A Journey

Posted By on 6th November 2018

You often hear people on TV (usually in talent/reality shows) say they are on a ‘journey’, and to be honest whenever I hear that phrase I just switch off. But the truth is over the last 7 weeks I’ve been on a journey of my own, in fact I’m still travelling.

In the space of 2 hours on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in September the bottom dropped out of my world and my life changed forever, it will never be the same.

There’s no good way to die, but sitting in the passenger seat of your beloved sports car in the driveway of the home and garden that you lovingly created must be one of the better ones.

The emergency services who attended, first responders; paramedics; ambulance; doctor; air ambulance, all tried so hard to save him, and did indeed get his heart going again, but by the time I arrived at Lincoln Hospital, thanks to the very kind efforts of my neighbours, Peter had passed away without regaining consciousness.

I don’t remember too much about the next few hours. My neighbours gave me a large gin and tonic and a cheese and tomato sandwich when we got back, but I wasn’t hungry, I just had this overwhelming urge to start making lists.

I think that must be the ‘Civil Servant’ in me and I actually believe that being able to take that business like approach, focusing on what needed to be done and trying to do it to the best of my ability, helped me greatly.

The following day I did indeed make my lists and started making phone calls too. Some might think that was too soon, but for me it felt right. I needed to be doing something.

Although I received lots of help and support from family, friends and neighbours, for which I am eternally grateful, I was, for a large part of the time, on my own. That would have been a daunting prospect had I allowed myself to think about it, but because I had my civil servant hat on and was so focused on trying to do a good job, I didn’t have time to dwell on it.

Peter hadn’t made a will, but his ‘estate’ wasn’t big or complicated, so I decided to apply for Letters of Administration myself, without engaging a solicitor.

Yes, there were times when I almost gave up, one Sunday afternoon doing battle with the HMRC website and a printer rapidly running out of ink was a particularly low point, but I shouted, swore, cried, had a stiff drink and persevered.

Most organisations were helpful and sympathetic. The Co-op Funeral Service were particularly good, Yorkshire Bank less so. Whoever thought Call Centres were a good idea?

The funeral was always going to be a difficiult day and wasn’t made any easier by some ‘family stuff’ which surfaced on the actual morning, and the fact that Poppy was poorly and I was worried sick about her. I had a vets appointment at teatime and she’s OK now thank goodness.

As it turned out the day went as well as these things can and I hope the people who came felt reasonably comfortable and relaxed. I’ve always believed that you should try to find the ‘good’ in even the worst situation and the last few weeks have reinforced that belief in spades.

Firstly I have reconnected with Peter’s niece who I worked with briefly many years ago at DHSS in Halifax. After leaving the Civil Service she trained as a paramedic and got married, she now has 2 lovely children. They’ve already been over for a visit and are coming again on the 24th.

Secondly I have discovered an inner strength that I never knew I had. I’ve overcome beauracratic obstacles and seen them through to a satisfactory conclusion; I’ve tried to conduct myself in a dignified and respectful manner, even when I was feeling neither dignified nor respectful on the inside; and I’ve overcome computer glitches I thought were beyond me.

Somewhere along my journey I encountered the motto, ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ Fine empowering words, but here’s the thing, I never for one minute believed that I could, but I did it anyway. Now I know that’s not quite as snappy for the front of a T-shirt, but it’s every bit as impressive.

Finally I am blessed with family, friends and neighbours who have shown me extraordinary love and support at this difficult time. I will be forever in their debt.

Yes, I’m still struggling, I have good days and bad days, but I know with their help I will get there in the end.

As for this blog? I will try to keep it going but I might not be as regular as before. Then again, I might just surprise myself!

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