Friday, 30 September 2011

On this day 12 months ago...

It’s been a few days. Not all bad. Today I have felt a little numb. But, firstly to catch up on the saga of British Gas. Following my complaint submission I have still not received a response from them. Their policy states I will receive a reply within 24 hours, so far it’s three times that so tomorrow I shall be re-submitting my complaint and highlighting their inadequacies yet again.

On Tuesday evening after work I tried again to resolve my Internet and printing issues. I was really angry and highly stressed. MY Mum tried to help, she came up with all sorts of solutions, things I had thought of already but this also got me stressed, I just wanted to be able to fix it, I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it and certainly didn’t want to speak to some overseas call centre who would barely understand me and whom I would struggle to understand.

Eventually I relented and called Virgin. I was relieved to find that my call was dealt with by a nice Scottish man at a centre near Glasgow. He was wonderful and managed to get on to my computer remotely when I connected the Ethernet wire and sort the problem. Basically the technology employed within the workings of the hub was newer than the drivers installed on my laptops so, both laptops could see the hub but could not communicate with it. The guy managed to update those and assured me that once installed then they would be able to connect to the printer and my wireless printing problem would be resolved too.

After I got “connected” I had to go out and sort a few things. When I got back later and finally settled it was after 10pm so I was slightly hesitant about raising my stress levels again before bed by trying to connect my printer. The wonderful Scottish man was right, it connected no problem at all, I was back in the land of the connected and I felt better knowing the problem had not been my incompetence but a software problem which I couldn’t possibly know anything about unless advised.

Yesterday evening, (Wednesday) was an OK sort of day.  Work was OK I guess but after work I had to sort out my eBay parcels and get them to the post office.  After that I called around to see a friend.  We chatted for a while and he gave me his view of where I am "at" at the moment.

It was interesting to listen to a different perspective, something which has obviously been discussed in other circles but not in a bad way.  It was interesting to see how there is a perception that some things / people / circumstances etc are hampering my ability to "heal" and make positive moves to re-construct my life.

Some of the points raised were completely valid I felt and I agreed.  I did state my reasons for allowing the circumstance / situation / issue to continue and although on one hand I know I could be selfish and only think of me but Stephens life touched so many and it is not only me dealing with his loss.  Part of the points raised I felt were not relevant and I explained why and hopefully I made sense.  It makes sense to me.  Simply put, some things which seem to be negative are in fact positive some negatives I agree are negative but I have reasons for not addressing them right now so it's a case of taking a little rough with the smooth.

On the way home I called in to the shop and bought some wine, Odd but I am sure bottles are getting smaller, only 2½ glasses from one bottle..... Really though I was being piggish, it was a 750ml bottle, my glasses are just a little too big I suppose.

After that I decided not to open a second bottle and headed for bed.  I was tired.  Then it hit me.  I can only explain it as "washing over me" much like someone throwing a bucket of water over me.  I was consumed by grief and started to cry.  No good reason, no trigger song or word or picture it was just there.  I sobbed myself to sleep last night.

I suppose if I am honest I really do know the reason.  Today, 29th September, is a year to the day that Steve was given 12 to 18 months to live.  He managed 8½.... where is the fairness in that?  To be told such news at just 31 years old.

That day was easily the worse day of my life up to then.  That was surpassed a few days later as I had to break the news to Steve's parents that their little boy may not be alive in 12 months time.  Steve's parents went away on holiday before his surgery and got back after his biopsy results it meant, in reality, that Steve had a few days to accustom himself to the news before breaking it to his parents.  We dumbed down his diagnosis and treatment regime when his Mum called.

Steve later said that through that period and beyond I was his rock.  I didn't feel it but I knew I had to be for him.  I took up the role immediately without asking or being asked and it started just after the news was broken to Steve.  He asked, "how long have I got?"  To be told "I don't think now is an appropriate time or place to ask that question..." really annoyed me.  You have just told a 31 year old man he has an aggressive and malignant brain tumour called Glioblastoma Multiforme growing in his head and then don't think he should ask about his future?  I was probably more than a little patronising in my response, tinged with anger and upset as Steve's hand was in mine and he was gripping it with all his might and I just wanted to stop it all for him and for me or for someone to jump out of a cupboard and say that it was some sort of sick joke.

She told Steve.  It was no joke.  I don't know if being told you have between 365 and 547 days to live was more of less than we anticipated but that 10 minute walk back from the hospital to home seemed to take an hour or more.  With my arms around Steve to support him and comfort him and both of us sobbing uncontrollably as we walked through a busy hospital, it's grounds, through the village and along our street we managed to get home where we sat and we cried in total disbelief.

We were unable to talk, but after some time Steve composed himself and carried on vacuuming the lounge which he had started before he left for the hospital.  We told a few people. We were careful though as we didn't want Steve's parents to find out via Facebook or from another well meaning friend or relative.

A mixed response would probably best describe how people took the news.  Much disbelief seemed to be the "theme" over the following days but with one notable exception, the text message that read, "Oh you might need a few days to get your head around that" was one such comment which felt more like a pat on the head that you would give a small child who has fallen and cut their knee.  No prior or further message of support or even concern, just that.  Hardly appropriate for a 31 year old man who has just been told he is living with a death sentence through no fault of his own and there is nothing he can do about it.

That's is why these past few days have been tough.  I have replayed those days in my head hundreds of times in the last year, the past months and in recent weeks.  It still doesn't feel real that I will never see him, feel him, hug him, smell him, touch him or kiss him ever again. 

Here is a link to Steve's post on the afternoon he was due to collect his results, Click Here and then the first proper blog entry after his diagnosis Click Here

I will write more in the next few days but right now I am knackered.  Today has been a long and busy day and this post is long enough....

Goodnight xxx
 first blog entry after

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

PISSED OFF!!! Fuming!!! ANGRY!!!

I am so Pissed Off right now I feel like smashing things and shouting and screaming and GRRRRRRRRRR!!!  I could cry too....

Today has been a shit day.  Work was OK but I called British Gas about my account at the other property I let out, (or used to let out it is currently vacant).  the property has been empty since before Steve died so at least 4 or 5 months now.

They keep sending bills and I keep phoning to advise there is nobody living there so therefore there should be no bill due. Also, as the previous tenant left she obviously gave the contact details for the landlord as Steve or Mark, I am not sure whether it is her foreign accent or that of the person in the call centre but this has now meant the bill is in the name of Mr Steve Omark.  I have tried on many occasions to get this corrected, last month they seemed to understand, (I thought it may actually get done this time as the person I spoke to was in the UK and spoke good English).  but NO.  Fcukwits!

The bills are continuing in the name of this fictitious person.  Additionally, as I have not paid the ESTIMATED bill (for a property empty and not consuming any fuel)I have now had a letter advising me they are going to force entry to disconnect the supply.  Well firstly I don't give a toss if the supply is disconnected, at least I wont have to deal with the Fcukwits again but I do care about possible damage to the property.

I called again and after speaking to someone whose understanding of what I was saying was non existent I asked to speak to a manager.  Attitude!?!?  I have never heard one as bad as his, again I doubt this person was in the UK so had no comprehension of what I was saying, he was difficult and rude and when I asked to be put through to the complaint department I was told to "go online".  When i told him he was being rude and difficult I was told.... "Whatever"..... I was SO annoyed.  I hung up and called back and spoke to someone different, initially I mentioned my complaint and he asked why I wanted to complain then asked why I had called in the first place.  When I explained to him why I was calling he hung upon me!!!  I was calling from a land line to another land line so I will not accept it was merely a problem with the "phone signal".

I was furious, I couldn't speak further I was just exasperated by the whole thing, I went online and made a complaint and stated my "issue".  I doubt anything will be done.  British Gas, Big Fat Fail!!! If I decide to keep the property the supplier is being changed as is the supplier at home.  Also, "British Gas" is a contradiction in terms, it may be supplied in Britain but there was nothing "British" about the service (or lack of) received today.

At home the man from Virgin has been out to fix our Internet today, it was working before I went away but it seems something went wrong whilst I was away.  My Sister and her Hubby were here at the weekend so he looked at it and made the necessary arrangements for the man to come and fix it today.

It seems there was something wrong with our router, he has swapped it for a new shiny one.  Wonderful.  my Mum made sure before he left that she could get on the Internet so it seemed to pass the test and when I got home the Internet man had gone and all seemed well.

That was until my Mum tried to sort her eBay stuff this evening.  You might recall my post a few weeks ago about technology and how stressed I was with the whole wireless printing, this from someone who Steve referred to as a "geek" not long before he died, (that was because I bought a new iPhone 4 and was sucked in to the iWorld).  Anyway, Mother has 2 printers, (we have one so 3 in total).  All of which are wireless.  Oh joy!!!

I have lost a whole evening tonight trying to get the wireless printers to work, trying to get the desktop PC to work, My Mum's laptop and Dad's laptop work and connect to the Internet no problem, mine wont!  I have not looked at Steve's yet to see if that does.  I am SO frustrated.  Right now I am connected via my phone, not the best but right now I have a broadband connection I can't access! 

I managed to resolve the printing issue for my Mum though, we have a wire!  Connect printer to Laptop and hey presto printed words.  The techie geeky nerdy stuff was Steve's department, he understood it as does my brother in law.  It will have to wait till he visits next which, I am told might not be for some time, maybe not even before Christmas.

I will try to connect my PC to the Internet router thing tomorrow, I will also go to the attic to find a wire, it's a shit solution but I really cannot cope with the amount of stress the whole thing is causing, it's a computer FFS!!!  they are supposed to make life easier, not mine, they are just causing me more stress, more frown lines and damaged teeth as I grind them in anger.

I am fed up now, angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed and missing Steve like mad as he is the one person I know could fix it and would have the patience to fix it and who I trusted completely and who understood how stressful this all is for me and would just take it all away from me.

Steve, just thinking back to this time last year, well not this date but 25th Sept last year.  Steve had been discharged from hospital on 24th September and had said he fancied a 'chippy tea' (Takeaway I guess would be the nearest thing for our American friends).  when we got home Mother had made food so we didn't get our chippy tea but, as he really wanted it we decided to go on Saturday.

Usually at the chip shop Steve would go in and order, he wanted to again but I went with him, remember he had just come out of hospital from having major brain surgery 3 days prior on 22nd September and was wearing a nasty wound and 37 staples in his head.
  After ordering we stood in line and waited for our food to be cooked.  We chatted and then when our order was done we took it and left.

When we got back to the car Steve asked, "did you hear that woman?"  I said no and then he explained how he has heard her turn to her friend and say "eeeew look at his head.... that's disgusting".  That hurt Steve, she was right and he knew it didn't look pleasant but she was so thoughtless.  I was about to go back and have a go at the woman for her thoughtless hurtful comments but Steve didn't want me to fuss.  I wish I knew who she was  so I could go and tell her how hurtful her comment was and how ignorant I think she is.  Probably best I don't know though.

Well it's just tipped past midnight, I was hoping to be in bed for 11 at the latest, hmmm another nights plans ruined.  On the plus side though I am SO happy to have my iToys to keep me connected!

Until next time xxx M xxx

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Catch Up

Here goes, a catch up on the week for you. I have been away from home since Tuesday evening so that’s why I didn’t get to write a blog.

After work on Tuesday I came home and packed my stuff then set off for Scotland. It took about 3½ hours to get to Glasgow. The hotel was pleasant enough, T’s room was newly re-furbished, mine wasn’t as new but it was comfortable enough.

On Wednesday morning we had to set off for another hotel a little further along the same road. It was the Annual Brain Tumour Conference, not a “fun” event but I was there to help T with the “Behind The Mask” exhibition. Helping set it up really and answering queries on how Radiotherapy masks are made. I only know how they are made because I sat and watched Steve’s being made. It is the same exhibition, about Brain Tumours and Radiotherapy masks, that was displayed at the Palace of Westminster in March of this year.

Steve and I had decorated radiotherapy masks for the original exhibition and I was surprised and pleased to see Steve’s mask again. I remember him making it. Seeing it brought back a lot of memories as did reading Steve’s explanation of his mask. You can see his mask and what it meant to him on our website.

On Thursday afternoon we packed up and headed off for Edinburgh. I love Edinburgh and Steve did too, he had a special affection for Edinburgh since he worked there many years ago. Steve and I have been quite a few times to Edinburgh for a break, most recently we went for a week in April for his birthday. We did loads whilst we were there, Steve wouldn’t allow his cancer to spoil the break for me or the other friends we were with.

Usually Steve and I would try and stay quite close to the city centre, usually within walking distance. This time the hotel was about 7 miles away from the city centre. Not a huge distance but it was lovely. The place is called The Retreat Castle Hotel. It’s not a large grand castle but very comfortable and quirky. Steve would have loved it, I did too.

The welcome was warm and friendly, even the Peacocks came to say hello as we arrived, and the staff were great too. The food there was more like typical pub fayre as opposed to al a carte fine dining and that suited us perfectly. The bar area was charming and interesting too. The walls and shelves were crammed with all sorts of oddities so it was fun sitting there and just looking around, many of the pieces sparked conversation.

On Friday we spent the day on The Royal Mile, T gave the mobility scooter a proper outing and it seems she was OK but my feet and legs were aching!  T got to see quite a few men in kilts, (much to her delight) including 2 pipers, this is the younger one, the other looked to be around 100!!
The streets of Edinburgh brought back a lot of happy memories of times spent there with Steve
and we even stopped for our lunch at Steve's favourite chippy.
On Friday night we sat for ages talking about things and then on Saturday we checked out as I had to drop T off at a celebration in Livingston. I was supposed to stop for a while with her but as we got there I received a phone call from the owner of the hotel. I had forgotten to hand in my room key; it was still in my pocket! GRRRR! I drove back to Edinburgh to drop the key off and then headed for home.

The drive home was tough. I don’t know why. The only explanation I can think of is that I have only ever been to Scotland with Steve, (apart from with work when I was repping many years ago). The scenery on the way back is distinctive and again it set me off. Driving with tears in your eyes is not good but I didn’t care. I have really missed Steve a lot lately.

On the way home I called in at Larch Cottage Nurseries in Melkinthorpe. A friend had mentioned it to me a long time ago but yesterday it was a convenient stopping place on the way home. It is a lovely place and I think my gardener friends would love it as they had a HUGE outside area just crammed with plants and garden ornaments etc. Many were too big for the average semi but still a fab place and well worth a visit if you are a gardener type or if you want something in particular.
When I got home last night I just relaxed, a bottle of wine and an early night and it was lovely to be back in my own bed.

This morning I went out shopping, I picked up a few Christmas things. I have made a conscious decision not to “cancel” Christmas; I want to but won’t as Steve loved Christmas. I know it will be tough but I also know I can’t avoid it.

Well, it's time for bed now so I'll write more tomorrow. 

xxx Mark xxx

Monday, 19 September 2011

Help! Please......

If you are a regular reader you will know Steve's friend and colleague, Andrew, has just taken part in The Great North Run in aid of Christies Hospital in memory of Stephen. 

He set a £500 target and is VERY close to this, please please please if you can spare a few pounds please sponsor him to help him reach his target.  He has done fantastically well and Steve would be VERY proud of him and that he has done the run in Steve's name. 

Andrew is not an athlete so this really has been an achievement for him.  Well done Andrew and please help if you can by following this link:

I have been reading Steves blog lately from last year.  Much of it is familiar to me and the significant dates seem to be etchen in my mind.  This time last year Steve was worrying about his forthcoming surgery, here's what he had to say about it:

Those days are clear in my mind but, Steve's positive attitude bewildered me.  I didn't understand but, I  could not make any criticism.  He was offered a chance to help beat this disease and he grabbed it with both hands.  Think about that as you wonder whether it is worth forsaking the last few tablets on your course of anti biotics in favour of a night out or a few glasses of wine. 

If you are offered a chance, whether that is of health or otherwise then take it.  Some people don't get chances or choices so use yours wisely.

On learning of his diagnosis Steve stopped drinking alcohol.  there were a few exceptions but few enough to count on one hand and even then at most he would have one or two glasses and no more.  Sat here with a glass of wine I feel guilty.  Not guilty enough to stop but I am conscious of the differences. 

I still miss Steve with every breath I take, every spare moment is consumed with thoughts of him and wishing he could be here.  Another hug, another kiss even another night of him stealing the duvet.  There is nothing I wouldn't give just to have that one more time.

Tomorrow after work I am driving north to help a friend for a few days. It will be an interesting time I think as I know I am likely to meet some other people dealing with the same Cancer Steve had, a Glioblastoma Multiforme.

The timing is rubbish as this is a month of anniversaries but I doubt there would ever be a "good time" but, best foot forward and all that.

I'm signing off now to go and iron some clothes.  I hope to update again in the next few days but don't be alarmed if I don't.

Bye for now xxx
M x

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Under the microscope...

Yep, thats what's happening right now, I feel I am under the microscope... annoying, frustrating, upsetting and un-nerving.  All will be resolved eventually but for now it is just there..... just like Steve's Cancer was just there...

Perhaps I should go and see that works Doctor or Shrink they wanted to send me to, I can chat to him about that and see what his views are.  Maybe not.

I cant remember when I blogged last... Friday I think so here goes for yesterday.  Twas a good day, not weather wise,that was REALLY bad, heavy rain all over but it didn't dampen my spirits.

I went out for the day with a Friend.  I filled the car with petrol, (that seems to be an expensive luxury too these days), and went to collect him.  We drove out to Gawthorpe Hall to have a look around. It was OK, not a huge house but quite interesting.  It would have been better with better weather but it was a pleasant day.

After that we drove over to Clitheroe which was OK.  I was expecting lots of little quirky shops but, thats not really what we saw.  It was OK though and I guess again the rain did make us less enthusiastic about traipsing around the shops.

From there we had a nosey at Barton Grange, a nice place to have a nosey at and already they have their chrimbo stuff in.  We chatted about Christmas again though.  I am dreading it this year.  I have had offers from friends to go and stay with them but I am still unsure, I dont really wamt to put a dampner on anyone elses Christmas by being miserable or missing Steve but I know it is going to be a tough time.

Steve LOVED Christmas, he always said he loved they was my family go over the top at Christmas with decorations and presents etc as his Chirstmasses as a kid were not like that.  Perhaps some pictures will help explain;
Fireplace 1
Fireplace 2
Fireplace 3
Pink Candlestick
Tall Candleabra
Bling Tree
Our Christmasses here have always been fun and Steve and I have already started Christmas shopping.  We were never as bad as to start in January, it always seems a little mean to but presents for next year in this year's sale but if we were out and saw an interesting or unusual item we thought would be particularly useful or suitable for someone then we would buy it and put it aside for Christmas.

I still subscribe to all that and all that is Christmas, I still love the season but I am dreading not having Steve with me.  The sympathetic looks or being lavished with pity for being the lonely widower. 

New year is worse, I hate it and always have.  Steve and I were supposed to work last year, (until his diagnosis that is) as he also disliked new year.  Last year we had a particularly shitty day on New years Eve, (it was the first anniversary of his Aunt's death due to cancer), so we were both in bed around 9pm.  Both upset and both scared of the future.  What was there for us to look forward to in a "New Year"?

This year I want to disappear for Christmas and New year and come back when it's all over.  I don't know what I will end up doing though.  If this place had sold and I was living alone that would be fine, I could be home alone but, as it hasn't sold yet then I have to make alternative plans.  I don't know what they will be yet.... where can I go that isn't very costly where there will be no mention of Christmas or New year?  A cave somewhere I guess!

Today I have a day of being busy planned, I want to be busy to distract myself.  I am signing off now and I will make a start.  I'm not sure what it is that I will start but I'm going to do it now.... well soon anyway.

Have a great day xxx

Friday, 16 September 2011

Am I "really" being selfish?

Before I even start this blog I know it will be a bit of a ramble. I have so many thoughts in my mind that I just need to release them all and then see what’s in there. Not sure if that makes sense but I am being selfish for now and this blog is for me. It’s been a tough week and I need the outlet right now.

Firstly I was reminded by a friend last night about the consultant’s analogy when he diagnosed a “cystic tumour”. He said right now they have just a picture of the tumour, much like an aerial photograph from a plane. They can see the factory (tumour) but they can’t see what that factory makes, i.e. they don’t know if it in benign or cancerous cells being produced.

We bought in to that explanation as it seemed simple and plausible. The consultant might have told us what sort of factory it “appears” to be but he didn’t. This isn’t a criticism at all, the consultant was great and Steve almost immediately bought in to him. He was an older gent, much like a granddad; although too young to be Steve’s granddad he had a friendly face and a nice disposition.

Once Steve’s tumour had been identified, in location and size really as we still didn’t have a name. He chose to give it a name. He called it Clive. Clive the clump and, September 22nd would be Clive’s eviction day. Big Sista, (Steve) had decided it would be evicted from the Big Bruvva house.

Steve’s humour was not appreciated by all. Some thought him disrespectful to not take his condition seriously. Steve and I always joked about his tumour, that’s because that the way he wanted it. He figured in much the same way as the monster under your bed (you imagine as a child), is less scary when you picture it wearing bunny ears and a pink tutu by Steve mocking his tumour then it could not harm him.

Even though Steve is no longer with us I still like to think his tumour didn’t get the better of him. It didn’t rob him of his dignity and, I only have good memories of Steve. I reckon most, if not all, of his family and friends also have good memories as none of them saw him “ill”. He carried on regardless. I knew he was struggling. Struggling to stay awake, struggling to keep on walking or talking or being sociable but, Steve NEVER gave in to it. He would not allow it.

When we went to Scotland in April for his birthday he found the constant walking and sightseeing tiresome and difficult. He never let on. Not to our friends anyway. I knew because I knew Steve but he masked it well. Sometimes I wish he hadn’t. Would we have taken it more slowly if he had been honest? Probably. And that is what Steve DIDNT want. He wanted to be “normal” so he kept quiet and I supported his choice.

The same with work. He wanted to be “normal”. On the Friday before he died he “worked from home” as usual. Just 5 days later he was dead. Nobody understood his desire to work and maintain a routine. I did. He didn’t want to let go of the life he loved and never for one minute did he believe that Cancer would win.

Cancer hasn’t won. Because he didn’t deteriorate or become bedbound he will always remain young and vibrant, happy and cheerful. Even on the Sunday, before he died on Wednesday, he joked with a friend (G) and was happy and positive. He was the last friend really to see Steve “well”.

Re-reading that last paragraph is difficult through the tears but that, I suppose, is why things have been so tough. Steve was never “ill”, he became a little poorly and then died. All within days.

Steve “evicting” his tumour was typical of him. Dumb it down so people didn’t worry. He was petrified, (and so was I) but he never let on to anyone.

I received a phone call today from Steve’s Macmillan nurse, she asked how I was. It took me by surprise but, it was lovely to hear from her. She really cheered Steve up and, although he wasn’t in constant contact with her she remembered him when we saw her at Christies Hospital in the corridor and she made a hugely positive impact on Steve. Just being herself. She is a lovely person and SO easy to speak to. I can’t sing her praises highly enough and, on top of all that she came to Steve’s funeral. She didn’t need to and I wouldn’t have thought any less of her if she didn’t but she came. I owe her a HUGE hug when I see her next.

The phone call was lovely and it turns out she has been meaning to call for a while. I know that feeling, I have been “meaning” to message a few of our friends for a while and have even promised to go for coffee with a few but have not got to do that yet. I have not forgotten but I don’t want to inflict my melancholy on them. Some friends just get that from me anyway although I would prefer them not to, sometimes it is impossible to avoid.

Moving on, forward, upward, positively, all “good” words to make me feel better, I received a text from a friend this week to ask about meeting up this weekend. It was unexpected but VERY much appreciated. I have had lots of offers over the past weeks and months and I love all of our friends for that but I guess it’s just “pot luck” at the moment if they catch me on a good day or bad. If it’s a good day and I say yes then I tend to not go back on that. On a bad day I’d probably decline an invitation, even though I know I run the risk of not being asked again. I just hope people understand that I am trying. I WANT to feel happy but sometimes my heart, sometimes my head and sometimes both say NO!

Fortunately right not I feel the bad days are getting fewer or not quite as deep. The good days have not increased proportionately but, I am now experiencing “neutral” days. That’s a bonus. The “happy” medium between both ends of the scale.

Well, for now that’s about it. I do have loads more swimming around in my head but I guess that’s enough for now.

Love to you, whoever and wherever you are, I know you care because you are reading. I care that you care enough to spend your time reading. Thank you, sending big hugs xxx

Mark x

Thursday, 15 September 2011

You don't die from a broken heart... only wish you did.
I know this to be true as I am still alive to write this for you and yes, I have wished I could be with Steve, whatever it takes. 

The past few days have been tough.  I mentioned a few days ago the anniversary of Steve being admitted to hospital.  One year ago today he was discharged from hospital.  He was discharged following an appointment with a Consultant Neurosurgeon.

The meeting was at a different hospital, the one near our home so, we collected Steve's belongings and drove over to the hospital.  Steve's Mum had decided she wanted to go too, even though Steve didn't want that, (he just didn't want the fuss), he was beyond putting up an arguement and just accepted it.

We waited outside the ward for our appointment.  A very secure ward with restricted doors etc so only authorised personnel were allowed in.  We were shown to an office and asked to wait.  Steve was sat alongside me gripping my hand tightly, he was SO scared but put on a brave face.

The Consultant entered the room, a friendly looking older gent closely followed by a nurse, in uniform but holding a leaflet.  One glance at the leaflet and I saw the word "Macmillan" across it.  My heart sunk and I guessed what might be coming.  She placed the leaflet face down on the table next to her.  It was too late, I had seen it and Steve had too.

The meeting seemed a bit of a blur to Steve, he engaged with the consultant but although he heard the words he didn't remember.  I had to go over it again for him when we got home.

The consultant told us that at present the only diagnosis he could give was that it was a cystic tumour.  This meant that it is a tumour which is of indeterminable substance.  He couldn't say if it was cancer or not and would not be drawn to make a comment as to his opinion of it.

The tumour appeared, from the scans, to measure around 3cm by 5cm, around the size of a large egg.  He showed us the scan and we could see how large it looked, it seemed to take up almost a quarter of the space his brain was occupying.  It explained the headaches.

He told Steve that he would be admitted to hospital the following week for major brain surgery and that he would be performing it.  He explained the procedure, called debulking and explained the risks, death from anaesthetic, death from complications death from etc etc.  We asked about the alternative, it wasn't very attractive, it was death. 

It was odd that he knew this tumour could kill Steve but didn't know what it was.  With hindsight I think he probably had a pretty good idea what it was but wouldn't commit until absolutely sure. 

Steve asked about out holiday, remember we were due to go on holiday early in November for 3 weeks.  All he would say is that he can't advise one way or another until the biopsy has been done.  He said if it is benign then a holiday may be just the thing he needs to relax and recuperate, if it is malignant then further treatment would continue as soon as possible to provide him with the best possible chance.

As a young, fit and healthy man he said Steve had a very good chance of making a full recovery.  He did say though that he could expect to feel tired for around six months as brain surgery can affect energy levels for quite some time.

The rest of the day we were numb.  We were grateful to be reunited at home but we were numb.

Twelve months on from that and I feel numb again.  I am brutally aware of what happened next and of my current situation but I'm managing to stay relatively composed (almost).  I cant think of very much else at the moment but I am trying to be strong.  Steve was and remained so thoroughout his journey.  I can't call it an illness as he refused to let it make him ill. 

Stephen showed more courage than I ever thought imaginable.  He called me his rock.  He was mine too.  His courage and determination was a constant inspiration to me and still is. For that I am grateful and always will be.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A way forward

Thats where I am at right now, looking for a way forward.  Looking for that elusive new norm.  Today has been a mixed day.  An interesting meeting today has left me with a lot of mixed emotions and feeling "on edge" about a lot of things.  All adding to my stress levels.  I'm trying not to dwell on it because I can't afford to let the stress get to me.

In many ways the past 12 months have served to make me stronger.  In many other ways they have highlighted my vulnerability.

After Steve's initial diagnosis I recall going out for dinner with his parents and his Uncle.  The same Uncle that told him he could stand up and fight his cancer or he could pull the duvet over his head and give in to it.  He told us how he was now bullet proof.

We didn't really understand but, as he had lost his Wife to cancer just 9 months previously he explained how the worse thing he could ever imagine or fear had now happened so, whatever else came his way would not be difficult to deal with. 

I understand that now as I have lived through and continue to live in my worse nightmare.  Being single per'se is not a nightmare, I have been single before and had a very happy and fulfilled life thank you very much.  The nightmare comes in that I have lost my soulmate, lost whilst we were very much still in love with each other, lost whilst we were still in our idealistic honeymoon phase.

There seems to be no let up to my grief at the moment.  It creeps up and surprises me at the most inconvenient time.  This morning driving to work I heard the song "Time to say goodbye", it set me off.  it's not a song Steve and I identified with but as soon as it started it too me to the crematorium, stood in front of Steve's coffin with his picture smiling back at me.  I stopped tocompose myself.  I ended up being about 2 minutes late for work.  Not a huge issue but persoanlly frustrating that this had happened.  It was a bright morning and I was in a good mood.

I considered earlier today the difference in how I feel, how well I feel I am coping, how well friends think I am coping and how "others" feel I am coping.  I am not really bothered about other peoples opinions of how I  am managing.  I feel I have made a lot of progress, it's still less than three months since Steve died.  Seeing the news reports yesterday of the 9/11 memorials and how emotional and upset those families still are after ten years of grieving made me realise my loss and how that makes me feel will be with me for the rest of my life.  When people say, "so you're feeling better now?" or as my Aunt said last week, "Oh so you're over it all now" I get angry but, I hope they have seen the reports from yesterday and have realised that grief does not respond to timescales or deadlines.  My life has now been changed forever as have as those of Stephen's many friends, as the song says, he has left a handprint on my heart, I am sure there are many other hearts wearing the same print

Overall I still feel I am moving forward and making progress, there are good parts of most days and tough parts of every day but all in all I am getting there, wherever "there" may be.  Tomorrow I have a productive day planned at work, theres a lot of ideas swimming around in my head, they seem to be coming back slowly but surely and I am looking forward to getting back "up to speed".  That doesn't mean forgetting Steve, it just means learning to live in my new situation.

Thats it for tonight, early to bed as tomorrow is a work day.  Early to bed doesn't mean sleeping though, I'm still not conquering the whole sleep thing but, at least being in bed I am showing willing.

Goodnight xxx

End of a weekend.... Woo!

Another weekend over, just as well really.  Even though I managed to keep myself busy today I am still pleased it's over.  Last year I felt the same.

As you know this time last year Steve was in hospital.  In part what annoyed Steve, apart from not feeling I'll, was being unable do do his normal things and missing out on living life to the fullest, something he did till the end.

This time last year we were due to go on an underground tour of Manchester. Steve had booked it early in the year and had been looking forward to it as it is a restricted area and the tours are quite infrequent and we were due to take two friends too

Over the course of the few days he spent in hospital Steve had been going stir crazy.  He told us how he spent one night listening to the guy in the next bed calling out "lord have mercy on me...." and singing Onward Christian Soldiers and listening to another guy complain constantly about how rubbish the food was and how constipated he was.  Steve said he felt more I'll being in than he had before.

Over these first few days though he had been reduced from 2 hourly observations, (blood pressure, temperature, pulse etc) to 4 hourly but his steroid dose was quite high.

By sheer charm and being a model patient Steve managed to negotiate a few hours out of hospital.  Basically he had to wait Until after his afternoon obs were done and he could go out but had to be back before the evening obs at 10pm.  Initially he had thought he could get out at lunchtime so I made a lovely lunch and a home made cheesecake, (it was not a great cheesecake.... I have not followed a BBC Good Food recipe since....).

I collected Steve though at the required time and brought him home.  He wasn't hungry, well not for food anyway.  We fulfilled our carnal desires instead, those past four days had been hellish so it was nice to have that closeness and intimacy back, even if only relatively briefly. We then tried the cheesecake before heading off to meet friends ready for the underground tour, Steve had waited months for this.

The tour was disappointing to say the least, we sort of wished we had stayed in bed.  Parts of it were interesting though, parts of the tunnel were the former canal and some of it had been used as air raid shelters during the war, overall though it was not that interesting, especially when compared to the underground tours of Edinburgh which we had both enjoyed.

Steve got back to his ward in time for the evening rounds, the nurse was grateful he had upheld his side of the bargain, he was grateful for a few hours out and I was grateful for a few short hours snatched with my Husband.  Gratitude in a relationship seems odd but, think of it as the opposite of taking someone for granted.  Be grateful for what you have because you never know how long it will last.

Back to today.  I have prepped around 60 listings for eBay later this week then photographed even more stuff to go on and spent a few hours being creative and sewing, that is until the needle snapped.  I took that as a natural break in proceedings and decided to go and get some food.

This evening I have relaxed, half watching TV, part checking email and part day dreaming of browsing the Internet.  I'm in bed now typing this.

It's odd but, since there has just been me in the bed I spread out as much as possible so as to make the bed feel smaller and no so empty.

Back to work tomorrow Which reminds me of a quote I was sent:
At work, where recovery from broken-heartedness is expected to progress according to a time sheet, life goes on. Yet, we will not feel better according to a timeline determined by others and we cannot just opt out of feeling lonely.
Of course, I think some people may forget this.  I am back in the office therefore their lives have returned to normal.  How very nice for them eh....

Goodnight x

Saturday, 10 September 2011

I still hate weekends.....

I missed a day, sorry.  I ended up chatting on the phone for about 3 hours until 2ish this morning and after that it was shower and bed.

Yesterday I went back to work.  It was ok I suppose, well really it was more chaotic than anything but interesting too.  I guess I am adjusting to how the place runs now as I have been away so long there are now three people sort of doing my old job but there is still loads for me to do.  It is actually a relief to have the help of those other people.  It was needed a long time ago but I am just appreciative of it being there now.

Last night I busied myself tidying around as someone was due to view the house today.  Some friends called around after their holiday.  It was nice to see them.  We chatted for a while and also spoke about my 'holiday' too, I explained a little how tough it was.  As I said though, words can't explain how it feels.

Oddly, they are the same friends that called around last year on Steve's second day in hospital, I was so upset at facing another night without Steve, again it is too difficult to explain, I drowned my sorrow by drinking more than half a bottle of Southern Comfort, no mixer, I just wanted alcohol to block out how I felt. 
It's strange but, since Steve died I have avoided all but the smallest amount of alcohol.  I know I am afraid of what it will do, I don't want to unlock those thoughts or emotions which are safely secured away and I know alcohol will loosen the bonds that hold those thoughts safe and sound.

After spending most of the night on the phone I showered and went to bed. It was as tough last night as it was a year ago, in fact tougher I guess.  Last year I knew Steve was safe and sound at hospital, this year I know he's dead.

Today I got up and sorted my stuff out and got easy for the viewing.  The prospective buyers came and had a look but I have no idea whether they liked it or not, I suppose time will tell.

 This afternoon I did some shopping then came home and did some cooking, I experimented with a few things and made a lovely meal for myself.  Oddly just cooking upset me.  Usually I would so this for Steve and I, inflicting new flavours and concoctions on him.  It's not so much fun cooking for one or not sharing these new flavours with someone special.

Right now I feel pretty shitty, it's been a tough night for a few reasons.  I think early to bed is the solution, the sooner I got to sleep the sooner it is a new day and a new start.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring, maybe I need some time out on my own.  I don't know but will decide tomorrow.

Goodnight x

Friday, 9 September 2011

What a day!

Well what a day it has been today.  I knew it would be a tough one anyway as it was my first full day in work since Steve's death so it was an early(ish) night last night and three alarms set for this morning, just in case.

I got up no problem and just pottered around slowly, not usual for me as usually when I am working it is a mad flit around to iron clothes, get dressed and get out ASAP but this morning I had loads of time to spare.

I got to the office and got settled in my new place, I was not happy, sat in a draught in a corner on a dodgy desk, I felt like a spare part, like I didn't belong there.

I busied myself with a few things and my mobile rang for the third time, unusually it was my Dad so I answered as he was away with my Mum visiting family in Wales and it's unlike him to call.

After hearing his opening words..... "now don't worry....." I knew I wouldn't like what came next.  He proceeded to tell me how my Mum had been driving, (again this was unusual as she rarely drives as my Dad likes to drive) and she has crashed the car, quite badly, and could I give him his insurance company details.

You can imagine how I felt.  My heart sunk.  If it's not one thing it's another and again, why do I keep hearing the phrase "you don't get sent anything you can't handle...". I was told they had crashed into the central reservation at a junction, I later saw it was a traffic island and it was actually a lamppost that they had crashed in to.

I got the details he needed from the Internet and a few quick calls and sent them through.   The Police were called and an Ambulance and I'm relieved there were no serious injuries.  The car is another matter.

They tried to move the car but it wasn't for moving, the recovery truck had to come and take it away.  It will be delivered home in the next few days and then the insurance assessor will need to view it.  They have no idea if it is repairable.

Until the assessor has seen the car they can't get a courtesy car either so,  they were left stranded in Wales.  Shaken up, with luggage and miles Fromm anywhere.  

To cut a long story short they were collected and taken to my Aunt's house and I drove down to collect them, a 400(ish) mile round trip.  My first day back to work had been cut short and I got to go for a long drive instead.  I am not sure if that was better than a full day in the office.

You will recall though I mentioned I knew today would be a tough one.  I didn't have a crystal ball and the first day back wasn't my only concern.  Today marks one year since Steve was admitted to hospital.  

One year ago today was the first night we had spent apart from each other since we had met six years previously.  We had met on a Friday and by the following Thursday Steve had moved in and we lived happily ever after, or at least until 8th September 2010.

Following on from his lengthy assessment the previous day Steve had been asked to return to the hospital at 10am for a CAT scan.  He went to work as usual and told his boss he would be an hour or so as the appointment to  discuss the results was set for the Friday so he went on the bus to he hospital but, following his scan he was asked to return to the clinic.  He did so and was told immediately that he is being admitted.  He was shoved into a wheelchair and carted off to the medical assessment unit and given a huge dose of steroid

He was annoyed in particular because he had a mountain of work to complete and felt pissed that he had been forced to sit in a wheelchair.  Two minutes before he was well enough to walk to the clinic but now he was not well enough to walk from the clinic to the ward allegedly.  He felt fine.  The only explanation he was given was that he had a growth behind his left eye.

Steve called me at work, I was shocked to say the least but, as they were still doing tests he reckoned I was best not coming to the hospital until later ithe afternoon as by then he should be ok to go home.  He was very wrong.

I of course spent the whole afternoon googling "lump behind the left eye".  It came up with all sorts including brain tumours but, the most scary thing I could find then was some sort of condition which meant he would lose one eye.  Because if the condition the socket would be damaged too and he would be left with a horrible hole where his eye once was and would have to wear an eyepatch.  

This was the worse thing I could see at the time but I sort of figured he could still perform and do all the same things with one eye but his mascara for stage would last double the time.  I didn't share this with Steve at the time but I did many months later, we laughed about it afterwards and wished that that was what he had instead.

Later that day it became clear he was staying in hospital, he thought it would be for one night so I came home and packed the necessaries, waited for Steves Mum to arrive as she wanted to come too and took off to hospital with his stuff.  He was well, bored and frustrated and scared to be in hospital but otherwise well.  We all joked about how he was being dramatic.  

He was angry and kept insisting there was nothing wrong but he was just humouring the doctors.  Remember, up to now he had not been suffering from any symptoms, a few migraines now and again but he got those as a child and he was in the busiest period of the year at work and was operating two computers at his desk so assumed the migraines were more due to eye strain. A change of prescription was ruled out after the optician had said his current prescription was fine just a few days before.

I remember the journey home from the hospital with Steve's Mum. I shared what I had learned and also mentioned brain tumours.  I remember saying, there isn't a lot behind your eye other than your brain so what else can it be? Neither of us wanted to dwell on it.

When I got home some friends called to check on how Steve had been, we had updated people through the day by text.  Most of our friends were concerned, there was one notable exception but that's another story.

When I got in I cracked open a bottle of Vodka, I needed a drink.  I was home alone so after just one drink I trundled off to bed, my head was swimming with more thoughts that I ever imagined possible. Below is a picture of Steve on his first night in hospital, made to wear a gown so he got the idea he was staying.
This time last year I was settling down to my first night without Steve since meeting him.  on getting in to my side of the bed and feeling to cold and empty space next to me I started to cry, then I sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed myself to sleep.  I remember crying in to my pillow and saying out loud, "please don't die please don't die please don't die...." and asking what would I do without him.

Re-living this just 12 short months further on feels odd.  It's like recalling a film but, I am sat here in bed, alone.  I know it is real.  I know he has gone.  I look at his picture and he smiles at me as he always has, tonight I just can't smile back at him. Just 365 days ago I had my first taste of what life is like now.  A cold and lonely bed crying myself to sleep and waking up knowing I have to do it all again tomorrow.

Now you understand why today is a tough day.....

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

and so the journey began...

that's where I am at, exactly twelve months since Steve was sent to the eye hospital following a routine eye test.  Following his eye test on 5th September he saw his own doctor on the morning of 7th September and he referred Steve to the eye hospital in the afternoon.  His appointment was at 2pm and I took him to the hospital despite him insisting he would be fine to go on his motorbike.

The department closed at 6pm but Steve and I were still there at 6.15pm whilst they booked him in for an MRI scan to following day.

We went home and discussed the days events but didn't worry too much.  I say that but what I mean is we didn't discuss it much.  Steve said he was worried, (as was I), but didn't see the point in getting stressed because at this point we had no idea what we would be worrying about.  We were to find out all too soon.

A year on and I have been sat here alone all day.  I have done quite a lot of work really.  Letters prepared to be sent to tie up some loose ends with Stephens affairs, there is still more to do but I felt in a work like mood today and it has also been the first day I have felt able to face some of the stuff I have had to deal with.

Steve rarely took the ostrich approach, (burying your head in the sand), and I encouraged him to face up to the things he would prefer to avoid.  He learned well and also encouraged me to do the things I put off till last minute.  I have been putting a lot of things off since he died i guess though last week's reality check, being alone on the trip we had planned together has really given me a kick up the arse.

Stephen is dead.  There is nothing I can do about it.  I know crying wont help, wishing and hoping doesn't help, in fact nothing does because I have tried. 

I learned today of a little boy called Ashley.  He died this day last year.  I have seen his picture and he is such a cute kid, that makes it all the more difficult.  He was just 8 when he died.  Its not fair is it.  It's stories like that which remind me that my pain is similar to the pain many people the world over are sharing because of one small six letter word, a small word with huge implications. Cancer.

It's because of that small but disproportionately huge word that Andrew is running for Steve and for Christies in a few weeks, I have sponsored him, can you? every penny will help.

I think whilst we are all safe and sound in our own homes with our loved ones around us we forget about other peoples suffering.  Remember, cancer does not discriminate over age, race, religion, sex or sexuality.  Cancer wont care if you have thousands of pounds in the bank or just a few pennies, no matter how much is in there though you cant spend that money when you're dead.

Steve and I worked hard.  We worked all week in our day jobs and almost all weekend performing and entertaining others.  We spread a lot of happiness, joy and laughter around the country, we earned a few quid too but what good was it?  We worked and worked and worked, last year it was for our holiday in November.  Three weeks in India.  We never got there. 

Cancer stopped our plans.  Our holiday was cancelled, our money lost and days on the beach or sightseeing were replaced with hospital waiting rooms and the radiotherapy suite at Christies Hospital.  I don't know if I will ever be able to go to India to see the things Steve wanted to see, I would love to but, I realise that is is not important anymore.  The most important thing to me is no longer here.

I don't want to drag the soap box out but spare a moment.  How would you feel without your closest loved one around you?  If they had cancer would you be wishing someone had found a cure or would you feel proud that you helped do as much as possible to fight this killer?  None of us can find a cure on our own but we can join together as one voice and support those who aim to help others.

One in three of us will be affected by cancer in our lives that's for sure but, what isn't sure is which one of us it will be.

Spare a thought for Ashley's family tonight, snatched from them at just 8 years old just one year ago and please remember that any support you are able to provide is VERY much appreciated by each and every family who have lost a loved one to cancer.

Goodnight xxx

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Well it's not been 'that' long...

Well at least this time I have only missed one day not a whole week.  anyway here goes.  Yesterday was an OK day, I logged on from home and did a heap of work.  I'm just trying to catch up a little before I go back.  I got quite a lot done  so was quite pleased.  Apart from that there was not a huge amount of news but I did have a lovely email last night from someone Steve used to work with.  I've copied part of the email below for you:

I work in the Accounts department at Traveljigsaw and have done for a number of years.  I was therefore lucky enough to know and work with Steve for a number of years and I must say we always had a ball

Earlier this year I thought I would try and show my support towards Steve and his illness by signing up to run the Great North Run.  I asked Steve before I signed up that I wanted to do this for a charity of his choice and together we decided that I would run and try and raise some money for The Christie.  With the run less than 2 weeks away I have set up a just giving page to try and raise as much money as I can for this charity as per Steve’s wishes

(  I am sorry that I have not been in touch sooner in regards to this but I was unsure myself as to whether I would be able to do the run until such short notice.  I was wondering whether you would be able to mention this and my just giving page on your next blog or on facebook somewhere so we can try and raise as much as we possibly can.

I remember Steve mentioning this to me and I know he was chuffed that someone wanted to do this in his honour which is why I am passing this on as I (and I am sure Steve), would be very grateful if anyone could support Andrew in raising money for a very worthwhile cause.

Today I have spent most of the day out, I had to take my car in to the garage for an MOT so took it to the garage it went to last year and then spent the day with a friend whilst the garage worked on the car.  Steve's Mum visited this evening, it was nice to chat to her properly but this evening I have not managed to catch up on any of the things I wanted to sort, I think an early night is in order and an early start tomorrow so it's goodnight for now.
M x

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Here goes for a biggie....

This sporadic blogging is more difficult as I have to remember stuff but I have had a busy few days.

On Wednesday last week a friend arrived and stayed for a few days which is nice. It's good to sit and chat with no agenda.

On Thursday we had a few things to do. I called in to work to show someone else around the centre to show how it can be used for fundraising for other charities. On Thursday evening we went to see some other friends and were treated to a Jamaican banquet, it was lovely and the evening just ran away with us before we knew it, it was approaching midnight.

On Friday I packed up the car for my road trip to Scotland, it was full to bursting with all sorts including a sewing machine and fabric as I have been roped in to a bedroom makeover whilst away. It will be nice though to help with that.

We set off from home at 13.30 but we were still quite local at 16.30 as we did a bit of shopping en route, the traffic reports were rubbish so we were in no rush however, by the time we got to wherever the jams were, they had cleared so it was nice to have a clear run.

We stayed in Carlisle on Friday night and after a lovely dinner we sat and chatted for quite some time. Of course Steve Featured greatly in the conversation.

On Saturday we were in Glasgow, we called in to a Scottish national trust property but there was no parking available within any reasonable distance so we drove on. Travelling with a disabled friend really does make you see how difficult the simplest of things can be. It was similar travelling with Steve, simple things like parking a little closer to wherever we needed to be or taking the lift instead of the stairs really made a difference to how long Steve could spend out and about before becoming incredibly tired, ah the joys of cancer treatments eh.

We did go for a short walk though along the river just to meddle with the camera and take some pictures, it was too windy to stay out for long though.

On Sunday we made our way north to Oban where we boarded the ferry for Mull. The crossing was a little choppy but nothing too bad. It was quite nice to sit back and let someone else 'drive' for a bit.

When we got to Mull I really did get a bit of a surprise. Most of the roads there are single track, not usually a bad thing but the condition of the roads are such that not only are you watching out for the availability of passing places for the oncoming cars but also watching out for huge potholes, (think the vicar of dibley disappearing in the puddle), and it's not even like you can just drive a little off the road as there is often a 12 inch (or more) drop either side of the road or in some cases a cliff! It certainly was a different driving experience but, by the time I was leaving the island I had got used to a different style of driving and actually enjoyed the trip back to the ferry.

The friend I stayed with has a lovely little cottage, it really is little but, more than big enough for one or for a couple, I was surprised to learn the previous occupants had been a family of four. Dervaig is a tiny little village but has a little shop, a post office and a pub so what else do you need? It's on the main bus route to Tobermory (Balamory) too so it's quite convenient.

On Sunday evening we visited the local pub for dinner, it was lovely and extremely busy, surprisingly so actually, the Belachroy is apparently the oldest continually inhabited building on the island dating back to the 1600's. As well as being a locals pub it is also a hotel and restaurant and have a lovely menu on offer.

On Monday we went to Tobermory, it is so picturesque and just like you see in many a postcard etc. We had a lovely afternoon wandering around the shops there, as it's the islands main shopping area they have everything from a bookshop to a chandlery a hardware store to a distillery. They seem to cram a huge amount of stuff in to each shop. I guess the main difference is that the selection is limited. By that I mean when you go to your local supermarket you may get several choices of brand for the same product, on the island there may only be one brand or at most two so, choice is limited and, because there is no competition, they can charge way over the odds, in some cases two or three times as much as on the mainland. I am sure there are other factors that influence that too but it really is noticeable, as an example petrol is around 20p per litre more than on the mainland.... As a minimum! In fact even in Oban which is on the mainland the fuel was 12p per litre more expensive than it was nearer to Glasgow.

We stayed in Tobermory for a late lunch too, at the side of the harbour there is a fish and chip van. The fish they sell comes in straight from the fishermans boat first thing in the morning and is then prepped and sold the same afternoon. It was lovely and, it had a lovely and different taste, the fish really tasted fresh and you could taste the sea.... I am not sure that makes sense but I know what I mean, slightly salty but delicious and the chips were lovely too. We sat at the harbour with our lunch and chatted a little. It was difficult though.

Every mouthful seemed difficult to swallow. All I could think about was Steve. When our friend has posted in her blog about sitting at the harbour with fish and chips many months ago Steve commented that he was looking forward to doing the very same thing. A simple pleasure but, that was Steve, he didn't need flash restaurants etc he just appreciated good food. I miss him and I miss cooking for him too, I loved experimenting with food and he was always keen to try whatever I had concocted. I've never made fish and chips as nice as that though and I know Steve would have thoroughly enjoyed sitting there with us.

On Tuesday we headed back in to Tobermory briefly to pick something up then went for a drive. We drove to Calgary, a beach on the island with lovely light sand and a beautiful view out to sea. On the way we saw some highland cows so stopped for some pictures. They really are quite something but, they are quite scary too. When they are stood in the middle of the road those big and pointy horns sort of stop you getting impatient and blasting your horn at them as their horns can do more damage than mine!

At the beach there is a small campsite there and it is where Steve and I were supposed to be camping when we visited the island. It was the last trip we planned together and we had finalised details just the week before he died. He was so looking forward to it, we even went to look at a new tent for the trip on the Saturday before he died. It was such a lovely place and it was difficult not being able to share what I was seeing with Steve, even though I know many will say "he was there with you", it's not the same as being able to turn to him and see the look on his face or feel his hand in mine as we walk along the beach.

The beach really was lovely though and I took some pictures, I wrote in the sand for Steve, it was difficult being there. There were just a few people around, my friend was there too but I had wandered off alone up the beach to be with my thoughts. I'd have given anything to have Steve with me there and then, I still would.

On Wednesday we had a chilled out day and did very little, it was nice to relax and, it was also nice not to have a phone signal, oddly it was nice to feel that little bit of freedom of being away from it all. Steve used to like that too, just knowing that the phone wouldn't ring at all. I know we could turn the phone off but, that feels different. Being in an area which means you are not contactable is different to choosing to turn the phone off. Perhaps it was just us, (and me now), but I think I will have to start doing that, ditching the phone and having time out away from it all.

On Thursday I headed back to the mainland. I got the ferry to Oban and had a wander around. Even though it is on the mainland it is still stupidly overpriced, I guess just because I live in the city where everything is so accessible I don't always appreciate what it takes to get goods etc to these remote places.

Thursday was a particularly tough day though. Leaving Mull and driving alone I just cried. There was so much lovely scenery, driving along the lochs, the mountains, and just lovely scenery but nobody there to share it with. The ferry journey was difficult too, looking out to sea all I could think of was Steve, he had not been far from my thoughts throughout the whole time as it was something he and I were supposed to do together which is why I went. I am glad I did and I knew it would be difficult but it was tougher than I imagined.

When I got the the mainland my messages came though, I have still not read most but I received an email from work, a shitty horrible email which annoyed me and upset me in equal measure. It is clear they have no idea and no appreciation of how I may be feeling right now. They are putting a lot of pressure on me telling me how urgent it is that I go back to work because they need me. It's nice to feel wanted but they really are making me feel worse. I am going back tom work on Thursday and I have told them this so that's another reason why I find the pressure difficult tom cope with.

I replied to the email explaining how I am feeling pressured and stressed by them and got another back on Friday which had the same insensitive, demanding and slightly menacing tone. I wouldn't wish how I feel on anyone as it is horrible but I just wish they could understand. It seems the only people who do understand are those who have also lost their partner, husband or wife.

On Friday night I stayed in Glasgow, I did venture out but ended up in my room with a bottle of wine for company and the TV, I had had a shitty day so it was what I needed.

On Saturday I had a wander around Glasgow, nothing exciting to report there. I then made my way toward Kilmarnock which was supposed to be the next stopping point on Steve and my road trip. As it was early I drove further on to Prestwick and parked up. I made a few phone calls I had been meaning to do for a while and had a wander through the town. After that I decided to walk along the esplanade and down on to the beach again, more thinking time listening to the sea crashing on the rocks.

I walked along the beach and took a few pictures. On my way back I spoke to a friend I was due to stay with on Sunday night. To cut a long story short he convinced me I should make my way over to his a little earlier than planned. I don't think I needed a lot of convincing so, instead of driving the. 10 miles to my hotel I drove 180 miles to his house. Again it's somewhere Steve liked as there is no phone signal so we can legitimately switch off from the world.

On arrival I was greeted by a Martini, very much needed and appreciated. Prepared in the same way as taught by Dean Martin, 2 parts gin, 1 part martini and a splash of vodka, it was the perfect way to wind down after such a long drive. It was followed by a lovely meal and of course wine.

After a relaxing night on Saturday we headed out to Richmond to have a wander about the town. There were a few nice shops there but I didn't buy anything. Every time I pick something up I imagine what Steve would be saying, I won't say here what he would say as some people have got in to the habit of quoting Steve's sayings at me, inappropriately. I don't mind that so much but I hate it when they get it wrong or take it out of context so by keeping quiet I will not be providing tools with which to annoy me!

Anyway we headed home and had a lovely lunch, it was a late lunch or early dinner really but whichever it was it was lovely then, my friend had to go to work, so I tagged along.

I spent the evening sat in the bar of the hotel he works at. I only had a few drinks but was thoroughly entertained by some of the locals, one of the older ladies in particular had my sides aching with laughter. The first time I have properly laughed in many many months.

Today I set off at a reasonable time but, as I get quite tired of driving quite quickly I stopped off at two separate villages on the way home and had a wander around. Some lovely shops but again, I didn't buy anything, some lovely stuff there though but I guess in the main, most of my hesitation is down to us selling this place, I want new stuff in my new place, or at least new to me as I have seen some second hand or antique stuff I quite like the look of, not heirloom antiques though, just the sort I can modify, paint, tweak or adjust to suit my home.

I got home this evening and have chilled out a little. I feel drained from the journey but also emotionally drained because all I have done for the last week or so is think about Steve and churn things over and over and over again in my mind. I'm not complaining though, that's all I have of Steve now, my thoughts and memories. I said weeks ago I seem to miss him more each hour of each day, I thought there would be a point of saturation, I've not reached it yet, I still miss him more and more and more.

Well, I guess thats me done for now, the rest of the night will be spent relaxing and catching up.

Bye for now,

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