Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's been a tough summer

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward" Kurt Vonnegut Jnr

See this titan arum? I know just how it feels. I went over to Kew last week to have a look at it, but by the time I got there it had finished flowering and collapsed in a heap. Unfortunately my garden has nowhere near finished flowering, but I have had to collapse in a heap several times. I'm weeks behind where I thought I would be by this stage.
Luckily, my original schedule aimed to get everything finished by the beginning of the summer, so I could sit back and relax, so there's quite a wide margin for error. I'll get there, but it's been a hard slog.
Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I lost my husband, Craig, nearly nine months ago. Since then I've been through the painful journey we call bereavement. Shock and disbelief have been the two major ingredients - it took me months and months to accept the fact that he was never coming back.
I simply could not get my head around it. Every time my thoughts wandered in that direction, I would push them away with work, or household chores, or paperwork, or blogging, or anything that might distract me from a reality that was too terrible to face. I tried to hang on to the life I had known with Craig, but it was like trying to push back the sea. In the process, I became exhausted.
I've had huge support, not only from family, friends and colleagues but also from my doctor and my counsellor. Some of you reading this will have talked to me or emailed me, offering advice and sympathy. The one thought that has stayed with me over those painful months is that I'm very lucky.
I'm lucky to have been so happily married to a man I thought was absolutely wonderful. I'm lucky to have had guidance and help available when I needed it. I'm lucky to have so many friends who have been an invaluable source of glasses of wine, cups of tea, chocolate biscuits and shoulders to cry on.
I've been pottering around in the garden all summer but it has been more from a sense of duty rather than a feeling of unalloyed pleasure. However, on Monday, my neighbour Ruth took me to Wisley, and while we were wandering around, we came across a member of the staff tidying a border in the Penelope Hobhouse garden. I stopped to admire her hat (the RHS staff wear rather nifty Australian-style bush hats, with a mesh crown). As I watched her clipping away, with her wheelbarrow at her elbow, I suddenly felt, for the first time for ages, a sense of huge excitement about gardening. Very soon, I think that's how I'll feel about life.
Just let me put my feet up for an hour or so first...