As Sting once sang (kinda), a year has passed since I wrote my last note. I’ve not written anything because life has been extraordinarily hectic. Here’s what’s happened – in no particular order, save what will enable this post to make sense as I write it.
I’ve moved. Yes, I’ve become another member of the Northern diaspora to migrate southwards; to the South West. Devon, to be precise. I knew I’d have to leave the house in Sunderland and was resigned to looking for another place to live in the North East. I did actually start searching for somewhere, but my plans were swayed by my decision to further my education.
Since having to give up my career in the Civil Service (way back in the dim and distant of 2005), I’ve been searching for a way to make up for lost time from an educational point of view. Now that I have the time and the opportunity, I decided to apply to gain the degree I thought I was missing.
After looking at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Bristol, I found Exeter University to be the most accommodating for someone my age and with my background. So, in March, I packed up the jalopy, said my goodbyes to everyone I knew there (including the Redwood Girls, everyone at WAYAYE, and my friends from the Tyneside Café) and moved in with Trisha’s mother, ready to start my four-year course in Art History and Italian the following September. It’s a bizarre feeling for me to be in a university environment now; maybe I’ll expand on that somewhere at some point, but I’ve more important things to talk about here.
My personal life is very different now, too. I have a new relationship…
L* and I met through this very blog. L also lives in Devon (who knew!). Four years ago, she got in touch with me after reading one of my posts and said it was like seeing her own life in writing. She was in a very dark place because she was in the same position as me: caring for her husband – an MS sufferer, but she also had two teenagers to bring up and a business to run.
We became good friends over time, swapping war stories and providing support when needed. From opposite ends of the country we laughed, cried and raged together. It became clear that both Trisha and L’s husband were on similar trajectories. We were both widowed just months apart. The support we gave each other was more important than ever.
Fast forward to late last year.
Over the latter half of last year, we were messaging and phoning every day, getting to know each other better and growing closer. In December, we decided that if it looked like a thing and felt like a thing, then we were probably a thing. I was invited to her family’s pre-Christmas celebrations, and I met her children (and the cat and the fish) earlier this year. We now live just an hour apart.
We’ve been a bit apprehensive about What People Would Think but everyone has been so, so positive about it. We are absolutely clear that there are four of us in our relationship. There’s no manual on how to conduct a relationship where one of the partners is bereaved, let alone when both of them are widowed at a young age. We still cry and rage sometimes, but there’s more laughter and a definite sense of togetherness. We went on a family holiday to Australia this summer and it was wonderful.
We know that despite what’s happened to both of us in the last year or so, we’re still learning how to juggle the past, the present and the future. To mangle Sting’s words again: Love has broken our hearts, now we’re looking to it to mend our lives.
* you know the rules, initials only!