gave up last year, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. This year, I really couldn't care less as I don't even go online every single day like I used to, and only spend about 5-10 minutes on Facebook on average (well, give or take a few...)
Had I done this last year, I think I may have reaped the benefits of having more time. This year I don't think it'll make a huge difference, but maybe I'll manage to do something productive with my the extra few minutes I gain each day. I'm beginning to get my priorities right in life and realise what really matters. I don't think I'll give up Facebook permanently like one of my (very sensible) friends, because I do keep in touch with a few people through social networking. But my 40 days in the wilderness may cause Facebook to dwindle into even more of an insignificance in my life.
As promised, here are the photographs of our new house. I'm sorry they've been such a long time coming. There's been a lot going on in my life recently, and blogging has had to take the back seat for a while.
Spud, letting himself in for the first time, having just picked up the keys from the estate agents
The living room
The dining room (all 25 feet of it!)
The kitchen (from three different angles)
The master bedroom (our bedroom)
The spare bedrooms. No prizes for guessing the previous owners had daughters!
The bathroom, complete with double shower and bath with whirlpool action!
We were very lucky with our purchase as we nearly ended up with something that was literally half the size. Because this property was repossessed we got an excellent price. We are looking forward to moving in when we get married in August! In the meantime, we are getting in about twice a week to work on it.
I haven't much felt like writing recently, but that's because the recent development I alluded to in my last post, has occupied most of my attention and energy over the last few weeks. I am now ready to make the announcement... Spud and I have bought our first home. It is a three bedroom end terrace, literally twice the size of the one we nearly bought back in November, and it's a dream come true. While it's in reasonable condition and suitable for moving into straight away, Spud and I aren't moving in until our wedding day in August. We've been calling in once or twice a week to work on it, and make it our own. Our priorities have been fortifying the security as we were burgled within the first few days of ownership. There wasn't all that much for the trespassers to take, but they got away with Spud's tools and a ladder. We have reason to believe the burglary was more to do with the house being unoccupied at the moment, and the back door (which was forced open) being insecure. We are not too concerned, but obviously it's not a nice feeling knowing that somebody has broken in and trespassed on your property, even when you don't yet live there.
We have met a few of the neighbours who are extremely friendly, and were very concerned to hear of our misfortune. One elderly gentleman has lived in the neighbourhood all his life, and said he has only ever had a piece of fencing stolen. He was in the building trade and helped us to secure the back door temporarily for us. We haven't met our next door neighbours, but we posted our contact numbers through their letter box, and they texted me the next day in acknowledgement, which I thought was very kind.
It is an exciting thing setting up house. We got the electricity working yesterday, and Spud spent the day installing a new lock on the front door while I cleaned the kitchen, dreaming about painting the walls the butter yellow of my vision. Even Spud saw my perspective and agreed to this!
I will upload some photographs of the house as it is now, just as soon as I get onto Spud's computer again.
Everyone keeps going on about how much they hate January, but I for one am loving it so far and not just because of the positive developments that it has brought about so far, one of which I will write about very soon. My last few Januarys have been good ones, even last year when I was stuck in a job I hated and suffered spells where I was incredibly miserable. I love the combination of the brisk raw air and the clear winter skies, particularly as this January has been comparatively mild to those previously. I remember one especially lovely day a year ago when Spud and I went to the beach, and for some reason I took upon to wear a dress even though it was January and it was freezing. I was happy that day, the combination of weather, scenic surroundings and good company raising my spirits.
I think, for me, January is the most positive month of the year. I consider it a chance to start again, the new year's resolutions giving me something to aim for, and the opportunity to really think about what I want from the year. I've always engaged well with targets, and the results have been more than I could've hoped for so far. Sometimes my resolve to achieve these can ebb during the year, but January is the month that I am most determined to make things happen.
It has been a good year so far for my writing, despite the rejection letter I received yesterday from Women's Weekly magazine, after sending them my two best stories back in September. I was naturally a little disappointed and put out, but I took it in my stride and wasn't in the least bit upset as I might have been before. I didn't receive any feedback and was only told that my stories hadn't met the required guidelines, so I am going to write to them and find out what their guidelines are for next time.
In the last few days I've written a poem and the first twelve pages or so of a new project. I have been driven by my desire to be a writer, and inspired by the things I am reading at the moment (poetry by the Bronte sisters, 'The Tempest' and David Copperfield, for those who are interested). I will get their someday, even if it takes my whole life.
Yes, January has been kind to me so far, and I've had a good start to the year.