Saturday, 8 February 2014

Remembering Ruby

Gareth's descent into the mental health system started when he lost his mum. He is the youngest of 11 children to Ruby and George and he was the baby. Ruby developed Parkinson's disease and aged only 60 she fell down some stairs and her lungs collapsed. Gareth visited her in hospital, told her he loved her and returned to the army after being told Ruby would recover. He received a phone call afterwards to say she had passed away.

He wasn't given support and wasn't able to take time off to grieve. Instead he drank. Two years later on the anniversary of his mum's death he took a massive overdose and was found in an alleyway in the early hours of the morning. He was admitted to an army psychiatric unit where he would go on to be assessed and given a medical discharge with the diagnosis of "adjustment disorder". A diagnosis that would change many times over the years allowing the army to rescind the regular payment he received from them as he no longer suffered from "adjustment disorder". My thoughts on that shall remain quiet for now but needless to say it seems very convenient!

This year Ruby would have been 75 years old. It's been 15 years. People still want Gareth to "get over it" and "get on with his life" and although it comes from a place of caring and wanting him to be happy people haven't the time or patience to understand unresolved and complex grief. Gareth himself wanted to try and let go this year and out himself under too much pressure to do so.

Anyway we decided to mark her birthday in some way and we went to Chester Cathedral where Ruby first heard Gareth play in concert for the first time. Gareth remembers the seat she sat in and so we took turns (we had the dogs with us - as always) going in and sitting in that seat to remember her.

Whilst I was there, two women were talking (personally I would have described it as flirting) with an employee, obscuring my view of the stage. I was sat down sometimes with my eyes closed and thought it was clear that I was trying to have a moment but I guess some people are only aware of their own needs as it didn't stop the raucous laughter and inappropriately loud chatting. I was beyond irritated at this point and it occurred to me that Gareth always described Ruby as moody and ratty - so perhaps if Ruby was there that's exactly how I would be feeling ;o)

I took photos of the chair and stage and went on to make a digital scrapbook page to commemorate the moment. I chose to remember it once the annoying people had finally moved but I may well do an art journal page of the irritating part :o) Here's the page anyway:

I hope Gareth finds a way to remember Ruby without it causing him suicidal thoughts one day. A way to remember her with happiness but I would never tell him to get over it and move on - it's his mum. I have no idea how anyone or if indeed anyone does ever "get over" the loss of close family member. I guess people just find a way to live with it somehow. The dripping heart on the scrapbook page represents Gareth's heart which is still bleeding, I just hope one day we can stop the bleeding and start to heal the scar it's left.

I love you always Gareth xxx

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