Monday, January 22, 2007

Why cleaning can wait

Let me just get this out of the way:
  1. No news yet re the development at work
  2. No snow yet
  3. I hate computer antivirus packages that decide to update every 2 minutes freezing the computer. Which is fully protected, thank you very much.

I had great plans for cleaning the house this evening. The vicar from my new church and his wife are coming to visit tomorrow when I get home from work, and I thought it would be a great idea to have a reasonably tidy house. One does not want him to think I am a slovenly parishoner. But then I had a surprise visitor.

Let me tell you about Jo.

10 weeks ago, her husband was killed on the way home from work. His car was run off the road and he died instantly. The other driver died too. I did not know her at all, but she lives around the corner from me and has 2 sons. In this village news spreads fast, and I think I mentioned that I heard about her older son at housegroup. David helps at the youth group he goes to, and I wondered if that perhaps, was the reason David was there. They are nearly the same age. Who better to help than someone in the same place.

Anyway, the morning after that housegroup a week after the accident, I woke just knowing I had to go and speak to her. I came downstairs, and told my mother I had to go and visit. You don't know her, she said. I know, but I have to go I replied. A few minutes later, Mum saw her walking along the road with her dog, and called me, and I barrelled out of the door like the road runner, and ran after her. She must have thought I was demented. I introduced myself, told her that I had been coming to see her, because I needed to tell her that I knew what she was going through. I explained that I was in the same place that she was, only a couple of months ahead, and that I knew that while she would be surrounded by many friends and family, she might find that no-one actually knew what she was going through. I did. She cried. I cried. We stood there in the street together, with her dog sitting at our feet, and I held her while she sobbed.

Anyway, we have kept in touch. Our sons have derived considerable amusement from the vision of one mother chasing another down the road. It has helped that they have someone in the same boat. This is good. I had told her that I would not intrude, but that she was welcome to pop in any time she felt like it.

Tonight was the first time she had visited. Anyone walking in would have thought we had known each other since the start of time. We could talk about things without holding back. She said how lonely she was. We talked about reactions and stepping forward and stepping back. We giggled about her freezer smelling like dead bodies after she accidently switched it off. Now you see, that is something anyone else would have seen as bad taste near us, and edited it out, and yet we laughed till we nearly cried about it. We talked about yelling at the heavens when things broke around the house. Like I did the day after Geoff died when the toilet handle broke. I was less than reasonable about it. We talked about our boys and their reactions. She talked of her young son whose hands were black and blue from beating the wall in his room in his anguish. We talked about counselling. We talked about making quilts with the shirts we have kept. We talked about inquests, and insurance, and doctors, and death certificates. She talked about how the silence mattered when she went to bed. We talked about when birthdays and anniversaries were. We talked, and we laughed too. We reminded ourselves that we wanted our sons to be young, and not to feel as though they need to look out for their doddering mothers. We talked about how we need to encourage them to grow and fly. We talked about the effort it took for her to drive again. And to be able to drive past the accident site. And how we cope with the sudden troughs. It was okay to say anything. And not wonder if we were making friends uncomfortable. It was okay to talk about what the future might bring. It was okay to remind her she needed to appoint guardians for her kids. It was just really okay.

A few days before I met her, I had written a list of things I need to remember. This is a list of things I need to remind me of how I felt and to ensure I don't make the mistakes that were made with me after Geoff died. The things that really do matter. The things that it is all too easy to forget once those early days pass. There is absolutely no blame attached to this list. No-one knew what to do. Now I have been through, or am going through this storm, which I would not wish on anyone, I have learnt things that just may help the next person, because it is a certainty that someone will need help going through it sometime. Everyone does. How ironic that I met Jo just days later. And how perfect that the rawness I felt could also help her.

So Jo came. And stayed a while. My son was ready to gnaw the kitchen table leg off as dinner was slightly delayed. We ate, and then in a truely helpful fashion, I fell asleep in the rocking chair, reflecting. I underestimated the effect having this sort of conversation would have. I am wiped out. So the vicar and his wife will have to ignore the dust and crumbs. Real people live here, with real lives. I am fine with this. They will be too. I had something way more important than cleaning to do.


PEA said...

Hi Linds...I'm here via Morning Glory's blog:-) I've heard so much about you, I just had to come visit you...after reading this story, now I know why MG suggested we come over!

You and Jo were fated to meet and it's such a wonderful thing that you're there for each other. My dad died of bone cancer when he was 48 years old...I was 21 at the time and knew my mom took it hard and was lonely but only now as an adult do I realize just how hard it was for her. Reading your story has helped me understand that so thank you so much for that.

You are truly an inspiration and I hope you don't mind if I come visit you again:-) Hugs xox

Morning Glory said...

You constantly touch my heart, Friend. I imagine the vicar and his wife will understand that going about the business of helping a friend in crisis is much more important that a spotless house.

Barb said...

This just made me cry, Linds. What a blessing you are to each other.

Anonymous said...

OH, that is SO very touching! I'd say that was unfathomably more important than cleaning. I'm glad you can be there for her. Hugs to you! Prayers for you both...

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you ran down the road after Jo. She's lucky she found you [or you found her...]Leapfrogged over from isabelle.