MY REVIEW SINCE MEETING BOOK HUB PUBLISHING ON 29/9/2020
BY THOMAS KIELY
As we move more into the month of November, it’s a month that’s going to bring up so many memories and mixed emotions for me. This time 12 months ago, I had only weeks left with Angela, my wife, as she struggled with the final stages of breast cancer. The month is already challenging just a week in but, no doubt as the weeks go on, it will get tougher – just like the last 4 weeks have been.
The last 4 weeks, for me, have been so mentally challenging. The anxiety levels were higher, the loneliness, the heartache, trying to be a dad, working and trying to keep it all together is not easy for anyone I’d suggest and the same applies for, and to, me. There are times throughout this unwanted journey that I can just only take the day minute by minute, even during work. Loss and grief hits me at any time and no matter how prepared I think I might be, it just creeps up – like someone trying to scare me, but so, so much worse.
Not long after meeting the Team from Book Hub Publishing for the first time, my family and I went away for a special occasion to celebrate my parents being 40 years married, which is a fantastic achievement. I knew that particular weekend was coming up for an awfully long time and knew it was Killarney, which was Angela’s and I’s favourite place to go and stay. We had stayed in Killarney many a night and even our last time away together we stayed there. However, this was exceptionally tough. I tried to enjoy myself, but I couldn’t relax. I was on edge for the whole week and I suppose seeing all my siblings together with their wives and husbands was extra tough – not their fault whatsoever just how I was feeling. The reality of this weekend hit me when we had dinner on the Saturday night and celebrated my parents’ anniversary with a cake, for some reason it hit me hard. I excused myself without anyone really seeing me and I headed up to my room where I had a cry and wished Angela was here with us celebrating. I refocused myself after a while and headed back down stairs because I didn’t want Thomas J missing me or wanting him to be alone as I am now his only parent and he misses me when I go out of a room. I must say my family were incredibly good to Thomas J and I throughout that weekend and I thank them for that.
On Monday 5/10/2020 I met with Susan and Niall before Level 3 lockdown as we wanted to sign contracts and get more ideas for the book. On my way home from Galway, I got a text from my mom to say Angela’s headstone was beautiful. I wasn’t aware it was up as I had not visited the graveyard that particular weekend. I couldn’t wait to get home and go see the headstone and when I saw it with the picture of Angela, I broke down in tears. I stayed for about 10 minutes, just talking to Angela and telling her how hard the past 11 months has been. I often ask her for a sign that she is helping us, and I do believe she is and has sent us signs. I’m going to write about some of these in my book.
Over the last few weeks, I have continued to speak to my counsellor and take in the information she gives me to try and help with managing my sense of loss and grief and give me the tools to help deal with the many different challenges I face throughout this journey my son and I are now on. I must say she is exceptionally good and, at times, I would be lost without her refocusing me and helping me. Sometimes, I get really overwhelmed by everything and I find it so difficult during these weeks especially that I find it hard to get back into a good headspace. The one thing about what you are reading here is that I’m honest and open about how hard is it for me without Angela and my own struggles with mental health. The one thing no one sees are when Thomas J and I are at home alone and that’s the toughest part of our lives now.
23/10/2020, was the hardest weekend we both put down since Angela died last year. I had mentioned on my snapchat page and Instagram page about how I had found that week particularly hard and mentioned all the struggles I was going through. I was going to try and finish off a review and start a new book and I did all this, but tiredness and the week took its account on me, so I headed to bed not knowing what was ahead.
The next day we went to the park just to to try and get outdoors however it rained. Typical Ireland. So, the day ended and was really nothing different from any other Saturday. It was time for bed for Thomas J. That’s when things changed.
What he said as I lay in bed beside him cuddling making him comfortable hit me like a tonne of blocks, “Daddy I can’t sleep, I miss Mommy so much”. To hear these words knowing I could not help to take away his pain was so heart breaking and so upsetting. I asked him did he want a hug off me, and he said, “Daddy it’s not the same.” Again, to hear this knowing you could not help him with a hug was again heart-breaking. I told him honestly, “I miss Mommy so much too and it is ok to feel like this”.
I am incredibly happy he could tell me exactly what he was feeling because I do not want him thinking he cannot talk to me about his feelings and anything else that bothers him. I left him in his room on his tablet as I was so hurt and upset because I felt useless for my son. It distracted him while I was just hurting knowing this journey is going to get harder but once he was feeling alright, he left me come in beside him and, holding my hand, he fell off to sleep.
That has been my journey since I first met the team of Book Hub Publishing. As we are now in November, I know this month is going to test me more than ever and it will also test Thomas J. We are very alone but together in this journey of grief. At times, as life goes on for everyone else around us I remind myself how lucky I am with my family support and some friends and knowing they’ll be here with us throughout this difficult month is a comfort.
Just please keep Angela, Thomas J and I in your thoughts throughout this difficult Month. I know there are many people on similar journeys to ours and I wish them well.
*Thomas Kiely is from County Limerick and is writing a book on the themes of cancer, loss and grief. It is scheduled for release in 2021.