Monday, 29 May 2017

Manchester

To Manchester and met up with a friend from my town (who had gone there early to shop.) Meal out and nice company. On the way back, I visited St Ann's Square which was filled with flowers, balloons, cards, candles and chalked tributes. I saw a balloon which said "You will be missed" which made me cry- but that's not been difficult these last eight months. Walking back to the train I passed so many people clutching bunches of flowers and carrying balloons, some crying. It was moving but a part of me felt concerned it might be self indulgent.I've become acutely aware of the utter anguish of bereavement, and worry that in a just a few weeks those poor families will most likely feel a fickle world has moved on when they are in it for the long run and  face a long, hard and truly torturous struggle ahead. It is important we recognise and  mark such atrocities but we should beware of sentiment and manufactured grief which can be an insult given the harrowing nature of real loss and grief. I've thought the same reading facebook posts and tweets this last week.
I leave you to make your own minds up.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Half term

Half term and I have spent the best part of the today and yesterday just taking it easy. This half term was always one I really looked forward to. The Upper Sixth leave for study leave and the Lower Sixth have finished their exams. This translates to no marking over half term and, although I do have some preparation to do, it makes this the only half term of the year when I don't have to spend most of it marking.
It has been a very gruelling few weeks run up. I've been running revision sessions and setting a lot of timed essay which then have to be marked. This last week has been very difficult with students upset and subdued due to the awful events in Manchester- some of them knowing those who attended on that night or who had thought of booking for the concert in question.
 Friday was so hot; I just developed an aching head and incredible tiredness and knew that I was going to suffer from "weekend syndrome" yesterday- sure enough I got up but had to go back to bed until noon and then went back for an hour's sleep in the afternoon. I feel much better today and have even been to the gym, most of the day I've just been pottering around though.
Tomorrow I am meeting friends for a meal in Manchester and will visit St Ann's square where the flowers are and think of the lives so dreadfully taken. When I read the words of commiseration on facebook it makes me sad to think that the world and media will quickly move on but for those families, the pain is only just beginning and will never go away.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Busy on a budget

Still here and life of a sort is still carrying on. I've been pretty busy recently really. I've been to the Lowry, to the Royal Exchange, had a meal out at the Banyam in Manchester last Friday and have been meeting up with new friends for coffee and chats. The advantage is that it has kept me pretty busy which means less time to think, the downsides are it has made me a bit too busy as this time of year is so full on at work preparing students for exams and it has made it very difficult to keep within my budget. When Kev was alive, I had a ready made social life and company pretty much on tap. A walk out and a cup of tea was a treat. It took little effort or money to have a fulfilling life. Now, I reckon I need to put aside ten to twenty pounds a week for entertainment. As a result of this I am going to have to possibly reconsider the money I give to charity. I honestly hate cutting this but Kev and I gave to quite a number of charities and I am going to cancel all but two or three very close to my heart. I do want to carry on with some charitable giving. If you don't give at all, you are truly poor, at the same time we have given for many years but now I am not in the same position and my well being and need for a social life comes first. It is as simple as that.
Meanwhile, having resolved to have a few weeks staying at home and doing some work, I got an invite round to a friend's this Tuesday and then another friend has invited herself round this weekend- which is very welcome. Come the June half term I will have a bit more time and can hopefully repay some of the other hospitality people have kindly shown.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Out-of-the-blue blues

It's so weird how you think you are starting to cope and then you feel you are back at square one. After a busy and coping weekend, I woke up Monday morning and felt complete shock and lethargy, it was incredibly hard to get out of bed. It made me ask myself if I've really faced up to things  or not. I just spent the whole day in a daze and was a bit of a wreck, even almost seven months up the road I can't believe that he won't just walk in. I wonder where he is. My stupid brain takes every sound at the door or car up the road to be his homecoming. I've also been having dreams again, not the really bad ones, just ones where everything is alright or where I am searching for him- usually in places we used to visit, shopping centres, holiday locations, National Trust properties, you name it, I am looking.
Think I'll be searching and looking for the rest of my life.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Carrying on

It is looking like Manchester is my second home at the moment. On Thursday a colleague offered me free tickets for the matinee performance of Twelfth Night  (he'd double booked with a family occasion.) I have loads of marking and prep this weekend but I wasn't passing up a chance like that. So yesterday saw me meeting with a friend in the Exchange restaurant ( nice but a bit pricey for my budget...)  then the show afterwards.  In addition, I'm attending my first evening meal in Manchester with the bereavement group this coming Friday largely because the other local members of the group don't take no for an answer.
After that, I really do have to buckle down and do some work. The students sit exams starting in only four weeks time (AS) and going through into early June (A2) so I am in a relentless cycle of preparing revision sessions on top of lessons and marking seemingly endless mounds of marking. *What, not another timed essay* I know I can get pretty exhausted just coping with work alone so really do need to rein it in soon.
Life is still not easy. I miss Kev every moment of every day and I feel bereft and broken by his death. In response, I am turning to the things and the people who offer  me help and support and help ease the burden. It doesn't take the pain away, but it maybe looks something like a life or at least like a coping, a carrying on, which for now will suffice.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Fellowship

The support group I've joined organised an Easter Monday meal in Manchester today. I am very lucky to have met two members who live in the same town as me and one who is slightly further afield. We all seem to get on really well and try to have coffee together regularly and attend events. Three of us met up today at the train station and travelled in together for the meal and some shopping.
It was also lovely to spend Easter Sunday yesterday with both my sons at home- the youngest goes back to university next week. I cooked a roast lamb meal which seemed to be very much appreciated and  we followed it up with rhubarb pie and custard.
It has been weird this year as I have not attended an Easter service. I think it is the first time in my entire life that I have not gone to church on Easter Sunday. The levels of anxiety and the flashback dreams I've had have meant that I haven't been able to go to church or to Quaker meeting since the funeral. In some ways this is distressing because I feel that it is another loss. But God occupies the secular world and all our encounters and experiences if we let him and I knew as soon as I saw the Easter Monday meal announced on the site that it would be my fellowship and communion for this Easter. And so it has been.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Making everything new

I’ve said before that Good Friday is the day when my faith makes more sense, I think it is because of the authenticity of the Crucifixion. Suffering, pain, failure, death and the abandonment by God seen in Jesus’s cry from the cross speak to our human condition. Easter Sunday and the Resurrection have always seemed more problematic to me. Of course, death and resurrection does reflect a universal human experience in the cycle of birth and death, setbacks and renewals that we all face, but human “resurrections” are often painful, partial and frequently non-existent.
We live in a world which can be beautiful and joyful but which can also be incredibly cruel and where the keynote is pain and futility. It is a world where the bodies of refugee children are washed up on a beach, and people join in civilised horror yet ultimately do nothing. It is a world not only in which we inflict atrocity on each other but where we are at the mercy of disease, tragedy and natural disaster. Many people’s lives are blighted by poverty and gruelling labour or those more first world problems of unhappiness, loneliness and mental illness.
So after the authenticity of a God who suffers with us, what are we to make of a God who says “I make all things new?” What are we to make of texts such as the one published on this page? Well if you have never held a text like that in your hands and honestly asked yourself if it is not really a fairy tale which we ourselves have invented as a consolation for the horror of this world, then possibly you have not thought deeply enough about your faith.
I don’t have a lot of time for Christian apologetics. I’ve never personally met anyone who has serious doubts that religious belief can offer an answer to the conundrum of this world who has been convinced by arguments or theologies. I also think apologetics often lead down a road beset with tortuous reasoning and circular arguments. I suspect people are largely won to faith through emotion- their emotional need for God.
Plenty of apologetics exist for the veracity of the Resurrection story. I remember as a child being told in church that nobody would be prepared to die for a fabricated story and so the disciples must have been telling the truth.
It is absolute nonsense.
Many people have died for fabricated and utterly implausible stories if they believed in them, as religious mass suicides show.  I once watched a documentary about a group of people who believed they had known each other in a previous life. They had recreated the 16th century village they believed they had lived in and were seeking out other reincarnated relatives. They all seemed on the surface perfectly sane. There are implausible beliefs we sanction and those we call insanity.
I’m not sure whether I am sane but I know that I don’t believe in the hope and promise of a world redeemed from pain and suffering because of intellectually convincing arguments. I think all the evidence of the world points away from it. The only thing I have to hold on to is, as I have said before, that glimpse I have had of God’s love and a half grasped understanding of its beauty, wisdom, magnitude and sheer grace. It is that that gives me hope that all things might be possible.
I will hold my hands up before any skeptic or atheist and say that, yes, this is completely and entirely subjective. It may be a kind of lunacy. But I believe it is revelation, just as I believe that the empty tomb on Easter Sunday is revelation.

That fragile and subjective hope, in the face of overwhelming evidence against it may not seem much to hold on to but it is all I have.
 On this Easter Sunday 2017, for me, it is enough.