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image from spirit_elements-www-josephinewall-co.uk

image from spirit_elements-www-josephinewall-co.uk

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
From an Irish headstone”    Richard Puz

 

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Traveling to Mum’s house that night felt surreal. I felt as though I was wandering through my own personal nightmare. I drove along and had no real recollection of where I was going or what I was doing, it felt as though I was on auto pilot. What would have happened if anything unexpected occurred I have no idea. I suppose I should thank my angels and Dad that it didn’t. I could sense him from time to time but I knew he would be with Mum.

Going through the front door was indescribable. Yet another part of the nightmare, never ending. There was this horrible feeling of disconnect. Nothing felt real. I felt like an interloper and I seriously wanted to leave. For the first time I can remember I felt lost, adrift on some strange ocean with no bearings to guide me. Yet I was expected to be the same person I had always been, capable, competent, organised – for everyone else. It felt as though any feelings I had didn’t exist for anyone else. Their tears poured but I felt I couldn’t, or shouldn’t. When I was told I was a co executor of Mum’s estate I cringed inside. The other was my brother.

Every ‘rule’ of executor ship was flouted and trying to say anything I was over ruled on the pretext that he was so upset because Mum had passed away. Oh – wasn’t she my mother too? I was over ruled and out voted. Meetings held without me regarding Mums prized possessions (sentimental), before her hospitalisation had seen me ‘disenfranchised’. My children were simply excluded, and I had the feeling it was because they were the only grandchildren. I was being torn apart piecemeal, no one to turn to and I was still supposed to take control of the situation, even being accused of being an “Ice Maiden”, without feelings, because they didn’t see me cry. I had a dam inside and the tears couldn’t be allowed to get past it. I didn’t want them to see it either.

image from http://www.theguardian.com     Such a vital piece of paper

The more I learned about how the Will had come to be drawn up, its contents and the meetings which took place without me, the more I felt cut off from my family. I was lost in the darkness and there was no way out.  Once the funeral was over, the wrangling with finalising the estate began. Months of arrangements and meetings, and more and more blackouts as I traveled to ‘Mum’s’ house started to widen the cracks. When I was finally told, after I organised the estate tax return, that it would be another 12 months until it could be finalised I reached “the point of no return”.  Denied Mum’s mementos, denied access to the house proper to see her things, despite everything I had tried to do and I had reached the time to say, “Enough!”

I needed time. I needed space. I needed to find out who I was again. I had been mother, daughter, sister, wife for so long that I was unsure who I was. I booked a 12 week trip to the Middle East and Switzerland, had a long talk with my children and left to find myself. My children understood and were old enough and cared enough to wish me well, however. I didn’t leave a happy camp behind. I don’t believe my brothers really understood how fragile I had become.  I tidied up everything with the solicitor so nothing would need attending to in my absence and left.

Perhaps it was prophetic that I went to the airport alone and had no one to see me off. My very first overseas trip, the only trip I had ever taken alone in my life and there was no one there to say goodbye. As the plane rose into the air I felt an enormous weight suddenly detach from me and I felt lighter than I had for so long. I had a long way to go but I had made a start.

image from http://www.travelhouseuk.co.uk           Fly away little bird.

There was a strange feeling as I walked into the Singapore airlines lounge, which felt something like, “So this is what ‘they’ were talking about. There was a feeling of freedom, of being looked after, and after the previous couple of decades it was almost unbelievable. The people there were so friendly and helpful, and despite the fact that it was their job, they made me feel as though I was special, something truly unusual for me.

The long haul trip to Singapore tested out my back despite being in Business class, a luxury I had decided on simply because of the injuries to my back. Unfortunately we arrived at 11pm so apart from a walk, a very long walk to the Singapore airlines lounge there were very few shops open.  Yet the two hour wait for my connecting flight to Athens was still full of surprises.  I had rarely seen so much food available outside a restaurant and staff who were only too happy to help. The shower facilities were a blessing and it felt really good to refresh myself after sitting on the plane for so long.

image from http://www.airreview.com             Business Lounge in Singapore

Back on board again it seemed only a short time before we were landing in Athens. I had been too excited to sleep much so the on-board films were a good distraction. I was collected at the airport – Yes, I had someone standing in arrivals with my name on a piece of cardboard! Whisked through the airport, the Greeter insisted on handling my entire luggage (I over packed) and I was in a taxi and speeding into Athens.

The driver, whose name I never did get, zipped in and out of traffic like a bee hopping from flower to flower. The nonstop information was brilliant, but I could only take part of it in. The sights and sounds were amazing. Once we reached Athens the traffic was phenomenal. So many vehicles all going flat out, horns honking, drivers waving their arms at each other and the roads – they seemed so small! It was a thrill a minute.

View of the Acropolis from outside the hotel

View of the Acropolis from outside the hotel

The hotel was an oasis of peace and calm from the bustle outside and once I was in my beautiful suite I suddenly felt exhausted. Tired or not I had to explore since I was only there for a couple of days on the way to Israel, my ‘final’ destination. I’m sure the Major D was surprised when I hurried through the doors so soon, asking for directions. I walked for hours before finally stumbling back to the hotel where I declared it exhaustion treat time and ordered room service.

One beautiful hot bath later my meal arrived and I settled down to find an English speaking news channel so I could find out if the Middle East was still peaceful.  The lure of the soft and gigantic bed was too much and I slept until breakfast the next morning.  A full breakfast was on offer but I didn’t want to waste time so off I went sightseeing and gathering all the brochures I could for my return trip.

image from news.gtp.gr     Athens Airport

 Picked up bright and early the next morning, (They even got the staff up early so I could have breakfast before I left) and I was whisked out to catch the El Al Plane into Israel. That was where the fun really began.

Next week – Learning to breathe again

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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Who is this person looking back at me

In the depths of this pool

Reflected back at me

Do you know me

Have I seen you before

Can you tell me if we spoke

Or did we just pass by

I wonder if you can see me

Or is it just a shadow of who I am

Did I really show you my true self

Or was I hidden behind another mask

It isn’t such a strange thing I ask

I really can’t remember when

The last time I let a stranger in

To see beneath the masks I wear

So many now it’s crowded here

There are so many to choose from

If I decide it’s safe to try

I might let you see me as you wander by

I doubt I’ll let you know who I am

Nor to speak to or get to know

Know who I truly am

For then I have to start anew

And craft a new me,

For you

… Shazam

Susan

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