As I alight the 2018 train, I can do one of two things:
- sprint for the 2019 leaving from platform 42; or
- stroll there, purposefully
I’m a runner. So I normally sprint there. Just to be sure because, let’s face it, the 2019 train will hurtle at us, couple us to it and be on its merry way, whether we’ve finished our last Rhubarb and Ginger G&T of 2018 or not.
And so it begins … everyone’s annual pilgrimage to New You. Y’know the place I mean, don’t you? Where you purchase a ticket to a place that promises a year of reading more, exercising more, writing more, weighing less, stressing less, working less, eating less, all whilst you fight the appearance of yet more fine lines, pluck anything that dares sprout from any pore and touch your colour up every five weeks, because six weeks.
But this year, I will not run.
2019, I am ready for you.
After my Dad’s funeral service, somebody said to me,
“It really is the end of an era.”
And I cannot stop thinking about their words. If what they said is true, which I feel it is now having lost both Mum and Dad since 2015, then I am ready to embrace a new era. At least as ready as I can be.
My grief doesn’t vanish at Midnight on the 31st December. Grief will run through me as long as my heart keeps pumping blood around my body because it is part of me. The new me. I am not who I was. Grief changes you. It is scary. It is unexpected. It hurts like hell and some days it is hard to breathe, to think, to do anything with any real purpose, but grief can also numb the soul like Novocaine and, what I’ve found, is that on those days, I can get stuff done. I can embrace the new. I can attend a yoga class. I can train for a half marathon. I can complete my novel. I can trial run a new recipe – love Deliciously Ella – I can do what I want and need to do and if you’re in a grief pattern, you may well be nodding right now, thinking, yep – numb – I know that feeling. I believe it is the body and mind’s way of coping, aiding the transition period to what will be your ‘new normal’.
After my mum passed away nearly four years ago, I went into a pattern of grief where most days I felt numb, after the initial shock, tear-induced exhaustion hit, followed by a general inability to breathe and function. But as these resided and I entered a phase of numbness at around the 4-5 week mark, before I knew it I became a fiancee and suddenly had a wedding to plan, a honeymoon to book, an MA to begin studying for, an ailing father to help take care of and so I was off, leaping from one carriage to another, then one train to another. But the thing is with grief, it has a funny way of halting you in your tracks, pulling the Emergency Stop handle so hard and fast that you slam into a window, which shatters, leaving you floored and stuck in an entirely new carriage you weren’t expecting be in. But that’s life. And death.
I have entered the numb phase once more – this time it was week three – and I wonder if that was because Dad’s passing was expected. Even so, the shock that comes from a bereavement still hits like a brick in the face. And all it takes to yank me back to a world of pain and loss is a song, a kind word, a photo, a smell until the cycle continues and eventually you arrive at numbness, which I have found allows functionality to drive the train.
I have spent the last couple of days having a monumental spring clean of my physical environment, re-organising my writing space, making lists, and generally readying myself whilst continuing to physically declutter – this is something you may find therapeutic, too – because when the 2019 arrives at that platform, I want to do all I can to be mentally ready to step forward into my new era and press the button.
p.s I am reliably informed that the first carriage is yoga.
NB: The train is the Sir Dinadan from Hornby – my Dad’s favourite and his prized model now lives with my brother for safe-keeping.