Life as we knew it changed on Jan 25th 2011. We were thrown off course onto a new trajectory, a new and uncharted course. We are following this new path and with time, we learnt to live again. With the loss, the absence, the grief: the general weirdness of life with loss.
I may even look like a perfectly functioning human being on the outside and am almost fooled into believing I am one myself at times...
Until something small comes along; something so inconspicuous that yet somehow manages to temporarily unhinge me.
These moments teach me that it sometimes really does not take much to scratch the surface and hit a nerve.
Some things have become more difficult for me since Patrick's death. Some easier. Some have become more important, some less important.
I am still, after 8 years, getting to know the new me.
I lose patience more easily - with myself and others. Frustratingly, that also includes those nearest and dearest like Pat and the kids.
It's harder to stay focused and concentrated some times. I do not have the same capacity for pressure and stress.
There is an almost constant ball of anxiety in me other times, a nervous restlessness I am finding hard to describe.
I try very hard to live the best life that I can for Patrick and for me...doing things with the kids and Pat, creating memories, looking after myself. But that in itself can sometimes be exhausting...to keep going, to keep pushing myself, to keep getting up, to keep making the most out of the time we have...
Until something comes along that temporarily upends me and makes me want to pull the duvet over my head and ignore the world around me.
I crash and burn.
Over the years, I have figured out what I need to do to stay sane and know that occasionally, these needs change. So the importance of self-care is not a concept that is foreign to me.
These days, my souls craves nature and the feeling of the wind and/or sun (hell, even the rain!) in my face as I am out walking somewhere, almost literally drinking in the scenery, landscape, sounds and smells around me. I crave both solitude and company; at the same time and in equal measures. I crave long chats and sitting in silence. I crave stability and a sense of belonging.
That sense of belonging is something that I am struggling with, of late.
I feel out of sorts and a bit lost.
After a big-ish birthday earlier this year, the realisation is creeping in that our daughter is very likely the last baby of my own I will have held. Life is exhausting and busy so for the most part, I am perfectly ok with that but I think a part of me is grieving the end of that stage of our lives and knowing there should be three.
Back to school time can be difficult too. Some years I am OK but others I find harder. Patrick would be 10 this year and as we saw Eoghan off into 2nd class today, I could not help but to also feel Patrick's absence with all the what-could-have-been's that come with it.
Lately, curiosity has sent me off trying to find out more about my side of the family. Names, dates, places of the people that came before me. Who were they. What were they like? How did my great-grandparents feel about seeing not one but two world wars in their life time? Most of those questions I will never have answers to but I want to make sure that our kids have some idea of where they came from before more of those details get lost in time.
I have spent more time living here than in Germany and as much as I call my house here in Limerick my home, my roots are my family home in Germany. It's the house my great-grandfather built and that our family have lived in for the past 100 years. I have not lived there in 22 years but sometimes, I feel lost between those two places. Home and home-home.
Not really truly belonging to either.
At the start of this week, I picked up a book I was loaned. The first one in ages. "The Choice" by Edith Eger. A highly recommended read, actually. One of the quotes that stood out for me, is this one:
“Sometimes our pain pushes us, and sometimes our hope pulls us.”
I believe sometimes our pain and our hope work hand in hand and so we stumble along...to the best of our ability.