Saturday, 30 June 2007

Moving - Parts 2 and 3

Well, the house is packed up, cleaned up and handed over to the letting agent - an exhausting weekend/week.

Nicole has been a star, working most of the past week to get things ready for the move, organising with charities to come and collect the surplus "goods and chattels". On Thursday the packers from the shipping company came and packed away all the things we were shipping home and took away our car - apparantly they did sterling work. By the time the weekend came it was just a matter of getting rid of the stuff that we couldn't give away and cleaning the flat - "just"? It was rather disappointing how little the various charities were able to take away, so we ended up throwing away some perfectly good stuff, although most of the stuff we were able to unload at various charity shops on the way to the dump. Part 2 over...

Then it was time to vacuum the carpets, wash the walls, touch up the paintwork, wash all the windows (inside and out), steam clean the carpets, scrub the sinks & mop the floors - all to make sure we got our deposit back (which we'll need to pay the moving company!!). Thank goodnes my folks were able to come up for the weekend, to help with the moving and cleaning, but almost as importantly, to look after Janel while we worked. The agent was due to arrive at 4pm, and by 4.15, Nicole was fuming - I was able to escape with the final load for the dump, but fortunately for the agent, she arrived soon after I left, gave the place the once over and confirmed that everything was in order.

We left a lot of memories in that flat - we moved in there soon after we found out Nicole was pregnant with Janel (the thought of climbing two flights of stairs to the flat above the vicarage while pregnant being too much to contemplate), and it has housed us through happy, exhausted and distraught times. Janel took her first steps there, said her first words there, Zoe was concieved there. We learned of my Grandma's death there, and gathered there to try and listen in on her funeral via Skype. It was our place of refuge in the days after Zoe died, when the sun shone and our world seemed to have ended. We grew tomatoes (by the bucketload) and butternut there, mielies that stood tall but never produced fruit, sage that sounded like a good idea, but never got used, cucumbers that were huge, but too bitter. It was our first family home. Part 3 was over...

So now we trust that the container will make it past the coast of Devon and safely to Cape Town, that we haven't packed anything we'll need in the next 4 weeks, and haven't thrown anything away we should have packed. On to part 4

Monday, 25 June 2007

Moving - Part 1

And so it begins - the great re-location to Cape Town.

Yesterday, we packed up the things that we will be taking with us on the plane - that we will need over the next week and a half, and for the first 4 weeks or so in SA. Quite a challenge, packing for work and leisure, summer and winter, and in just 20 kgs!! Fortunately Janel gets a full 20kg to herself this time, as she is travelling as a child (i.e. getting her own seat) rather than as an infant (i.e. travelling on our laps).

At the same time we have begun putting things in bags/boxes so that they are ready for the movers to come and pack on Thursday. And throwing out junk, of which there is far, FAR too much, and giving things away to charity and friends. All rather exhausting really.

We've relocated to the house of some friends who are away on holiday, and are staying on the second floor, so are having to be much more organised with ourselves, as climbing two flights of stairs to fetch the wallet/dummy/book/etc that you've forgotten is task that my body is very unused to!!

By contrast, on Saturday, we had one of the nicest days we have had in a long, long time - we'd orgainised a farewell event, which was going to be a picnic in the park, but some friends offered us the use of thier place for a BBQ, so we took them up on it and were very glad that we did, as it was a stereotypical British summer day, with some rather hefty showers. It was such a relaxed day - with people coming and going, bringing FAR too much food, mixing and chatting and playing with Janel. Just the way that I had imagined it!!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Starting all over again...

And so the journey begins again...

We spoke in counselling last night about the feeling of being stuck in a place, of not feeling able to move forward in my grief, of still being in this place of non-specific anger and irritability with the world that I was two weeks ago. We then spoke about how being stuck can be a self-protective measure, as allowing yourself to get stuck in a comfortable place (or more comfortable than some of the alternatives) means that you no longer need risk facing the pain, anger, grief, whatever that moving on might mean you have to face. But all this is marvelously vague, and I need a little more direction, so I'm to start at the beginning again.

When Zoe died, Nicole took it very hard, and while I was able to grieve with her to a point, I also took on the role of protective husband, provider of needs. This was, perhaps, a necessary thing, to allow Nicole the time and space to grieve as she needed to without worrying about mundane details like where food was coming from. Necessary for me too, a protective measure from the intensity of the emotion of those first few days. And it has served its purpose - Nicole has, with the help of wonderful friends in both growth-groups, fellow bloggers and the denizens of the SANDS forum, been able to process much of the grief and anger and is taking steps down the road to wholeness again. I have remained in my role of protector and provider, which does not allow much space for my own grieving - I have not demanded it, nor, if I'm honest, even sought it terribly hard, once again a way of protecting myself. And yet, as Ali pointed out, in the long term, what is now a protection, will ultimately be the death of me, what I pass of as gallant and heroic, will one day destroy that which I hope to save - to be the husband and father that I desire to be, I must care for and nurture myself as much as I do those I love.

So I go back to the beginning - to try and relive (to some measure or other) the days after Zoe was taken away, the feelings and emotions, the stresses and anxieties. Much of this won't be published here, but I hope to be able to post some of what I learn, if nothing else.

Wish me luck

Monday, 4 June 2007

Do I care if he knows?

Today I got an email from one of the people at the meeting I was attending when I heard the news about Zoe - I replied saying that I was heading home to South Africa and he wished me well, ending off with the words "Hope all is well with the new addition". I didn't say much as I left the meeting that awful day so long ago and just the other day, although I had assumed that the expression on my face would have told a story, but it's clear that he thinks all is well.

How should I respond? Should I respond at all? Do I care if he knows? Do I know if he cares? What's the point in telling someone that I will never meet again of this tragedy - it will just upset him, and for no reason? What can he possibly say in response that will mean anything? And yet, I want him to know - I want everyone to know. Partly because this is something that everyone ought to know about because it is now such a huge part of who I am, what makes me be the way that I am at the moment, but also because I just don't want to have to deal with the awkward phase of someone learning about all of this for the first time and feeling bad and not knowing what to say and saying something trite or meaningless and feeling bad about that and having to manage their feelings as well as my own and all of everything...

This is one of the things that I fear most about going home, having to deal with people not knowing and with people knowing but seeing us for the first time - by now, the people we actually have relationships with all know what we've been through, whether they have dealt with it or not, spoken to us about it or not, so you don't actually have to mention it - a bit like the elephant in the room. But in South Africa, no one (apart from family and close friends) knows, and we'll meet and they'll be happy and we will be sad and they'll say why and we'll tell them and rinse and repeat. I was wondering what (if anything) I'd tell a prospective employer about all of this, because I know it's affecting my work, but when/how do you even bring something like that up?

This is why, when people ask me if I'm excited to be going home, I say I just want it to be over now...