Tuesday, 12 July 2011

So far... so good?!

Well it's now almost a month since he passed.  Does it get any easier.  Simple answer is NO it doesn't, not yet anyhow.  Will it get any easier, probably.

I was suggested by a friend to start this blog and so I have.  I can't remember all the emotions I have gone thru over the last month but I know I have laughed over memories, cried over memories, felt my heart was being ripped out of my chest with the longing to have his arms around me again, woken up crying because of a dream with him in and some of these all in the same day.

I can't pretend it doesn't hurt.  It does, it REALLY hurts.  You marry someone you expect to spend a VERY long time with them, not 9 months almost to the day (well it WAS 9 months to the day from the handfasting, and 9 months and 2 days from the wedding).  OK so I KNEW him a lot longer than that and we lived together since December 2007, but it didn't really make it any easier.  I'm not going to say it is. 

Some memories of feelings over the last month that stand out are the following:


We did this the day after he passed.  Not because we wanted to exactly, but because you only have a certain length of time to do so, and it has to be done in person.  Because I was the 'informant' I had to be given an official 'title'... and unfortunately my official title is 'widow of the deceased'.  I remember asking in a small voice "Does it have to say 'Widow'?" and being told by the registrar that sorry, but yes for legal reasons I have to put 'widow'.  Every fibre of my being was rebelling against that because I am still married to him, I still love him, I will ALWAYS love him, and I was handfasted 'for this life and all that is to come beyond'.  I actually texted or emailed one of my best friends Gill Slane, who performed the rite of handfasting for me just to ask 'Gillybean... I AM still handfasted to Joely aren't I?!'  I was seriously worried that for some reason Joel's death took something away from that, made it null and voided etc.  I couldn't bear that to be the case.  I love Joel... there is no past tense in that.  Even before all this happened, it was unlikely that Joel would live to 'a ripe old age' since he suffered from chronic Pancreatitis.  As such we both knew we'd have to take our chances with whatever time we had together (we didn't expect it to be so soon) but NEITHER of us liked the words 'Til Death Do Us Part'... we both agreed that love was 'forever' whatever forever meant.  Joel was a scientist and a realist, he said he would like to believe in an afterlife but he wasn't sure what to expect.  So, I'm still his WIFE, only legal things will have WIDOW on it.  I have kept the status of 'married to' Joel Milburn because I am, I have a bit of paper to say so.  And like the registrar pointed out about the ink registrars use it will never fade.  Unlike the printer ink on the Death Certificate, my marriage certificate is made out COMPLETELY in the unfadable ink.... NO ONE and NOTHING can change what happened on either the 13th or 15th September 2010.  I am, and always will be Joel's wife.


Joel was jaundiced at the time he died.  This was the original reason that he went into hospital, to have tests to find out WHY he was so jaundiced.  When he died and we engaged a Funeral Director, I asked if I could place certain things in the coffin with him (what went in was a postcard with my final thoughts to him... well actually NOT my final thoughts as I'm constantly thinking of him, the computer keys off an old keyboard to spell JTM I LOVE Y0U [note the second 'O' is a zero.... I couldn't put 'I LOVE U' as he HATED text speak!!], 2 cat plush toys, a plectrum, a red rose a ring made of my hair and a plait made from Sophie and Mam's hair.).  I also asked (but in the end didn't do) if I could massage his feet one last time.  A couple of days before Joel was released from the mortuary to the Funeral Director apparently the mortician (the HEAD one) rang the Funeral Director to say that it might be advisable for the family NOT to view.  This was because certain things that happen after death sometimes don't make a body a pretty sight so to speak, and fluids hadn't been drained as there hadn't been a post-mortem.  Now in a way I was relieved at that as I knew that Joel's body would have been completely 'intact', but I really wanted to see Joel and not remember him with tubes and IVs and whatever attached to him.  As it happens we got a phone call to say that we could go and see him, and surprisingly (for me, I've seen a LOT of dead bodies unfortunately... nope I'm not a vampire nor am I into necrophilia, I have my reasons.) Joel looked beautiful.  Not handsome... beautiful, finally at peace and his gorgeous lovely hair lose and flowing.  Yes, I cried.... but I did that because... well, I think because it was relief that they'd made him look so lovely, that he wasn't in pain anymore (physical or mental) and that the eternal insomniac had finally got to sleep.  Even like that he had a small smile playing around his mouth.  I'm glad I went to see him, or least the body he lived in for 34 years.


We cremated Joel on 23rd June at Saltwell Crematorium, Gateshead.  I was fine on the morning although I had deliberately NOT put on any make up as I didn't want to look (to quote my darling little 'brother' Bryan...) 'like something from KISS'.  I did start to cry when it finally started to dawn on me, considering we were in the stretch limo and looking directly at the end plate of the coffin which read Joel Thomas Milburn 10.10.76 - 15.06.11, that it was indeed MY Joel in that wooden box in the car ahead.

We got about half way to the crematorium and I started laughing... not because I felt any better, but because I noticed that the hearse was a Volvo.  In case you don't know, Joel HATED Volvo's!  Well like Dad said he's got even more reason to now!

From then I was fine until the pall-bearers hoisted up Joel and the opening bars to Glycerine (by Bush) started.  It is a song which for me is irrevocably connected with Joel.  Once I'd recovered from that, listened to Gill's bits which had me nodding and crying a little too, and had Dad read the bit from Bryan (who like many of us was too upset to read it himself) then I read the main eulogy.  I don't know how I got thru that.... I think years of practice at amateur dramatics, presentations, public speaking etc. got me thru it.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life but I HAD to do it for Joel.

The curtains, I was warned is the worst part, and yes, it was.  To me it seemed like I was shutting him out of my life forever.  I know that can never be the case now but then it really hurt.

I'm grateful to any of you reading this that attended the funeral and were there in Saltwell Towers afterwards, because having the sound of laughter wherever Joel's name is mentioned is a salve to my poor hurting heart.  To know that he meant so much to so many of you really helped and continues to help.  Thank you!


Well yesterday I had 2 of 'the lads' - Norman and Kris around... it was fun, they did some housework and computer connecting things for me and basically I had company for a while.  We laughed and talked about Joel, it almost felt like he was there.  Now think that I'm mad now if you like but this would be a good point to explain about the 'shrine' to Joel.

It never started as a shrine.  It was actually intended to be my pagan altar/handfasting mementos area.  Now it seems that the whole of that corner is dedicated to the memory of St. Joel of Computing... the patron saint of motherboards and hard drives (yes, I thought that one up and be sure he's taking time out from teaching the angellic choirs to sing Steppenwolf and The Clash/The Cure/Nirvana or whatever to giggle at that one!!). There are pictures (thanks Norman and Rachel!!) of him all over the wall, the urn with his ashes, our handfasting cord and roses, the cake topper, the last Valentine gift (a teddy holding a heart), an orchid that I'm going to TRY to keep alive, plectrums and all kinds of other little bits on there.

Now, I had promised to make Joel some of the family famous 'Cherry and Coconut' Scones AGES ago.  And with one thing and another... first out of one or other of the ingredients, then he wasn't well enough to eat them (and I'm sure you'll agree.... scones NEED to be eaten fresh!!).... well I made 3 types of scones yesterday while the guys were here Cheese, Fruit and the CandC ones!!  When they came out of the oven I selected the most perfect Cherry and Coconut one, took it and plonked it on the shrine with a shout of 'THERE! I've finally made you some!!'  - Yes I am totally crackers!!


4 hours yesterday was spent trying to beat passwords (I succeeded... tho only because I knew the selection of passwords Joel used!) and some severe corruption on an old disk that I found with 'Personal Data, NS, BACKUP' on it.  I'm glad I did... I found on it SEVERAL lovely pictures of Joel as well as family pics and pics of one of the dogs as a puppy!... and some random stuff!  Those of you on Facebook will see the ones I added.  For those that didn't, here's a random one:

Joel with Tim (friend of Gill's) and Gill aka Velvet.  Poor Velvet looks a little 'manhandled'!!

Gill herself said she didn't know that picture was still in existence.... it wouldn't have been if teachings of Joel (i.e. 'Don't throw out anything that says 'Backup' on it... might be useful!') hadn't kicked in I would have just chucked it... 2nd of such experiences since we found a similar one in Mam's loft and we were going to chuck it and found a lot of pics of Joel on it.  I've decided I'll post at least one random picture of him per day for you.  I have hundreds now and there are more to be scanned into a computer up in the loft at Mam's.

Spent some of today making a card for Mam as it's her birthday tomorrow... first time other than crochet which I have kind of immersed myself in, that I've done any other craft.  I also made a thank you card for the staff of Ward 11.... where Joel died.

On a positive note, getting picked up by Mam sometime tomorrow.... not quite sure what the plan is beyond that!  It's her birthday so what she says goes!!  Chat with you all tomorrow!!

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