Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Nigel’s shadow

The truth is, no one has ever impacted my life as much as Nigel did. That’s not an exaggeration of any kind—it’s just a fact. As obvious as that is, it was only this past weekend that I realised why, exactly, that was. Beyond the good life we had together, the love, the good times and how we made it through bad times, aside from all that, there was one more thing: Time. We didn’t get nearly enough time together, and it will take me a lot of time before I don’t miss him as terribly as I do, but it was also time that has made all of that matter.

This past weekend I realised something that was actually obvious, or it would have been if I’d ever stopped to think about it. I realised that I lived with Nigel longer than anyone, including my parents. I was 20 and 21 when my parents died, which means the life with them that I was aware of was, what? Eighteen years at best? And I was a child for much of that time. Nigel and I had 24 years, all as grown-ups (more or less…), and it was a family we chose to build together.

This is why I mourn him so deeply: He was the most important person in my life. I knew that all along, of course, but the importance of the time we had together that is what I’ve only just realised.

Since Nigel died, I’ve tried so very hard to learn to live again. I often fail in the effort, but I keep pushing, anyway, mainly because I don’t know what else to do (apart from talking about it all, obviously). I’m keenly aware that every success I’ve had, such as they’ve been, meant passing through setbacks, too. On the other hand, no setback has been permanent, so there’s that.

One reality I don’t talk about very often is that I’m incredibly lonely. This is both obvious and to be expected after 24 years in which I spent nearly every day with Nigel. I’ve also previously talked about how isolated the area around our current house is, which only makes that loneliness worse. Not even the furbabies can always make up for that.

I’m keenly aware that once I do shift to Hamilton, I’ll still be spending a lot of time all alone (with the furbabies). But the important difference is that I’ll have options for the first time: None of the family in Hamilton is more than a few minutes away, so it’ll be possible to get together with one of more of them spontaneously, and some of them will sometimes just drop by, something that never happened at our current house (because of how isolated the house is). There will also be plenty of things to do in Hamilton, none of them more than a short drive away. I know that I’ll still have times when I’m lonely, but I won’t be isolated any more, and that’s what’s important.

All of which is why the move to Hamilton has been so important to me, why I’ve pushed so hard to get it done, and why I was able to endure the setbacks, despite not having a lot of emotional resilience right now. This week I had a success on that front: I got the settlement date for my new house moved up to January 10. Because of that, I think that I’ll probably shift to Hamilton sometime the following week, after the photos of my current house have been taken for the realtor (the moving date isn’t certain yet).

The original settlement date, January 24, is the Friday of Anniversary Weekend, a local public holiday weekend (the actual public holiday is the following Monday). So, I’ll probably do my housewarming that weekend. It already has a lot of significance to the life I had with Nigel: We had our Civil Union ceremony that weekend back in 2009, and ten years later—last year—we had my 60th birthday party, which Nigel coordinated and where he said some utterly beautiful things about me and us. Unfortunately, no one recorded that, and because I wasn’t expecting it, he caught me off guard. That’s one of the reasons I don’t remember what he said that night. The important point, though, is that since the last weekend of January already has happy memories attached to it, adding a new one about my new house seems appropriate to me. Nigel would think so, too.

So, Nigel still has a big influence on me and my decisions and my plans, and he will for a long time—because time is part of what allowed us to become what we were together.

The photo up top is the lock screen of Nigel’s phone. I took it over a little while ago, though I’m not yet using it for myself, for a whole lot of reasons. But that lock screen photo is the one that Nigel selected, and it was a photo he took of his own shadow. I don’t know if the photo was on purpose or not, but he really liked it, and it seems appropriate to me: His shadow still falls on so many people.

Today I got an email from one of his Lead Team (the senior managers who reported to him, though he hated it whenever I described it that way—Nigel was a leader, not a manager). There was one sentence in the email that made me a bit teary:

“We had our Lead Team Xmas lunch last week and paid homage to our wonderful Nigel, with a toast to thank him for playing a role in the leaders we are today. It was wonderful to reflect on some great memories.”

So, I know that even now Nigel still influences me, the family, his friends, and those he worked with, too, among others. As for me, no one has ever impacted my life as much as Nigel did, and I now understand that time made that possible. And I now truly understand how his shadow is still visible to us all.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Very true!

rogerogreen said...

"obvious" is not always obvious when you're living it.