Unreturned love of my star

This poem is not about my situation at all. But is it or isn’t it?

In my current state, I’ve become ‘masterful’ at Seeing the world through my very specific spectacles (flexi specs) Without a doubt they are not bifocal or even trifocals, they are progressives.

I can see all sorts of things. I can see what I want to see.

I’ve got them on now, I turn the metaphorical (!?) dial.

First setting ‘reality’ to see the smile that lights up the room of my beautiful my lovable (it’s what Manjula means) Manjula, the one who I adore whose presence I carry with me and who I miss intently. She’s absolutely perfect (OK, that’s the rose tinted setting and comes with the territory).

Second, I look back to see how Manjula grew and blossomed, showed strength through endless challenges, changed me in so many ways and through the connections she made, left a part of her with her friends throughout the world.

Next

Oh no, I slipped and mistakenly landed on grief 2 (you know the guilt trip, ‘what if’ one where we don’t HAVE to be there) whoops, move it back a step to grief 1 (dealing with the gaping hole, the big loss, we just have to manage this one)

And finally I turn it to magical thinking to cherish and hold her with me as a star in the sky, she’s not quite here or there for that matter, maybe she does feel something, maybe not but it doesn’t matter, as my love, sent out as a ray, a beam will still hold strong. I can be the more loving one, in fact I’m the one that’s left, so I have to be

THE MORE LOVING ONE
by W.H. Auden

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

A getaway

Lucie and I are away on our own in Wayanad.

Anjum the ever enthusiastic drove us.

And here’s the the view at Dhanagiri homestay.

She’s been on edge. Primarily of course she’s sad dog as we’ve lost something from our heart. Then with me getting ready and packed she thinks I’m going to leave her, no sweat there but then the longest car ride ever, almost four hours. Now plumped in a coffee plantation.

Where are we, what’s happening? Tell me!

Update

Thunder, lightening, rain….. strange environment, she is sooooo not impressed.

Update again.

Breakfast finished, next to walk up the hill with Manjula, Lucie and Abha.

Guess who’s with us in more ways than one.

This trip is proving useful to help me connect with the spirit of my soul. I know, it all sounds a bit new age or Hebden Bridge (the alternative place where my house is in the U.K.). I realise it’s one of the messages from Manjula that I now see more clearly. It’s not really new age, more slowing down the hare and learning from Manjula’s grace. More later.

It’s a significant anniversary

Today, exactly four weeks after my beautiful died I’m at the old people’s ashram.

In memory of Manjula we’re gifting all today’s meals. I’ve arrived an hour early so it’s time to chill, remember and reflect and in a very limited way feed my addiction to share with you guys.

Back in Siddarthanagar smileys have appeared on the road, overnight.

Using stencils and water soluble spray paints they are another simple way to discreetly and publically remember and acknowledge.

There’s a fair amount of sweeping goes on at the ashram.

Checking out Manjula

Memories of Manjula

There are just so many….. photos everywhere (Manjula would complain that there were too many but I never believed her)

These are in prominent positions in the house.

This one with lots of her things as part of the pooja on specific days, they’re not always there!

The logo created by Punith.

videos ….

Article in the Guardian (photo is taken from the article)

The river Kaveri where Manjula said a prayer after our wedding celebration in the field on Srirangaptnam. A tender memory.

Facebook and blog postings, meals at the Ashram for the elderly residents ……. remembered happenings, and most importantly the piece of her that’s in my heart that will always make me smile, ( the T-shirt I gave her in recognition of this and the rosette I made awarding her best maid in Mysore after working for her for one year…. early signs of my love?)

the jokes, the giggles, bossing me around, the hair (she was losing it) I still find in nooks and crannies.

And what about this from Kate who came to stay with us years ago?

A lovely gesture, trees planted by treesthatcount.co.nz in New Zealand in memory of Manjula.

Thanks Kate, love it!

Grief

So far I’ve found three buckets (pails) of grief. As I share this, I realise that it might resonate with your own experiences. (See I’m moving on from me me me). As you know, I’m new to this. Maybe it might help others, who knows?

In bucket one is the stuff you just can’t avoid. The absolute challenges which you face when your loved one dies. The sudden trauma, the shock, the breathlessness of the realisation that she’s gone. Bam

Just like that! A wacking great big black hole.

No matter how much you think you prepare, or plan or maybe you had realised what might happen. …… It’s not enough. It has actually happened and you’ve just got to deal with it.

Your personal resilience might help, your belief system (they’re still here and gone onto greater things?) could wrap it up nicely, time will also be the proverbial healer, or so they say. My mate Tom says it’s like walking down or further away from the hill, you see more of the total picture and put it in perspective.

Bottom line is…. You ‘choose’ how to deal with it.

In the second bucket is the grief you can give yourself. You know the sort of thing. The what ifs? The guilt trips. The preoccupations. Missed opportunities. Recriminations. Regrets. The whispers you ignored. The stress.

In my view, this is the big challenge and again you choose. In this case you can maybe control how much you open the tap and fill the bucket.

So how much angst is there to be?

I don’t live a life with regrets but this is a whole different ball game. The smallest chink of light, the smallest possibility to catch the grief and you’ve got it. It’s hard.

In my and Manjula’s situation.

We’ve been dealing with a series of serious illnesses for over three years. I wonder if we could have handled it differently. More regular tests, quicker responsiveness to trying new things, better lifestyle such as exercises, different opinions, complementary medicines. I know though that it was very tough for Manjula, she hated the tests (usually with disapppinting results) the clinic merry go round, the manic mother hen husband, the too many tablets.

The second main choosing-to-give -myself-grief issue is how well we used the last twelve months.

After a spell in intensive care a year ago and her unhappy experience on a ventilator she was given another lease of life. I look back at the photos. We sort of had the old Manjula. After six months she began to lose weight, they thought she might have TB and her drugs didn’t seem to work. She was slipping away and I just didn’t know what to do.

At the end she’d had a heart attack and real difficulty breathing. This was on the Friday evening. They’d resuscitated her and not intubated her in line with my (her) request. On the Saturday morning she had another heart attack. Immediately before we managed to discuss and she only wanted to be on ventilator if it was a day or two. There was a real likelihood she would never be able to come off it. I decided to let her go.

We did do good things. We have so many happy memories.

She was keen to properly celebrate her birthday in August, she wanted to continue the BnB even as she lost more weight and lived between her bed, the downstairs lounge and outdoor sit out. She loved and livened up when meeting the guests.

We managed a final holiday in Kannur, the site of our first holiday together after becoming engaged three years ago.

Our time was precious. We had a wonderful, odd maybe but amazing relationship. From different worlds but all the better for it.

In that final year there were times we both knew where it was heading. Manjula would once or twice talk about death. Me forever the coward didn’t want that, couldn’t deal with it and worried that might in itself help bring it on. We had to remain positive. We should however have discussed it properly. Some might say I was in complete denial.

We seem to choose whether and how much to give ourselves the grief in bucket two, maybe not even the time of day or perhaps the full flow.

I realise now it’s useful to create your own narrative or ways of fathoming it all out. It requires a balanced view. I think we did the best in the circumstances.

Bottom line is ‘it’s how it is’

In bucket three the grief is more existential. What’s the purpose or point in life? What happens when we ‘move-on’ ?

That can remain with its lid on!

So now as we approach The fourth week since Manjula died we have a few more things to do to help her on the way.

It may now be time to step aside from the angst. It’ll still keep popping up but I’ll hold it with me

I thank you for allowing me to share and your kindness, patience and support by being there for me and Manjula.

Next I plan to bring you herstory.

Yes, I’ll lighten up…

My life, my key, my saviour

Absolutely nothing ever goes to plan or as expected.

The 11th day, of Pooja for Manjula is now the day after the one originally planned, so unfortunately non of our Indian friends are able to come. The appropriate date is calculated by some mystic, the stars or pure whim, who knows? The event organised by Manjulas brother and family will be in a village with no one that we really know. It doesn’t really matter. But…. Non of us will speak Kannada or have any idea whats going on. Then there’s the whole issue of me bringing her mangal sutra and ankle chains and getting them back to take home. So there’s a few things to understand and manage.

That’s today’s first challenge.

Then there was….

the Merry-go-round of trying to collect Manjula’s body from the hospital,

..or the case of the missing engagement ring and wedding sari.

It’s one thing after another.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that Manjula has been my golden key to help open the lock of India she’s enabled me to relatively easily surf the uncertain waters, the buffering of the white water. That’s now gone.

India well and truly takes you out of your comfort zone and then pushes you out a bit further and a bit further and further still into unchartered waters.

She was also my life life saver in so many ways.

But of course, she’s still with me.

Tender

My true love

It will probably never be matched.

We were devoted to each other

One or two quibbles, the odd little secret, things we should have done differently

Normal then